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Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Try: manager, sales, strengths, weaknesses, guides, interview questions, disc test, templates, ...

How long have you worked as a manager?

This question gives you a little latitude since you don't just have to say the amount of time when your title has included the word 'manager'.  Think back to before you were a manager and all the different skills you picked up which allowed you to move into management, e.g. as a mentor or managing peers.  The interviewer wants to know the answer to the question but they have also given you a chance to show how long you have been learning your management skills - try to demonstrate how you've always had passion for this role even before you were actually a manager.  Use examples from outside of the workplace if you have to.

Describe your management style

You should already know what your preferred management style is (if you don't, take our free psychometric test, there is a 'management assessment report in there which will help).  Take this chance to describe how effective your particular style of management has been in the past.  Are you a direct manager instructing people what to do all the time or a leader who manages by example?  Are you democratic or autocratic?  You can get more information on management styles here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Management_styles

What makes a good manager?  Which skills are most important?

The answer here can differ per person but there are some commonalities which you should know about already if you're good at your job.  A good manager is great at communicating with their team, knows how to motivate them, delegates effectively, can communicate effectively (including minimally) with their boss, understands the needs of the business, is constantly trying to improve themselves and their team, is self-aware and aware of the strengths & weaknesses of their team members amongst many other traits.  If you need more help with this answer, look at your 'management assessment' report or check out this useful site - http://www.mas.org.uk/management-advisory-service/what-makes-a-good-manager.html

Tell me how others would describe your management style

Be honest - if you're not self-aware, become more self-aware before your interview.  Think back hard to any feedback or signs you've had from employees in your previous teams and try and honestly assess what how others would describe your management style.  Think not only of the people you manage, but also your fellow managers and your bosses. If you are uncertain, it would be a good idea to ask a fellow manager who you are friendly with.  The interviewer is looking for a couple of things with this question - they want to see how self aware you are but they also want to see how concerned with popularity you are.  It can be difficult being a manager and sometimes you have to be hard on your team and the interviewer needs to know that you're capable of being firm but fair.  Consult any of the 8 psychometric reports to increase your self awareness to assist with this question.

How do you motivate your team?

Do you crack the whip or do you dangle carrots? Do you direct or do you lead? Do you foster open communication or do you get people just to get on with the job as they're told? Do you doll out responsibility and praise? Do you listen to your team?  There's no real right or wrong answer here so long as you've had real success with your approach in the past. Evidence you can cite includes low staff turnover, low sickness rates and beating deadlines for past projects and you should take the chance this question provides to provide this concrete evidence using examples and also show your prospective employer how flexible you are as a manager. 

How do you communicate with your team?

Written, verbal, email communication, team meetings, daily stand-ups, lunches, one to one meetings, team blog, ... the varieties of communication are endless.  Your interviewer wants to know that you exercise the various forms of communication but also that you know how to adjust your communication style to the preferred mode of communication of your team member. Some people prefer written instructions, some prefer verbal, some prefer just direction then to be left to get on with it, some need more detail - your interviewer needs to see that you understand this in order to be able to hire you.  This requires awareness of others which comes naturally after self-awareness.  Again, increase your self-awareness by studying the 8 psychometric reports - particularly the How To Manage report.

How do you handle pressure placed on your team?

Everyone responds to pressure differently.  Some people speed up and start missing the details although often to the benefit of getting the main piece of work done whilst others slow down and become more deliberate.  Your answer to this question should probably start with 'It depends...' since how you handle the pressure will depend on the type of pressure that is being placed on your team. Are you being pressured to deliver more quickly, to become more accurate, to deliver better results, to sell more or what? Feel free to ask questions back at your interviewer to clarify the question and you should find the answer becomes obvious with this one.

How do you get your team focused and organised?

The interviewer is going to be expecting something to do with goal setting and regular review here. They will NOT be looking for micro-management! Ideally you can make use of team-members who have organisational skills to assist you, set short and long term goals, remove distractions from the team and speak to them with a consistent message about what the team is doing and their role in helping the team achieve that goal.

