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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

Reference

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Ami Au-Yeung

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

9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career How to Recon Like a “Spy” to Manage Conflicts in the Workplace 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?

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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