When you have a management interview coming up, it’s important that you take steps to prepare the right way. Since you’re already up for a manager position, it’s likely that you have already successfully interviewed in the past. However, regardless of your experience, interviews can still be tricky. It’s therefore important that you brush up your interviewing skills and review common job interview questions and answers for managers.
Another reason to prepare for your interview is that you want to make the best impression possible. The better you prepare for your interview, the more chance you will have to land the job. Furthermore, you’re more likely to advance to the next round or even receive an offer.
In this article, we discuss common management job interview questions and how you should answer them to land the job. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Management Interview Questions and What The Interviewer Wants to Know
There several types of questions that an interviewer can ask during a job interview for a management position. You can definitely expect questions about your work experience, leadership/management style, and what you accomplished in your career.
Furthermore, they are most likely to ask about your future plans and expectations. By asking you this, an employer wants to find out how well you fit in the culture of the company and your potential to succeed in the position.
Because the interviewer is interested in who you are and what you have to offer, it’s important to prepare well for interview questions that you expect. Based on your research about the company and position, you can figure out which questions you are most likely to expect.
Your answers should demonstrate through specific examples of how you handled certain situations in the past. In other words, you should use specific examples from your previous work experience to give your answers more weight. Not only does this provide the interviewer context, but it’s also more convincing than just saying or claiming that you possess certain skills.
Tailor specific answers and relate them to the requirements for the job that you’re interviewing for. This way, you make sure you can give concise and to-the-point answers during your interview.
If you applied for a management trainee position, the interviewer understands if you do not yet have a ton of related work experience. They will most likely ask you about your experience and ability to lead a team, delegate tasks, or any other related duties. In this case, you can use your academic or educational experience and extracurricular activities to show your potential employer how you’re the right fit for the job.
Why Interviewers ask Management Interview Questions
Before you get an offer, employers want to assess how well you fit into the company, its culture, and how successful you will be in the position. Keep in mind that a job interview is supposed to be a two-way street. Just like the interviewers want to get to know you, you should get to know them and the company as well. Therefore, make sure you prepare a couple of smart questions to ask them back.
The interviewers want to know about your management experience. They are interested in your personality, what results you got based on your management style, and how well you deal with different personalities in the workplace. You can probably imagine that you need to be able to explain how you manage different personalities, especially during stressful situations and in teamwork environments.
During the interview, you should set the tone and present yourself as a confident leader. Furthermore, the interviewer wants you to demonstrate your skills and how your values and goals align with those of the company. In other words, show that you fit into their company culture and that you can thrive in their work environment.
What Interviewers Look for in Successful Managers
Managers play an important role in any company. They are involved on a strategic level to help the company improve its performance and growth. This is also the reason why interviewers look for strong leadership skills, a problem-solving attitude, a motivational personality, and a result-driven focus in candidates.
Hiring managers look for experienced candidates that can show their deep understanding of your business objectives and industry objectives. This is also why they use role-specific questions to test your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Furthermore, they want to see you demonstrate your soft skills and essential traits that make you the candidate they’re looking for.
Employers look for managers that enjoy variety in their work and take accountability for their actions. This requires strong decision-making skills as you need to juggle between different tasks daily. Also, a great manager can communicate well and handle challenging situations. In other words, they are supposed to set an example for the members on their team.
Behavioral Interview Questions to Assess your Management Skills
Behavioral interview questions are used to predict your future behavior and potential job success. Interviewers use these types of questions to help them determine if you have the right skills you need for the position you need to fulfill.
These types of strategic interview questions require you to provide the interviewer with an example situation that you have experienced in a professional work environment. In order words, the interviewer wants you to answer a question by, for instance, giving an example of a time you successfully used a skill in your work.
The rationale behind behavioral interview questions is that analyzing your past work behavior is the best indicator to predict your future job performance.
Behavioral job interview questions usually start with:
- Give me an example of..
- Tell me about a time when you..
- How do you..
- What do you do when..
Examples of behavioral management interview questions:
- Give me an example of a time where you had to motivate others to perform.
- Tell me about a time when you have had to make a difficult decision.
