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How to Answer "What is Your Management Style" in a Job Interview

How to Answer "What is Your Management Style" in a Job Interview

"What is your management style" is one of the trickiest questions to answer in an interview, so here's how you can give an answer that makes them remember you.

There are many tough behavioral questions you might encounter throughout your interviews, and the thing about those is that there is actually a correct answer.

If you are applying for a manager position or some lower-level one that requires you to oversee people, you will most definitely be asked “What is your management style?”.

And the thing is, you rarely can use the same answer twice.

Every company has its needs and a management style is a big part of a company’s culture. So you may need to tailor your answer to the company’s work model.

In this article, we are going to explore the two important points about that question:

  • Why do employers ask “What is your management style?”
  • How to answer “What is your management style?”

And to get you even more prepared, we are going to show you some of the best answers you can give.

So, if you are ready to learn how to master that question, let’s dive in.

Why employers ask “What is your management style?”

Before you structure your perfect answer for the question, you need to find out why employers ask this question.

The main reason is that they need to know how would you fit in the team you are about to manage.

Each company and even every department in each company varies in the style of work they have, and the style of work that provides the best results.

Employers want to create a well-oiled machine that would help the company succeed.

That’s why it is important for them that your management style would only help the process.

How to answer “What is your management style?”

Now that you know the “Why”, it is time to figure out how to nail the “How”.

And like most things, it is best to separate the process into pieces.

To get the best out of your answer, you need to go through just 5 steps.

Consider the management style of previous supervisors

The first thing you need to do before you answer this question is think about your previous supervisors.

Each one of them has had their management style, and you should be able to tell with ease which ones you liked, and which you did not.

That usually depends on various factors like:

  • The level of motivation you had to work effectively
  • The level of encouragement you had received

If you really enjoyed and approved of your previous supervisor's management style, it might be a good choice for your own management style as well.

On the other hand, if you have had managers which were less successful in motivating and encouraging you, you can use that in your favor as well. You can do so by simply applying qualities that are the opposite of what they used in their management style.

Think about what makes you a good manager.

Now that you have thought about all the qualities your previous managers have had, it is time to think about your own skills.

If you have some previous experience as a manager, try to figure out what skills and knowledge you have acquired and have helped you succeed in your role.

You can use these while answering “What is your management style?”, but make sure you list them in your head before or during the interview, so that you can use them effectively in your answer.

Determine what skills you believe a good manager should have

The last step you need to take before you start describing your management style is briefly explaining what skills you think a good manager should have.

It goes without saying that you should try to match these with the skills that you possess and plan to include in your answer. You need to prove to them that you are qualified enough to manage a team.

Figure out which type of management style you have

Now that you are done with the previous steps, it is time to talk about the management style you possess.

There are 5 main management styles you can choose from.

Transformational management

This management style is all about pushing employees to reach their maximum potential through inspiration and encouragement.

Managers with this style help employees develop their existing skills, as well as acquire new ones.

To do so, transformational managers are constantly innovating and solving any employee problems to help them be the best they can be.

Visionary management

A visionary manager is one who thinks outside the box and works on developing new ideas.

Once they come up with the vision for their employees to follow, they encourage them to meet the goals of that vision on their own after careful communication.

A visionary manager would frequently check on their employees to answer questions and provide additional guidance when necessary.

Democratic management

This management style helps ensure all employees that their opinion matters.

In that case, the supervisor understands and values all their employees’ ideas.

Often a democratic manager would allow their team to have a strong voice when making important decisions regarding the department.

This frequently leads to a more effective work process, as the team is encouraged to work harder on projects because they have had a part in choosing the overall goal they are trying to accomplish.

Mentoring or training management

This management style is often referred to as servant leadership, as it is based on encouraging, motivating, and supporting your team.

Typically, a mentoring manager would put their employees’ needs before projects and tasks, which creates a friendly relationship.

Building a strong and friendly relationship with employees usually results in motivation to deliver better results.

Laissez-faire management

This management style is really hands-off, as it allows employees to take decisions on their own and take responsibility for their own decisions.

Typically, there is no intervention or supervision by the manager, unless it is requested by a team member.

A laissez-faire manager typically believes that employees work best individually.

Tell a story including a specific management style

To really nail your answer, you should provide the interviewer with some real-life examples of you using the management style you think fits you best.

That not only gives you credibility but also helps employers understand better your management style. Make sure the outcome of the situation is positive, as you would like to make a good impression.

Furthermore, with your story, your potential employer can picture your management style in a situation with their own employees and determine how suitable you are for the team.

It is best if you keep your story between one and two sentences, and provide additional information only if the interviewer requests it.

Best answers for “What is your management style?”

Now, as promised, we are going to show you some of the best answers you can give to that question.

We are even going to take it one step further, we are going to show you how to answer depending on the management style you have identified yourself with.

Answer for transformational management

“I believe a good manager should be motivational and encouraging. I’m always pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and I enjoy doing the same with my employees. I know that they are capable of achieving lots of challenging goals, and I use my transformational management to help guide them through the hard path when needed. For example, I accomplished that with a content writer I once managed. I encouraged them to write large documents on subjects they had no knowledge about. In the end, that employee turned into my best research writer in the marketing team.”

Answer for visionary management

“A strong manager knows how to effectively communicate and listen. I always apply these when working with my employees in order to provide a professional visionary management style. Often, communicating your vision for a project is all that is needed for employees to take that vision and provide impressive results. In my work with my marketing team, I often develop a vision for the campaign, and let my employees create a strategy and design, while I monitor the process and help out with any questions along the way.”

Answer for democratic management

“In my department, I see my employees and me as equals, and I treat them that way. My democratic management style includes working closely with my team and taking decisions together. It is important for me to make sure my employees are aware that their ideas are heard, and that we are working on projects we all agree on. That helps them feel motivated and provide impressive results as they work to see their own ideas come to life.”

Answer for mentoring or training management

“To be an effective manager, you should build strong relationships with employees and keep them motivated to continue delivering quality work. With my mentoring management style, I always reward my employees with positive reinforcement when they finish a challenging project or submit impressive work. If they receive a project that overwhelms them, I listen to their concerns, and we determine how can we follow through with the project. This encourages them and helps them deliver strong and impressive work in a comfortable environment.”

Answer for laissez-faire management

“In my opinion, employees work best without having their work constantly supervised. That’s why I use a Laissez-faire management style. Each employee has their own style of work, so I allow them to complete it in the way they feel most comfortable with. And if they ever need my help, I am always ready to guide them. For example, I apply that style with my accounting team. I allow them to work directly with clients in order to meet their needs, and I am always ready to provide assistance when they feel stuck or need any kind of help.”

Takeaways

We are all done, now you know how to nail your answer when asked “What is your management style?”

Let’s go through a quick recap to make sure you are ready:

  • Think about the management styles your past supervisors had, and what you do and don’t like about them
  • Consider your own management skills and how you can apply them to help your potential employer
  • Determine what skills you believe a good manager should possess and match them with your own skillset
  • Figure out which management style you have out of the 5 main types
  • Finish up by telling a story using the management style you have chosen, so that you can present your skills in a practical situation

Check out once again the sample answers we have provided for you, and get yourself ready to nail your own answer.

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Evgeni Asenov