When going to a job interview for a management position, it is good to spend time preparing. Make sure you have professional attire ready for the interview. Perhaps practice talking in front of a mirror for a few minutes a day for a week before the interview is set to occur. Spend some time ensuring that you’re ready to prove that you are management material. Do some research on the questions that the interviewer is likely to ask you, and have an idea of how you want to respond.
Yes, this may be surprising, but there are common questions that they will ask a prospective management hire. Here are just a few of the more common ones.
Describe a time when you had to ease a personal disagreement between two staff members
For a lot of these questions, there is no ‘right’ answer, so much as a better or worse answer. In this case, the worse answer is to say that you let them argue it out until the work environment became openly hostile. A better answer is that you did something to remind both staff members that they are on the same team, working toward the same end (a project’s completion, a marketing plan, whatever they’re working toward), and to encourage them to both let it go. If they offer specifics about the situation, be sure to include those when talking about resolution, but your goal here should be a lasting and equitable resolution that allows them to return to work in harmony.
Describe a time when you were unsure how to proceed with a project
This is a question about decision-making, one of the harder topics that they will ask you about. If you’re unsure about how to proceed with a project, generally they’re looking to see how you will decide to move forward with reaching the project goal. Because of this, the answer is almost never going to be that you will ask a superior for guidance.
A good answer is generally going to be along the lines of ‘I would analyze the information at hand (go into specifics if possible), consider the risks and reward of the available options, and pick the one that is most likely to work out given what we know at the time.’ They realize that you won’t always be right, but the worst thing you can do, as a manager, is nothing.
Describe a time when a client/customer was treating your staff unfairly
Depending on the business, there are two ways that they may want you to answer this question. Some businesses will want you to stand up for your employee at all cost. They’ll want you to try and keep the client happy and preserve them as a client in the future, but that will be secondary to keeping a well-knit team feeling that their leadership is looking out for them.
Other businesses will want you to walk the fine line between offending and thus losing a customer and leaving your staff member(s) feeling like you will abandon them. You’ll have to try and find a compromise between the two, which is difficult.
Describe how you’ve responded to a problem employee
If you’ve been in a leadership role for more than a few months, you have likely had a problem employee. Being able to keep your cool and respond to such an employee in a way that does not endanger the business or the morale of the team is important. They generally want to hear that you resolve issues in a way that will not leave the company open to litigation and that preserves the morale of the people under you. In some cases, that may mean firing. In others instances, it can mean a write-up and a discussion about expectations for the future. Whatever the case, make sure that you consider carefully how you are going to answer.