Should a Boss Be Feared or Liked?


Job Interview Question & Answer: Should a Boss Be Feared or Liked?

Why Interviewers Ask

When hiring managers ask whether you believe an employer should be likable or intimidating, they’re trying to gauge how you view your supervisors and what kind of work environment you respond to the best. If you’re interviewing for a management role, the company probably wants to see how you will fit into their leadership team.

How to Respond

Questions about preferring a frightening manager or a fun one are sort of a trick because neither option is ideal. Harsh supervisors can be bad for morale and may come off as antagonistic, while overly nice bosses can seem like pushovers who overlook poor employee performances.

Instead of picking one of the given choices, you should opt for the unspoken third option: a boss you respect. A leader knows when to be stern but can also relate to their staff and provide a safe, supportive atmosphere. Interviewers are looking for new hires who can recognize this distinction because they may be strong candidates for promotions later on.

What You Shouldn’t Say

You should never tell interviewers that you strongly prefer a manager who is either feared or liked. Focus on explaining how a leader who takes a balanced approach is better. You should also avoid speaking poorly about previous jobs or taking a negative approach overall. Try to keep your response positive, concise, and specific.

Examples of How to Answer “Is it Better to Love or Fear Your Boss?”

Navigating a question like, “Do you want a manager who you like or fear?” can be difficult, so it’s best to prepare a response before your job interview. Check out these sample answers to help you come up with your own unique reply:

Sample Answer 1 – Airline Baggage Handler

“Working in the airline business can be stressful and pretty hectic, so our bosses have to run a tight ship. If we get behind or disorganized, it affects a lot of people, and a good supervisor can make sure that doesn’t happen. At the same time, a boss who yells or demeans their crew can be discouraging to the team.”

“Ultimately, I respect managers who can lead and support their staff while being fair and understanding with their employees.”

Sample Answer 2 – Salon Manager

“While it’s important to me that the stylists feel comfortable talking to me and coming to me with concerns or questions, I also recognize that sometimes I’ll have to make unpopular decisions. I strive to be the kind of supervisor who my team can rely on and that they know that I make choices for the good of the company and employees.”

Important Takeaways

If a hiring manager asks you, “Should a boss be feared or liked?” it’s a good idea to tread lightly. This is one of the few times it’s acceptable to dodge the question in favor of a more diplomatic response. Before your interview, review the company’s mission statement or goals to develop an answer that is truthful and in line with how the business operates.

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