3 Steps to Answering 'How Do You Like to Be Managed?' Like a Pro

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June 23, 2024 at 5:38PM UTC
Some interview questions are almost too good to be true. Take "What are your salary requirements?," for example. You could easily answer with a seven-figure request. And in an ideal world, you would, right? But in the world of work, the interviewer's really checking to see if they can afford you — and that answer can be your one-way ticket to a rejection if you're far above their budget.

The same goes for the question, "How do you like to be managed?" Though it may be tempting to answer with "Not at all," "Minimally" or "I'd rather do the managing," your answer to this question can also make or break your candidacy. And as is the case with any other question, it's super important to prep your response for this one ahead of time so you're not caught off guard on the interview day.
To give you a boost, we've created a three-step formula that'll help you build your answer like a pro — and get you the job and manager you deserve.

What does being managed mean? 

A manager is someone who supervises and facilitates one or many employees' job responsibilities, pay and performance at a company. Rank-and-file employees typically work under managers or supervisors who check in with them to make sure they're completing their tasks satisfactorily. A manager's responsibility is to also make sure that employees are being paid on the date agreed upon by the offer letter, and are receiving the benefits, professional development and overall experience as promised in the initial agreement.

3-step formula to answering the question.

1. Reflect on your past experiences.

Start small by reflecting on your working style and management preference. From your first job to your last, write down the names of as many bosses as you can remember, and circle your favorite ones. What have you liked about those managers? What, if anything, did they have anything in common? How did you operate under their leadership?
Taking notes on each of their management styles will allow you to notice the qualities you admire in a good leader, as well as how you build relationships with them. It'll also help you clearly see the managers that weren't the best match for your working style. Was there anything you wish a "bad boss" of the past had done differently? What would you suggest they do to manage you more effectively, if you could go back? 
And what would you like your future boss to do (or provide) to set you up for success in your new position? What would you tell them about your working style? How often would you want to check in, and what would you want to cover? Once you've sat on this question for a while, you can move on to step two!

2. Look into the company's culture.

Your next step is to research the company's culture, as it'll provide some insight into the management styles and relationships that already exist at the company. A company with an open-office layout, ERGs and thoughtful work-life balance might have many laissez-faire or transformational leaders because of their strong social culture. Companies with defined schedules, concrete objectives and customer-facing products might have autocratic or transactional leaders in order to reach their goals in a timely manner.
Based on what you discover about the company you're applying to, you can look into the similarities between your notes on step one and your notes in this step. Do your responses for both highlight the importance of communication? Does teamwork really make the dream work for both you can the company? Whatever you come up with will be your starting point for step three.

3. Come up with your answer.

Congrats! You've made it to the last step which means it's time to craft your response. There are three things that matter most at this juncture: What, when and why. What are the two or three high-level qualities that work best for you? When (and under what circumstances) did a past manager display those qualities effectively? And why is this management style the most conducive to your performance and career advancement?
If you're having trouble getting started, we've crafted some sample responses below. 

3 ideal answers to the question.

Example No. 1: I work most productively under leaders who goal-set with me on a quarterly basis and allow me to create my own agenda and work independently toward meeting those goals. My last boss did a really good job of providing me with the resources and support I needed to complete my work in a timely manner, and I benefited from checking in once a week to discuss my game plan for the next. 
Example No. 2: I'm a creative thinker, so I appreciate any opportunity to think outside-of-the-box at work. The best managers I've ever worked with have encouraged cross-functional teamwork and have even asked me what special projects or assignments I wanted to work on. I'm really motivated by managers who value my ideas and want me to "take up space" at the company.
Example No. 3: I'm highly motivated by leaders who can also be mentors, coaches or guides to me. I'm very open to constructive criticism, as I'm always looking to grow as a leader and excel in my role, so I work best under managers who are willing to help me develop professionally and advance my career.

The worst responses.

  • Are extremely vague or passive: It doesn't really matter to me. I work well with pretty much everyone.
  • Show a lack of thought: I've never really thought about that. Um, I guess someone who doesn't micromanage me all the time?
  • Sound like a lie: All of my managers have been so supportive of me. There's nothing I would change about my experiences with them.
  • Are negative: I can't stand a boss who micromanages. I prefer working independently, setting my own schedule and finding my own solutions.
This is just one tricky interview question of the hundreds that are floating around out there. So, to make sure you're super prepared to crush your interview, get yourself acquainted with these other common questions. You can thank us later!

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Stephanie Nieves is the SEO & Editorial Associate on the Fairygodboss team. Her words can also be found on MediumPayScale and The Muse.

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