Common Manager Interview Questions With Best Answers

How to Answer Management Interview Questions

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If you’re preparing for an interview for a manager position, you have obviously interviewed successfully in the past. However, even with your experience, it can be helpful to review interview questions and answers for manager candidates.

Beyond that, you might want to go over interview success techniques to improve your chances of landing the job. The more prepared you are for your interview, the more polished you’ll appear, and the more likely you’ll be to move forward in the hiring process.

Types of Management Interview Questions

An interview for a manager position will consist of questions about your experience, management style, what you've accomplished in the past, and what your expectations are for the future.

The hiring manager will ask questions to determine how well you will fit into the organization, and how effective you’ll be in the position.

To craft your answers, it will help if you share anecdotes and specific examples from your previous work experiences. This will show the interviewer how you capably handled situations and worked with a team. Tailor specific responses, so your job qualifications will come through loud and clear.

If you're interviewing for a management trainee position, where you're not expected to have a lot of related work experience, you will most likely be asked about your ability to lead groups, delegate tasks, and perform related duties. It's fine to share examples from academic and extracurricular activities to show the interviewer how you're qualified.

 12 Common Manager Interview Questions and Best Answers

When interviewing managers, most interviewers will focus on two distinct aspects of the managerial experience—whether you get results and how well you deal with people. Both are equally important.

If you can’t deal with managing different personalities in team environments and under stress, nothing else you do will matter. On the other hand, if you get too involved in dealing with people’s personal problems, you’re unlikely to be able to help the organization achieve its goals.

As a manager, you’ll set the tone for your team. If you don’t share the organization’s values, goals, and culture, you won’t be able to lead effectively. Prepare for your upcoming interview with these concepts in mind. It may help to review these common manager interview questions.

Interview Questions About Management

Most of the questions you will be asked during your interview will be focused upon your actual management experience and your knowledge of effective management strategies and styles.

1. What do you expect from a manager?

What They Want to Know: As part of your discussion about the forces that led you to enter a management career track, you may be asked your opinion about what you as an employee expect from a supervisor. Keep your answer positive as you describe what you have found to be good management qualities.

The managers I’ve had in the past who I now emulate had open-door policies with their teams – one always felt comfortable going to them to discuss tricky workplace issues. They respected our opinions, collaborated with us to arrive at positive solutions, and maintained our confidentiality.

2. What was it like working for your manager?

What They Want to Know: This question isn’t a query for information so much as it is a test of how you will respond when talking about working with difficult managers. Avoid criticism of former managers at all costs – the employer is trying to ascertain if you will be a congenial team leader, so keep your answer upbeat. 

I’ve never had a difficult manager – only difficult project challenges that we always worked together to resolve. I’ve been lucky that the managers I’ve worked for maintained open lines of communication so that we could nip any rising issues in the bud.

3. Share some examples of the ways in which you’ve impacted worker safety. 

What They Want to Know: Occupational health and safety is a major concern of employers, especially in high-hazard workplaces like factories, chemical labs, and construction sites. Describing how you’ve positively impacted worker safety is a good way to add value to the impression you’re providing of your management skillset.

As a call center manager, I noticed that several of our staff were reporting cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain. Through some clever manipulation of our operating budget, I was able to purchase more ergonomic workstations that resulted in far fewer complaints.

Interview Questions About Employees

Employers have to decide whether, as a manager, you have what it takes to successfully coordinate and manage personnel with various backgrounds and skill levels while at the same time taking direction from your own superiors.

4. Describe how you managed a problem employee.

What They Want to Know: The hallmark of a great supervisor is that they know how to bring out the best in their workforce. This sometimes involves working with a challenging employee to resolve performance issues. Use the STAR interview response technique to structure your answer in advance.

Last year, I had an employee assigned to my department who was a brilliant (but very young) financial analyst, onboarded straight out of college. His people skills left something to be desired – soon his team members were complaining that he was dismissive of their ideas and belittled their contributions. So, I called him into my office, and we had a conversation about our company culture and how collaborative teamwork is crucial to our operations. I also alerted him that he was on notice to drop his ego at the door and improve his manners – which he did.

5. If you knew a manager were 100% wrong about something, how would you handle it?

What They Want to Know: Even if you are a manager yourself, you will probably be a direct report to a more senior supervisor. Your interviewer wants to know not only how you lead others, but how you yourself, as an employee, respond to direction and communicate with your own boss (especially when he or she is wrong).

No one is right all of the time – everyone has a bad day occasionally when they just aren’t focused and make mistakes. Yet in business it’s critical to correct errors a.s.a.p. On those very few occasions where I felt like my manager made the wrong call, I’ve never hesitated to speak with them privately about the situation, laying out my rationale in a nonjudgmental fashion. In every single case, they admitted that there had been an oversight, and they thanked me sincerely for my “good catch.”

6. What strategies would you use to motivate your team

What They Want to Know: Employers are interested in your creativity and dedication to making the personnel you manage as productive as they can be. Use this opportunity to discuss your leadership style. 

