Your relationship with your boss can have a major impact on your job performance and career development. It can also come into play when you’re interviewing for your next role via a question like ‘how would your boss describe you?’
We’ll explain the nuance behind this question and show you how to answer it in a way that emphasizes your qualifications and suitability for the job.
Why do interviewers ask how would your boss describe you?
Humans are notoriously bad at self-assessment. Another person’s opinion of your performance–particularly someone who works closely with you, like your manager–will often be more accurate than your own view of yourself. So, hiring managers ask to learn what this outside opinion says, which can clue them in on your strengths and weaknesses.
This question is also probing about a deeper topic: your relationships at work. An interviewer wants to find out whether you’re capable of building productive professional relationships, which will impact your effectiveness in a new position. How you answer this question will give them a glimpse into your relationship with your superior and what the dynamics of working with you might be like.
What interviewers are looking for when they ask about your boss’ description of you
All hiring managers are looking to select hardworking, competent employees, so it’s not hard to guess what an interviewer might want you to say about your boss’s impression of you. Your answer should be reflective of your positive attributes that are most relevant to this particular job, whether technical (i.e. project management, data analysis) or interpersonal (strong communicator, team player, etc.).
Remember, past performance is a predictor of future success. So, you want to highlight characteristics and experiences that you’ll carry over into this job.
How to answer the interview question ‘How would your boss describe you?’
Name specific qualities
Don’t say something generic like “my boss would say I’m a good employee.” Name the precise skills that make you a strong team member, choosing ones that are also requirements for the job you’re interviewing for.
These posts can help you decide which skills to showcase:
- The top soft skills
- Top administrative skills
- Top marketing skills
- Top legal skills
- Top IT skills
- Top HR skills
Use their own words
Here’s a very easy way to capture your boss’ opinion of you: use things they’ve actually said. You can pull quotes and compliments from a positive performance review, praise you were given during a team meeting, or language from a company honor you received.
Share an anecdote
Strengthen your answer by giving an anecdote that illustrates the positive characteristics you mention. Here’s an example: “My boss was very happy with the attendance at our annual benefactor’s luncheon, which I organized. The project involved making contact with and inviting more than 200 donors, so I think my boss would describe me as thorough and persistent.”
How not to answer
Disclose a negative relationship
You don’t want to say anything that hints at an unproductive relationship with your boss. If you don’t have a good relationship with them, replace ‘boss’ with another person who has a more positive idea of you and use their opinion in your answer instead.
Sample answers to “How would your boss describe you?”
If you’re asked this question, consider it a great opportunity to sell the qualifications that make you a great fit for the job. By connecting your actual characteristics to the job requirements and illustrating with real-world examples, you’ll help the hiring manager feel confident in your abilities and your interpersonal skills.