Management Interview Questions and AnswersIf you're interviewing for a management position, be prepared for a rigorous and challenging interview process. Interviewing for a manager position is substantially different than interveiwing for an entry-level job. As a manager you're not only responsible for your own production, but that of a team or an entire department -- a lot is riding on your ability to perform. Hiring managers and prospective employers have to make sure you're the right manager for the job.
Instead of exploring your personal skills, a hiring manager is going to explore a variety of competencies required to be an effective manager. A hiring manager wants to find out how your think and act when confronted with tough management situations. You'll need to be prepared to demonstrate that you have the experience and ability to resolve complicated problems, lead others, and oversee large, multi-faceted projects.
Below you'll find many of the common, and not so common, questions that manager candidates can expect to answer during the management interview. The questions are organized by skills type and followed by tips and suggestions for answering the type of question.
Decision Making Questions and AnswersManagers make decisions. They make a lot of decisions. They make decisions that affect productively, stability and profitability of their department and the organizations they represent. Good managers are good decision makers. The following are a few common interview questions designed to test a candidates ability to make decisions.
- What is the process you typically follow to make a decision about a plan of action?
- When given two or three equally viable paths to achieve an object, how do you decide which path to follow?
- Please explain the process you used to select the college you attended.
- What is your process or methodology for making important decision?
- When faced with several options, none of which is sufficient to accomplish your goal, how do you decide with option to pursue?
- When is it important to make a decision quickly? When should you take time to make a decision?
- Have you ever delayed any decision-making? What were the consequences for your company?
- Do you make decisions on your own without input from others? When do you seek advice from others when making decisions?
Employers want to hire managers that can demonstrate logical decision making processes, but not afraid to be decisive. As a management candidate you want to demonstrate a systematic approach to weighing options. When answering questions, use past experiences and examples to provide evidence of effective decision making processes. In your answers, describe to the interviewer how your decisions lead to positive outcomes for your team, department and company.
While it's important to demonstrate a systematic and methodical approach to decision making, hiring managers also want to see that you're willing to learn and grow. Are you creative, innovative, and willing to step outside the box? Show the interviewer that you can be creative and innovative in your approach to decision making. A candidate who can demonstrate creativity as well as make logical decisions is an attractive management candidate.
Delegating Questions and AnswersManagers aren't expected to do it all themselves, but they are expected to get it all done. To accomplish this, managers have to be able to delegate -- and delegate effectively. In order to be an effective management candidate you must demonstrate to the interviewer -- through your answers -- that you can assign duties to team members. The following are a few common interview questions designed to test a candidates ability to delegate.
- What method do you employ for delegating tasks to your team members?
- How do you ensure that taks are successfully completed? Are there any steps you take?
- What type of instructions do you provide your staff when you decide to delegate?
- Are there times when you shouldn't delegate?
- What should you assume about a team member if you want to delegate successfully?
- Tell me about an important task or assignment that you delegated?
- Is there a difference between assignment and delegation?
- What types of tasks can be delegated? What types cannot?
- How do you decide which tasks to delegate to which employees?
First and foremost, hiring managers are looking to see that you understand the importance of delegation. They also want to see that you have a good grasp of what it means to delegate and that you have the ability to do so. Managers who don't appreciate the importance of delegation, or are unable to delegate, are ineffective. Expect interview questions about delegation to test your ability pick the right people for each task, deliver clear instructions with decisive standards, motiviate team members, and know when and when not to delegate a task. Spend some time developing developing concise answers, support by your experience, for the questions above.
Motivation Questions and AnswersIt's important for a manager to be productive. However, it's much more important for a manager's team to be productive. Managers are motivators. Managers must have the energy, attitude and people skills to motivate their team members to maximize productivity. If a manager knows how to make decisions and knows how to delegate, but isn't a good motivator, they'll still be an ineffective manager. The questions below are often used by hiring managers to test a candidate's ability to motiviate.
