Interview Tips

How to Answer: What Characteristics Do You Desire In a Boss?

By: Juliana Norton
Aug 20, 2020 • 3 min read

How to Answer: What Characteristics Do You Desire In a Boss?

Answering interview questions on the spot can be super nerve-wracking, especially when they’re opinionated like this one. You might be thinking, can I say the wrong answer if it’s my opinion? What really matters is how you phrase what you look for in a boss, and how you present yourself in the moment. It’s important to come across as confident and thoughtful.

Noble Characteristics

When answering this question, try to mention good characteristics of a leader. Even if you have to use your favorite hero in a storybook or TV show as a reference, think of some positive qualities that they have. The more out of the box, the better! Another way to come up with some attributes is to imagine a previous boss you disliked. What exactly did they lack? Was there something specific about their style of operation or personality you would have liked to change? Use that as inspiration to draw up what you’d imagine would make up a perfect boss. A good answer would include two or three qualities and go into detail about each one.

Some characteristics you could describe them as are:

  • Accountable
  • Trustworthy
  • Approachable
  • Motivating
  • Genuine
  • Passionate
  • Intelligent
  • Creative
  • Joyful
  • Self-aware
  • Inspiring
  • Admirable
  • Innovative
  • Decisive
  • Courageous

Explain Yourself

When you’re in an interview, you want to separate yourself from other applicants. The answers you give should be unique to you, so no one else can come up with them. The other essential part of this question is the reasoning behind your chosen characteristics. Any applicant can name a few qualities off the top of their head, but your why’s should be what impresses the interviewer. When going into specifics, you can mention why this trait is a good one and why it’s especially important for a boss to possess it.

in a boss


“I would like my boss to be accountable, motivating, and approachable. I believe that a supervisor sets the company’s standards for its employees and their behavior. If one’s boss isn’t accountable, how can they expect those under them to be? A boss can also set the mood of your work environment. Having someone ready to go and always motivating others makes for a great day! Also, when something is wrong, I want to feel comfortable going to them with any issue I have, which is why I’d want them to be approachable.”

Another Example:

I believe it’s important for a boss to be trustworthy, self-aware, and joyful. I want to work under someone who I believe will do the right thing, even when it’s a difficult choice. If they’re trustworthy, I know I’ll never doubt their decision making. Being self-aware is necessary to realize when you’re causing or contributing to the problem at hand. A boss who blames their own downfalls on those under them isn’t pleasant to work under. Lastly, you spend so much of your week at work and can interact with your boss a lot. It would make everyone’s day much better if they put out joyful energy and filled the day with color!”

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