role of truth in an interview

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role of truth in an interview

If you did not get along with your manager at your previous position and you are asked about this relationship – do you tell the plain truth or do you avoid it?


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Whether your previous boss was your best friend or your worst enemy, talking about him or her to a prospective employer takes a little tact.
“How you describe past relationships speaks volumes about you, not the boss, which is why interviewers pose the question,” says Elaine Stirling, a Toronto-based communications consultant and author of The Corporate Storyteller: A Writing Manual & Style Guide for the Brave New Business Leader.
Interviewers are looking for a few different things when they ask this question: how well you handle being put on the spot, how well you play with others, and how you like to be managed. Come prepared to answer, so you don’t get caught off-guard and say something you’ll regret.
Be positive—even if it’s difficult
The experts agree that saying something positive about your former boss is the only way to answer this question—regardless of your true feelings.
“If a candidate rants negatively about a prior manager, the interviewer often considers the employee the problem and will be hesitant to make the hire,” says Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University in Boston.
Obviously if you had a great manager, acknowledge that and specify what made them so great, Sarikas says. “If, on the other hand, you had a more challenging relationship with you manager, proceed cautiously.”
You want to highlight positive aspects of your manager’s leadership style and what you learned from him or her, says Marti Benjamin, a Nevada-based certified career management coach and former health care executive. If the interviewer pushes for some sort of criticism, say something that ends on a positive note.
“You may want to acknowledge that while you had very different styles, you found a way to work together to deliver results or meet customer needs,” Sarikas suggests. “Be prepared to give a specific example that can be shared in a positive way.”
You say: “My boss was strong-willed, which sometimes made it difficult to communicate new ideas; however, we always managed to talk it out and find solutions that were best for the company.”  
Bring it back to your strengths
Your answer to this question can indicate how you like—or don’t like—to be managed, says Cheri Farmer, a sales trainer for the Grace Bay Group in South Carolina, who has interviewed countless people over the course of her career. “How does that mesh with my own management style? Would this be a relationship that works?”
The interviewer may also be testing to see what you’ll be like to work with, Farmer adds. Will you make a positive contribution to the company’s culture, or will you need to be refereed?
Whatever the reason, remember they are interviewing you, not your former boss, Sarikas says. “Keep the focus on what skills and experience you bring to this position. Let your strengths show in your answer and move the interview onto more important questions.”
You say: “She was so effective at advocating for our department. I learned a lot from her about how to diplomatically manage people, keep communication lines open between departments and how to advocate for the team.”


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