Tell Me About a Time Your Manager Hindered Your Performance

Engagement during work is the foundation for improving the performance of employees. A great deal of this engagement can be attributed to supervisors and managers. During a job interview, the interviewer wants to get to know you a bit better and will probably discuss your previous work experience.

When interviewers ask you about a time your manager hindered your performance, you could view this as a trick question. The question asks you to talk about a situation in which you encountered a problem with a manager. Furthermore, the interviewer is asking you to provide an actual situation.

These types of questions are used to assess your tactical skills and how well you can tackle complex situations in the workplace. In work environments, you have to deal with coworkers, managers, directors, etc. in a professional manner. Any hinder encountered during your work can be tricky to tackle. However, it’s up to you to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are able to handle challenging situations in a calm manner.

Other ways the interviewer can ask you questions about how you handle conflicts at work:

  • Tell me about a time you had to handle a conflict at work.
  • How do you deal with conflicts with superiors?
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision from your manager.
  • Describe a time when you were hindered in your work.
  • Tell me about a time you had an issue with a coworker.
  • Tell me about a time coworkers slowed down your pace of work.
  • How do you deal with different opinions within a team?
  • Tell me about a work incident that led to you being hindered in your performance.

Read more about interview questions regarding working with managers here.

In this blog, we discuss why interviewers ask you such questions and walk you through answering them. Sample answers are also given.

Read more about interview questions regarding working with managers here. Also, make sure that you’re prepared to answer frequently asked job interview questions as well. Furthermore, common job interview questions should always be prepared before your job interview. Check our job interview checklist here.

Why is the interviewer interested in situations that hindered your performance?

During a job interview, the interviewer wants to discuss work situations that required you to cope with a difficult situation. The reason behind such questions is to assess whether or not you’re reliable and agreeable. By asking about a situation in which a manager hindered your performance, the interviewer wants to hear from you how you handled the situation. Based on your answer, they try to determine if you can approach and solve complicated situations in a professional way while leaving your emotions out.

It’s not uncommon to encounter some sort of conflict at work or other challenging situations during your career. Of course, interviewers know this, and this is also the reason why they are interested in how you handle such situations. Furthermore, the way you handled past work situations is a good indicator of the behavior that you will most likely show in the future.

Another important reason for asking questions about challenging work situations is to see how you talk about your past employers, managers, and coworkers. If the interviewer gets a negative impression about you from your answers, your chance of getting hired is not great. He or she could, for instance, conclude that you might be a difficult person to get along within the workplace. Therefore, make sure that you stay diplomatic in your answers

Basically, the interviewer wants to find out whether or not you can resolve challenges in the workplace in a professional manner. It’s therefore important that you prepare answers to demonstrate that you take your job seriously and that you can handle challenging situations.

Tips for answering interview questions about being hindered in your performance

The best way to answer an interview question such as ‘tell me about a time your manager hindered your performance‘ is by explaining an example of previous work experience. The most efficient way to do this is by using the STAR interview technique. STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, result. It’s the perfect way to structure your answer logically.

Avoid being negative at all costs or badmouthing any previous manager or coworker. Negative stories or a negative tone of voice never impresses the interviewer the right way.

Below we discuss some scenarios that you can use in your answers when discussing times you were hindered in your performance.

Example scenario 1 – No frequent communication

Short communication lines and regular communication are important factors in employee engagement. In your answer, you can explain how a manager did not initiate frequent communication with you or your team and how this influenced your performance.

However, always follow-up by explaining how you addressed this issue and how it got solved. The interviewer is interested in how you approach challenging situations and if you’re proactive in solving them. Also, don’t talk bad about a previous employer or coworker. Keep the situation in your answer focused on yourself.

Example scenario 2: No constructive feedback

Another reason that could cause hinder your work performance is not receiving constructive feedback. It’s the task of a manager to balance positive feedback and discussing points of improvement. Constructive feedback focusses on the points that you can improve to increase performance or output. In your answer, you can explain how a lack of constructive feedback let to confusion with you or within your team in terms of expectations.

Just like explained earlier, follow-up by explaining how you tackled the challenge and how it got resolved. Interviewers are interested in your personality and how you approach complex work situations. Again: never badmouth a previous manager, colleague, or supervisor. Focus on yourself and how you addressed the situation.

Example scenario 3: Unclear expectations

Unclear expectations in the workplace are the cause of ineffective communication. In turn, this can impact performance. In your answer, you can explain how a manager did not make the expectations clear that lead to uncertainty with you or within your team, which impacted your performance.

Explain how you approach the situation and how you eventually got the expectations clear. The interviewer wants to hear what you did to improve the situation. Again, in these situations, never talk bad about your manager or previous employer. Focus the answer on your own actions and how you solved the situation.

Sample answers to interview questions about being hindered in your performance

Below you can find an example answer to the interview questions discussed in this blog. The answer is already written in the STAR method. However, this is an example. Make sure to prepare your own answers that apply to your particular situation.

Situation and Task

‘In my previous position, I worked as a team leader of software testers for an IT company. My manager asked my software testing team to create an implementation plan together with our development team. She was running multiple projects at the same time, and she gave both teams separate instructions and four in total weeks to finalize the plan. 

After two weeks into the project, we found out that some of the work that was done overlapped and that some people were working on the same parts. Of course, this worried me, and I notified my manager about the situation. I went to her office and brought up what we discussed during the kick-off of the project. She could not recollect what tasks and instructions were given to which team. This, in turn, led to unclear expectations between the teams.

Action

Of course, I was a bit frustrated because of the tight deadline and the double work that was already done, but I was able to stay calm and explain the situation. I knew she had a lot on her plate because she was running multiple projects. Together with the team leader of the development team, I already thought about how we could streamline the project, and I walked her through what I thought was the best way forward. After walking her through the project in more detail, she was happily surprised that we already came up with a solution. I proposed to deliver her a more detailed outline in a report within a day.

Results

By already thinking about a solution before we addressed the issue that caused us to do work double, I was able to get the project back on track. She was pleased with the strategy that I, together with the other team leader, came up with to finalize the project in time. A week after finalizing the project, I brought the communication issue to the attention of my manager. I also explained how it led to us almost not reaching our target and that it hindered my team’s performance. She understood what I meant and promised to initiate frequent communication, and shorter communication lines to make sure it would not happen again.’

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic