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Along with being asked to identify your strengths, weaknesses and qualifications for an available position, you might be asked to describe your ideal employer. Thinking about specific characteristics of your ideal boss will help you formulate a more focused response. Consider which bosses you’ve worked best for in the past and highlight those characteristics that you felt boosted your professionalism or productivity. Once you’ve identified those baseline characteristics, begin to tailor your response to relate more directly to the job at hand.
Understanding the Intention
Potential employers want insight into your previous work experiences and your ability to think critically and reflectively. If you’re unable to think of a positive work experience or mentor boss, for example, you might be a negative person who doesn’t cooperate well in the workplace. Although you want to be honest about which characteristics supported you best with a previous boss, your answer should still persuade a potential employer that you’re the best fit for the position, according to Johns Hopkins University. If you’ve never examined your relationships with previous employers, you might not come across as introspective or people-focused.
Steering Clear of Dubious Characteristics
It might be true that you loved your previous boss because she was fun loving and took her hard-working employees out for happy hours on Friday evenings. Or maybe you can recall a warm, nurturing employer who mentored your every step. However, highlighting these characteristics during an interview will send the wrong message. The first description makes it seem like you value social aspects of the workplace more than other qualities; the second description could make potential employers wonder if you’re self-sufficient or motivated without extra handholding. Describing a boss as loving, hilarious, relaxed or a prankster does not appear professional.
Appealing Employer Characteristics
During the interview, talk about how your boss’s insistence on perfection helped you create extremely high standards for performance and personal ethics. You might state that your boss valued creativity and innovation, allowing you to develop unusual but effective solutions for the company’s problems. Another characteristic could be communication – perhaps your previous employer provided insightful feedback about your performance, including constructive criticism that helped you grow, according to Forbes. Your boss might value team-building, encouraging collaboration, support and friendly competition among colleagues to make work positive but challenging.
Linking Back to the Present
Don’t conclude your interview answer in the past; instead, draw connections between the strengths you acquired in previous employment to the current position. For example, after stating that your old boss encouraged innovation, point out that your ability to problem-solve creatively directly ties to the prospective employer’s commitment to out-of-the-box thinking and reputation for developing brand new ideas. Although you might have worked well with your previous employer, you want to persuade interviewers that you’re the perfect fit for your next boss, too.
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Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.
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