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:
- Common challenges managers face
- Key mindset shifts(Center for Creative Leadership: 6 Shifts New Leaders Must Make to Succeed))
- Basic skills and competencies for managers
- Advancing management skills
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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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