By: Antonio Merrick on January 26th, 2023

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Find Your Next Leader With These Interview Questions for Managers

Best Practices | Recruitment outsourcing

The secret to a successful interview is to ask the right questions. Getting this right requires a great deal of planning, plus conversations with stakeholders to determine what you need to learn about each candidate.

Choosing interview questions for a manager position requires some additional thought. When hiring a manager, you’re looking for someone who’ll play an active part in your strategy, mission, and company culture. You’re not just asking if they have leadership skills; you’re interrogating whether their style of leadership is right for your team.

In this piece, we’ll talk about how to pick the right strategy for staffing a management role and give some examples of the best interview questions for managers.

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What are the best interview questions for managers?

First of all, you’ll need to talk to all relevant process stakeholders to determine what kind of manager you need. Managers work in many different styles, with some of the more common styles being:

  • Authoritative: A top-down style in which the manager assumes most of the responsibility for decision-making
  • Coaching: A focus on professional development, with the long-term goal of levelling up team members
  • Laissez-faire: Team members enjoy a lot of autonomy, with the manager available for support when needed
  • Collaborative: Leaders that work towards team consensus on strategy and goal-setting
  • Transformational: A style that focuses on bringing about substantial changes in methods, processes and cultures

Each of these styles suits a different type of culture. For instance, the authoritative style works in a hierarchy culture, while the laissez-faire style suits a results culture. Transformational leaders might thrive in a work environment that’s all about innovation, but they may struggle in more slow-moving teams such as compliance.  

When choosing interview questions for managers, you should first think about the kind of manager that you need, and then build questions that help identify the right person.

What are the two main types of interview questions for managers?

Managers are responsible for two things: delivering results and supporting their team.

In practice, most managers have a style that leans towards one or the other. It’s important to talk to stakeholders about what kind of leader you need for this position.

  • Job-focused leaders prioritize goals. They keep a close eye on metrics and work closely with employees to maximize productivity. This approach is often required in high-pressure environments like manufacturing, retail and hospitality.
  • Employee-focused leaders prioritize team building. These leaders also improve productivity, but they do so through long-term strategies like engagement building and professional development. The employee-focused approach often leads to lower turnover, which is why it’s common in highly skilled teams.

Again, different kinds of manager work in different environments. For example, an eCommerce service like Amazon might rely on job-focused leaders in their fulfillment centers, as these teams need to keep up with customer expectations.

However, the IT team responsible for Amazon’s website would benefit from an employee-focused leader who can collaborate with them on projects and support them with professional development.

Sample manager interview questions for job-focused leaders

If you need a manager that will focus on immediate results, you need to go beyond common interview questions like “tell me about yourself”. Instead, ask questions that focus on their ability to get results, such as: 

  • What software systems have you used for project/people management or creating schedules and reports? 
  • Provide an example of a time when you’ve had to deal with an employee who was underperforming
  • How do you generally measure your success as a manager? 
  • Provide two specific examples in your previous positions where you implemented process improvements. What were the results? 
  • What was the most challenging experience you have had as a team leader, and what did you do to overcome that challenge? 
  • Tell me a time when you had to manage a project with a tight budget, limited resources, or understaffed. 
  • How would you describe your management style
  • How do you establish priorities for yourself and the people you supervise?
  • How do measure employee performance and hold people accountable? 
  • Describe a time you managed a disruptive employee.

Note that some of these are behavioral interview questions, which most candidates will answer with the STAR method (Situation-Task-Action-Result). This is a great way to allow candidates to talk about the skillset they acquired in their last job, while also keeping them focused on providing details related to the job description.

Sample manager interview questions for employee-focused leaders

If you need a manager that focuses on engagement, retention and professional development, you could ask questions like: 

  • Tell me about your leadership or management skills and describe your leadership style in those roles.  
  • Describe your leadership style today, and will that style fit this role? 
  • What would your previous employees say about your management style
  • What are your plans for your team's professional development? 
  • How do you approach development strategies for each individual? 
  • Do your communication skills help encourage teamwork? Can you provide an example of a time when your communication help bring a team together?
  • Provide some examples of times when you motivated staff using rewards. 
  • What is your process when coaching employees who are performing well? 
  • What approaches have you used to build rapport and credibility with your previous teams, and how will you do the same in this role?
  • How would you help a team member achieve long-term career goals, like training for a management job?  
  • How do you delegate tasks to employees, and how do you oversee completion? 

Again, this is a mix of open questions and behavioral questions. The goal is to allow candidates to answer as they see relevant while getting the answers you need to assess each competency. You can ask follow-up questions to get any additional information you need.

Need help finding managerial candidates?

Great leaders are hard to find. That's why it's so important to have a robust recruitment process, with recruiters, hiring managers and other stakeholders pulling in the same direction. 

Helios HR has been helping businesses get recruitment right for over 20 years. We can help through our Recruitment Process Outsourcing service (RPO), or work with a Retained Search expert for elite positions. 

Want to start seeing better recruitment outcomes? Book a call with a Helios HR consultant today.

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