- What is motivation?
- Share a work related experience that demonstrates your ability to encourage and motivate another person.
- Pretend you were the recipient of a coveted award three years from now. What is the reward? Why did you receive it?
- Describe time when you and your team were lacking moral and explain what you did to raise spirits?
- How do you make employees feel valued?
- What will you do to retain valued employees?
- What non-monetary factors to you feel help motivate employees?
- What kind of work culture do you think increase moral and employee motivation level?
- What type of incentives or rewards work best for motivating team members?
- Describe a time when you successfully motivated an employee who didn't want to take on a new assignment.
Simply defined, motivation--as it relates to work--is the enthusiam of a employee which causes them to take action. All questions that an interviewer asks relating to motivation are going to be aimed at determining if you, as a potential manager, have the ability to increase the enthusiam level of coworkers, team members, and subordinates to a level that causes them to take action, or take additional action.
Your answers to motivation related interview questions should demonstrate how you determine the appropriate motivation strategies to use for different groups of workers based on their different needs and perspectives.
Describe to the interviewer how you will communicate corporate goals and visions to those you manage, gain buy in from employees, establish realistic rewards and incentive structures, and motivate staff to new levels of success.
Communication Questions and AnswersCommunication is the number one tool managers use to manage. Effective managers are effective communicators. Poor communicators make ineffective managers. Be prepare to answer several questions designed to test your communication skills and ability. The questions below are often used by hiring managers to test a management candidate's ability to communicate effectively.
- How do you communicate expectations to team members?
- How do you communicate to an employees that he or she is not meeting expectations?
- What is your preferred communication style?
- Decribe five things about communication within a team that must be present in order to have a productive environment.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 representing excellent, please rate your communication skills. Provide me 3 examples from previous work experiences that show the number your selected is accurate.
- Explain how you develop relationships with managers, clients, and other colleagues.
- Explain in detail steps and actions you've taken to build relationships with new clients.
- What types of people are difficult to persuade? How do you motivate others?
The ability to communicate is a key attribute of any effective manager. Be prepared to answer several communication related interview questions. Respond to questions directly and succinctly. Show the interviewer that you know how to provide feedback to those you'll manage in a non-threatening manner. Demonstrate, using relevant and specific experiences, that you understand there is a proper time, place and method for communicating with employees.
Remember, we communicate as much information through our body language as we do through what we say. Non-verbal communcation can be just as powerful as verbal communication. Make sure your body language shows your engaged, attentive, concerned, sincere, interested, thoughtful and comfortable.
Communication questions can be challenging. Make sure to prepare for these questions before entering the interview. Have several relevant work related experience ready to share with the interviewer.
Leadership Questions and AnswersLeadership is unquestionably one of the top skills hiring managers are looking for in management job candidates. Leadership entails much more than just managing people. It encapsulates the ability to effectively communicate vision, motivate and empower, delegate responsibility, make tough decisions, turn vision into reality and guide employees through change. Below are several leadership related questions you can expect to see in your next management interview.
- Describe an example of how you've demonstrated leadership in a previous job.
- What specific strategies have you used to lead a team?
- What are the key attributes of a successful leader?
- How would past coworkers and team members rate your leadership skills? What would they say about your leadership style?
- What factors do you consider when faced with tough decisions?
- How do you make a decision when important facts are unavailable?
- What methods do you utilize to resolve problems?
- Provide examples of creative solutions you relied on to solve major problems.
- Explain how you've delegated responsibilities and coordinated tasks during previous projects.
- Explain how you've adapted to project changes in the past.
- What skills and knowledge do you still need to develop? Explain what you've done to increase your business knowledge and skills.
- How do you manage large workloads? What do you do to prioritize daily responsibilities?
- Explain how you've dealt with past failures.
- How do you determine what colleagues should have key project roles?
