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If we asked your current or former boss to make a sentence or two about you what would that be?

If we asked your current or former boss to make a sentence or two about you what would that be?

There are some common interview questions such as “tell us about yourself”, “what do you know about our company?” that are familiar to anyone who has been at either side of the interview table before. Well there are questions such as “If i asked your current or former boss to make a sentence about you what would that be?” Such a question is self-indulgent and power-based but the interviewer isn’t trying to make you uncomfortable, and they aren’t even necessarily looking to see how you assess your own performance. Instead, they are getting a combination of that insight and also insight into how you discuss your bosses and their demands. This allows them to better understand your outlook as an employee and your methods for communicating about sensitive topics.

What you should know: If you have had any performance reviews, you can actually quote from items that your last boss said about you. Be selective about the comments as much as possible identifying items most related to the position being pursued if possible. Even if you had performance issues, most of the time there are good results that are still commented on. If you don’t have performance reviews but have awards, emails with compliments can be used to formulate a response. These are excellent to use and should be directly attributed to what your boss has said. If you aren’t in receipt of those types of materials and the relationship with the boss was less than great, focus on your results.

Here are some ways you can answer and turn the question into an opportunity for positive reflection.

Answer: In my last performance review my boss said that I could be counted on to get the job done. I am not only reliable in my attendance but can be trusted on to make and meet my commitments.

Answer: I was given an award for the delivery of x project. In the award my boss said: “For outstanding results and on time delivery” I think if you were to ask him, this would be one of the sentences he would say.

Answer: I think my boss would probably say that I was able to consistently create marketing programs that improved our sales and broadened our customer base.

Answer: I think my boss would probably say I take a bit more than I should, and it makes me tire out. Well, we’ve strategized this together, and I have developed a stronger sense knowing when to delegate over time. The key here is the strategy for improvement, and the commitment to hearing criticism and responding constructively.

Points to Emphasize

Keep the following in mind as you go about this question, and you should do just fine.

  • If you feel like your current boss would state that you have been improving in an essential area, mention that so that you can talk about how.
  • It might be worthwhile to discuss how this area where you need improvement fits into the overall picture for the job, so they understand how this skill or task fits into your job description.
  • The best thing you can do is focus on something you are fairly new to doing, so that you can show how you grow into tasks and what you do to improve as you adapt.
  • Remember, they want a clearheaded assessment. Try to be lightly positive, but not overconfident.

Slip-ups You Should Avoid

Some common blunders can cost you the job, but with a little planning and precaution it’s not too hard to get around them.

  • Don’t focus too much on your negative performances or get lost in anecdotes, this is about more general tasks or traits.
  • Don’t criticize yourself. It’s important to be honest, but keep your language direct and informative and avoid talking yourself down.
  • Avoid blaming others, especially if you are interviewing for a position that is team-oriented.
  • You should not use this as an occasion to question your boss’s conclusion about your performance. This is a poisonous strategy that hiring managers will pick up on right away.

Over to you, let us know which other interview question you found challenging and how you responded anyway. We can eventually share our opinion as well.

Contributed by: Henry Mubiru Kweba. 

Views expressed by contributors are their own.