Management interview questions

Jemma Smith, Editor
September, 2018

Management jobs are incredibly competitive and you'll face stiff competition when applying for vacancies. To help you climb the career ladder prepare for these management interview questions

The majority of jobs in the business and management sector 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 necessary management skills.

Job interviews are a nerve-wracking process, and management interviews are known for being particularly challenging. When recruiting for management roles employers are looking for something more, so as well as stating your qualifications and experience you'll also need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you're capable of making tough decisions.

'Management interviews focus more specifically on leadership potential and the ability to think strategically,' explains an Aldi spokesperson.

'Interview questions require candidates to articulate their experience of managing a team of people and will ask them to showcase their leadership skills by providing specific examples.'

While some recruitment processes may involve assessment centres and psychometric tests, you'll primarily do this through answering a series of management-specific questions.

Interview questions for managers

It's hard to predict what you'll be asked during an interview but to help you get a step ahead prepare for these common interview questions for managers.

How do you see a manager's role on a team?

You could start your answer by giving a brief definition of what 'management' means to you. But overall, this is an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of professional boundaries. While managers are still members of a team you'll need to show employers, by using relevant examples from previous experience, how you maintain a professional distance while still remaining on good terms with those who you manage.

Managers who work too independently risk isolating themselves from their team, but those who are too friendly may undermine their own authority. Demonstrate how you strike the balance between these two approaches.

What's your management style?

With this question recruiters are trying to gain an insight into how you interact with employees. In your answer don't just describe your style, tell them how it actually works by referring to real life examples. Use some of your proudest moments as a team leader or manager to illustrate how your management style leads to success.

Show awareness and an appreciation of how management styles can differ depending on the work environment and demonstrate an ability to be flexible in your style where needed.

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 under performing 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. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate a range of skills, such as listening, communication, interpersonal 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 under performing team member on a sports team.

How would your colleagues describe you?

This question gives you an opportunity to blow your own trumpet. 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, voluntary activities or summer or weekend 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 individual team members’ strengths and how you use your organisation 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 for managers and team leaders include:

  • How do you make important decisions?
  • How do you recognise/reward success?
  • Give an example of a time you initiated change.
  • Describe one of you failures as a manager.
  • Give an example of how you work to achieve targets within a tight time frame.
  • What has been your biggest success as a manager?
  • Tell me about a time when you led by example.

Expert interview tips

Interview preparation is essential. Turning up for a management interview unorganised and unprepared will not inspire much confidence in potential employers.

Before the interview formally starts demonstrate to recruiters that you're the right person for the job by showcasing your organisation, time keeping and research skills by turning up on time, having everything you need to hand and by exhibiting knowledge of the company.

The spokesperson says that 'Ahead of an interview, management candidates should get a well-rounded understanding of the business from the many resources available, as well as visit a store or two to gain a sense of the operation and Aldi’s business model.'

'It's also useful for candidates to revisit their personal experience and practise explaining examples of when they have successfully executed team leadership, driven target-led work, implemented new strategies and achieved stand-out results.'

But with so much competition, how can you stand out from the crowd?

'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,' advises the spokesperson.

'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. However, one of the most important things is for candidates to be themselves. It's diverse personalities and backgrounds that make businesses flourish.'

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