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How to Interview for a Management Position

Published on: May 18, 2022

man sitting outside with his dog while working on a laptop computer

Preparation, not mantras, is the key to success. No matter how many times you tell yourself that failure is not an option, doubt can linger. So, how can you better prepare to demonstrate your management skills and leadership style in an interview?

Management interviews will most likely focus on your leadership abilities, interpersonal communication skills and capacity to negotiate challenging circumstances. Interviewing for a management position is about your past as much as it is about your ability to inspire and encourage a team. Hiring managers want to know that you can help the organization and its people succeed. It starts with making a positive first impression, and that means walking in with the right interview preparation.

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Preparing For a Management Interview

Developing an understanding of your potential employer is a practical place to start. Before your interview, do some research on the organization to learn about its principles, mission and current news. This knowledge can assist you in answering questions about the company or why you want to work there while also demonstrating that you made an effort to learn about the business.

You should also go over the job description to ensure you understand the criteria and then present your relevant skills and experiences during the interview to demonstrate you can satisfy their needs.

Finally, doing some research beforehand gives you a better sense of the culture at this company. Are they laid back like Google or a bit more formal? What is their background? Does the company seem like they have a high turnover rate? Is that why they are looking to hire a manager? The more you know when you walk in, the better prepared you will feel.

Types of Interviews

In today’s digital world, interviews are not always face-to-face, and there are things you might do differently if you have an in-person interview instead of a virtual one.

In-Person Interview

In-person interviews inspire a higher degree of participation. As a result, you can interpret body language more effectively and better understand someone's interpersonal abilities.

An in-person interview means they see all of you, so make sure you don’t disappoint. When you research the company, try to get a sense of its style. You can apply some of that to your interview wardrobe, but don’t go overboard. Just because they wear t-shirts and jeans on the job doesn’t mean you should for your interview. You might not need a three-piece business suit, but at least dress in business casual.

It is often less about what you wear and more about how you wear it. Make sure to press your clothes so they are neat and clean looking, and double-check your hygiene. Avoid wearing strong cologne or perfume and keep the makeup to a minimum. Make sure your nails are clean and neat and wear comfortable but smart looking shoes.

Virtual Interview

Video interviewing is a big deal these days, thanks to the pandemic and advancements in technology, but it can be tricky.

A remote interview means you must think beyond just prep work and wardrobe. You need to ensure your tech is up to date, since a virtual interview necessitates computer resources such as a camera and microphone, a software package (such as Google Hangouts or Zoom) and a stable internet connection.

Check all your technology 24 hours before your virtual interview to verify it works properly and can be used to communicate efficiently. Then recheck 30 minutes before your meeting. If something isn’t working, this still gives you time to fix it or to reschedule, if necessary.

The second thing you need to think about is your environment. Choose a clean, professional-looking area so that the interviewer can concentrate on you rather than what is around you.

If you don't have a separate office area, you can work from a bedroom, kitchen table or even in a cleared-out closet. Place your computer on a table or desk to keep it stable.

Now, dress the same way you would for an in-person interview. Just because they can’t see your legs doesn’t mean you should be wearing pajama bottoms. You never know, they may ask you to stand up. Just pretend you are going to the meeting and dress appropriately.

Types of Management Interview Questions

When it comes to any job interview, preparation pays off. You need to anticipate the interviewer's questions, so you can have answers ready. Questions will typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Style
  • Qualifications
  • Personality

Interview Questions About Management Style

These questions generally focus on leadership style.

Some example questions you might hear in this category include:

  • Can you give me an example of when you had to give negative feedback? Create a story that describes how you would or did handle a specific situation.
  • How would you handle delegating tasks? Talk about the importance of delegating based on skill level or even as a training opportunity.
  • How would you create a positive work environment? Consider things like encouraging communication, respect and inclusiveness.
  • How would you go about firing someone? If you have experienced this in the past, talk about how you handled it. If not, consider ways that you would approach this challenge.
  • Describe your management style. Make your response relevant to your future employment. For example, if you are applying for a sales management position, you want to be highly motivated; if you are going to run a restaurant, you want to talk about how organized and efficient you are.

