This question is a pretty straightforward examination of your working style and workplace preferences. By asking about your favorite manager, the hiring officer is looking to see what types of people you work well with, as well as learn more about your attitudes towards supervision.
Points to Emphasize
Because this question can be very revealing to hiring managers, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Try to choose a manager who is also one of your recommenders for added credibility.
- Provide concrete details about why you liked working with this manager.
- Offer examples that show you tackling a particularly difficult assignment or overcoming an obstacle so that you shed light on why you would be a great employee.
- Research the workplace culture of the position you are applying for so that you can better target your response.
Don’t hesitate to sing the praises of one of your recommenders. It might encourage the hiring manager to call this person and find out more about your time under his or her wing.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
This question represents a great opportunity to shine so you want to avoid a few common mistakes.
- Never, ever badmouth a former boss even if he or she was a total jerk. The hiring manager may view this as a negative trait and wonder if you would also do the same to your future employer.
- Try to avoid platitudes (e.g. he is a very nice person) and instead focus on the specific reasons why you appreciated a particular supervisor.
- Don’t be vague about your professional experience. This is a good opportunity to highlight some of your accomplishments while working with this supervisor.
- Choose a manager whom you know well so that your answer sounds genuine and heartfelt.
Below is a good example of a (partial) response from an applicant for a writing and editing job.
After hearing this question, I immediately thought of my former editor, Sandra, at XYZ Magazine. I started there right out of college as an editorial assistant but Sandra’s passion for editing, her high expectations and her commitment to mentoring provided me countless opportunities for professional growth and helped shape me into the writer I am today. For example….
With this question, the hiring manager is looking to learn more about your professional background, how well you work with others and spot any red flags that would indicate you might not fit in well at the company. An honest and detailed answer is easier than you may think and can boost your chances of acing the interview.