Have you ever had to fire someone and how did you deal with it?

It happens sooner or later to every manager. If you've personally never had to fire someone you should instead talk about a situation where you had to discipline a member of your team and how with regular reviews you managed to avoid the need to fire this person. For some personality types firing people is actually pretty easy, for others it can be emotional and even traumatic. There's no right or wrong way to be here, so just be honest but make it clear that you got the job done and explain how you dealt with the aftermath with the rest of your team.

Describe a situation where your management style has been challenged

This is a tricky one - probably the best approach here would be to think of a time that a peer challenged or commented on your management style. A good answer would be to describe how you could see the persons point of view and explain how you asked for more feedback and incorporated some of their recommendations into your management style. The interviewer isn't looking to see who's right or wrong here, they're looking to see that you can take criticism, learn from it and adapt.

Give an example of a successful project or role in which you were the manager

This is a big chance to sell yourself - think in terms of business success and before your interview think of a few examples in the past you can call upon. You want to be talking here about how you saved the company money, made them more money, made their customers happier or beat deadlines.  You should frame your answer by relating it to your own management style and show the employer how it was because of your particular style of management that your previous employer benefited. 

Give an example of a failed project or role in which you were the manager

Ouch.  Tough question, but still a chance to impress by showing how you learned from your mistakes. Identify, using specific examples, what you did wrong as a manager and what you learned and have subsequently integrated into your management style to hopefully avoid these failures happening ever again. The failure could be anything - losing a key member of the team, missing a deadline, being over costs, requiring more people than you originally thought, anything really. Probably surprisingly, one of the best answers here would be admitting a project failure where you had to cut your losses and abandon the project. It takes real guts, self awareness, introspection and confidence to go to your boss and tell them that this project is not going to work. Remember, most interviewers will be aware that managers learn more from their mistakes than their successes so this gives you a chance to talk about key learnings you've had in your managerial career.

Give an example of how you dealt with an underperforming employee

This depends on your management style again but no employer wants underperforming employees so they need to know you know how to handle it. You can also demonstrate here how you understand the impact that an underperforming employee has on the good employees around them as well as the weighing up you have to do against the negative impact disciplining and then firing the employee is going to have.  Underperforming employees pull down the rest of the team with good members of your team covering for them and therefore getting less of their own work done.

Give an example of how you handled an employee who was excelling at everything they did

Did you keep them in the team or promote them (or recommend them for promotion)?  Did you give them more responsibility? Did you chat to them about their future and ensure you kept them motiviated? Did you use them to mentor others? How did you achieve all of this without impacting their productivity?

Give an example of where you had to manage change

People handle change differently - some hate it some love it but as their manager were you aware of the differences?  In change, communication is key so make sure you elaborate on your communication methods before, during and after the change.

How do you review performance?

The tools you used may have been dictated by your previous employers but you should also take the chance here to show your interviewer how you knew each of your team members personally. They will want to know that you have knowledge and practice of the various performance review tools but also that you are fair, impartial and honest. You could take a specific example here of one of your employees who was mediocre and demonstrate how you used the review process to help them identify their own areas of improvement and how you then helped this improvement come about.

Here are some more management interview questions for you to consider:

  • How do you delegate tasks to your team members?
  • How do you train, coach and improve your team?
  • Describe the most difficult management decision you've had to make in the past
  • What's the biggest misconception others have had about you as a manager?
  • What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
  • What is your biggest strength as a manager?
  • How do you go about improving yourself as a manager?

Remember, we have TOTALLY FREE psychometrics at Matiogi and you should use these to become as self-aware as possible prior to your interview. Managers should use the 'Overview' report, the 'Management Assessment' report, the 'Strengths and Limitations' report and the 'How to Manage' report.

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on March 24, 2012
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