Interview Questions for Managers

Successful job interview with boss and employee shaking hands and smiling.

When you are hoping to hire a new manager to lead a team, you want to ensure that you pick the ideal candidate for the job. Managers are responsible for more than simply overseeing day-to-day operations. They are integral in motivating and keeping employees engaged. In fact, a recent survey by Gallup revealed that 70% of the time, employee engagement is determined entirely by the manager.

For this reason, using the right manager interview questions is important when screening a potential hire. In this guide, we’ll start by taking a look at the top manager interview questions to ask, along with insights into what you should be looking for in a candidate’s response. Finally, we’ll offer a few bonus tips for handling the interview process for managerial positions.

Top Manager Interview Questions

When you invite a candidate to interview for a manager position, you’ll want to prepare a standard list of manager interview questions to ask each potential hire. This will help ensure that you can easily compare candidates and will prevent bias in your interview process. The following are a few examples that you can include in your list, but be sure to add your own questions that are geared toward industry or business-specific needs.

How much experience do you have as a manager?

One of the first things you’ll want to establish is the amount of experience a candidate has managing others. When you ask this question, pay attention to a few key items in their answer:

  • The number of employees they managed in past roles. Often a candidate will share this as they explain their previous experience, but if not, ask for clarification.
  • The total number of years the candidate has experience working in a leadership role. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a formal managerial position. Many top candidates for manager roles are those who have been willing to step up and lead even without a formal job title.

Describe your management style.

This open-ended request will allow the candidate to share details about how they view themselves as a manager. This can help you understand whether or not their management style will be an ideal fit for the needs of the team they will be taking over. Pay attention to the following key insights during their answer:

  • The candidate’s level of self-awareness. Do they seem to be able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses?
  • Whether their style is a good fit for your company culture — make sure their management preferences align with company values.
  • Do they have the ability to be flexible in their management style based on the needs of their employees?

How do you handle conflict among your direct reports?

Most managers will eventually need to help mitigate conflict on their team. How they handle this difficult situation will play a big role in their team’s success. Pay attention to the following as you listen to the candidate’s answer:

  • Whether or not they have experience dealing with conflict among their employees. If they indicate that they have never dealt with conflict, it might be a sign that they are unaware of conflicts that arise among their direct reports.
  • The ability to empathize with others while still being confident enough to address issues. You want a manager who can blend kindness with fairness.
  • Their creativity when seeking out solutions for dealing with conflict.

How do you motivate your employees?

Keeping employees motivated, even during challenging projects, is key to ensuring a team is productive. When asking a manager this question, you want to gauge how well they can match motivation to individual employee needs. Listen for the following:

  • Compare the candidate’s motivation style to the team they will be managing. Make sure it’s a good match for the culture of your business.
  • Pay attention to whether or not the manager has multiple methods for motivation. How flexible are they when working with employees who need a different style of motivation?

Tell me about a time you had to let an employee go.

Being able to handle terminating an employee is a difficult but necessary part of management. Asking this question will help you learn whether or not your candidate has experience handling this task. Listen for the following as they share their response to this open-ended manager interview question:

  • Indications that they are comfortable handling the difficult process of letting an employee go. Have they experienced this situation before?
  • The ability for them to empathize with employees. How do they handle keeping morale strong among their remaining team?

Tips for Interviewing Managers

Along with creating a standardized list of interview questions for managers, use the following tips to help optimize your interview process.

  • Take notes: Because you’ll likely be interviewing multiple people for a managerial role, make sure you take notes during each interview. Never rely on your own memory, as you can easily confuse one candidate’s response with another. Detailed notes will allow you to compare candidates after all interviews are complete.
  • Use a ranking system: As candidates answer each question, it can be helpful to try to rank their answers using a numbered scale. This can be an effective way of comparing the total score of each candidate. Keep in mind that you might need to use a weighted scale to ensure that the most important qualities are prioritized over nice-to-haves.
  • Think about the team: A manager needs to be a good fit for the team they will be managing. Throughout the interview process, make sure you think about each response in relation to the employees the candidate would be leading.
  • Involve more than one person: It can be helpful to have more than one person sit down with candidates for an interview. While you don’t want to run candidates through a needless number of interviews, having at least two different opinions can help ensure that any personal bias is taken out of the equation.
  • Be transparent: Throughout the interview process, make sure that you are being transparent with candidates about expectations for the role. When a candidate asks you questions, answer them honestly. This will help ensure that the person you hire knows what they’re getting into and is the right fit for your company.