- How do you deal with the pressure of stressful work situations?
- How do you delegate work to your team members?
- Describe your biggest accomplishment and your biggest failure.
All the examples above are related to your management skills. During a job interview for a management position, it’s very likely that you will get asked behavioral interview questions. For instance, about your leadership skills, creative thinking ability, conflict resolution skills, teamwork, communication skills, or adaptability.
What does the interviewer want to know?
Basically, the interviewer wants to know how you go about your work. This is also the reason why we cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of being able to demonstrate your skills and abilities through strong example scenarios. The right preparation will help you land the job you want.
The goal of the interviewer is to assess your answers and analyze if you can take on the day-to-day responsibilities and tasks required for the position. Furthermore, they want to gauge if you have the potential to grow.
Behavioral questions are used by interviewers to get insights into who you really are and how you approach your work. In short, they want to get the following questions answered:
- Are you, in general, easy to get along with?
- Can you communicate effectively with different personalities?
- Are you able to adequately respond to situations that occur during work?
- Are you able to adjust to changing work environments?
- Can you coach, training, and assist your team when needed?
- Are you flexible in your approaches to situations at work?
Management Interview & Important Elements for the Interviewer
Managers are crucial for success in every company. Great managers set and track their business targets. Furthermore, they are responsible for training and motivating employees and the performance of their teams in general. All in all, they have a lot of responsibility in the workplace. Needless to say, they have an important position within the company and its road to success.
There are several reasons why interviewers look for confirmation of your management skills and leadership abilities. The number one priority for employes is to hire the right candidate. Below we discuss some elements considered by interviewers when hiring for management positions.
1. The costs of making a bad hiring decision
Employers want to make sure that your management style matches the culture of the company. Furthermore, they want to know more about your management experience and how you go about management. In other words, interviewers want to hire the right person for the job.
For an organization, making a wrong hiring decision is not only about losing money, but it can also impact and decrease productivity levels. This is especially the case for management positions. Hiring a wrong manager can leave a bad impression on clients, but also on team members.
Also, time will be lost if the organization needs to look for another candidate after a bad hire. It’s, therefore, in the company’s interest to make the best hiring decision. Behavioral interview questions help interviewers to gauge the future performance of potential managers. These questions are used to uncover your management skills and professional behavior. Behavioral questions are viewed as a way to make sure that the right person with the right fit for the company is hired.
2. Specific details of your behavior
By asking specific questions about your behavior as a manager, interviewers want to get more in-depth information. Of course, they probably already read your resume and maybe a motivational letter or letter of recommendation. Still, based on these documents, interviewers are only able to assess your hard skills and educational levels.
Your soft skills are better to assess during a job interview with the use of behavioral interview questions. It’s therefore important that you are able to demonstrate how you deal with day-to-day management tasks, how you approach challenges with your team in the workplace, and what you have learned from your mistakes in the past.
3. Your past behavior is a good predictor of your future performance
Behavioral interview questions help the interviewer get important information about you. By asking about your past work behavior, the interviewers can then quite accurately determine your future success in the position you’re interviewing for.
The use of these types of questions can give a better insight into your future work performance. It’s therefore important to prepare well for these questions. Furthermore, in your preparation for your interview, you should also think about other questions you can expect and possible follow-up questions. For instance, about your strengths and weaknesses. By preparing example answers with scenario’s that you’ve encountered in the past, you can provide a concise and concrete answer without missing important details.
4. Avoid making the wrong decision
Of course, making a wrong hiring decision is not what a company is looking for. The interviewers might like you, but do you have the required skills and experience?
By using behavioral questions, they can gauge your future job performance in order to make a better hiring decision. A perfect resume or cover letter is not enough to impress seasoned hiring managers. Interviewers are interested in your previous patterns in professional situations. The information they are looking for should give them a better insight into your approach to critical management situations and if your approaches match the ones required for the job you’re interviewing for.
Solid interview preparation can help you ensure that your example answer situations to behavioral questions include the right aspects of the most important job requirements. Interviewers look for applicants who fit the job description. It’s, therefore, a smart strategy to match your answers to the job requirements.
