Points to Emphasize
As you put together your answer, remember these points to help you get organized.
Discuss the manager’s approach or performance in ways that highlight how they shaped yours.
Remember to focus on objectively or measurably positive aspects of their leadership.
Put them in context within their organization, so that your discussion also highlights their contribution to the overall culture.
The hiring manager is looking for you in this, so connect your favorite manager to your skills in multiple ways.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
These missteps can be distracting, and they can pull focus from the important parts of your answer.
Don’t make it personal. Sometimes you get to be friends with your supervisor, but that’s not a great reason to hold them out as a role model.
Avoid discussing perks or preferences, unless you’re highlighting the way they use incentives and rewards for everyone.
Remember that maverick techniques have their place, but that you need to show how they balance those techniques. Lauding someone for ignoring the rules won’t go over well.
Avoid anecdotes if at all possible, it will make the answer go long and it misses the big-picture nature of the question.
Here is one way to reply that emphasizes just the right parts.
My favorite manager was the owner of the grocery store where I had my first job. He used his role in the community to provide work to people who didn’t get a lot of chances elsewhere, and he focused on skill-building. It wasn’t just for kids working in the stockroom, either. A number of women who went back to work after their kids went to school started with us and went on to manage their own retail spaces after a couple of years with Andy. He had a way of getting everyone to look at the big picture, even if your main job was taking out the trash.
Look for the answer that shows who you are as a leader, and you’ll be on the right track.