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Published on October 21, 2019

Top 10 Interview Questions for Hiring the Best Managers

Top 10 Interview Questions for Hiring the Best Managers

Whether you’re considering a management role or wanting to hire the best managers, a common assumption is that being a high performing technical expert makes an ideal manager. This idea is precarious for both the candidate and employer.

Becoming a manager isn’t for everyone. Before you review the interview questions for managers, it’s important to know and learn that managers require very different skill sets:

Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone who is not ready to become an effective manager.

Top 10 Questions to Ask a Management Candidate

Too often, people are hired to become managers because they are high performers in their technical roles or have been with the team for a long time and it seems to be a natural progression. As an employer, to increase the chances of success for the company and the individuals working within it, you’ll want to critically review the key mindset shifts and basic skills and competencies of an effective manager.

Are you hiring the best person for the job? Consider asking these interview questions. Assuming that all the candidates have similar technical skills, these people-focused and interpersonal skills-based interview questions can help gauge their readiness for a management role.

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1. How do you manage conflict (with your team, stakeholders, and immediate manager)? How would you describe your conflict management approach?

It’s inevitable that we run into conflict at work. And it’s even more important for managers to know how to handle these situations when staff escalate tricky situations that they need help with.

2. How do you have difficult conversations with stakeholders about performance issues?

Some employees, suppliers or customers are overzealous while others may be underperforming. Wherever your stakeholders fall on this spectrum, remember it’s the manager who needs to address any issues impacting the performance of the team and business.

3. Describe a situation when you coached or mentored others. How would you describe your coaching style?[1]

Knowing how to empower others so that they feel good about the work they are doing provides a creative environment that indirectly enhances the performance of the organization. Companies need managers and leaders who can listen, understand, and partner with others to realize the potential within themselves.

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” — Bill Gates

4. Describe your management style. How will you handle unexpected changes and direction from management?

How will you handle unexpected changes and direction from management? This response will give you insight into how they will fit into the existing corporate environment or complement it. Consider the personalities, work environment, and stakeholders that are involved in the business.

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5. How do you appreciate other people’s efforts?

We all give and receive in different ways. How will this individual accommodate the various styles on the team?

6. Why do you want to be a manager?

The candidates need to be clear on their rationale. This will give you an idea of what motivates them. Ask follow-up questions to dig deep and learn what drives them.

7. How do you provide positive feedback and constructive feedback? How do you tend to receive feedback?

Managers need to be able to work in diverse settings, adjust to change and troubleshoot. Their ability to provide observable and objective feedback impacts how others behave and ultimately perform at work.

8. The team you’re overseeing does a great job at __________. However, some of the challenges on this team include __________. What’s your plan to manage a team with such unique abilities, personalities and work styles to achieve the company’s objectives?

Is the candidate ready to let go of technical responsibilities to develop others? This question can give you insights about that.

9. What do you plan to accomplish within your first 30 days as a manager? How will you get to know the individuals on your team?

Change is usually coupled with a fear of the unknown and uncertainty. It’s no different when there is a new manager. People may feel uneasy and not know what to expect. It’s good to know how the new manager will handle this type of change.

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10. How would you address mistakes that your team made to senior management?

Are they ready to be responsible for the success and failures of their team? The manager may not have made the mistake, but their team did and this is an indication that something was mismanaged. Is the manager politically astute enough to support the actions of the team and or learn from the errors made?

Bonus: How to Prepare for a Management Interview

As an employer, you need to know how this management role impacts the organization and vice versa.

Know Your Company

When you’re caught up with the daily operations, it’s easy to forget if the strategic direction of your company will change what is required for new management hires. Take time to review the opportunities of your management role against current and future initiatives:

  • Why do you need this management position?
  • What are the key people challenges that someone in this role will face in your company?
  • Who are the key stakeholders she/he will need to interact with?
  • What are the key interpersonal skills required for these relationships to be successful for the business?

Talk to Key Stakeholders

Speaking to internal and external stakeholders who will interact with this management role will provide you with insights about the type of skills and competencies required for this role. Here are some questions to ask them:

  • What are the key challenges someone in this role will face in her/his work with your department?
  • When you have worked with a high performing manager in this role, what were the key behaviours and skills that she/he demonstrated?

Also, getting insights from your People and Culture or Human Resources department will help you understand the leadership competencies required for management roles that are aligned with the organization’s objectives.

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Bottom Line

When it comes to hiring the best manager, be organization-aware. Talk to key stakeholders to find out the people skills required for the new management role.

Don’t make the mistake of hiring a high performing technical expert to become a manager. Take time to hire the best manager with effective interpersonal skills.

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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Ami Au-Yeung

Workplace Strategist | Career Coach | Workshop Facilitator | Writer | Speaker | Past Business Professor

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success How to Learn at Work in the Most Effective Way Top 10 Interview Questions for Hiring the Best Managers Is People Management the Right Career Path for You? 7 Ways to Ensure Effective Communication at Work

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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