Q: If an interviewer asks me who was the worst boss I ever had, and why, can I be honest?
A: Yes, of course–you always want to blend truth and advocacy in job interview responses…but by the same token, you don’t want to get drawn into being perceived as disloyal or critical. So, this question can be answered directly, without naming names or going on at length. For example, you might respond (if true):
“One of my prior supervisors was great at giving feedback, but not as skillful in giving assignments. Thankfully, he had a good memory, so when he was critical of me for what he first thought was my missing an issue or going in a certain direction, I learned how to repeat that part of the assignment to him, without being argumentative, and he would simply nod his understanding. Still, the process resulted in more fees for the client or his having to write off some of the time, so I also learned to repeat the assignment back to him at the time he gave it, which tended to crystallize the assignment at the outset.“
This sample answer shows you to be forthcoming, to be someone who sees the practice of law through the lenses of the client and the business, plus someone who is a practical problem solver. As such, you would have turned a potential land mine into a positive interchange. Like a litigator in court or a transactional lawyer negotiating a deal, think quickly before speaking in an interview without appearing hesitant or conveying a conflicting message.
Interviewing is an art–learn to paint the picture people will see in your responses, with realism and skill.