This can be quite a tricky question to answer. You need to appear to be able to work independently but also show that you don’t have any unhealthy issues with authority that would make you difficult or unpleasant to work with. Interviewers like to ask what you expect from your bosses and supervisors for 2 main reasons:
- They want to see if you have reasonable expectations for company leadership.
- They want to see if you use this as an opportunity to complain about previous supervisors.
Warning – When an applicant starts to talk about what they expect from a supervisor, they will almost always say the things they hadn’t received from their last supervisor, like praise or fairness. It’s a common response so be aware and don’t fall into that trap especially if you have reported to more than one person at a time. If you are asked about reporting to more than one manager at a time, ensure you don’t complain about any of them.
How to Answer
The best way to answer is to focus on the good qualities of the last supervisor you had (no matter how much you disliked them) and stay away from anything that could imply you didn’t like them.
“I expect supervisors to be fair and level headed. I expect them to make competent decisions and not blame me for things I didn’t do. I also expect them to reward employees based on production, and not based on who they have a personal friendship with.”
Notice how this makes it look like you experienced these examples of mistreatment in the past. You do not want to give that impression. You do not want to appear to be a problem employee.
“My last supervisor had a lot of qualities I appreciated. She would often ask for my opinion and thoughts on the best course of action before I started on a project. She would also schedule regular check ins with me to ensure we were on the same page, and every once in a while we would enjoy a conversation over coffee regarding my future projects and responsibilities. I hope that any supervisor I have shares those qualities.”
By keeping the focus on what you liked about your previous supervisor, you ensure that it doesn’t sound like you are complaining, and you reinforce the idea that these qualities are realistic, since you are pointing to a specific person in your recent past and saying “she did it, so I expect it from others.”
Take Away Interview Tips
- Keep the focus on your last supervisor
- Only discuss the positive qualities they had