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3 Easy Steps to Answer “How Do You Like to Be Managed?” in an Interview

If you’re asked the question “How do you like to be managed?” (or similar questions like “What do you look for in a manager?” or “Describe your ideal boss”) in a job interview, that can be a great sign.

Why, you may ask?

It means the interviewer (slash hiring manager) cares about hiring someone who meshes well with the team’s management style. More importantly, it means they value a good working relationship—and don’t we all want to avoid reporting to a distant or toxic boss?

So how can you answer this interview question in a way that’s honest, yet resonates positively with the person who’s asking? (Note: You absolutely should be honest about your preferred management style—this is your chance to find the best fit for you, too!)

Here’s what you should do to prepare.

1. Reflect on Past Bosses and Gather Examples

Jot down some notes or brainstorm in your head. What have you liked about past bosses or leaders you’ve worked with? What did they do? What didn’t they do? What attributes did they have, what actions did they take, or what values did they hold that you admired?

On the flip side, let’s say you’ve only worked with horrible bosses. Consider what about their leadership styles bothered you. Could you spin the negative to make a statement about what you’d actually have preferred them do? (Turning the negative into a positive will be crucial in step three.)

And think about yourself and how you like to work. In an ideal world, what would your “perfect” manager do or provide to make you better at your job? Do you like following structure and specific processes, or having the ability to make changes or shift course as you go? Do you like having face-to-face interactions, or prefer written communication? Are you motivated by innovation, or by concrete goals?

“You should always bring it back to an experience you’ve had” if you can, says Muse career coach Clayton Wert. “I would recommend bringing up an example about a previous manager that you really enjoyed and had assisted you in your career. Tell that personal story and how you felt this manager helped you in accomplishing your weekly tasks and setting goals for the future.”

2. Do Some Digging Into the Team Culture

Of course, this question is about more than just you. You’ll want to make sure your answer aligns somewhat with the company culture you’re potentially about to join.

This isn’t to say you should make stuff up or lie about your ideal boss in the hopes of pleasing the interviewer. Doing so will only land you in a position you’re unhappy in—and could lead to butting heads with your future manager.