With this question, the interviewer is looking for a cultural fit. If your potential boss is your interviewer, he/she will be looking for answers that show you are easy to work with and a contributor.
Be honest but never sound negative about previous bosses, as you will come across as a person who may be difficult to work with. Emphasise ways in which you interact with your current boss in your working environment to achieve the goals of the business and how this will help you in the new role you are applying for.
The interviewer may just be idly curious as to what your current boss is like, but don’t count on it. They’re much more likely to be probing your perceptions of authority – and, in particular, how you handle authority. While seemingly innocuous, this is actually quite a loaded question. If the interviewer identifies you as having any problems with authority then it’s going to be a big, black mark on your application.
This is most certainly not the same question as the ‘tough’ alternative, ‘What are your current boss’s weaknesses?’ that we cover in the next chapter – and you should most certainly be avoiding making any disparaging comments. Regardless of what a loser you might think your boss is, it isn’t going to get you anywhere to slate them. Statistically, having problems with their boss is the No. 1 reason people give for changing jobs. However, you’d do well just to give a reasonably complimentary description and portray a positive working relationship between the two of you.
You can answer the question like this:
“My manager/boss was a good combination of professionalism and the personal touch. Having risen from the entry-level of an employee, he knew most of the problems that employees faced. He was a good leader and had strong communication skills.
He/She motivated me to come up with new ideas and always provided helpful feedback. He always set, changed, evaluated and monitored our work goals to improve our bottom line and I learned a lot from him”
However phrased, this is a loaded question, so beware! Understand what the interviewer is trying to find out with this question. Whilst it may be the interviewer is genuinely curious as to what your current boss is like, don’t bet on it! Much more likely, they are trying to understand your perceptions of authority and how you handle it! If the interviewer identifies you as having problems with authority, then you will be marked down immediately.
Whilst you may personally dislike your current boss, their attitudes, style or behaviours, do not talk about these issues to a potential employer. Not only will it raise questions about your attitude to authority, but raise doubts about your ability to fit in, and work with the new company. After all, if that is what you say about your current boss, what might you say about the interviewer behind their back if you come to work for them?
The best way to answer such a question is to give a reasonably complimentary answer, emphasising the positive working relationship between the two of you.