There are literally hundreds of different leadership interview questions and versions of questions that can be asked in the management interview. Taking the time to develop strong answers for the leadership questions presented above will provide you with a foundation for answering many more leadership questions. The key to answering leadership question is to (1)be familiar with what sound leadership entails and (2) have several strong experiences prepared for the interviewer that demonstrate your leadership ability and style.
Teamwork Interview Questions and AnswerTeamwork is at the center of corporate management today. If you can't manage a team, you aren't an effective manager. Corporations are seeking managers who can effectively manage teams of professionals with diverse skills sets and personalities. As such, interviewers will ask numerous questions to job candidates being considered for positions where teamwork is vital. The following are common teamwork related questions hiring managers often ask during the interview process.
- Tell me about a team project you successfully managed.
- What is your philosophy for delegating responsibilities?
- In your experience, what makes a successful team?
- Have you ever managed a team where there was a strong disagreement between team members? How did you handle it?
- What is your strategy for resolving disagreements?
- What is your methodology for team building? How do you select team members?
- What strategies would you use to motivate your team?
- How would you describe your team management style?
- Share a rewarding team experience.
- How do you empower team members you oversee?
- Why should I hire you as team leader?
Again, there are many derivations of the above questions that hiring managers might ask during an interview. Develop strong answers for the teamwork questions above focusing on your ability to delegate, motivate, and build effective teams and you'll have strong foundation as well as the confidence to any tackle teamwork interview question. Also make sure to identify several professional experiences you can share with the interviewer that demonstrate your ability to manage teams.
Other Management CompetenciesIn addition to the core management competencies listed above there are several other competencies that interviewers are likely to test. These include the following:
Problem Analysis and Assessment
- Describe a complex problem you recently had to address while managing a project. Take me step by step through the process you used to gain a better understanding of the problem.
- Describe an instance where you were able to identify and resolve a small problem that had the potential of becoming a much bigger problem.
Here you need to demonstrate that you're able to detect problems, gather relevant information, identify the core issues, and understand the cause and effect relationships. Focus your answers and examples on your ability to indentify the right information and major issues underlying the problem.
- Describe a project where you were required to provide training to various team members on the same tasks.
- Provide an example of an instance where you had to provide feedback to a team member who's performance was sub par. How did you do this and what was the outcome?
Your answers to these and similar questions should focus on your ability to facilite the development of new knowledge and skills among those you oversee. Address how you're able to assess the needs of your team members, put together a plan and implement the plan.
Work and Task Management
- Step me through a long-term plan you developed and implemented while managing a team of workers.
- How do you prioritize work assignments?
Work and task management questions are intended to test your planning and organizational skills. Your answers should demonstrate your ability to establish meaningful, achievable objectives, prioritize tasks, assign tasks to the right team members, allocate resources correctly, use organizational tools and follow up on tasks and provide useful feedback and direction.
Other Interview Q&A Guides for Management and General Management CandidatesThe following are job interview question and answer guides for candidates seeking job opportunities in general management. You can expect to see several of the questions presented in these guides in your next job interview.
An Additional NoteThe quality of answers provided during a management interview can affect whether you receive further consideration for the job. An interviewer might not be impressed if you provide pre-planned answers, so do not hesitate to pause and think through a response. Also, know that manager interview questions are going to vary based on the core competencies required by the type of management position you're apply for, level and scope of management job. As you develop answers for the questions listed above, develop answers that address the core competencies for your specific position.
Group interviews can be huge time-savers. Instead of spending 10 hours interviewing 10 candidates individually, you could spend two hours interviewing them in a group.
But, like any interview format, group interviews have drawbacks and aren’t well-suited for all roles. How can you use group interviews effectively?
How to conduct a group interview:
When are group interviews appropriate?
Conducting group interviews makes sense when you:
- Aim to fill a role within a specific time frame (e.g. seasonal hiring).
- Are hiring more than one person for the same position (e.g. salespeople).
- Want to screen a large number of equally skilled applicants (e.g. recent graduates).
