What Kind of Supervisor Do You Work Best for?

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: December 07, 2022

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Hiring managers often want to know how you are going to function as a part of their team if they hire you and how good you are at taking instructions. As such- they will commonly ask- “what kind of supervisor do you work best for? Provide examples.” This kind of question is not just about your personal opinion- but like most interview questions- it is aimed at revealing what kind of worker you are.

It's important to realize that your specific preferences when it comes to supervisors won't make too much difference- since everybody has a different style. The important part of answering this question is to demonstrate your knowledge in the field and to show how you want a supervisor that helps you work well. Being prepared will help you answer this question.

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How to Answer the Question

1. Focus on Your Valuable Traits:

The answer you give to this or similar interview questions will reveal what kind of worker you are. That is why you should think about what aspects you want to emphasize. For example- don't say you prefer a lenient supervisor who doesn't mind if you show up late- as that makes it seem like you have issues making it to your shifts on time. Instead- say you work best for a supervisor who understands when sudden conflicts come up and understands if you have to rearrange your schedule. The prior phrasing says you are late sometimes- whereas the latter phrasing says that everyone occasionally runs into conflicts and that while you are good at dealing with them- you want a supervisor with whom you can be on the same page.

2. Use the Examples to Show Your Experience:

If you have worked at a lot of different jobs and had many different types of supervisors- this is a great time for you to show how you have learned from your past experiences. Suppose you had a supervisor who was really mean and frequently demoralized a team. You can contrast that boss with another supervisor who did a great job at keeping everyone motivated and praising them for good work. You could talk about the different effects each one had on the overall productivity of both teams- while making note of how the fact that you have worked in a range of different positions and for different bosses gives you a very seasoned perspective on how a workplace should be efficiently run.

3. Use These Types of Interview Questions as an Opportunity to Connect:

Though you may not realize it- as you answer this question- the person listening is continually reflecting on their own team and their supervisors- especially if they themselves will be your supervisor. Think about what kinds of skills are constantly being exercised by a supervisor in the kind of position you will be working- imagine how you would want to be supervised in that position- and share those thoughts. You may end up invoking a response from the interviewer where they proudly share that the supervisors in their company fulfill your preferences. At that point you can form a connection by showing approval- which will simultaneously show your interest in working for them and show your consciousness of supervising styles.

Sample Answers

1. I think it is really important to have a supervisor who encourages their team. I remember one of my supervisors when I was working in fast food used to yell at the team all the time- and no matter how fast we got orders out- it never seemed fast enough. One tiny slip up and he would threaten to send one of us home. There was never any praise for doing a good job. A few months later I was working for a supervisor who was encouraging and praised the team for a job well done. He still mentioned if something could be improved- but he always did it in a constructive way. That team functioned much better and had a lower turnover rate. That's the kind of supervisor I like to work for.

2. I think it's important for a supervisor to understand the different needs of their employees. Sometimes people get sick and sometimes people are going through hard times- and it can be very stressful when work becomes a place of judgement and condemnation. I remember when I went through my pregnancy- I went through a few months where I wasn't able to work. My supervisor at that job allowed me to take some time off and didn't rush me to get back to work. I was able to get things in order and come back as effective as ever.

Don't fret if you are asked the "what kind of supervisor do you work best for? Provide examples." interview question. Now you know how to give the best kind of answer.

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