I suspect almost everyone knows what they are not supposed to do in answering this question. In doing so, I just want to make sure–You don’t want to be critical of the previous manager.
” I work with some great people but there was this 1 person– she was abominable to me!”
You don’t want to go down that road. You don’t want to make it seem like your manager is a snoop or a micromanager. You don’t want to ever be critical of anyone from before AND at the same time on the opposite side of this, you don’t want to seem like such a strong advocate for one position or another or one type of management style or another that you come across a little crazy.
“I work well with people who are…” You don’t want to go there either.
The 3rd thing is you also don’t want to seem desperate. “Oh, I need a job. I can work with anybody.” You don’t want to go there either.
Here’s what I want you to do and I want you to think of this from the standpoint of you are in real need of a job, or you are exploring things and it has to be the right thing.
If you do need a job, maybe you’ve been out of work for a while or, emotionally, you need to get back to work, you want to talk about the right style for you.
“I don’t think anyone wants to work for a micromanager. At the same time, a person who manages has a responsibility to an organization to ensure that the people in their care are doing the right stuff. I understand I work well with management who gives me an assignment and the sense of how they want me to do it, lets me go off and do it, and wants me to check in with them from time to time to ensure that I’m on the right track and who I feel I can go to and ask for advice and input.” That’s a great approach that I think works well, whether your staff individual or at a manager level and above.
The tricky thing is if you are anxious or you do need a job quickly, you might say something along the lines of, “If that’s the style that, doesn’t work for you, give me a sense of how you manage for you because, the fact of the matter is, I can adapt. ” What you’re trying to do is communicate that you’re not so set in your ways that you are demanding something.
However you describe the management style (maybe it’s different than the style that I laid out), if you want to describe something very different and you don’t have a real need for a new position, I want you to be prepared to talk about it in more detail. I offered one framework, but you can offer your own that makes sense for you. You can look someone square in the eye and say, “This is what has worked very well for me in the past and that gets results for me.” Then leave it at that. You don’t continue and say, “If that doesn’t work for you, we can call it quits today. My feelings won’t be hurt and, I suspect, yours won’t be either.” Don’t go down the road.
Instead, lay out your case for the kind of style that works for you, how it benefits you and the organization in the past, and how you’ve gotten great results from doing it that way.
And leave it at that.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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