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.