Are you asking the right management interview questions?
Managers are some of the most important people in your business. But getting to know them before they join your organization all too often comes down to the type and quality of interview questions you choose to ask.
Figuring out how seemingly-perfect candidates compare to each other is a crucial part of the process. And to do so, interview questions (and competency tests, of course) should be at the very core of your hiring pipeline.
In this article, we’ve carefully selected the 20 most important questions to ask when hiring new managers, and highlighted a few other important points to look out for.
How are management interview questions different from standard interview questions?
To start, it’s worth addressing what is different about management interview questions compared to the average or standard variety.
Management interview questions are designed to assess a candidate’s potential to lead others and hold a position of importance. These questions typically focus on a candidate’s ability to command and motivate others, as well as their experience managing teams and achieving goals.
In this way, they differ from standard interview questions, which typically focus on the role and industry-specific skills first, and company culture fit second.
|Manager interview questions focus on:||Standard interview questions focus on:|
|Understanding how the candidate deals with difficult situations.||Why a candidate is interested in the company or position.|
|How the candidate delegates tasks.||What the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are.|
|How the candidate will handle conflict.||How candidates operate in a team and within the organizational hierarchy.|
|Gauging the communication skills of a manager, which may be the most important aspect.||What is the candidate’s ideal work environment?|
|How well the candidate understands all of the ins and out of the management position.||What are the candidate’s career goals?|
A great candidate should already have a proven track record with management positions, along with relevant achievements and qualifications.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any cross-over between standard and manager interview questions, which you may notice further on in the article, but it’s fair to say people in leadership positions get more behavioral questions vs skills-related questions.
Do interview questions for managers vary by industry?
Yes, which is why it’s important for managers to be prepared to answer industry-specific questions to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in their field.
For example, a job seeker in the tech industry may be asked about their knowledge of programming languages. At the same time, someone in a hospitality setting would require a more customer-focused approach to their management style.
However, many common manager interview questions are transferable regardless of industry. These usually include questions about candidates’ leadership style, past experiences, and how they handle challenging situations.
What are the main functions of a manager?
“The best leaders are those who can see the potential in others and bring it out of them.“Simon Sinek, American Author and Inspirational Speaker
Managers are usually responsible for leading teams, coordinating projects, and ensuring their departments run perfectly while upholding the company’s values.
On a day-to-day basis, this means setting goals and objectives for the team, developing plans and strategies to achieve these goals, project management, allocating resources and tasks among team members, providing guidance and support to team members, and evaluating the team’s performance.
In addition to these responsibilities, a manager is usually the go-to person for important decision-making and problem-solving. They must also communicate efficiently with stakeholders, both internal and external, as well as direct reports.
With that in mind, hiring managers will focus on the type of manager interview questions that assess leadership style, management style, and team fit (more on that below!)
Incorporate the STAR method
Finally, before diving into our curated list of 20 questions, it’s worth noting that in addition to what is asked, it’s important to consider how it is asked.
The STAR (Situation. Task. Action. Result.) method is a well-known technique to answer behavioral interview questions. But it can also be used to ask and help with structuring your questions. By encouraging the candidate to provide more detailed and specific answers, the interviewer can get a better understanding of the candidate’s experience and abilities.
Here’s an example of how to structure an interview question using the STAR method:
- Poor question: What’s your management style?
- Great question: Tell me about a time when you had to provide tough feedback to someone on your team. How did you deliver it, and what was the result of that situation?
This is great for assessing and comparing different managerial role applicants as they demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in a more standardized way. While it can also help to spot inconsistencies in a candidate’s answers.
By asking manager interview questions in this way, you can create a well-rounded picture of the candidate and how they approach problems.
Now, without further ado, let’s look at the 20 most steal-worthy manager interview questions.
5 Questions to assess their leadership skills
Firstly, we’re looking at questions that test the leadership skills of a candidate. These need to show an alignment between the company’s strategic goals and meeting business objectives. How well the potential manager answers this category of questions will likely set the tone for his overall ability to succeed in the role.
“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”Arnold H. Glasow
1. How do you foster innovation and creativity within your team?
Assess a candidate’s ability to create an environment that encourages new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking.
2. Can you provide an example of using feedback from team members to improve your own performance as a leader?
Evaluate candidates’ ability to listen to and learn from their team members. A good manager will always be able to take feedback onboard and grow their skillset with it. A bad manager may lash out at their team for any criticism.
3. How do you set goals and objectives for your team, and how do you measure success?
Understand if the candidate can set clear goals, set realistic expectations, and manage the team efficiently. A manager who consistently fails to meet their goal will make the business suffer.
4. Can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult budget or resource allocation decision and how you handled it?
Ask the candidate to illustrate how he manages resources, as well as their ability to make tough decisions under timeline pressures.
