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Interviewing to be a Manager?
Be Prepared for These Questions

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: September 02, 2020

Many employees aspire to climb the corporate ladder to a management position because they want a higher salary, more decision making power and more high-level responsibilities. Unfortunately, some would-be managers never pass the first round of interviews because they are not prepared to answer specific interview questions for managers.

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When you interview to be a member of a team, you’re being judged mainly on your technical skills and cultural fit. While these things remain important when interviewing for a management position, a new metric is introduced: leadership skills.
And leadership amounts to a whole lot more than just telling people what to do says interview coach Pamela Skillings. It's about "taking initiative, communicating a vision, translating vision into reality, inspiring others, making tough decisions, motivating others, empowering others, developing others."
So if you have an interview for a management position coming up, be sure you're well prepared to demonstrate your leadership skills. Knowing these three common management interview questions is a great start.

Common Management Interview Questions

1. Can you provide an example of a situation in which you successfully led a team in completing a project?

U.S. News & World Report blogger Michelle Yaeger offers this tip on answering this question: "Provide a brief summary of what you did, what impact it had and why you chose it as an example of your leadership capabilities."
Even if you have never managed a team before, don't let this question throw you off. Think back to a time when you took the lead on any task in previous jobs. Perhaps you had an out-of-the-box idea that your boss allowed you to spearhead. Or, maybe you substituted for a supervisor who went on vacation, being responsible for your department in their absence. If nothing comes to mind, think about a situation outside of work, such as when you gathered a team of volunteers to get signatures for a petition to change a local law or organized a beach clean up in your area.
When asking this question the interviewer wants to hear you say that you:
  • Are responsible
  • Can make quick decisions
  • Can lead others

Sample Answer

"In my previous position, I was responsible for coming up with a marketing campaign for the company's 25th anniversary. I conducted a meeting with the marketing department, where the team and I brainstormed possible ideas. I then picked the best idea, pitched it to my boss, and worked with the advertising, marketing and public relations departments to create and run the campaign. It was so well received by our clients that I was promoted to a senior position based on my performance on that task."

2. When making a decision, do you seek the opinion of others?

This is one of the trickiest manager interview questions and needs to be answered carefully. The interviewer wants to hear that you can make good decisions quickly without doubting yourself, yet be open-minded enough to consider your staff's opinions in certain situations.
Dr. Mary Kay, cofounder of About Leaders, explains that if you constantly turn to colleagues or subordinates to weigh in on every decision, no matter how small, they may become annoyed with your indecision. However, never involving your team in the decision-making process may cause your staff to feel as if you don't trust them or value their opinions.
When asking this question the interviewer wants to hear you say that you:
  • Are decisive when you need to be
  • Value your team's opinion in matters that involve them
  • Can make tough decisions without second-guessing yourself

Sample Answer

"I view every situation as being unique; some decisions require me to be level-headed and to think them through. I may consider involving my team in on the decision if it is not sensitive and involves them. In times when a quick decision needs to be made, I am comfortable in choosing a solution without doubting myself or hesitating."

3. How will you delegate tasks and hold your staff accountable?

When answering this question, you need to show that you can create a system in which workload will be distributed and completed smoothly. You will need to show your interviewer that you are ready to handle high-level tasks while creating a chain of command for delegating tasks and projects.
"Part of being an effective delegator is being able to determine which types of tasks are suitable for delegation, and which types are not," states Jayson Demers, CEO and Founder of AudienceBloom.
In order not to spend your time micromanaging, you need to hold your staff accountable for their tasks. Explain how you will observe your employees to learn their strengths and weaknesses, assign clear objectives and provide regular feedback to empower your staff to be self-motivated and responsible.
When asking this question, the interviewer wants to hear you say that you:
  • Can lead a team in completing projects and daily tasks
  • Can provide clear objectives
  • Can empower your staff
  • Can provide constructive feedback based on measurable results

Sample Answer

"I believe in establishing a self-sufficient team where each employee is accountable for their own tasks. I plan to delegate by providing clear instructions and deadlines, and verifying that my employees understand them. I will check in periodically to make sure that everything is going on track, and that the staff has no questions. Once the job is done, I will provide either feedback so my subordinates know that I am invested in the team's and their individual success."
If you have never interviewed for a manager position before, you need to be ready to answer questions that will demonstrate your leadership, decision-making and delegation skills, among others. Practice for the interview by learning the most common management interview questions, and make sure your answers apply to the individual position.

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