When you need help hiring a manager for a leadership role in your company, be sure to check out all the resources available through Ladders Recruiter for employers. Recruit smarter, faster, and better with our tools.

Exit Interview Questions

Street lighting pole with conceptual message Exit Strategy on directional arrow over blue cloudy background.

Many employers give departing employees an exit interview because of the information they can get about the company and its operation. Although employees may be a bit timid about speaking out as they are leaving, you can help facilitate a productive exit interview with the right strategy.

What Is an Exit Interview?

Exit interview questions are a series of questions that the employer asks an employee who is resigning. The point of an exit interview is to find out why the individual left so you can work on improving the workplace. Employees have a completely different perspective than their employers. So, they may be able to provide you with information about things that you hadn’t considered.

The Importance of Exit Interviews

Whether you are seeing high employee turnover or not, it’s helpful to know what is causing employees to leave. Of course, if you are seeing a lot of employees walk out the door, it’s even more critical to determine why.

You can obtain valuable information about what is driving employees away. As a result, you can resolve the issue. Remember that every time an employee leaves, it costs money to fill that void. Getting the best hire and then keeping them satisfied is a step in the right direction. You’ll save money and have a better work environment.

Examples of Exit Interview Questions

This exit interview template of sample questions can assist you as you conduct the sessions:

1. What motivated you to start looking for another job opportunity?

Start the exit interview questions by getting straight to the point. What led the employee to begin the job-hunting process? That’s assuming they were job hunting and a recruiter didn’t contact them, which would be a whole different conversation. Most people who leave have been looking for a job and going on interviews before landing a job they want.

There is a chance that the person is simply moving to another state or town. In that case, leaving may not have anything to do with how the company was run. The way they answer the question can help you know how to follow up, and their answer can help you determine if there are certain perks that employees are leaving for. If many employees say they are leaving due to poor compensation, lack of benefits, or career advancement, then you may have to reconsider the employees’ pay scale and training opportunities.

2. Was your manager helpful in making you succeed at work?

Managers are responsible for ensuring that their team succeeds on the job. So, when an employee exits the company, it’s helpful to find out whether the manager did their job in that regard. The manager can either provide the person with the resources they need to excel, or they may neglect them, and the employee feels they can’t be successful.

3. What were your favorite and least favorite things about the job?

This exit interview question can give insight into what made the job exciting and rewarding for the employee. You can use this information to entice the new candidates you will be interviewing. You can also make good use of the answer about the least favorite thing about the job by ensuring the next person you hire doesn’t dislike whatever it is.

4. How do you think the company could improve?

You may get a whole range of suggestions and ideas from departing employees. Some may not be practical but don’t discount all of them. Even if you can’t implement them as stated, you can at least find out what types of things people are looking for in a work environment.

5. Was there anything that could have changed your mind about leaving?

This may be a pointed question, but it’s necessary to get to what the dealbreaker was for the person. It can help employers view the work environment and situation from their perspective. It can help employers know what types of things they may need to offer in the future. For example, if a person says they would have changed their mind about leaving if they had a quieter workspace, more flexible work hours, or better benefits. You don’t know what they will say, and that’s the point. What is said gives insight for future decisions.

6. Do you feel your job changed during your employment time?

Sometimes job requirements change over time. What started as a set of job responsibilities could evolve and look very different by the end of a person’s employment. It’s critical to know if this happened to the employee. Furthermore, if it did occur, it’s vital to know if the changing role impacted their decision to leave. If the job evolved and became more involved, more difficult, or required more training, this is something you need to address with the next new hire.

7. Did you share any of the concerns we discussed today with the company before deciding to leave?

The answer to this question can bring much information. If the person did not share their concerns, then it may be because they didn’t feel like they “could.” In other words, the company culture didn’t promote it. This is something that you would want to change so employees feel comfortable enough to go to their supervisor with complaints.