5. How do you ensure that your team is aligned with the company’s mission and values?
Hiring managers will have a better understanding of how a candidate creates unity and alignment with the company’s core values and mission. A great manager should be able to guide the team to meet the company’s goals and objectives with ease.
5 Questions to get a feel for their management style
As the saying goes, “people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses.”
If your new management hire isn’t the perfect team leader, it’s going to cost your company dearly with lost employees and skills.
6. What does your ideal team look like?
It’s an open-ended question that has a wide range of potential answers. Does the candidate say they want a diverse team, an in-house team, a team of only people they trust?
7. How would you solve the trolley problem?
You might have heard of this one before — and it’s a bit unorthodox. The trolley problem is a philosophical question about whether it’s ethical to sacrifice one person to save many. Of course, we’re not saying that your company is that cut-throat, but it is an interesting question to better understand how the candidate will allocate resources and people for projects.
8. What is the most difficult project you have managed?
The follow-on question to this is “And how did you handle it?” Hold back and listen to how much information they will voluntarily add to this.
9. How do you build and maintain relationships with clients, partners, and other stakeholders?
Evaluate a candidate’s ability to build and maintain relationships and to effectively represent the team or organization to the outside world.
10. Can you provide an example of how you have used data and metrics to drive decision-making and improve team performance?
Assess a candidate’s ability to use data and metrics to inform their decisions. A manager that fails to be data-driven will likely struggle to prove and, as a consequence, improve his team’s performance.
5 Questions to evaluate how they might fit into the team
A manager’s job is to make sure their team works together as smoothly and efficiently as possible. But some personalities are better suited than others to the management role. You need to ensure you’re hiring the right person for both the job and the team.
11. Who was your favorite person that you managed? Why?
This gives an insight into the candidate’s relationship-building skills, their working style, and which personalities they work well with. It can also provide a better idea as to which managers and C-suite individuals the candidate will work well with.
12. How do you reward your team when they do well?
Evaluate a candidate’s ability to provide recognition and rewards for a job well done. Do they say thank you to the team, treat them to lunch, or give no recognition at all?
13. Have you ever had to motivate a team after something demotivating happened?
How does the candidate build morale and motivate every team member after a setback? A good manager will be able to rally the troops and get motivated employees to focus on the task at hand.
14. How important is face time with your team?
This question can help you determine the candidate’s approach to team management. Do they expect their team to be constantly available? Do they rely too much on emails and memos? A great manager will nurture face-to-face relationships and use them to both motivate and align the team.
15. How do you handle a team member who is struggling to fit in with the team?
Teams consist of a variety of different backgrounds, knowledge bases, and personalities. The ideal manager will understand these differences and try to achieve a cohesive relationship between everything. They will also understand when some members are bulldozing others and who in the team finds it difficult to speak up and approach other people for help.
5 Questions to ask at the end of an interview
Asking these final questions can help provide insight into the candidate’s expectations and plans for the role, as well as their self-awareness and ability to reflect on their own experiences and learning. These questions can help you assess whether the candidate is a good fit for the management role and current team.
16. What are your salary and compensation expectations?
There are two schools of thought on this question. The first states that numbers need to be out in the open as soon as possible, while the second states that the ideal candidate won’t worry about the salary question until the second or third round of interviews. Both have their pros and cons when making your hiring decision.
17. What would you have changed at your last job?
This can tell you a lot about how the individual would alter the company’s current structure and if they fully understood the job description.
18. Can you use 3 adjectives to describe yourself?
Good managers will be able to adequately describe themselves while staying humble and highlighting their strengths. They should also be able to articulate their values and how they will manifest in the workplace.
19. How do you like to be coached, and what kind of feedback do you think is most helpful?
This can tell you a lot about the candidate’s self-awareness and ability to accept feedback from their manager. It is also an important indicator of the candidate’s willingness to adjust their behavior to the circumstances.
20. What would you say is a common misconception about yourself?
This question can provide insight into how well the candidate knows themselves and their professional reputation. Their response can indicate how much influence their past experiences and mistakes have had on their career.
Get your candidate evaluation right with Toggl Hire
As you undoubtedly already know, hiring the wrong person can lead to disastrous results. And why it is so crucial to make the right manager hire for your staff, projects, and organization.
At Toggl Hire, we help recruiters and hiring managers like you to better understand and screen your pool of candidates to simply and successfully fulfill the manager position with the perfect hire.
While filling a leadership position requires a slightly different approach, you still have an arsenal of tools available to you for efficient candidate evaluation:
- A standardized hiring process – trust a data-driven recruiting funnel to highlight top talent
- A standardized interview process – read up on the difference between structured vs unstructured interviews
- Reliable candidate assessment – consider pre-built take-home tasks to qualify best-fit people
Juste loves investigating through writing. A copywriter by trade, she spent the last ten years in startups, telling stories and building marketing teams. She works at Toggl Hire and writes about how businesses can recruit really great people.