Preparation is the key ingredient for success when interviewing for a management or leadership position. Interviewers are looking for very specific traits in management candidates and will often ask questions to help them determine if the candidate has the leadership skills and experience that they are looking for. While it is impossible to know exactly what questions will be asked in an interview, here are 15 of the most common interview questions for managers and some possible ways to answer them in order to succeed in any interview.
1. Tell me about yourself.
This is usually one of the first questions an interviewer will ask. They are not looking for a life story here. Think about your past experiences and focus on the skills that you have developed that are relevant to the new position. The answer should be brief and contain information about your present position, your past experience and what you hope to accomplish in the desired position.
“I am currently a department manager at XYZ Manufacturing Company where I lead a team of 25 employees on 3 different shifts. Before that I worked as a shift supervisor at a different manufacturing company where I was able to increase productivity by 15 percent. I want to utilize my management skills to lead a larger organization which is why I’m so excited about this position.”
2. Why are you leaving your current job?
It is never a good idea to talk negatively about a current or former employer.
“While I am happy at my current job, I feel I am ready to take on more challenges and responsibilities. Currently there are no opportunities for advancement and I don’t foresee any arising in the near future.”
3. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Interviewers ask this question to see if a candidate is likely to stay with the company for a period of time.
“I see myself continuing to grow and develop my management skills in the company and taking on any new roles and responsibilities that may come my way.”
4. What would you consider your greatest failure?
When answering this question it is best not to talk about significant life regrets, but rather describe a minor failure, what steps were taken to solve the problem, and what lessons were learned from it to prevent it from being repeated in the future.
“When I first became a supervisor my team was struggling with some safety issues and was at risk of losing our incentives for the quarter. I implemented weekly safety meetings and provided individual coaching and training. In the end we achieved our safety goal.”
5. When were you the most satisfied with your job?
Think about the things that satisfied you in your former or current job that will be a key requirement of the new job.
“I really enjoy mentoring others and helping them to develop in their careers. It gave me great satisfaction when one of my employees was promoted as a result of my mentoring and coaching.”
6. When were you the least satisfied with your job?
Conversely, when discussing the least satisfying thing about your last job, choose something that is not a requirement of the new role.
“In my last job, I was required to travel at least twice per month. While I am open to travel,twice per month or more was challenging. I preferred staying at my facility and working with my team.”
7. If I asked one of your co-workers why I should hire you what would he or she say?
A good answer to this question would highlight specific qualifications and requirements of the job description.
“I am dependable, friendly, and approachable. I also think they would say I am firm, but fair.”
8. Who was your best boss?
This is not a time to name names. Think of the bosses that you really liked working for and the attributes that made them good leaders.
“I have had many great bosses over the years. The best ones were able to build upon the individual strengths and weaknesses of their employees and utilize them to the greatest extent. They were great at motivating employees to achieve to the best ability.”
9. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
There are many possible answers to this question, but the interviewer wants to see that you are confident and capable of making tough decisions.
“It is always difficult to decide when and how to terminate a well-meaning, but incapable employee. I always make sure to provide as much training and coaching as possible and have thorough documentation. I also include Human Resources to help me with the process.”
10. What motivates you?
When answering this question, think beyond the paycheck and focus on the things that excite you about your job and how those things would apply to the new one.
“I have always loved learning new things and I really enjoy training and mentoring others. I love preparing and presenting training to groups.”
11. How do you motivate others?
“There are many different ways to motivate people. One thing I try to do is to make everyone on my team understand how crucial their role is, both within the organization and to the customers we serve. I look for each individual’s strengths and utilize them in the best possible way. I give specific praise when it is due and provide tools and resources when necessary to help everyone meet their full potential.”
12. What are your salary expectations?
Be careful not to give a specific salary number when answering this question.
“While my requirements are open, I would expect my salary to be in line with the current industry standards for this position.”
13. Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
Most employers want people who can work independently but who are also team players.
“Some tasks are better handled independently while others may require a team effort to accomplish. I am equally comfortable working either independently or with a team.”
14. What is your biggest weakness?
This is a very common interview question and one that most people dread. When answering this question, choose a real weakness, but not one that is an important part of the job description. Also discuss the steps you are taking to overcome the weakness.
“I’m not very comfortable speaking in public. I asked my employer if I could attend a public speaking class and they agreed. It really helped me overcome my fears and now I am much more comfortable giving presentations.”
15. Why should we hire you?
Research is crucial when answering this question. Look carefully at the job description and pick out key words that are relevant to your experience and use them in your answer.
“I know you are looking for someone with a strong background in training and development. I created a training program for my current company that has helped to increase productivity and reduce employee accidents. I believe that my skills and experience are uniquely suited to this company and this position.”