If the answer is yes and it was ignored or worse yet, they were retaliated against, then you may need to do more workplace training with the managers. Management needs to have an open-door policy, so employees feel safe coming forward with whatever issues they have.

Tips for Conducting Exit Interviews

These tips can ensure the exit interview goes well:

  • Let the person know in advance about the exit interview. Don’t spring it on them suddenly. That would make the person feel uncomfortable.
  • Ensure that you have a comfortable setting for the exit interview.
  • Let the employee know that everything they say is confidential, and the information is only used to help the company grow.
  • Reassure them that their answers won’t affect their reference in any way (this is provided they would be getting a good reference).

ATS Applicant Tracking and Employee Turnover

Keyboard showing a Tracking System button for Job Application Tracking.

ATS Applicant Tracking Systems matter because time and money are the bottom line.

In the recruiter space, employee turnover and hiring applicants are the two big dollar drains.

Sourcing, processing, interviewing and hiring — when done right — is the answer to both.

Enter Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

Still, that first step to automated assistance isn’t easy. In a world of continuously evolving technical possibilities, the acronym ATS means different things to different people.

Even today, most would likely describe an ATS as something to aggregate and manage resumes, with basic applicant tracking stemming from that benefit. 

Depending on how much you’re willing to spend (more later) — the best ATS’s can help organize and automate:

  • Management of job requisition
  • Posts on job search sites
  • Application forms
  • Candidate search
  • Templates for candidate emails
  • Interview alerts
  • Recruiting metrics reports
  • Background checks
  • Candidate information verification
  • Creation and delegation of tasks
  • Collaboration
  • Duplicate candidate alerts/prevention
  • Personalized outreach
  • Advertising
  • Social media posting

And more.

Connecting your existing ATS to Ladders would ensure timely and highly accurate job delivery, track candidates and posts all the way to hire, and sync candidate data with your system for flawless management. 

Investing in Success

While most ATS’s are cloud based, there are vendors who provide on-prem hosting.

On-prem will require an upfront payment (perpetual licensing), while cloud-based hosting comes with a monthly or yearly subscription. 

A company looking into this kind of investment can usually expect three pricing models:

Pay per User — based on the number of users granted administrative access.

Pay per Position — based on number of open job requisitions each month.

Pay per Module – based on unified HR solutions rather than best-of-breed.

The Keyword Is Candidate

Of course, there’s nothing like the ability to write a job description that works.

And key words do play a big part in that. The right key words — informed by a clear description of who is wanted to do what — get your job description found by people hunting for those jobs.

And that in turn is informed by some useful XML job post management.

On the ATS side, keywords are used to reject resumes that don’t contain them, and approve those that do.

How effective that is in separating enthusiastic amateurs from qualified experts is up for debate, particularly in a downturn, where ambition and enthusiasm can meet desperation.

And all in a world where technology has made applying for a job very easy to do.

So to the bottom line: The better you target your candidates in the first place, the more time and money you’re likely to save.

Targeting Talent – Tech & the Human Touch

Let’s say, for example, that you have a $100K-$500K+ job opening. You decide to create an XML job feed with Ladders.

Now your high-end job is being targeted directly at $100K-$500K+ professionals, with keyword targeting directing it to the experts required within that field and range.

When you close the job on your end, it automatically closes on Ladders, too.

Leaving your ATS with far less of the heavy-lifting to do in the initial stages, and you with far less of the heavy-lifting to do during the following stages.

Sometimes your easiest investments can get you the best results. It really boils down to knowing who and what you want, then taking the smartest route to it.

And the human touch remains a key differentiator, especially when technology works with it.

An example of this comes with the challenge of moving forward with a shortlist of candidates, with a view to successful interviews and long term retention.

Ladders ThirdPage™, for example, combines technology with member interaction to collect key interview questions.

20 million questions answered so far.

This enables recruiters to gain key knowledge about an individual before sending an email or picking up a phone.

Knowledge is power. And answering the bottom line will always be less about technology than it is about intelligent choices.