Management Interview Questions & Red Flags For the Interviewer
Just like there are important elements that interviewers look for, there are also warning signs for interviewers during management interviews. Interviewers look for a confident candidate who’s able to explain why he or she is the right person for the job and how they match up to the job requirements. Find out more about red flags for interviewers below.
1. Not providing enough detail
The first thing hiring managers look for is if you are able to give specific answers to their questions. Your answers should enlighten them on how you go about your work and management style. If you cannot provide specific details of situations or examples about what you claimed in your resume or cover letter, this can be considered a red flag by the interviewers.
Say, for instance, you claim that you have successfully led teams in the past; you better be able to back this up with clear examples of how you did just that. If you fail to do so, this could hurt your chances of landing the job. When interviewers have trouble verifying your employment history or experience, this could be a warning sign for them.
2. Failing to respond effectively
Every company is looking for leaders who are confident in their abilities to succeed. You should also demonstrate and convey this during your job interview. Failing to respond effectively to interview questions and related follow-up questions can come across weak. You should be able to explain what kind of manager you are and how you have handled or would handle certain situations.
When you’re preparing for your interview, you need to figure out questions you can expect. Most of these questions you will get are based on the required skills, abilities, and competencies needed to successfully perform the job.
Based on these questions, you can also think about follow-up questions that you can expect. For instance, if you’re preparing for the interview question ‘Tell me about a time you successfully led a team,’ you can expect the interviewer to follow up with ‘How did you approach this situation?’ and ‘What was the outcome?’
3. Not taking responsibility for your actions
One of the most important traits of a great manager is the ability to take responsibility for actions. Think, for instance, about setting and tracking goals, increasing team productivity, training and motivating team members, and business development planning.
If the interviewer, for instance, asks you about a project that you led that failed, he or she expects you to come up with an example situation of a time you encountered this. The interviewer knows everybody makes mistakes, and the essence of the question is not about making a mistake; it’s about how you worked on it, solved it, and/or learned from it.
If you provide the interviewer with an answer that does not show that you take responsibility for a mistake or a project that may have failed, this can be considered a red flag.
Self-awareness and being to reflect on situations are important characteristics to possess as a manager in the workplace. Employers look for candidates that can admit errors or who made thoughtful mistakes in the past and tried to fix them. Furthermore, they know that you are human and make mistakes, just like everybody else.
It’s important that your answers show that you take responsibility for situations and describe the actions you took to repair any problems or challenges in your work. A candidate who constantly makes excuses for poor results shows that he or she would rather not be held accountable for their actions. Avoid making such an impression at all costs.
Negativity, in any form, in your answers about professional situations that you have encountered, can also be considered as a warning sign. This can range from talking inappropriately about previous employers or colleagues, but also a situation in general. Negative undertones never impress interviewers the right way.
Therefore, focus on yourself, put yourself in the best light possible, and take responsibility for your actions.
5. Unrealistic answers
Of course, you want to make the best impression possible during your job interview. However, seasoned interviewers will notice if you make up a story. If you struggle with answering and give an unrealistic answer, your bluff will most likely be called. Be honest and prepare yourself the right way to make sure you have an answer ready to job interview questions that you’re expecting.
Strong managers are open to new ideas, experiences, and promote team spirit to boost morale. The interviewers are looking for small tells in your answer to analyze who you really are as a manager.
Inflexibility is a clear warning sign for employers. When they get signs of bossiness or arrogant behavior, this could indicate to them that you lack teamwork and collaboration abilities.
7. Lack of interest
Team morale and motivation all starts with the manager. If you are not able to inspire and motivate others, how will you make sure that the team will become more productive?
Employers are interested in candidates that show that they are interested and willing to learn about the company and position they’re interviewing for.
Frequently Asked Management Interview Questions
Below you can find commonly asked management interview questions divided into categories:
Behavioral Management Interview Questions:
- Say you’re assigned a new project, but members of the team keep interrupting you with questions. How do you make sure you complete your task, and how do you handle the team situation?
- Tell me about a time you had to manage a difficult employee. How did you approach and solve the situation?
- Describe a time where you had to manage stress among your team members.
