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 growth potential to possibly manage a team in the future.

There are also several other questions the interviewer can ask to get more information about your management style, such as:

In this blog, we discuss why the interviewer is asking questions about your management style. Also, we tell you what you should focus on when answering this question. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.

What Is A Management Style?

A management style can be described as a particular way managers go about achieving their objectives. It’s about how they make decisions, how they prioritize and organize their work, and how they exercise their authority in the workplace.

An effective organization has management in place that gets employees together on a common platform to let them perform to the best of their abilities to get the best results possible. The methods, abilities, and techniques managers use to handle situations, and express leadership within an organization can be described as their management style.

Every manager or leader has their own unique style of dealing with employees. For employers, it’s important to get a better understanding of this specific management style and if it matches the company culture. The right management style can play an important role in strengthening the bond amongst employees. Furthermore, it can help them work together as a team instead of individuals.

It’s the management’s responsibility to make sure that employees are satisfied with their work, their job responsibilities, and perform at their best. Therefore, when hiring for a senior position, interviewers are specifically interested in you explaining how you go about managing employees, delegating tasks, dealing with conflict in the workplace and how you boost your team’s morale.

Why Interviewers Ask 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 to find out if you:

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 would be, of course, to use example situations that relate to the requirements of the position that you’re currently applying for.

The most effective and efficient way to structure your answers is by using the STAR interview technique. 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 Interview Technique To Structure Your Answers

The STAR interview technique is most suitable to use when the interviewer asks you a behavioral job interview question. Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer, in this case, more about your work ethic, management style, and leadership potential.

Behavioral questions are the most pragmatic way for interviewers to uncover past work experiences. The answers you give the interviewer should convince him or her that you are the right candidate for the job.

These 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 where you had to use certain skills. In other words, you need to describe a situation to the interviewer where you took decisions and explain 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..
  • Describe a time when..

Examples of behavioral interview questions to uncover management styles:

STAR Interview Technique

So how do you structure a STAR answer? Below we describe the steps of the words included in the acronym.

Situation

First, you tell the interviewer about the specific situation. Provide the necessary details so that the interviewer understands what was going on and who was involved.

Task

Next, walk the interviewer through your responsibilities in the situation you decide to use as an example in your answer.

Action

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. Here you must demonstrate your management and leadership skills.

Result

Always tell the interviewer what the outcome of your actions was. This is another opportunity to take advantage of the question by demonstrating management skills that relate to the position you’re applying for.

Make sure to take credit for your behavior that led to the result. Here you answer questions such as What happened? And What results did you get? Also, provide the interviewer with information about what you learned from the situation. Make sure to focus on positive results and positive learning experiences.

What To Do If You Do Not (Yet) 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 upfront. 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.

Tips for creating answers to questions about management styles

  1. Discuss your teamwork skills

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.

  1. Flexibility

This is an important aspect of being a good manager. Complex situations call for tailor-made solutions and creative thinking skills. 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.

  1. Explain why you’re a good mentor

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.

  1. Include challenging situations

For example, talk about 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 you won’t shy away from 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 In A Job Interview

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!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic