8 Common Manager Position Interview Questions & How to Answer

Two senior managers, one male and one female

The recruitment process for managerial positions can be a daunting one. From candidates who haven't been in a leadership role before, to individuals who have several manager roles under their belt, many find interviews stressful. No matter where you fall on the managerial-experience spectrum, we're here to help you ace your interview. 

So, what do hiring managers look for?

Our guide covers frequent questions they might ask, and strategies for how you should answer based on tips from top industry recruiters and business managers in the spaces of conventional energy, life sciences, mining, and renewables. From leadership to interpersonal skills and strategic thinking, we provide insights and strategies to prepare you for success.

Here are our top 8 common interview questions for managers and how we think you should answer them: 

1. Can you tell us about your management experience?

Why it's challenging:

Many people find it difficult to accurately describe themselves in a way that highlights their good qualities and makes them a strong candidate.

How to answer it:

Start by summarizing your overall management experience. Mention the industries you've worked in, the size of teams you've managed, and the types of projects you've handled. Then, delve into specific roles and achievements. Discuss the challenges you faced, the strategies you used, and the results you achieved. Including concrete numbers of percentages that highlight your growth is also a great way to present yourself as a professional driven by tangible success.

  • Example:
    "In my previous role as a sales manager at XYZ Corp, I led a team of 15 sales representatives. In my first year, our team exceeded our sales targets by X%, by implementing effective sales strategies and fostering a high-performance culture." 

Make sure this is all covered effectively in your resume, too. If you need some pointers, we've got tips for how to refine your resume with AI.

Two professionals sitting in an interview for a manager position

2. How do you define your management style?

Why it's challenging:

This question aims to understand your approach to managing teams. It provides insights into your leadership philosophy and how you interact with your team. It might be tough to find a few words to adequately summarize your leadership strategy.

How to answer it:

Discuss the key principles that guide your management approach. Be concise and select 2-3. These could include open communication, empowerment, accountability, or continuous learning. 

  • Example:

    "I would describe my management style as participative, and results driven. I believe in involving my team in decision-making processes and setting clear performance expectations."

BONUS:

If you're able to connect your management style to the company's cultures and values, do so! This will create a great tie-in and let the management team know you are interested in joining an organization that aligns with your personal beliefs. 


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3. What strategies do you use for team motivation and handling conflict?

Why it's challenging:

It's never easy to discuss conflict or manage teams that lack motivation, especially if you feel like you could've done a better job of navigating the situations. 

How to answer it:

Most managers can tell you of times when their teams lacked motivation or encountered conflict, but it's important for you to think back to your most resilient moment.

Explain your approach to conflict resolution in a tough situation that led to your team's success. Highlight your ability to facilitate open communication, mediate disagreements, or foster a positive work environment.

Then, discuss the strategies you used to keep your team motivated in the face of challenging times. These could include recognition, feedback, career development opportunities, or team-building activities. 

  • Example:

    "When handling conflicts, I have found that encouraging open dialogue is key. By scheduling more frequent one-on-one's and striving to find win-win solutions, I've been able to navigate and resolve team conflict. To motivate my team, I regularly recognize their efforts by sending out personalized emails and I plan team outings in the wake of big accomplishments."
Two professional women walking and talking

4. Describe how you prioritize work and delegate tasks

Why it's challenging:

This question seeks to understand how you manage workload and resources. Too much delegation could frame you as inexperienced. Too little could frame you as being a perfectionist.

How to answer it:

First, disarm this question by explaining your approach to prioritizing work in a general sense. You could mention factors like deadlines, business impact, team capacity, or strategic alignment. 

Then, discuss how you delegate tasks. Highlight your ability to match tasks with team members' skills and development goals. Do not forget to mention the active role you play in ensuring tasks are completed more effectively. 

  • Example:

    "I prioritize work based on its urgency and impact on our business goals. When delegating tasks, I consider my team members' strengths and areas for growth. I serve as a mediator, but also employ my strengths in specific technical skills by actively working on pieces of the project alongside my team."

5. How do you handle underperforming employees?

Why it's challenging:

Assessing one's response to failure is a challenging task. It demands humility and introspective capabilities, traits that are demonstrated when you respond to this question, even if the failure is not your own. It can be tough to not blame yourself if a member of the team you manage is underperforming, and you might fear your response will shed a bad light on you, no matter the outcome of the situation. Top management recruiters, like the ones at Brunel, know the importance of answering this question well, and are well-versed in strategies to tackle it to help you find the role you're best suited for

How to answer it:

Discuss how you identify performance issues, provide feedback, and develop improvement plans. Try highlighting your ability to assess team performance in an unbiased manner. 

Highlight your commitment to supporting your team's development. Mention examples of how you've provided coaching, training, or mentoring to help your team out of a slump. 

  • Example:

    "I track my team's performance with set KPI's. When managing the underperformance of a specific employee, I first try to understand the root cause. I then provide clear feedback and work with the employee to develop an improvement plan with recurring check-ins."

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6. Can you give an example of a successful project you've managed?

Why it's challenging:

It might be tough to keep this brief while highlighting all your points of success.

How to answer it:

Choose a project that demonstrates your ability to achieve results. Discuss the project's objectives, the challenges you faced, and the strategies you used.

Then, highlight the project's outcomes. Mention the benefits it brought to the company, such as cost savings, revenue growth, or process improvements.

  • Example:

    "In my previous role, I managed a project to streamline our sales process. This resulted in a 20% increase in sales efficiency and a significant boost in customer satisfaction."
Professional in a leadership role looking at viewer while her team works effectively in the background

7. How do you align your team with company goals and values?

Why it's challenging:

This might not be something you think about doing all the time.

How to answer it:

This question assesses your strategic alignment skills & how you ensure your team's efforts support the company's objectives and culture.

Discuss how you communicate company goals and values to your team. Mention how you incorporate them into team objectives, performance metrics, and daily operations.

Then, highlight how you role-model company values. Discuss how you promote a culture that reflects these values.

  • Example:

    "I regularly discuss company goals and values with my team in our weekly team catch-ups. I ensure our objectives align with these goals and I strive to embody the company values in my leadership."

We're hiring! Learn more about Brunel's culture & values.

8. What is you approach to handling stress and pressure?

Why it's challenging:

This question evaluates your resilience and stress management skills. It seeks to understand how you maintain performance and well-being under pressure and can feel a bit personal.

How to answer it:

Describe the strategies you use to manage stress. Keep your response professional and high-level, but giving insights into your self-care routine could allow the hiring manager to get to know your interests outside of work. This helps establish rapport. 

  • Example:

    "Being in a leadership position is something that can cause tension and stress. To be sure that I'm operating at the top of my game within my team and the organization, I've found meditation and a regular workout schedule allow me to manage my wellbeing."
Three professionals collaborating in a meeting

 

The STAR Method for answering behavioral questions

If you are struggling to formulate responses to these or other interview questions, the STAR method is a useful strategy. It stands for: 

Situation 

Task 

Action 


and 

Result. 

You start by describing a Situation you faced. Then, you explain the Task you need to accomplish. Next, you detail the Action you took. Finally, you share the Result of your action. 

This method helps you provide structured and detailed responses. It allows you to display your impact and keeps you from going on for too long when time might be limited in your interview.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, navigating a manager position interview successfully requires thorough preparation and a clear understanding of what hiring managers seek in candidates. It is not just about answering questions but demonstrating leadership skills, strategic thinking, and a strong commitment to the role. 

By following the strategies and insights provided in this guide, you are well-equipped to make a lasting impression and succeed in your next interview. Good luck on your journey! 

Be sure to check out more of Brunel's career resources

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