- Tell me about a time you had to resolve a conflict between team members.
- Can you tell me about a time you had to let an employee go?
- Describe a time where you led by example.
- Give me an example of a tough decision that you had to make.
- Describe to me how you delegate tasks to your team.
- Tell me about a time a member on your team made a mistake. How did you handle that situation?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with an underperforming team member? How did you handle that situation?
More behavioral management interview questions:
- Tell me how you would describe the most important contributions that you have made as a manager in your current position.
- Describe a time you mentored a team member. How did they grow as professionals? What did they do initially, and what are they doing currently?
- Tell me about a time you led an important project. How did you prepare for it?
- Describe a time when you used motivational techniques to boost team morale.
- Tell me about how you communicate your expectations to specific employees.
- Say, two important team members left your team right before the deadline for a big project. How would you approach such a situation, and how would you change your leadership style to meet the deadline?
- Tell me about your best boss and your worst boss
- Tell me about a time you led by example?
- Describe a time when your team achieved ambitious goals that you set. How did you support and motivate the team?
- Tell me about a time you had a team member who constantly opposed your ideas?
- What’s your approach to delegating work to employees? How do you ensure that tasks are completed?
- Tell me about a time you managed an important project. How did you prepare for it?
- Describe a project you successfully managed from start to end. What challenges did you face, and what did you do to overcome them?
- Had you ever had difficulty working with a manager?
- Give me an example of a team project your where leading that did not work out as well as you would have liked. What exactly happened, and what did you learn from it?
Follow-up questions to behavioral management interview questions
There are a couple of general follow-up questions you can expect as well. Examples of follow-up questions are:
- What did you learn from that situation?
- How did you handle that situation?
- Can you tell me about the results of your actions?
- What would you do differently next time?
General Management Interview Questions:
- What do you think is the most challenging about being a manager?
- Tell me about a time you took the lead in a team project. How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?
- How do you manage your workload?
- Describe your management style
- How do you define success?
- Describe your ideal company culture.
- What would you expect from your manager?
- In what specific ways do you motivate your team and its members?
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- What kind of work environment do you prefer to work in?
Preparing Answers to Management Interview Questions
There are a couple of things you should focus on when preparing your answers to management interview questions. Make sure to consider the following elements:
1. Doing your research
It’s important that you do your homework right to ace your interview. Therefore, study the job description and company, in general, to make sure you know all the necessary details. Your research will help you identify the required management competencies, skills, and experience for the position you’re interviewing for.
2. Create a list of competencies and skills
Behavioral questions in management interviews are a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your talent and skills. However, this requires preparing your answers prior to your interview. Before you head to your interview, you should have figured out which questions you are likely to get asked.
Based on the competencies and skills you identified, you can start thinking and make an educated guess about the questions you’re most likely to get. A lot of companies are looking for similar management skills such as leadership, clear communication, motivational, problem-solving, delegation, decision-making, planning & organization, etc.
Rank the competencies and skills on importance in relation to the requirements of the position that you are interviewing for.
3. Come up with past experiences that relate to the job you’re interviewing for
Create a list of past work experiences that demonstrate you performing the skill that the interviewer is questioning you about. You can think of experiences for each skill that you will think will be discussed in your interview.
Ensure to highlight successful situations where you demonstrated behavior related to the skills and experience required for the job. Focus on giving a concise and to-the-point answer.
4. Prepare successful situations and challenging ones
When you’re preparing your answers, make sure to prepare for challenging situations as well. Of course, the interviewers will be interested in you successfully performing the required skills but will most likely also ask you about challenging situations. For such questions, you must have an answer ready that shows that you are able to overcome challenges and what you learned from the situation.
Focus on showing problem-solving skills, adaptability, and ability to professionally handle challenging situations. There’s always a possibility that the interviewer will ask you a follow-up question to test your self-awareness. For instance, by asking how you might handle a similar kind of situation differently now.
5. Use the STAR method to structure your answers to behavioral management interview questions
The STAR interview technique allows you to provide a concise and to-the-point answer. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got based on your actions. These are the basic steps you take in your walkthrough. Below the STAR method is discussed step by step.
