How would your boss or previous boss describe you?

How would your boss or previous boss describe you?

I had an interview this week, actually the 3rd interview in the process with a company, and the company executive asked me this question, ‘how would your boss or previous boss describe you?’. The question made me pause, as I stated to him ‘it is impossible to know how a person views another in all honesty’. I know all my previous employers never had a complaint about my work, my ethics, or my drive to find solutions to their requested issues. I mentioned this to the executive interviewer, also explained how I am driven to find solutions, how I am organized, detail oriented, but was it enough? And why did this question make me stumble? I decided to do some Google searches on that particular question, to see how it is viewed by others, to my relief I found it is an inappropriate interview question.

During the search process regarding the question I found this article from ‘Forbes’ regarding the question, the person in question in the article had a toxic manager, which definitely was not my issue, but the overall review of the question by the interviewer and thoughts in answering it is informative.

Actually Forbes has another article that again covers the question, love this quote I have taken from the article –

It’s insulting to ask “What would your last manager say about you?” because it presumes that the random ex-manager knows something important and true about the job applicant. It’s also very impolite to ask a person to tell you what someone else thinks of him or her.

The article also describes how this question is one from another long ago era, one where there was more importance placed on the manager than on the applicant, a manager that the interviewer doesn’t even know. Take a read of the entire article here

A website called ‘College Grad’ gives a few ideas on how to answer the question, and what the interviewer is actually looking for –

The interviewer is effectively asking for how you were rated or reviewed in your performance by your past manager.

As an overview I’m not sure I answered it to the executive’s preference, but I did give it my honesty! On one side I hate tooting my horn too loudly, coming off as arrogant, but seriously have never received a negative review from an employer, have always had employers that were very pleased with my work performance, including my willingness to take on projects to assist in other areas. So now we wait to see if I get called for the 4th interview, yes the 4th interview, this one is a long process, not that I am putting all my eggs into one basket, I have been on other interviews at other companies as this one slowly makes progression.

So have you been asked this question during an interview? How did you perceive the question? How did you answer the question? Or maybe you’ve had a question that left you uncomfortable? Send me the information on our ‘contact us’ page, I’ll cover it in a post.