As a leader, you may have two or three blended styles, but for this question, you should talk about the style you use the most that fits the job description, and offer instances of when and how your management style has encouraged others and helped them execute their jobs more effectively.

Interview Questions About Your Qualifications and Skills

These questions will focus on your background and skills.

  • Tell us about your last employer. This question covers two bases for the interviewer. They will want to know about your last position and what you did there. They also want to know what your attitude is toward your previous employer. Even if you had a bad experience in your last job, it is important not to speak poorly of them. You might say we had different styles, but what you don’t want to do is play the blame game. Make it factual and don’t point fingers.
  • What skills do you excel at that you think will apply to this position? This question is also about seeing how you will answer it. They already know what skills they want. Now they want to see how much you really understand the job and how your talents can help you succeed at it.
  • What software applications do you know best? It’s possible you may need specific skills in this job, but they also might want to judge your technical aptitude.
  • Tell us about how you handle high-stress situations. This is an excellent time to tell them a story about a stressful situation you encountered and how you managed it.
  • What can you bring to this company? If you have any experience that fits the bill, talk about it. A story is the best way to engagingly share your style and skills.
  • Sell me this phone. This set-up allows them to see you in action. Even if your job isn’t sales, it demonstrates your people skills, persuasiveness and communication style.
  • Tell us about your most challenging project. This is a straightforward question you can answer honestly. Ideally, you’ll want to talk about a work project, but it could also be academic or personal in nature.

Interview Questions About You

They will also want to know more about you as a person. Common questions include:

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • What is your best feature?
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • What are your personal goals?

All these questions have one thing in common – you. They want to learn more about you. It might also be an opportunity for them to tell you about themselves.

What Questions Should You Ask During Your Interview?

You will also want to come up with a few questions. This will provide you with information you may need, but it also shows your motivation and interest in the company.

  • What are you looking for in a manager?
  • What is the biggest challenge in this role?
  • Is this a new role, or would I be backfilling a position?
  • Are there growth opportunities beyond this management position?
  • What is the growth path for this company?

There are an endless number of questions you might ask. Plan ahead so your questions are cohesive and don’t come off as rambling.

Interview Tips for Managers

Because interviews are an essential part of the employment process, a strong one can help you rise above the sea of candidates and increase your chances of getting hired. Your success in these interviews is even more critical for management roles, as you will most likely be working at a higher level in the firm. Consider these interview tips for a management job.

Negativity is an interview killer.

Check your negativity at the door. Being upbeat during your interview isn’t enough. You need to be optimistic about yourself, your skills and your last job.

When you are answering questions, keep a forward motion. In other words, don’t dwell on the negatives. Instead, always present a positive and forward-thinking attitude. It’s not about what you don’t know. It is about what you do and how you will apply that knowledge to the job.

The interviewers don’t need to hear about every bad experience you’ve had in your life or at your last job. Try to represent everything as either a learning experience or as a skill.

Don’t be long-winded.

Keep your answers concise, informative and on point. Overcomplicating your answers or talking off-topic can indicate that you aren't adept at picking up on conversational cues. Moreover, it casts doubt on your ability to organize your ideas and relay necessary information concisely. If your interviewer starts dropping hints like “give me a brief answer" or "very briefly tell me,” it signifies that your responses are too long.

Know who you are talking to during an interview.

Make sure you enter the interview knowing everyone’s names and how to pronounce them. If available, check out their LinkedIn profiles to get a feel for their background. That level of preparedness will look good.

Come fully prepared.

Bring printed copies of your resumé or CV and references in case they ask for them.

Make sure you bring a pen and paper, too. They may offer you something, but it will show your professionalism if you come prepared.

Close on a positive note.

Inquire about the next steps. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you and convey your interest in the position. With a handshake and a grin, depart promptly and courteously. You want to make a positive first impression and leave them with a good thought at the end.

Get Started On Your Management Career

If you are looking for ways to improve your chances of working in management, consider what having the proper education will do for you. Husson University offers an Online Business Administration and Management Degree program that will open doors for you. So, get your career started today!

Get Your Business Management Degree


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