- Are hiring for a position where teamwork, communication and handling stress are the most important requirements for the role (e.g. customer support).
What are group interview limitations?
Conducting group interviews can come with limitations:
- Building rapport with individual candidates can be more challenging in a group setting.
- Senior-level, experienced candidates might view group interviews as demeaning. Michelle Gamble Risley, CEO of publishing company 3L Publishing, participated in a group interview, and shared her thoughts about her experience in a 2011 Fortune article:
“It was just shocking and demoralizing. I felt I was at an executive level and I shouldn’t be put into a cattle call. If they had warned me in advance, I would not have even shown up.”
- Group interviews are often used to gauge teamwork skills, but efficient teams aren’t build in a day. Candidates who are team players may not feel comfortable working with strangers, let alone their competition.
Here’s how you can mitigate the limitations of group interviews:
- Use group interviews when they make sense. Group interviews might make candidates uncomfortable and contribute to an unpleasant candidate experience. Also, while you can save time by interviewing multiple candidates at once, interviewers still need to dedicate time and effort preparing group discussion topics and activities.
- Train interviewers. Training can reduce biases and help recruiters and interviewers build rapport with candidates in groups. You can try professional training firms like InterviewEdge and Select International. Or you can conduct mock interviews with hiring teams and discuss their approach.
- Choose the right questions. Prioritize questions that require unique answers, so candidates don’t influence each other’s answers. Those questions can include, “Why do think you’re right for the job?” “What’s a recent project you’re proud of?” “How did you contribute to your team in your latest project?”
- Give candidates advance notice of your group interview. Some may choose not to participate and you’ll give others time to prep for a different interview format. Also, let them know how much time they should expect to set aside for the interview.
How do you prepare to conduct a group interview?
Plan the process
You can use these methods to assess candidate skills:
- Ask candidates structured interview questions to gauge their preparedness, public speaking and concision. Addressing each candidate separately with an introductory question is a good way to open group interviews and get to know individual candidates.
- Initiate a group discussion among candidates to gauge their confidence, how they construct their arguments and whether they’re good listeners. Pose a dilemma and ask the group how to solve it. Observe how each candidate solves the problem and analyze their responses to other candidates’ suggestions.
- Assign candidates a team project to assess teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills. Group interview activities can involve job-related projects (e.g. sales presentations) or role playing. For example, you could give candidates a LEGO project and ask them to build a tower with as few bricks as possible. The way they work together is more important than the project’s end result.
Group interviews make it easier for you to rule out:
- Rude candidates who constantly interrupt and talk over others.
- Aggressive candidates who disrespect others’ opinions.
- Bored candidates who check their phones or yawn.
Prepare your interviewers
It’s best to have more than one interviewer in group interviews, as you’ll have to observe multiple candidates at once. HR staff can collaborate with hiring managers and their team members to conduct a group interview and facilitate group interview activities.
Before the group interview, arrange a meeting with all your interviewers. Make sure everyone understands the process and goals. Assign roles if needed. For example, you may want one interviewer to be a silent observer while another could ask interview questions. It’d be also useful for interviewers to discuss what questions they’ll include on their scorecards and how they’ll rate responses.
Deliver an opening message
A strong opening in a group interview can go a long way. Here are some group interview ideas for easing the candidates into the process:
- Introduce your team of interviewers.
- Congratulate candidates for passing through your resume screening phase. Remind them that everyone in this room is qualified for the job.
- Tell candidates how long you expect the interview to last and brief them on the process.
- Give a short presentation on your company values. You can also talk about the position’s details, like working hours, salary, benefits and more.
How do you close a group interview?
Give candidates the opportunity to ask questions. Dedicate time to make sure everyone has their questions answered at the end of the interview. Remember to thank everyone for their time and let them know when to expect updates. Close on a pleasant note by wishing them all well. Following up as soon as possible with individual feedback for each candidate is good practice.
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