I take one of my team members out for a twenty-minute coffee break each day, on a rotating basis. These “dates” are scheduled ahead of time, so each person knows when their turn will be. Our one-on-one time allows them to raise any concerns or worries they might have, and lets me build rapport and privately provide constructive feedback, if warranted.

 Interview Questions About Your Qualifications and Skills

These nuts-and-bolts questions will help the employer to decide whether you have the professional hard skills and interpersonal soft skills they are seeking.

7. Why should we hire you?

What They Want to Know: Hiring managers who ask this question want to know why you would be the best person for the job – so you’ll need to give them a persuasive sales pitch. Try to describe at least five qualifications that you would bring to the position, quantifying them with percentages if you can.

I have 8 years’ experience as the Human Resources Manager for a manufacturing firm with a workforce about the size of your own – around 1200 employees. During my tenure, I’ve lowered our turnover rate by 60%, sourced more cost-effective workers’ benefits package that have rescued over $8K for our bottom line, and have introduced internal training programs so that we can promote from within rather than recruit from outside. 

8. What applicable attributes and experience do you have?

What They Want to Know: This is your opportunity to elaborate upon the applicable skills and experience you presented in your resume – successfully so, since you landed an interview!

I have 10 years’ experience in the management of four-star restaurants, and have successfully directed front- and back-of-house operations for teams of up to 50 personnel. I can offer you proven competencies in budgeting, cost control, inventory tracking, and marketing strategy development, and I’m used to working 50 to 60 hours a week to ensure our uncompromised provision of world-class dining experiences.

9. What can you contribute to this company? 

What They Want to Know: This question gauges both your self-awareness and your knowledge of the employer’s operations, company culture, and mission statement. Be sure to learn as much as you can about these so that you can provide a convincing answer.

Sample Answer: I can add value to your company not only because of my eight years of comptroller experience – which I’m sure many of your other candidates have – but also because of my energy, flexibility, and commitment to being a great team cheerleader. Many accounting managers are introverts who prefer to work alone, but I thrive on human contact and collaboration. So, not only do I do my management tasks accurately, but I also try to ensure that my office is a congenial place to work. I’m impressed by your frequent “Best Place to Work” awards, and know that I could help ensure you continue to receive this recognition.

Interview Questions About You

“Tell me about yourself.” This is perhaps the most frequently-asked question at the beginning of job interviews. Employers want to get a sense not only of your career skills, but also of who you are as a person. Use the past, present, future technique to structure a winning response.

10. What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?

What They Want to Know: When answering this question, keep in mind that it isn’t just about what you yourself want in a job. Rather, it’s meant to determine if your personal goals align with the employer’s needs and requirements.

I’m most interested in finding a job that allows me to give back to our community. I became a social worker because, as a foster child myself, I witnessed both the flaws in the system and the wonders that can be achieved by a few dedicated advocates. If I can do my part to improve the welfare of our local families as your next program manager, I’ll consider myself to have succeeded in my chosen profession.

11. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?

What They Want to Know: This is a behavioral interview question designed to see how you have managed challenging situations. Common difficult decisions for managers include hiring and firing decisions, budget cuts, and promotion decisions.

I always find it challenging to decide who to promote, probably because I personally train my employees and always have a few candidates in line for the next available advancement. I find that the best way to justify my final decision is to honesty explain my rationale to the candidate who has been passed up, praising their skills while also defining the areas they should improve upon in order to have a shot at the next promotion.

12. What was most and least rewarding about your last position? 

What They Want to Know: This is another situation where it’s how you answer that is most important. Align your answers to what you know the employer is seeking in their next manager – your “most rewarding” scenario should reflect a quality they want, and your “least rewarding” example should describe a skill or situation that isn’t relevant to your ability to succeed in your new management role. 

I found that the most rewarding part of my last job was the opportunity I was given to train new departmental hires. They were always eager to succeed, and it was great to contribute to their progress. The least rewarding part, quite frankly, was the sixty-minute commute to work each way, which could be exhausting in Atlanta’s gridlock traffic. That’s one reason why I’m excited at the possibility of working for you – I only live twenty minutes away.

 Tips to Answer Manager Interview Questions

Here are additional tips to help you prepare for your management interview.

Don’t forget to prepare answers to standard interview questions. Hiring managers still want to know how you’ve conquered challenges in the past, what your long-term plans are for your career, and whether you’ll fit into the corporate culture.

Get ready for a few curveball questions. Many interviewers like to ask difficult questions of all their prospective hires. They may especially expect management candidates to think quickly on their feet and stay cool even when the conversation veers in an unexpected direction.

Demonstrate that you’re management material during the interview. Seek input or clarification as needed, remain positive and focused on the problem (or interview question), and look for opportunities to tell stories that demonstrate your successes.

Dress for success. At many companies, managers are expected to look as well as act the part. Make your that your interview attire is impeccable and professional.

How to Make the Best Impression

The best way to make a great impression in a management interview is to demonstrate your confidence and competency in leading others, while at the same time expressing your enthusiasm for the company you are applying to.

When you’ve done your research of the employer and have honed your “sales pitch” (“These are the reasons why you should hire me as your next manager …”), you’ll be ready to prove to your interviewers that you’re the perfect candidate for the job.