Management interview questions

Management interview questions do require some extra preparation.

Why? Because in addition to exploring if you have the technical capacity to handle the job, you will also need to demonstrate that you have relevant management and leadership competencies and achievements.

So, what will the interviewers focus on with their questions?

In terms of your ability to manage and lead, you can expect questions about how you manage tasks and resources, plus your ability to motivate and control the efforts of your staff. Each of these areas relate to the key functions of management.

The specific areas where you will need to demonstrate that you are a competent manager are likely to include:

  • Your ability to motivate and lead the people you manage so that they in fact follow your leadership
  • How you establish goals and objectives for the team, and monitor team performance.
  • How you establish goals and objectives for individuals on your team, and how you monitor individual performance.
  • The methods you use to give performance feedback to individuals and the team.
  • What approaches you use to develop the team and individuals.
  • Your approaches to recognising both individual and team contribution and effort of the team.
  • How you deal with unsatisfactory team and individual performance, including discipline when required.
  • The processes you use to carry out the key functions that are associated with managing - planning, organising, communicating and controlling.

Management interview questions
interview structure

During the actual interview, the management interview questions will probably cover at least these three main categories:

  1. Some fairly general exploratory questions designed to get to know you
  2. Questions related to your ability to achieve results
  3. Questions about your leadership and managing people

If you are an experienced manager you won't find this surprising. After all, the work of a manager is to lead and inspire a team of people to achieve results.

Let's look at some possible questions in each of these areas.

Management interview questions
general exploration

All interviews will have generalised questions designed to get to know you as a person. These are common job interview questions for which you'll need to have some prepared answers.

The general exploratory questions you can expect to be asked about you as a manager could include:

  • How long have you worked as a manager?
  • Please summarise your management experience for us.
  • How would your subordinates describe you?
  • What do you like most about being a manager?
  • What do you like least about being a manager
  • What has been the most difficult decision you have had to make as a manager?
  • What has been the most significant achievement in your career so far? What makes it significant?
  • Why are you leaving your present position?
  • What interests you most about this position?
  • What signs do you look for to identify excellence? Incompetence?
  • What are your strengths as a manager? Weaknesses

Notice that the above management interview questions are spread across each of three categories that you'll find in any well structured interview process. The broad categories for interview questions are:

  • Your skills and knowledge related to the requirements of the position
  • Your motivation - why you want the job, why you'd like to work for this employer, your overall motivation in working etc
  • Your fit with the team and the organisation

The relevance of these to the hiring decision making process are fully explored in job interview tips.

Be thoroughly prepared to answer questions about your reasons for applying for the job - your motivation.

And......expect questions designed to reveal what type of person you are.....will you be good fit with the organisation, your peers, and your subordinates?

Management interview questions
achieving results

Managers have a responsibility for ensuring that the work gets done.... that goals, objectives, performance targets or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the organisation and the team are achieved.

During a management interview, questions will almost certainly be asked about how you manage task achievement and work performance.

Here are some questions you might asked that will explore your ability to get results:

  • Describe an important project that you have managed and explain how you managed your team to complete the project from start to finish.
  • What process do you use to establish key performance objectives for your area of responsibility?
  • Describe a situation where your technical competence has been an important factor in achieving results.
  • Describe a time when you have had to work on projects that had competing deadlines. How did you prioritise? What was the outcome?
  • What systems and procedures have you set up in your area of responsibility to ensure greater efficiency, productivity, safety or quality? How did you communicate these to the team? What impact did these systems or procedures have?
  • Tell us about a goal or objective that you weren't able to achieve. Why did this happen? How did you handle this situation?

Job interview advice

While the majority of management interview questions will focus on how you manage task and people to achieve results it is highly likely you will be asked technical interview questions.

This will be especially the case if you work in a specialist rather than a generalist field, for example Information and Communication Technology, Engineering, Health Sciences, Research etc.

In addition to demonstrating your management and leadership credentials, technical interview questions will be aimed at determining if you are able to provide appropriate technical leadership in your area of responsibility.

Management interview questions
leading and managing people

Your approach to leading and managing people will have just as much importance as your ability to achieve results.

Therefore in an interview for a management position you can expect detailed questioning about your leadership and management style.

Job interview advice

If you have studied the art of management you no doubt know that there are numerous theories about how leading and managing should be approached in order to get the maximum possible performance from a team to enable them to achieve desired results.

In essence this diversity of theories means that different situations that need managing will require different approaches to managing and leading. For example, if you are leading a new team with mainly inexperienced workers you might need to adopt a fairly directive style of managing and leading.

The opposite might apply if you are leading a team of very experienced people who have also worked together for a long period of time.

So......your research prior to interview can play a very important role in influencing how you answer questions about your management and leadership style. Learn as much as you can about the situation and people you will be expected to manage.

Here are some common job interview questions that relate to management and leadership style:

Your style

  • How would you describe your leadership style? Please provide an example of your leadership style in action.
  • Do you believe it is more important as a manager to focus on task or relationship? Explain your answer.
  • What is the difference between being a leader and being a manager? Which do you prefer to be?
  • Describe three personal values that underpin your approach to leadership. Then for each of these provide an example of how these are applied in your work.
  • Which term best describes you as a manager - a micromanager or a macromanager? Why does this approach work best for you?
  • What stresses you most as a manager? What strategies do you have for dealing with this?

Communication skills and resolving conflict

  • Describe a time where you have had to deal with a staff member who was resentful or hostile towards you. How did you handle this? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a situation where you have had to manage people who disliked each other and where this had an impact on the work of the team. How did you manage this? What was the outcome?

Team performance

  • What do you do to ensure that your team operates at optimum level?
  • What techniques do you use to motivate your team? Give an example of situation where you have done this successfully.
  • What methods or steps do you use to identify a vision for your area of responsibility.
  • Describe a situation where you have had to introduce significant change into the team or organisation. How did you approach this?
  • Describe what you do to develop your people.
  • An important element for effective team working is for the team to share a vision and goals. How do you try to achieve this with teams that you lead?
  • Tell us about a situation where you have had to manage a culturally diverse working environment. What did you do to enhance the valuing and encouragement of cultural differences within the team.

Management interview questions - Summary

Managers are responsible for achieving results through the people they manage. During a management job interview it is natural to assume that your approach to managing and leading will be thoroughly explored.

The questions on this page are just a small sample of potential questions you might be asked.

Be aware however that the management interview questions you'll be asked will be designed around the situation you will be expected to manage.

It is expected that managers and leaders will be able to adapt their style to particular situations

Therefore your research prior to the interview will be extremely important in enabling you to adapt your answers to the present and/or desired future situation, and results, within the organisation.

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