By Mike Simpson
Over the course of your career, you acquire new skills, take on more responsibilities, and even get a chance to lead from time to time. After a while, it’s normal to think, “Hey, maybe it’s time to shift into a management role officially.” If so, congrats, that’s a big deal! It also means it’s time to step up your interview game and prepare for interview questions for managers.
Yes, manager interview questions are a bit different than what you face as an individual contributor. That’s why you need to spend some time learning about what to expect.
So, if you’re ready to dive in, let’s take a look at the world of management interview questions.
When A Management Position Opens Up
Before you start polishing your resume and applying to management roles, let’s take a step back. The leadership ranks are different from what you’ve done so far, so it’s wise to make sure you’re really ready. That means it’s time for some serious self-evaluation.
To make that easier, we’ve compiled some questions into a quick self-assessment quiz:
- Do you consistently achieve positive results?
- Are you completing tasks quickly and efficiently?
- Do you have a history of positive interactions with your fellow employees?
- Are you effective at handling conflict professionally?
- Are you a problem solver?
- Do you take on leadership roles?
- Are you considered a mentor?
- Do others see you as a leader?
Now let’s pretend that each of these questions is a checkboxes, and every ‘yes’ gets you a green check, and every ‘no’ gets you a red x.
Do you have more green checks than red x’s?
If the answer is no, Stick with where you are and continue honing your skills, working your way toward more green checks.
If you answered yes, congratulations! It’s time to move on to the next step
Prepping For The Battle Ahead
Transitioning to management is a big adjustment. You need to both prep and strategize how you’re going to tackle this new challenge.
The first thing you need to do is realize that the types of questions you’ll face aren’t the same sort of questions you encountered previously. Before, the focus was on your specific skills and experiences as an employee. Now, it’s more about the ability to get results from teams you’ll lead.
After all, 70 percent of team engagement variances are directly connected to managers. Since highly engaged teams show 21 percent greater profitability, it’s no surprise hiring managers want to make sure you can get results.
Also, be prepared to get asked about your long-term goals. For example, there’ll be questions about your ongoing role with the company and where you see yourself down the road.
Now that we’ve gone over what to expect let’s focus on building your answer arsenal, so you’re ready for the actual interview.
Much like the behavioral questions we’ve gone over before, answers to interview questions for managers should always be accompanied by concrete examples. Your goal is to demonstrate to your interviewer that you’re not just knowledgeable but that you’re experienced.
MIKE'S TIP: Keep in mind that as management is a leadership position, having examples that include success stories with you demonstrating leadership success is a quick way to boost your answers!
In fact we we wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions along with their manager specific questions!
Click below to get your free PDF now:
Get Our Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet!
FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our "Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet" that gives you "word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you'll face at your next interview.
Manager Interview Questions With Example Answers
Here are 10 example management interview questions (and answers) for you to practice with:
1. Describe your management style
“Trust, transparency, and communication are the heart of my management style. I start out every project by making sure that I give clear directions and outline our overall goals, but I make a real effort not to micromanage, even while staying informed.
For example, I was on a large software project a few years ago that had five people each working on a separate code pieces that would create the final program. I set up a communication board that allowed us to message instantly and included a status update section where people could keep everyone up to speed. It allowed me to stay up to date on every aspect of the project without being intrusive and gave us all a way to work together.”
2. How do you define success?
“I find a lot of value in setting goals as a means of measuring success. By outlining the steps required to achieve objectives, I can monitor progress, results, and overall success with ease.
With a past team, we were assigned the massive task of reorganizing a technical manual library. We broke it down aisle by aisle, and even shelf by shelf, giving us manageable micro-goals. Then, I worked in incentives for completing sections to keep us motivated. Not only were we able to finish by the deadline, but by adding the fun elements to the project, we remained engaged, which in itself is a major success.”
3. How do you manage stress among your team members?
“If I start to notice stress within the team, I try to tackle it quickly and proactively. For example, a few years ago, I was on a group project where we were tasked with finishing a large design for a client. While the majority of the team worked well together, there was one individual who was consistently missing deadlines. This created friction among the members of the group.
Rather than let the issue fester, I took the employee aside to discuss the situation. He confided that he was having some personal issues that were cutting into his work time. We came up with a solution where he was able to switch his hours around and adjust his schedule to accommodate this issue. As a result, he was able to catch up with the group.”
