Whether you've just made the step into management or you're a seasoned pro, if you're interviewing for a management position, interviewers will ask a series of questions which explore your competence level and whether you'll be a fit at the company.
Interviewing for a management position is tough because all your skills, from communication to team leadership, are under scrutiny.
In order to succeed, you’ll need to articulate your leadership skills and philosophy to your hiring manager.
Don't stress one bit, as you can get a leg up by learning the 8 most common types of interview questions for a management position.
Here's what we'll explore in this article:
- How to use the STAR method for Interviews
- 8 common interview questions for a management position
- In-depth explanations on why interviewers will ask you the question.
- Example answers that you can use to ace your interview
At Enhancv we have an outstanding career counseling service which can help you to comb through your resume, identifying skills you can highlight, and giving you the confidence to answer each question thrown at you in an honest, intelligent way.
Using the STAR method to craft interview answers
Your worst fear in an interview is when you get hit with a question you can’t answer.
You struggle, stammer, and try to come up with an answer on the spot.
Just take a one deep breath and give yourself a second to think.
Consider the question and use the STAR method to help you answer the questions.
Here's what the star method stands for:
- Situation: Provide a specific event or time in which you did something that sheds light on the interviewer’s question.
- Task: Describe what your role was in addressing the situation.
- Action: Explain all the steps you took to accomplish your goals, including delegating, communicating, and rectifying issues.
- Result: Share exactly what happened from your actions.
Let's break those down quickly. The situation is a specific issue which you are tasked with fixing within your organization.
For example, let's say your customer relationship management software wasn't up to snuff, and you need to address some bugs within the software. That would be the specific situation.
Next, mention the tasks that you identified and the actions that you took which resulted in the specific result that you saw.
Let's say you reached out to the IT department, and fixed some of the issues that were going on, as well as defined major issues within your whole customer relationship system through a customer survey. Then you saw greater engagement from customers who used your site, leading to increases in sales from returning customers.
Interview questions for managers
1. What are some strategies that you've used to inspire and motivate team members?
This question doesn't have to be as difficult as it sounds.
All the interviewer is trying to find is ways that you’ve used to motivate team members.
Maybe, during the pandemic, you sought to open up avenues for communication among remote workers. You found that many of the employees lost a sense of connection, and you made sure to provide spaces for open communication between employees, as well as management and employees.
Throughout the pandemic, I found that many employees lack connection because of minimal face-to-face interaction (Situation). I created initiatives for employees to share about themselves and their lives through our Slack groups (Task). Specifically, we had morale building times to share about our children, our pets, and our experiences during quarantine, and at Christmas I made an effort to drop off their company gifts to their doorsteps (Actions). I heard that those little gestures allowed them to feel a part of the work community, and, while most businesses are dealing with record resignations, I was able to retain every employee.
2. What are the major characteristics of your leadership style?
If you're anything like me, you never gave much thought to your leadership style before this question. You just used the gifts that you had to build up your team in the way that fit with your personality.
Managers primarily ask this question to assess your view of successful leadership, and seek to understand if it fits the company's culture.
According to the Harvard Business Review there are four unique leadership styles:
- "The Classic Entrepreneur": These leaders thrive on competition, and love to pitch and clinch deals through the use of statistics and calculations.
- "The Modern Missionary": These leaders aim to make a difference in their world, and they take risks to do that, choosing to eschew economic value as the only thing to strive for.
- "The Problem Solver": These managers focus on concrete solutions, preferring to focus on a top-down approach to leadership.
- "The Solution Finder": These leaders are humble, choosing to rally their team and share the credit with them as they break expectations.
My leadership style is highly focused on gathering together a team to solve difficult solutions. I've had success by creating a meritocracy where my team members can pitch any idea to me as long as they're confident that they can make it work. I reward those team members who step out to take risks.
3. What is your process for effectively delegating tasks?
Even a superstar manager can't do it all by themselves, so this question lets an interviewer see if you're confident in passing on tasks to those working on your team.
Try to focus your answer on how you've been able to assign specific tasks to staff members. If possible, mention a situation where you identified the skills of your team and handed out tasks according to each team member's strengths.
I take a two-step approach when delegating projects to team members: 1. I identify the skills that my team members already possess, and 2. I find areas where team members could grow by completing a task. In either case, I let those who I'm delegating projects to know the expectations using key performance indicators, as well as setting them up for success through communication and making sure team members have everything that they need.
4. Walk me through a challenging project that you oversaw to completion.
Here's where the STAR method can come in handy, as you're talking about a specific project that you worked on.
Interviewers want you to bring up your greatest achievement in your career, something that challenged you, and you felt accomplished when you succeeded.
In my previous role, I worked as a sales manager, overseeing a team of 10 sales people. I was tasked with increasing sales 10% in the last half of 2019. I came up with three ways to increase sales: cold calling, doing the trade show circuit, and creating a dedicated content marketing plan to target small business owners in our area through a great discount. We crushed our expected goal, and brought in an additional 14% income over those 6 months. Each team member was ecstatic when they saw the commission checks.
5. What is one skill that you gained in your last role?
Here's where you can share the trajectory of your skill-set by giving a breakdown of an important skill you gained.
In my previous role, I was in a role where I hosted weekly board meetings, something which was delegated to me from my boss. My manager knew that I already had great organizational skills, but she asked me to chair the meeting, which allowed me to build confidence in my public speaking skills.
6. What is one skill that you have room for improvement?
This may seem like a trick question, one where you feel you need to list something that you're not very good at.
Instead, this is an opportunity for you to share how you feel the company that you're applying to can help you gain skills, and by extension, help you advance in your career.
I was looking more through your website to gain a little more information about your company, and I noticed that you are involved in philanthropic pursuits. I'm pretty passionate about my volunteer experiences, but I'd love to help organize some initiatives. I mostly played a volunteer role as a team member with philanthropic initiatives, but I strongly feel that I could add to the amazing work that you're doing.
7. If hired, what would be your first steps to succeed?
The main reason a hiring manager may ask this question is to identify your thought process to develop systems to succeed. This is a question that allows them to feel out whether you can succeed in your role.
Try, as much as you are able, to tailor your answer to the needs of the specific business that you are applying for.
I've always found that you can't succeed without having a team behind you, and my first step would be to meet with team members to develop strategies to succeed.
Next, I would look at the major goals for the business, like for example, I noticed on the job description that you have a goal to extend readership of your magazine from 10,000 readers to 30,000 readers within the next three years. After meeting with executives and sales managers, I would try to create practical strategies which allow us to reach that goal.
8. What do you enjoy the most about being a manager?
Here's where you can share why you enjoy leading teams of people. Try to lean into some practical examples of success that you found in inspiring team members and completing goals.
I love being a manager because I can aim to inspire team members and help them succeed. In my last role, I was a regional sales manager, who oversaw 20 team members.
Things were tight in the first half of 2022, and many salespeople could not meet their quotas. Instead of getting frustrated with them, I took time in my schedule to mentor each salesperson that was not reaching their goals.
I helped to break down the amount of cold calls and emails they would need to commit to in order to reach their quota. Most of the people I met ended up turning it around and started succeeding. I owe a lot of my success to patience.
Main points: Interview Questions and Answers for Managers
- Use the STAR method to create answers which point to a specific situation you succeeded
- There is a meaning behind every question, so do your best to try and find what your interviewer is asking
- When sharing about your skills, try to find practical examples where you've used those skills
If you are interested and excelling in your next interview for a management position, Enhancv has a superb career counseling program. In the program, you will be given all the tools you need to succeed, including providing you with a mock interview, allowing you to be confident in your next interview.