If you're interviewing for a management job, recruiters are paying close attention to whether you'd be able to lead and inspire a team. It's hard to predict what you'll be asked but here are some of the most common management interview questions
The majority of business, consulting and management jobs hold the potential for graduates to progress into more senior positions, but first you'll need to tackle the interview and convince recruiters that you have the skills for a successful management career.
While some recruitment processes include assessment centres and psychometric tests, answering a series of management-specific questions is usually what's required of you.
Competition for management jobs is strong - employers particularly value and seek candidates with management and leadership skills - to make sure you don't miss out on a role because you were caught off guard, take some time to draft answers to the following questions.
What's your management style?
Recruiters are trying to gain an insight into how you interact with employees so in your answer don't just describe your style, tell them how it works by referring to real-life examples. Use some of your proudest moments as a team leader or manager to show how your management style leads to success.
Demonstrate awareness and an appreciation of how management styles can differ depending on the work environment and verbalise your ability to be flexible with your management style where needed.
How do you see a manager's role on a team?
This question is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of professional boundaries. Start by giving a brief definition of what 'management' means to you and then demonstrate to employers how you maintain a professional distance, while still remaining on good terms with those who you manage, using your past experience.
Managers who work too independently risk isolating themselves from their team, but those who are too friendly may undermine their own authority. Illustrate how you strike a balance between these two approaches.
How do you motivate a team?
One approach won't fit all when trying to motivate different team members, so when asking this question recruiters are looking for an understanding of how different personalities and working styles make up a team.
Give specific examples of how you get to know a team and how you assess each person's strengths. Explain how you use positive reinforcement and recognition to motivate employees and encourage them to achieve company goals.
Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult employee.
Dealing with difficult or underperforming employees is an inevitable part of any manager's job. This question is designed to uncover how you approach and handle conflict and how effectively you solve problems. Demonstrate a range of skills, including listening, communication and problem solving.
Use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method to frame your example to make sure you deliver a comprehensive answer. Don't just describe the problem, explain the action you took to resolve it and the impact this had on the employee and the wider team.
If you don't have much professional experience in this area, you could use an example of dealing with a difficult colleague in a part-time job or an underperforming team member on a sports team or in university group exercises.
How would your colleagues describe you?
Don't be overly modest but be cautious of sounding arrogant. Speak about your strengths. If you're a good listener, use an example to back this up. If you're supportive, tell the interviewer about a time when you helped a colleague. If you have positive quotes to use or compliments given to you from others, don't be afraid to use them.
If this is your first job straight out of university, use examples from your work experience, volunteering activities or weekend or summer jobs.
Describe how you delegate tasks to team members.
Managers often need to juggle a hectic workload. Employers ask this question to discover how you handle your responsibilities and how you utilise your team.
Explain how delegation makes you more productive as a manager and how you use the time it frees up. Describe how you delegate according to team members’ strengths and how you use your organisational skills to ensure that tasks are distributed evenly among team members to ensure fairness and efficiency. Back up this response with an example of a time where you successfully delegated tasks to team members.
Other frequently asked interview questions
- How do you make important decisions?
- How do you recognise/reward success?
- Give an example of a time you initiated change.
- Describe one of your failures as a manager.
- How would you manage your team’s professional development?
- Give an example of how you work to achieve targets within a tight time frame.
- What has been your biggest success as a manager?
- Give an example of a time that you supported a member of your team who was struggling.
- Tell me about a time when you led by example.
- If you were offered the job what is the first thing you would change/what is the first strategy you’d put in place?
With any interview, especially for a management position, preparation is essential.
Demonstrate to recruiters that you're the right person for the job before the interview starts by showcasing your organisation, time keeping and research skills. Turn up on time, having everything you need to hand and exhibit knowledge of the company from prior research.
Employers will be able to easily spot a candidate who hasn't done sufficient interview preparation, and if you haven't it's unlikely you'll be considered for the position. Setting aside time to read up on the company and focus on giving a good first impression will pay off in the long run.
Tips for a successful interview
'For the greatest chance of interview success, candidates should demonstrate their capacity for empathy and understanding, as they will be managing a diverse workforce. Their team may vary in age, experience and ability, therefore managers must know how to train newer team members, as well as develop more experienced colleagues,' a spokesperson from Aldi advises.
'You'll also need to demonstrate a hardworking attitude and show your potential to grow and progress within your role by expressing an interest in learning and development,' they say. 'However, one of the most important things is for candidates to be themselves. Diverse personalities and backgrounds make businesses flourish.'
Discover more interview tips.
Find out more
- Search for graduate management jobs.
- Read up on management courses.
- Learn how to avoid the top 5 job interview mistakes.
- Discover what questions to ask at an interview.
- Gain an insight into the business, consulting and management sector.