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How Do You Like to Be Managed?

When you go into a job interview, you’re prepared for questions about yourself. You might not be so prepared to answer questions about your prospective boss, like “how do you like to be managed,” “describe your ideal boss,” or “what’s your preferred management style?”

However, asking about your preferences when it comes to being managed can help an interviewer determine if you’ll be a strong fit on their team. Here’s how to give the type of answer a hiring manager is looking for. 

Why do interviewers ask how you like to be managed?

It might seem strange for an interviewer to ask how you like to be managed, but it’s actually a good sign. It indicates that the hiring manager is strategic about how they coach and develop employees, either by tailoring their management style to each team member or by filtering out candidates who aren’t in alignment with their style. 

It also indicates that they value positive working relationships. Being able to give and receive constructive feedback is an essential ingredient for new hire success, so their attention to this aspect of the job shows they’re thinking about how to empower you in the role. 

What interviewers are looking for when they ask about your management preferences

When interviewers ask about your ideal management style, they want to see that your preferences align with their company culture. More importantly, they want to be sure those things don’t clash, which could make managing difficult for them and work unpleasant for you. 

A hiring manager also wants to gauge your level of flexibility. They want to see that you don’t have unreasonable expectations. For example, if you say you have difficulty receiving negative feedback, it could be a red flag that it will be challenging to help you grow. 

How to answer the interview question ‘How do you like to be managed?’

Consider your preferences

Your boss will greatly influence how happy you are in a new job. So, ask yourself what qualities you like in a manager. For example, do you prefer direct feedback, or are you likely to react negatively if a manager is too brusque? Do you like lots of one-on-one coaching or prefer a more hands-off boss? It can be helpful to think about your past bosses and consider what you liked and disliked about working for them. 

Research the company culture

You’ll need to do some strategic positioning to ensure your answer aligns with the company’s actual culture. So, do some digging to learn what its managers are like. Glassdoor can be a great resource for this. Look for keywords that shed light on management style, performance review structure, and employee development. 

Focus on the positive

Spend the bulk of your answer talking about the elements of management you DO like versus what you don’t. 

Give an example

One of the best ways to answer is with a concrete example of an effective manager-employee relationship you had in the past. Share a positive experience with your boss that helped you succeed.

How not to answer

Give a rigid answer

You want to be specific–but not too specific, like saying you only want to receive feedback via email or you want performance reviews every three months. If you put yourself in a too-narrow box, you risk disqualifying yourself or coming across as inflexible. 

Sample answers to “How do you like to be managed?”

Example #1

“I’m someone who thrives on regular feedback, so my ideal manager is someone who keeps an open line of communication with me. My last manager was really great at coaching me on how to improve while giving me room to learn by doing things on my own. I would love to work with a boss who prioritizes developing their employees.”

Example #2

“One of my major career goals is to gain more leadership experience, so I would like a boss who is willing to invest the time to help me strengthen my leadership skills. I prefer clear direction, so I would work well under someone who gives direct feedback rather than beating around the bush.”

Giving an honest answer that parallels the company’s own management style will help an interviewer envision you on their team while ensuring your needs as an employee are met.