How to Answer: Describe Your Management Style in a Job Interview
When going to a job interview, it’s likely that some sort of question will come up that will regard your leadership style. These questions are usually asked in job interviews where the candidates are applying for a managerial or executive position. However, it’s possible that this question is asked to candidates for other levels in the company too. In that case, questions about management styles are meant to uncover whether someone has the potential to possibly manage a team in the future.
Other ways the interviewer can ask the same question:
- Tell me about your management style
- Describe your leadership style
- What do you think makes a good manager?
Just like every other frequently asked job interview question, preparation is key to impress the interviewer. It’s therefore important that you are able to answer commonly asked job interview questions. Make sure you prepare concise answers and examples that support your responses to these questions.
Why the interviewer is asking about your management style
The interviewer is asking about your management style to assess your qualities and abilities to perform management responsibilities. The goal of the interviewer is finding out if you:
- Can motivate employees and develop a team
- Possess the skills to delegate efficiently and effectively
- Can increase and maximize team productivity and effort
- Are able to manage poor (team) performances
You need to realize that there is no real right or wrong answer when it comes to discussing your management style. The style you apply can vary and depend on the specific situation involved. The interviewer is interested in how you convey your management style and your leadership abilities. They are likely to use the answer you give as a factor in deciding if they should hire you or not.
It’s therefore important that you do not only tell, but also show. This means that you do not just need to describe your management style but also make this concrete by providing how you actually implement it through examples. The best way to do this is to follow the STAR-method. STAR is an acronym for the situation (S), task (T), action (A), and the result (R). This method is used to structure answers in a concise and concrete way. This way, you can answer the question of the interviewer in a specific and in-depth way.
How to use the STAR-Method to structure your answer
The STAR-method is most suitable to use when the interviewer asks you a behavioral job interview question. Behavioral job interview questions require you to provide real-life situations that you have encountered. More specifically, these questions require you to share examples of specific work situations you were in where you had to use certain skills. You need to describe a situation to the interviewer where you took decisions and why you handled it in a certain way.
Behavioral job interview questions usually start with:
- Tell me about a time when
- Give me an example of a situation
- What do you do when
- Describe a time when
- Have you ever
So how do you structure a STAR answer? Below we describe the steps of the words included in the acronym.
First, you tell the interviewer about the specific situation. Provide the necessary details for him to understand what was going on and who was involved.
Next, walk the interviewer through your responsibilities in the situation you decide to use as an example in your answer.
Now you told the interviewer what the situation was and what your task was. Follow-up by describing the steps that you took to address the situation.
Always tell the interviewer what the outcome of your actions was. This is where you can take advantage of the opportunity of the question asked by demonstrating skills that relate to the position you’re applying for.
What to do if you do not have management experience
As stated earlier, interviewers might still ask this question to find out how you would manage a team. If your experience with managing teams or coworkers is limited, the best way is to tell this up front. However, you should emphasize the relevant experience you have and demonstrate that you can transfer these skills to a bigger team setting.
For instance, if you’re a graduate fresh out of college, you may have limited work experience. However, you could use the management skills you gained working on (or leading) team assignments during your education, internships, or skills you gained playing on a sports team. The skills that are required to be a good manager are found in these examples as well. Think of skills such as planning, setting goals, organizing, budget management, leading people, and prioritizing that you include in your answer to demonstrate management experience.
What to focus on when answering questions about management styles
There are a couple of important things to focus on when you’re answering job interview questions about your style of management. These are general topics that you can discuss to convince the interviewer. Your goal is to demonstrate that you possess the ability to understand that problems can occur if you’re a manager and that you know how to go about solving them.
Use the tips below to create your own answers:
- Include teamwork in your answers. Great managers understand that without their team, they are nothing. In other words, a leader is only as good as the people that are behind him. Therefore, demonstrate that you are able to collaborate with others. Delegating tasks is also a part of teamwork and should be brought up when discussing leadership and teamwork.
- Flexibility is key. This is an important aspect of being a good manager. Complex situations call for tailor-made solutions. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you are flexible and able to adapt to certain situations. In other words, show that you understand that each situation is unique and different situations need different solutions.
- Talk about how you help people develop themselves. A good manager can discover the potential and strengths of team members. If possible, discuss how you identify qualities in your team members and how you help them take steps to develop as professionals.
- Explain a situation where you had to deal with a difficult team member. As a manager, you will also encounter situations in which important decisions need to be made. Discussing situations where you had to deal with a difficult employee will show that won’t shy away for taking action when needed. An example of handling a difficult employee will give the interviewer a lot of information about your management style.
Common leadership styles that you could discuss:
Below three common leadership styles are discussed together with examples of how you could discuss them.
Leading by example
‘For me, personally leading by example has led to the best results working with my team. Whenever a new project would start, I would gather the team and lead from the front. I discuss with the team what needs to be done and organize my team is such a way that everybody understands who’s responsible for which part of the project. This way, I make sure that everybody contributes equally and streamline the process.’
Leading through communication facilitation
‘Clear communication is one of my strengths that I apply in daily management to get the best results. Open and clear communication channels led me to great success with my team. Through the facilitation of communication, I’m able to find the strengths of all my team members and get the best performance out of them.’
Leading by delegating tasks and developing team members
‘My knowledge of different personalities and work styles allows me to drive team compatibility. This way, I’m able to delegate tasks to the right members and utilize their strengths, which is essential in good teamwork. This is also the basis of understanding on how to further develop their strengths to increase team productivity even more.’
Sample answers to describe your management style
When you’re preparing for an interview, it always helps to try to view it from the perspective of the interviewer. The interviewer is trying to figure out if, and in what way you are suitable for the position you’re applying to. It’s therefore, always a good idea to relate the situations you use and the experience you gained to the requirements in the job description.
Sample answer about your management style 1:
‘There are different types of management styles that can be used depending on the situation. For me, it’s important that a manager can adapt to situations and knows when to go for a particular style. For instance, within this startup, you need a manager that is able to structure a team and give clear instructions. Also, in this stage, there should be a clear focus on motivating and professional development. I have several years of experience with running such teams and was able to successfully get projects done within set deadlines. I’ve worked within different markets and environments where I structured teams of less experienced and more experienced employees. My experience has brought me to the conclusion that there is not a single ‘management style’ to go with. A good manager is able to understand what the team needs at that particular moment and provide leadership accordingly.’
Sample answer about your management style 2:
‘As a manager I learned to adapt to the situation. 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 as the project goes. For instance, at my previous job where we were working on an assignment for a new client that 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 of 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 on a daily basis 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.’
Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic