Business Development

10 Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring a Manager



Offering a job to the right person from a pool of candidates can be a pressing responsibility, even more so if they’re in a managerial position.

Managers have a huge impact on the happiness of other workers, act as an example for others and are responsible for the development of their direct reports.

With the right person in this role, the entire workforce can be reinvigorated but if you hire the wrong person, disaster can strike. A high staff turnover in managerial positions can have a negative impact, so ensure you’re getting candidates that are in it for the long haul.

We’re here to provide you with 10 interview questions that you can use to bring the right manager into your organisation.




What’s Your Current Company Culture Like?

Culture is an integral part of most companies, so it’s key that the new manager will be able to fit into this. Understanding the current culture that they’re a part of is a good first step to figure out the kind of environment they’ll fit into.

If they’re currently part of a very stiff or professional culture, then they can use this as a talking point as to what they would do differently. If they need a bit of prompting to get to this secondary talking point, you can ask them what changes they would make to the existing team.

You can also continue this conversation by telling them about the company culture they would be entering in your organisation.

This gives you a chance to explore how they would transition into the team; if they seem resistant or are set in their ways then it might not be the right match. A culture mismatch can impact employees, as they may see the manager as too rigid or stringent in their approach.


Which Qualities are Most Important in a Manager?

There are many, many attributes that make a good manager. With this question, you’re really getting to the bottom of the ones that spring to mind for this candidate. This is an effective way to analyse the attributes that they give the highest level of precedence, which can be very telling.

To follow up on this question, you can ask them why they feel these are important or to name a time in which they have displayed these attributes. This can lead the conversation naturally to experiential questions, allowing you to really get to know the candidate.




Can You Tell Me About an Example of Bad Management That You’ve Encountered?

Going in a different direction than the last question, you also want to find out what the candidate feels makes a bad manager. This can be a tricky question for candidates to answer, as they don’t want to badmouth previous bosses. However, savvy candidates can turn this into an opportunity to shine.

As well as discussing these poor traits, they can put their own spin on how they can be avoided. For example, they could describe a manager that handled stress poorly then relate that to their own stress-busting tactics.


What Would Your Current Employees Say About You?

This can give you another layer of context to the candidate’s current position. You can break this question down further and ask what their best performer thinks, as well as what a struggling employee would say.

This shows how the manager would describe themselves through the eyes of their employees. Adding the extra dimension to the question will also show how they manage their time between high performers and those that need additional attention.




Can You Tell Me About a Milestone in Your Career That You’re Proud Of?

On the road to becoming a manager, there are many challenges and opportunities for the candidate. This question is their time to tell you about their triumphs and show off their communication skills too.

The milestone that they discuss can also be telling, as they may choose overcoming an interpersonal issue, coaching a direct report or boosting productivity. You can draw conclusions about the kind of priorities that they have as a manager from the scenario they discuss with you.


How Do You Deal With Your Mistakes in the Workplace?

No matter how contentious we are, mistakes can happen. You want to bring in a manager that can take accountability for their mistakes and create protocols to prevent them from happening again in the future.

If the candidate assures you that they don’t make mistakes, rather than accepting the hypothetical, then they may struggle to deal with accountability. Ideally, you want the candidate to be able to chat through the steps they would take to deal with the outcomes of a mistake, in a logical and rational way.

This sense of accountability is also a trait they should use when managing others. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that 46% of managers were poorly rated on their ability to hold others accountable. This leads to a loss of productivity and morale within the workforce, so you want to bring in managers that are strong in this area.




What Are Your Personal Development Plans and How Will You Achieve These Goals?

Managers are charged with the personal development of their staff, so they should have strong goals of their own too. They should have their sights set on new qualifications, learning more about management and progressing in their role.

Ideally, you want the manager to have a well-rounded plan. Small goals, like listening to more management podcasts or reading management books should contribute to larger goals. Their desire to learn and grow will tell you how they hope to shape their career.

You can also follow this up with questions about how they instil this desire to grow in their direct reports too. Managers that develop staff experience a lower staff turnover, so this should already be on their radar to bring to your organisation.


How Do You Organise Your Time?

Without proper organisation, a manager can spend most of their time fighting fires or dealing with tasks that eat up their productive hours. While a manager should be available to help their reports, this shouldn’t come at a cost of their own productivity.

The candidate should be able to explain how they balance their tasks, breaking down their day. Managers can be required to intervene on conflicts, plan projects, collate information and more. The right candidate will be able to tell you how they prioritise and delegate these tasks to free up precious time.

This may also prompt a discussion about the technology that they use to do so. Calendar software, productivity trackers and project management technology can all benefit your workplace. This manager may pique your interest in a new system that they can teach others how to use.




Can You Tell Me About a Time When You Managed a Task With Fewer Resources Than Expected?

Realistically, there are times in which a manager has to make the most of fewer resources. This could be due to employee sickness, unexpected budget cuts or a growing project scope.

This doesn’t indicate that your organisation regularly runs in this fashion, but it can show whether the candidate has the ability to deal with this.

You want to listen for their take on the experience and how they struck a balance. They may have revisited the expectations of the project, incentivised their direct reports for increased productivity or considered a new approach. You’re looking for evidence that they can take this in stride and think about the solution, not just the problem.


How Do You Recognise Hard Work From Your Employees?

The ability to recognise and reward good employees is sadly lacking in many workplaces. Without this recognition, high performing employees can become demotivated and disengaged.

While you can discuss incentives that your organisation offers for high performers, you want the manager to be able to express their own idea of recognition. Depending on their management style, they may regularly offer feedback, allow high performers more leeway and ensure that contributions are received gratefully.

Employee recognition is a sign of a hands-on manager that can confidently assess the inner workings of their department.


With the right manager leading their direct reports, your organisation can benefit from an improved ROI. These new hires can really make or break a department, so choose wisely when assessing who should be invited into your organisation.


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