General elements to consider when structuring your answer:
- Provide the interviewer with answers to behavioral management questions in the form of a ‘story.’ Ensure that you structure this story logically. Use the STAR interview technique to do this.
- Demonstrate the skills and experience required for the job you’re interviewing for. This is exactly what the interviewer is looking for. Ensure you match your qualifications to the job and required skills, as mentioned in the job description.
- Be honest in your answers. Interviewers are trained to notice if you’re making a story up. Furthermore, to test you, they will ask follow-up questions to go more in-depth into the situation you provide them with. Make sure to prepare several example answers with situations of you successfully using skills that you think will be discussed based on your research.
STAR Interview Technique
As discussed earlier, the STAR interview technique will help you structure your answers to behavioral management interview questions logically. The STAR method allows you to give the interviewer an answer that he or she is looking for. Furthermore, it’s a perfect way to demonstrate how you acted in previous work situations. In other words, the STAR technique is a way to ace your interview with storytelling.
Below, the STAR acronym is broken down into each step.
Start your story by explaining the specific situation that you faced. The start of your answer ‘story’ should answer questions such as:
- What was the exact situation?
- Who was involved in the situation?
- Why did the situation happen at that time?
It’s important to provide context around the situation or challenge you were facing. Furthermore, make sure to provide relevant details.
Next, explain your specific role in the task ahead. Include important details, such as specific responsibilities. Your goal here is to give the interviewer an understanding of your task. This part of your answer should answer questions such as:
- Why were you involved in that specific situation?
- What’s the background story?
After you describe your task, it’s time to very specifically discuss the actions you took to resolve the situation. Give the interviewer a step by step description of the actions you took. This part of your answer should answer questions such as:
- What exact steps did you take to resolve the situation you were in?
- Why did you choose to complete your tasks this way?
To finish your answer discuss the results you got from your actions. Clearly detail the outcomes of your actions and ensure to highlight your strengths. Also, make sure to take credit for your behavior that led to the result. Make sure to focus on positive results and positive learning experiences. This part of your answer ‘story’ should answer questions such as:
- What exactly happened?
- What did you accomplish?
- How did you feel about the results you got?
- What did you learn from the situation?
- How did this particular situation influence who you are as a professional today?
Sample Answers to Management Interview Questions
Below you will find some example questions to management interview questions. The example answers to behavioral questions are already written in STAR format so that you can clearly see how you can structure your answers.
However, these are only ‘general’ examples. Do not forget to structure your own answers in a way that includes enough detail to convince the interviewer that you’re the right person for the position!
Management Interview Question 1 – STAR-Method Example:
‘Tell me about a time when you had to perform a task in which you had little or no experience in doing. How did you approach this situation, and what did you learn?’
Situation: ‘In my previous job, my manager had to unexpectedly leave for six months due to a medical condition.
Task: Because of this unexpected turn of events, our director asked me to fill in as an interim manager. At that time, I was familiar with the basics of management and what my manager was looking for in our team because I worked with her for quite some time. However, I was certainly not trained to be a manager yet.
Action: I accepted the interim position because I really enjoy challenges and was confident enough to think that I could do it. I gathered the team and told them about the situation we were in. Furthermore, I asked them to cooperate together as well as possible and that we had to get through this challenging period together. Also, I asked another manager to coach me during the process to make sure all projects would stay on track, and the team would stay productive.
Result: We managed to get through the six months very well, and all the projects were finished on time. When my manager returned, she was very pleased with the work the team delivered, and I even got compliments from our director. My performance led to me being promoted to team manager myself at the end of that year.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This answer demonstrates that you’re not hesitant when uncertain events occur. It also shows that you possess management skills and leadership potential.
- The example answer is related and relevant to the workplace. It demonstrates that you’re able to adapt when situations ask for it.
- This answer shows important skills, such as being proactive, problem-solving skills, teamwork, and creative thinking skills.
- Your decision to take on the position of interim manager turned out successful, which gives more weight to the situation you discuss in your answer.
Management Interview Question 2 – STAR-Method Example:
‘Tell me about a time you managed an important project.’
