Leading a team of people, helping company to prosper, and getting a hefty paycheck each month–who would not want to become a manager? Many people pursue this dream, in every corner of the world. And you will always compete with many candidates in your interview. Let’s have a look at what will happen on the big day, what questions you will face, and how to make the best possible impression on the hiring managers.

After getting through the questions, we will have a look at some abilities that characterize a great manager. Do not forget to check that section as well, in order to understand what sort of attitude and what skills you should try to demonstrate while talking in the interviews…


How do you motivate your subordinates?

The best answer is to say that you try to address each issue of motivation individually, with every employee you manage. Identifying the problem (it can be lack of money, bad relationships in the team, personal problems they experience in their family, inability to see the connection of their personal goals and goals of the company, or anything else) should be the first step you take.

Second step consists in addressing the problem, whether with a right talk, or an incentive, or a punishment, or any other measure you’d take to help your subordinate to regain their motivation and to deliver their best in work. Another good alternative is talking about a situation from the past, when you actually managed someone who struggled with motivation, and explaining what exactly you did to help them overcome a crisis. You can check 7 sample answers to this question here: How do you motivate others?


What makes you a great manager, and a great leader?

Recruiters and interviewers understand the importance of leadership. Each team needs a great leader, someone who will set the overall direction for the team, help their colleagues grow, and basically make sure that everyone feels heard out and recognized for their work.

We have a separate article dedicated to leadership interview questions. Do not forget to check it out, since you will likely face few of these questions. But now let’s have a look at a sample answer to this one:

I always try to help my subordinates to progress in both their personal and professional life. Higher level of motivation, higher level of self confidence, higher level of effectiveness, higher level of personal leadership. That is what makes me a great leader. And I also try to teach my direct subordinates how to lead, so we can grow into the organization of leaders.

What has been the biggest management problem you faced in your last job?

Explain a problem, and elaborate on it with a solution of the problem. Turn your biggest challenge to the sweetest victory you’ve experienced in your career.

Show them that you consider each problem a challenge, in a positive sense of the word. Problems are opportunities to become better in what we do. Unsuccessful people win or lose. Successful people win, or learn… What’s more, we cannot avoid problems in any managerial job. Ensure the interviewers that you are ready to face problems, and benefit from your experience while trying to solve each one.

And if you apply for your very first job, you can talk about a difficult problem you had to handle at the college, or in your personal life (managing some situation). It is better than saying you’ve never experienced any serious problem… You can also check some sample answers to the question about the biggest challenges you faced in your life.


What makes a great manager in your view?

You can either list the abilities of a great manager, or you can go with leadership, achieving goals of the company on an ongoing basis, and helping the people they manage to deliver their best in work, to maximize their potential.

Communication skills, social skills, ability to utilize the strengths of each team member, and to eliminate their weaknesses, can also characterize a good manager. You have many choices here really, and you should always make sure to elaborate on your answer, explaining how you constantly strive to improve on these abilities, trying to become the best manager you can be.


How would you describe your management style?

You can find many different categorizations of management styles online, and in the books. Four types, six types, or even ten types of management. Sometimes it is hard to understand what this or that category actually means. Job interview is no school exam, however. Hiring managers do not expect you to say that you prefer paternalistic or collaborative management. They expect to hear how you actually manage people, and in an ideal case they want to hear some illustration of your style.

At the end of the day, results matter the most for the managers. Long term results over short term, to be more precise. Regardless of whether you prefer to lead the team by an iron fist, or let your people do whatever they want (or anything in between), as long as it works for you, and you achieve the goals you set, and people do not leave the company under your leadership, you are good to go. Want more details? Check 7 sample answers to “How would you define your management style?” interview question.


Other questions you can face in your interview for any managerial job

In nearly every managerial interview, you will face some tough behavioral questions (“Tell me about a time when…”, “Describe the situation….”). Such questions help the HR managers understand how you would approach various situations in the workplace, such as having a conflict with one of your subordinates, dealing with conflicting priorities, struggling to meet a deadline, and so on. To most popular behavioral questions belong:

* Special tip: Not sure how to answer the behavioral questions, “tell us about a time when…”, “describe a situation…”, etc? Have a look at our Interview Success Package, where you’ll find up to 10 brilliant answers to more than 100 interview questions, including 30+ behavioral questions–basically everything a hiring manager can throw at you in an interview for any managerial role.

What’s more, these are premium answers, not available to general public. They will help you stand out in an interview and outclass your competitors–something you typically have to do, when trying to get any great job. Thank you for checking it out!


Abilities that characterize great managers

Regardless of what happens in an interview, you should try to demonstrate that you are a good manager. Let’s have a look at three abilities that will help you to do so:

  1. They do not only talk and give orders, but also listen and seek constructive feedback. Try to show some humility in your interview. Say that you want to listen to your sub-ordinates, seeking valuable feedback, engaging them in your decisions, while trying to become a better manager.
  2. They go by example, and they do not hesitate to offer a helping hand. Good managers do not only sit on their comfy leather armchairs, waiting for a next problem to arise, or for a phone to ring. They actively look for things to do, seek solutions and search areas for improvement (of both their own work, and work of other people).
  3. They can hire, but also fire. Great managers do not let their emotions to control their decisions. If they have to dismiss a friend–because their friend made a mistake which can not be tolerated, or simply because to dismiss them is the right thing to do for the company, they will dismiss them. They are not afraid of making an unpopular decision….


Final thoughts

Managerial jobs are extremely popular, which makes your interview particularly difficult. Speaking from personal experience with running a recruitment agency, we always received more than fifty job applications when we advertised a job opening for any managerial position (in some extreme cases we got hundreds of applications, for example when the salary offer was exceptional).

It is not easy to outclass other job applicants, and to walk away a winner from this interview. Nevertheless, you should try to control what you can control: write a great job application, prepare for the questions you may face, work on your interviewing skills, try to improve your management skills. And if you need help, refer to our Interview Success Package.

Thank you for reading, I wish you good luck in your interview!


* You can also download the list of some questions in a one page long .PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later, even when offline:

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Matthew Chulaw
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