Common Interview Question: What Do You Expect from a Supervisor?

“Candy. Lots and lots of candy.”

After working for some of your life, you probably expect nothing from your supervisor. Nothing good anyway. Most people in a management position get there by either sucking up or receiving an education that makes them no more qualified to lead than a high school dropout. The ability to work with people is not a skill that can be taught in the classroom.

Still, interviewers like to ask what you expect from your bosses and supervisors. They do so for the following reasons:

  • They want to see if you have reasonable expectations for company leadership.
  • They want to see if you use this as an opportunity to complain about previous supervisors.

The last part is tricky. When applicant start to talk about what you expect from supervisors, they often say the things they hadn’t received from their last supervisor, like praise or fairness. Don’t fall into that trap.

How to Answer

The best way to answer is to focus on the good qualities of the last supervisor you had (no matter how much you disliked them) and stay away from anything that could imply you didn’t like a previous supervisor.

Bad Answer

“I expect supervisors to be fair and level headed. I expect them to make competent decisions and not blame me for things I didn’t do. I also expect them to reward employees based on production, and not based on who sucks up the most.”

Notice how this makes it look like you experienced these examples of mistreatment in the past. You do not want to give that impression.

Good Answer

“My last supervisor had a lot of qualities I appreciated. She would often ask for my opinion and thoughts on the best course of action before I started on a project. She would also schedule regular check ins with me to ensure we were on the same page, and every once in a while we would enjoy a conversation over coffee over my future projects and responsibilities. I hope that any supervisor I have shares those qualities.”

By keeping the focus on what you liked about your previous supervisor, you ensure that it doesn’t sound like you are complaining, and you reinforce the idea that these qualities are realistic, since you are pointing to a specific person in your recent past and saying “she did it, so I expect it from others.”

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Keep the focus on your last supervisor.
  • Only discuss the positive qualities they had.

Related posts:

  1. QA – What Do You Expect From a Supervisor?
  2. QA – What Was it Like Working For Your Past Supervisor?
  3. Common Interview Question: What Would Your Previous Supervisor Say You Need to Work On?
  4. Management Interview Question: Why Do You Feel You Will Be Comfortable in a Supervisor Role?
  5. Common Interview Question – Describe the Best Job You Have Had

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