‘I’ve worked on several successful projects as the manager of the sales department. For example, I was asked to set up a project team to work on a sales pitch to convince a new client to use our services. The pressure was on because it was a 5-year deal and a multi-million dollar contract that was at stake. For the company as well as for me personally, this was kind of a big deal. As this deal would mean a lot for the company in terms of turnover increase, I understood that failure was not an option because it was a unique opportunity to land the contract.
I gathered a team of the most experienced employees and selected them based on their individual qualities and strengths to make sure to balance the team out. Together with the team, a planning document was set up, and goals and milestones were determined. After that, I delegated tasks based on the knowledge and experience levels of each team member. Also, I assigned a project manager to carefully monitor the progress on a day to day basis and report to me on the milestone progress.
Because I distributed the responsibilities according to experience and knowledge levels, everyone on the team was aware of their responsibilities and the importance of the project. The team delivered everything on time without requiring intense oversight. We finished our sales presentation ahead of the deadline and were able to provide the client with everything he asked for.
The client told us that he was impressed by our effort, and we landed the contract, which was the largest deal closed in that year. This was a great achievement for the team as it was an effort that could not have been made without the people on it.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This example demonstrates several important leadership skills, such as oversight, coordinating, decisiveness, communication, delegation, motivating, time management, and planning.
- The answer is related and relevant to the workplace and professional environments. It shows that you are able to manage and motivate your team effectively.
- The project turned out successful, which gives more weight to the situation you discuss in your answer.
Management Interview Question 3 – STAR-Method Example:
‘Tell me about a time you had to manage a difficult employee.’
‘In my previous position, I managed a team of 5 consultants. One team member was constantly late when it came to completing tasks. These tasks were set out and discussed during the weekly planning to make sure all team members had the same workload. With him being late, the whole team started to run behind on the planning. I had a one-on-one meeting with him and, next to giving him a warning, explained the situation and how it impacted the team performance. We discussed a deadline for him to improve his contribution to the team effort.
After the first two weeks that followed, I saw no improvement, so I talked to him again and told him that I would include this in his employee record and report it to the HR department. We discussed a final deadline to improve himself, and I offered to coach him during the process.
Luckily for the team and me, but also for him, he took it seriously this time. Within a week or so, there was a real improvement in his output and quality of work, and furthermore, everything was delivered ahead of the project the deadline. Besides his productivity and quality going up, the friction within the team was gone, and all issues were solved eventually.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This example demonstrates an important leadership skill, which is the ability to pinpoint specific behavior of employees that needs to be improved.
- The answer gives the interviewer information about how you approach delicate situations and handle them.
- The answer shows that you are willing to coach and mentor team members and help them improve their professional behavior in order to improve team performance and morale in general.
- Your actions turned out to be successful in getting the team back on track, which gives your answer more weight.
- The answer is related and relevant to any workplace environment. Being able to boost morale and performance are key traits for a strong manager.
Management Interview Question 4:
‘Describe your Leadership style.’
As a manager, I learned to adapt to different and changing situations. My experience taught me to adapt my management style to the team and employees that I’m working with. Not everyone on a team requires the same management style constantly. Therefore I think it’s important that as a manager, you’re flexible towards your team and allow the team members to develop themselves.
For example, in my previous position, where we were working on an assignment for a new client. This specific project required a new approach because we had not worked on an assignment of similar nature before. I gathered the team and told them what was expected by the client and delegated tasks after splitting up the team in smaller teams of two.
After we kicked off the project, I noticed that some of the teams were struggling with tackling the issues they encountered. I immediately got more involved myself and coached where needed. I kept track of progress daily and helped the teams out where necessary by actively participating in their tasks. We got the job done within the set deadlines and added a new satisfied client to our track record.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This example demonstrates important leadership skills such as oversight, coordinating, decisiveness, communication, delegation, motivating, time management, and planning.
- The answer is related and relevant to the workplace. It shows that you are able to manage your team effectively.
- The project turned out successful, which gives more weight to the situation you discuss in your answer.
- This answer gives the interviewer information about how you approach situations that are new to you as well.