Not many people can recall good things about their present or former managers at work. But we all remember the bad things, things we disliked or outright hated, and in extreme cases they were the reason no. 1 why we decided to change the job. But why do the hiring managers inquire about them in the interviews? And what do they expect to hear from a good applicant for the job? We will try to find the answers on the following lines.

Let me start directly with 7 sample answers to this intriguing question. You will find on my list answers for both experienced people and fresh graduates, as well as some unconventional and philosophical answers. Simply a nice mix that should serve as your inspiration, once you will try to formulate your own, unique answer to the question. Do not forget to read also the notes below the list of sample answers, in order to understand the most common mistakes people make when dealing with this question, and to make sure you will avoid making such mistakes. Enjoy!


7 sample answers to “What do you like least about your (former or present) manager?” interview question

  1. I like the least their communication style. Let me explain. I understand that each manager has their directions, and goals they try to reach. It belongs to their job to give employees feedback on their work, including negative feedback. I understand and respect it, and do not mind receiving criticism. However, the manner in which you criticize other people matters. And that’s true about all communication of manager with their subordinates. My present manager talks to people as if we were incompetent, children, as if we needed a punishment to work better. They make you feel like trash. And that’s something I really dislike. It is the same story in the meetings. To be honest, it is one of the main reason why I want to change the job and sit in this interview with you.
  2. I liked almost everything about my former manager, but if I have to pick one thing I liked the least, it has to be their obsession with control. They let us some independence, but they did not trust anyone, and checked on our work few times a day. And while I do not consider it an entirely bad habit–at the end of the day it helps to deal with people who sit at their computers doing nothing, or checking their social media feed, I also feel that it is kind of oppressive, and that after seeing me working hard months on end, they should trust me more. As I said though they were a great manager and I enjoyed working under them.
  3. Nothing, because this is my first job application, and I’ve never worked under anyone yet. Having said that, I know that any manager is just a human being, like me or you. They have their strengths and weaknesses, character, better and worse days at work. I do not fancy having a stellar relationship with my manager, never experiencing any disagreement of conflict. On the contrary, such things belong to the workplace, and we cannot entirely avoid them. But I want to assure you that I try to respect each person as they are, and look for the good things in people. It should allow me to have a good working relationship with the manager, regardless of how different our personalities may be.
  4. I like the least their habit of keeping things to themselves. In my opinion, feedback should flow freely in any successful team or company.  But that’s not the case here. The manager often says nothing, or says things too late. I want to ensure you that I raised the issue with them, because I felt it had an impact on the performance of our team, but they haven’t changed their behavior. What I want to stress though is that the manager has many great personality traits, and I quite enjoy working with them. They aren’t the reason why I consider changing the job.
  5. To be honest, I do not think about such things. In my opinion, it isn’t my business to think a lot about my manager, what they should do better, etc. That’s someone else’s job. Their superior should take care of it. In any job I have, I simply focus on my work, doing what I am supposed to do, meeting the expectations. I may have a good relationship with the manager and I may have none. It just isn’t my priority. Of course, I try to be nice and attentive to my colleagues, which helps everyone to enjoy their time in the workplace. But I do not think about or judge the strengths and weaknesses of my managers. As I’ve said, it just isn’t my business.
  6. My former manager was fantastic. The only think I disliked was perhaps their haircut. But they really pushed me to learn new things, they empowered me in work, and I believe that they helped me to become a better analyst. I really enjoyed working under them, and in many ways they are an inspiration for me. If I get this managerial job with you, I hope to follow the example of my former manager, when it comes to planning, goal setting, going by example, communication with employees, etc.
  7. I like the least their level of ambition. In my opinion, a good manager should have a big vision for the team, or for the entire company. If they do not dream big and aim for the stars, who else in the team will? I am someone who constantly tries to improve, to achieve better results each year. But my present manager is pretty happy with the status quo in the company. Now I do not say that my attitude is the only correct one. They certainly have their reasoning, and know what they are doing. But I prefer to work under a manager with a different mindset, and it s definitely one of the reasons why I consider getting a new job.


Try to balance the negatives with some positives

Perhaps you feel like throwing dirt on your manager for ten minutes straight, but you should quickly forget this idea. Nobody wants to hire an employee who sees only the bad things in others, and who constantly complains about something. Hence it is much better pointing out some negative aspect of your manager, and balancing it with something positive, or least saying that regardless of this or that, they were still a decent manager and you respect them for their work.

Unless the manager did something bizarre (such as shouting on your every day), you can also emphasize that regardless everything, you tried your best to have a good relationship with them, and to do your job well. At the end of the day, we cannot be friends with everyone, but we can respect each other and coexist in the workplace, regardless of the differences.

Never worked anywhere before? Talk about your attitude, and low expectations on the manager

When you apply for your first job and you’ve never had a manager, you still have a couple of options for a good answer. First one is saying what you expect from your new manager–it should not be too much, and also emphasizing that you want to focus on your part, your job primarily, and that there’s nothing like a manager or boss you’d be unable to work under.

Second option is talking about your teacher, or school principal, simply a leader at school where you studied. In a certain way they also “managed you”, and you can definitely demonstrate on your relationship what you like, don’t like, and expect from a manager…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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