Congratulations! You made it to the interview stage for a management job. You've been given a great opportunity. Now is your time to shine. Here's how to ace your interview and make a great impression as you prepare to answer some of the most common manager interview questions.
You can't know exactly what's coming your way but preparing for these ten questions will help you put your best foot forward during your interview. As you prepare, remember that great interviews involve great stories. Telling stories is a simple way to get an emotional response from your interviewer. With the right stories, you can easily make your interview a memorable one.
As you read through the example questions and sample answers, review your resume and think about your own experiences and the anecdotes you can share about them. (If it helps, take notes as you read.) Then, practice delivering your answers to these popular manager questions.
1. What is your decision-making process?
Employers want to be able to trust how you'll make decisions for them. While they may have internal processes to help with this, there will still be times when you'll be on your own.
Begin with an outline of your process. You might start with a general statement, such as, "I gather all the available information to me, analyze the options, and prioritize outcomes based on the project and company goals and objectives." Then, continue with a specific example of a business-critical, decision-making situation you navigated.
2. Describe your process for delegating tasks to your team.
This is one of the more popular interview questions because, as a manager, delegation is a regular part of the job. Managers who delegate well are more productive, and so are their teams.
Clarify that you delegate according to individual team members' strengths. If you've used industry-standard task management software, mention this skill. Explain how you manage the distribution of tasks so that the work is divided evenly among members for maximum efficiency. Then, provide a specific (and successful) example from your work experience, breaking it down according to the same steps you described as your process for delegating tasks.
Clarify that you delegate according to individual team members' strengths. If you've used industry-standard task management software, mention this skill.
3. How would you handle a project that was running over budget?
Let's face it — budgets are stressful. This question is asked for two reasons: to learn how you handle stress and to understand your budgeting skills. Your interviewer will want to see how you prioritize tasks and which soft skills you use to reign in the cost overrun and make the rest of the project run efficiently.
Provide an example from your own experience in your answer. Don't give an example where your project went over budget and you were not able to resolve it. Instead, go with an example that shows you can foresee issues and re-align your project to stay on track with the budget. If you don't have an example that works, describe honestly how you would deal with a budget issue.
4. How do you keep your team motivated?
This is one of the most common interview questions. As a leader, your team looks to you set the tone of morale and motivation. Interviewers seek the following in your answer:
- A description of your communication style
- Examples of specific things you do to empower your employees
- An explanation of how you take time to get to know your employees (so that you understand what motivates them on an individual level)
In your answer, give specific examples of ways that you provided positive reinforcement to your team, encouraged them to take the initiative, and understood each person's strengths. Also, take care to explain how you've shown recognition to employees who meet or exceed expectations.
5. What is your management style?
This is bound to come up in the series of interview questions coming your way. The best answer offers a broad scope rather than a specific answer. For example, you might explain that your management style is dynamic because you adapt to the project at hand and the goals of the company, while always staying true to certain core principles involving respect, intellectual honesty, and professionalism.
Then, share your proudest moments as a manager that illustrate your style in action. Be as specific as possible and do your best to include some metrics that show off the success of your efforts.
6. How do you support an employee who is not meeting expectations?
While it's important to have a good example on hand for all interview questions, it's especially critical here to show your ability to take corrective measures on a personal level.
Interviewers ask this question to determine how you will work with a direct report to guide them back onto the path of success. They will look for methods, such as giving clear feedback to an employee and then jointly developing an action plan that supports meeting future performance goals.
7. Give an example of how you've had to provide negative feedback. What was your approach?
While this question involves a direct report, there are many other situations where you'll need to have your criticism taken seriously. You'll ace your response if you can produce a positive example of how you followed the best practices when delivering constructive feedback. Interviewers look for three primary things in your answer:
- Whether you keep your feedback specific or general
- If you deliver your feedback promptly or wait for a performance review
- Whether or not you encourage the employee to work alongside you to create an action plan that will rectify the shortcomings.
In your response, describe a situation from your own experience, explaining your method of delivering feedback, especially if you follow a specific formula for constructive criticism.
[Y]ou might explain that your management style is dynamic because you adapt to the project at hand and the goals of the company, while always staying true to certain core principles involving respect, intellectual honesty, and professionalism.
8. Do you consider yourself to be an organized person?
This is not asking if you are a neat and tidy person. Rather, interviewers include this question among their normal interview questions to see how you prioritize your time and which tools you use to help you along the way.
Walk through your typical manager's work day with your interviewer, stepping through your smart daily routine while explaining how unforeseen circumstances are handled before things spin out of control. Emphasizing your ability to multitask and pivot between changing priorities is a nice touch, as well. Use examples that show off your flexibility. You can share your specific methods, for example, but also how you change your approach depending on the situation at hand.
9. How would your coworkers describe you? How would your direct reports describe your management style?
These are a couple of tricky manager interview questions, but they do come up often in these types of interviews. They're designed to see how well you relate to your peers, as well as those who work for you.
Your answer is a great opportunity to speak about your strengths. Ideally, talk about the characteristics that make you an excellent manager. The trick is to accomplish this without sounding unbelievably perfect or arrogant. If you can, use positive yet sincere quotes that you've been given firsthand (such as in a performance evaluation or a LinkedIn endorsement), or compliments that have been relayed to you by others. If you don't have direct quotes to share, it's okay to speak anecdotally if you can back up your examples with an example or two.
10. Are you a risk taker?
The best way to answer such an open-ended manager interview question is to do your research on the company. Get a good idea of the company's culture and goals. If this is a company that moves quickly and praises risks taken by management, then play up your ability to take calculated, informed risks.
If this company prides itself on its steadiness, then it's a good idea to focus on your preference to make only fully-informed decisions. Don't lie. Accept that you're a multifaceted worker, but some facets fare better in certain environments.