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Tell me about the worst manager you ever had.

1 of 30 Tough Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on July 29th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

Everyone has had that one boss that nearly drove them crazy. If you haven't - consider yourself lucky! At the very least, you probably know someone who had a manager with which they did not mesh.

Your worst manager may have been someone who didn't know how to take the lead. Maybe they lacked confidence or training. Talk to the interviewer about an experience you've had with a manager who was not a strong leader. Be sure to end on a positive note and avoid allowing this to become an opportunity to bring someone down.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"Earlier in my career, I had a manager who was not a team player. My colleagues and I did not know how to react to the lack of leadership which meant that much of what we did was self-taught. I always told myself that if I were a manager, I would be a knowledgeable one who would encourage my team to be the best. Although my experience wasn't amazing, I am thankful for the opportunity to learn the type of behaviors to avoid as a manager."

Answer example

"I am proud to say I have never worked with a manager or leader I could not respect or look up to in some form of mentorship. I imagine a terrible manager to be disengaged, lack communication and have a poor ability to build relationships with their team or business."

Answer example

"One of the first managers I had was not well equipped for her role - she simply wasn't trained, so I do not fault her for that. However, she spent her days complaining about her lack of training rather than seek it out herself. I am a major proponent of research and feel that a good manager will find a way to make their position a successful experience."

Answer example

"I'd have to say the worst manager I've had is someone I'd describe as really aloof. He would breeze in and out, was rarely around during the work day and would drop in to take credit for any sales. So, not only was he not supportive, but also he then acted like he was integral to the sale. It was certainly frustrating, but it taught me that I could figure out a way to thrive and be successful with or without active leadership."

Answer example

"I feel very fortunate that I've typically had great managers. However, I had a manager when I worked in the college restaurant that came on much too strong. She felt the need to try to whip everyone into shape and be overly controlling about everything. I'm all about order and following the rules, and respect for new managers or management in general. However, there's a way to gain the respect of an existing workplace without berating employees. That said, it taught me how to interact with someone aggressive and to show respect regardless of whether it feels warranted or not."

Answer example

"Early in my career, the company restructured and promoted someone into a management role without any real basis for the promotion. It appeared that the promotion was on favoritism rather than leadership and management traits. The new manager didn't do anything terrible, but just basically continued being a sales guy who was supposed to be managing and didn't want to. I sought out a mentor and looked to him as though he were my manager in many ways. Through this mentorship, I learned what I valued in a manager and the type of manager I wanted to be. I decided to be level-headed but passionate, knowledgeable but not a know-it-all, hands-off until someone needs intervention or asks for help, and fair. If it weren't for my inexperienced manager, it would have been much later in my career that I found such a valuable mentor, so for that, I am grateful."

Answer example

"Before becoming a teacher, I worked as a bartender. The bar owner was a real hot-head who loved to drink with the regulars. This sociability was fine; however, it often got in the way of his success because he would become belligerent towards the staff and they would quit. He lost a lot of customers because of his behavior as well. I learned from the experience that when you are in a position of leadership, you need always to be aware of who is watching you and act accordingly."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
First written on: 08/10/2016
Last modified on: 07/29/2018

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