4. How do you handle conflict between team members?
“There are always two sides to every story, which is why it’s so important to me to remain as neutral and open-minded as possible. I was in a situation a few years ago where two members of my team were clearly unhappy with each other. Rather than ignoring it with the hope that they would be able to work it out themselves, I sat down with them individually and asked them to explain what was going on. We discussed reasonable and professional solutions that worked for both parties, and the matter was resolved.”
5. Tell me about a time you let an employee go…
“One summer, I was working as a supervisor for a local pool. We had a lifeguard who was consistently late to the job. As his supervisor, I pulled him aside on three occasions and spoke with him about why he was late and how that was a violation of the company policy, and how the fourth time would be grounds for his dismissal. I made sure to keep the HR team involved with every step and properly document each meeting. Unfortunately, he was tardy a fourth time, and I had to let him know that he was being terminated. It wasn’t an easy task, but it had to be done.”
6. Tell me about a time you led by example…
“To me, you can’t be a good leader if you’re not willing to also do the work. One time, I was supervising a shop that was responsible for cleaning and testing floats. We got a call from a business that had several of our sensors in a sewage tank that weren’t reading properly, and we determined they needed replacing. It was a miserable task, but rather than make the employees suffer any longer than necessary, I cleared my schedule, threw on a hazmat suit, and joined them. We were able to get the whole task done in one day, and the client was satisfied.”
7. How do you motivate people?
“Motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so I like to really get to know my team on an individual level. A few years ago, I was overseeing a sales team. While our numbers were good, they weren’t great, partially because one of the members of the team was dealing with a child going through cancer and chemo. Because of the gravity of the situation, I decided the team needed a good reward to get them excited about selling. I promised, if they broke the previous year’s record, I would shave my head and donate a portion of my salary to a local cancer charity. This didn’t just motivate the team; it completely re-energized them! We not only broke the previous year’s record, but fifteen of the employees joined me in shaving their heads, and we collected and donated over $5000 to the charity.”
8. Give an example of a tough decision you had to make…
“When making professional decisions, I like to keep in mind the good of the company before I consider personal feelings. A few years ago, I was in a situation where I was responsible for hiring a new team member for a large project we were working on. I had managed to narrow the selection down to two candidates; a new hire who was perfect for the job and an established employee who was not quite the right fit for the position but whom I considered a personal friend. While I would have loved to hire my friend, it wouldn’t have been the right choice for the company, so I hired the new employee. When my friend asked me why I had made that decision, I explained it to him. At the time, it wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one and one I would make again.”
9. What is your biggest management weakness?
“There are times when I have to remember that although I’m the supervisor and ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a project, I also have to step back and trust my employees to do the jobs I’ve hired them for. In past situations, when problems would arise, I would often find myself jumping in and fixing the problem myself, bypassing the person who was assigned the task. While my jumping in did solve the immediate problem, it would often lead team members to feel as though I lacked confidence in their abilities. It was a hard lesson to learn and one I still struggle with, but now, when I am faced with an issue, I step back, take a deep breath and determine the best path that doesn’t involve stepping on toes or undermining my fellow team.”
10. How do you delegate tasks to your team?
“I prefer to delegate tasks based on the aptitude of each team member for the task at hand. Prior to delegation, I sit down with my team and discuss the project. We break it down and determine exactly what needs to get done and who is the best person for each task.
For example, a few years ago, I was brought in to replace a project manager in a failing store. We closed shop for 24-hours so I could sit down with the entire team and discuss what was going on. I discovered that the previous manager had allowed favoritism to impact their choices. I then completely restructured the entire team based on what each person’s strengths and skills were, opening the next day with everyone in their new roles and tasks. Within a week, we were doing better numbers than had been done the month prior, and within six months, the store had become one of the top-performing stores in the area.”
11. Why do you want to become a manager?
“One of my core reasons for wanting to transition into management involves my success as a project lead. In my past role, I had the opportunity to oversee several high-visibility projects, coordinating teams of no less than five members. While I relished in the opportunity to put my skills to work, what was most rewarding – and was ultimately an area where I shined – was coaching others toward success. I feel my experience as an individual contributor gives me an advantage in that regard, as I understand the perspective of the team. Plus, my active listening, delegation, and communication skills help eliminate obstacles and resolve conflicts, and I believe I could do the same in a management role.”
