While your initial instinct may be to honestly list both strong and weak points, the interviewer is really wondering if you will speak negatively about your supervisors. Painting your previous workplace in a bad light may mean that you will do the same with the company you’re applying to work for.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, you’ll want to focus on your boss’s and coworkers’ strong points.
- Describe a “weakness” that is really a strength. For instance, perhaps your boss treated you as a friend and equal because you had earned his trust.
- Discuss your boss’s strengths as a way to express your admiration for him or her.
- Emphasize your coworkers’ abilities that showcase your own personality, such as bringing out each other’s varying strengths.
- Simply say you can’t think of anything negative about your previous workplace and employer.
The general rule for this question is that you want your answers to show your positive personality by speaking well of those you worked for.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Hiring managers expect you to trip up on this question and answer as if you were taking a lie detector test. To answer it correctly, avoid these common pitfalls or traps:
- Even if you didn’t like your previous boss, don’t let this be apparent in your interview.
- Don’t downplay your boss or previous company as a way to try to elevate the company you’re interviewing for.
- Don’t say anything petty or mean-spirited about coworkers or those you managed.
- Don’t use this question to speak highly of yourself unless you’re saying what you learned from others.
Avoid any negative talk so that you don’t send the wrong message to your potential employer.
One way to answer this question about a former boss is to say something like:
My boss was really invested in our success. He took the time to address any concerns and to offer solutions when necessary. If I had one negative thing to say about my boss, it’s that I wish he were able to take more time for himself because he always put our needs above his own.
An interviewer will try to throw you off with the word “honestly,” but remember that this individual is pretending to be a confidant in order to make sure you have a positive attitude.