12. Discuss a time when you had to provide negative feedback to a team member…
“In my last position, I was part of a project team with a member who was struggling with their responsibilities, ultimately turning in subpar work that would have to be redone. I scheduled a one-on-one meeting, bringing examples of the issues I found in their outputs. At the start of the meeting, I mentioned that my goal was to find a solution to the issue I’d discovered and used a fact-based, non-judgmental approach to outline the problem. Then, I asked the employee how they perceived the issue and if they had possible solutions. This allowed us to work together, developing a coaching plan that got them back on target.”
13. What steps do you take to create a positive culture?
“The benefits of a positive, supportive culture are well-known, so I go the extra mile to ensure I do my part to create one. Along with getting to know employees on an individual level, I make well-being a priority. Additionally, I ensure recognition is a consistent part of any conversation and take extra steps to showcase my gratitude. Whether it’s a hand-written thank you note, a catered lunch, or anything else, I ensure that each employee knows they’re valued and seen.”
14. How do you keep your team engaged?
“For engagement, I’ve found that the most effective approaches involve healthy challenges, pathways for advancement, and a clear connection between individual tasks and the broader mission. By ensuring all team members get opportunities to join exciting projects and hone new skills, the work stays interesting. Couple that with making all tasks meaningful, and even everyday activities are more engaging.”
15. What plans do you have for team development?
“Ongoing development is critical for remaining on top of trends and closing skill gaps. Generally, I’ve found that the most successful approach begins with research. Along with examining emerging trends, I spend time talking with team members about their career goals and interests. This allows me to find opportunities that align, creating a more enriching experience for employees while ensuring the company has access to the skill sets its needs.”
Here Are 35 More Common Manager Interview Questions
- What does being a manager mean to you?
- What is the most challenging thing about being a manager?
- How do you handle stress?
- How do you handle pressure?
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
- What do you think your employees would say about your management style?
- How do you deal with conflict between employees?
- What are qualities of a successful manager?
- How do you build trust in your team?
- What is your favorite part of being a manager?
- What is your least favorite part of being a manager?
- How well do you work in a team environment?
- What qualifications do you look for in an employee ?
- Tell me about a time you failed as a leader initially and had to adjust your style to fix the issue?
- How do you keep updated on your management skills?
- How do you establish rapport with a new employee?
- Tell me about a time at your last job where you stepped up as a manager.
- Describe how you would deliver a “no” to a customer who is expecting a “yes”.
- Which supporting skills do you think are most important when it comes to leadership?
- Tell me about your approach to delegation.
- When a member of your team presents you with an idea, how do you respond?
- Tell me about the hardest decision you’ve ever made as a leader. How did you decide which course of action was best?
- How do you handle insubordination?
- How do you manage people who are resistant to change when change is needed?
- How do you manage multiple departments simultaneously?
- How do you handle conflict between team members?
- What does your ideal office space look like?
- How do you manage the performance of your employees?
- How do you solve problems?
- How would you approach and fix a department with low morale and engagement?
- How would you deal with a project deadline that suddenly became sooner?
- Give me an example of a time you dealt with a customer complaint…
- How would you handle an irate customer?
- How would you handle a new product launch?
- What is your greatest strength as a manager?
5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Manager Interview
When you are finished answering your manager interview questions, you typically get to ask a few yourself. This is a crucial opportunity. Not only will it ensure you can get details that may not have been covered, but it also lets you gauge whether the job is actually right for you.
If you don’t know what to ask, here are five good questions for the end of any manager interview:
- Is there an employee performance review process? If so, will I be responsible for my team members’ reviews?
- Who on the executive team will I report to?
- How would you describe the corporate culture?
- How would you describe my potential team working environment? Is it collaborative or are the team members more independent?
- Can you tell me a bit more about the direct reports I’ll be supervising?
Putting It All Together
So, there you have it, a quick and easy walk-through guide on how to master interview questions for managers and how to make sure, when it’s time, you’re fully prepared to take your career to the next level!
Download our "Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet" that gives you word-for-word sample answers to some of the most common interview questions including:
- What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
- What Is Your Greatest Strength?
- Tell Me About Yourself
- Why Should We Hire You?
- And more!
Click Here To Get The Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet
Mike Simpson( Co-Founder and CEO )
Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.
His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others.
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