Michele Mavi

Managers are questioned around four key skill categories: communication, motivation, decision-making skills and leadership. These are all essential to a manager’s success. If you have your sights set on obtaining a managerial role or you’re an existing manager looking to make a move, you’ll want to be sure you have well thought-out answers to the questions below.

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking and it's not always easy to articulate your experience, management style and management skills. But you can expect to see the following management questions on your next interview if you are interviewing for positions such as those in project management or team leadership roles, specifically. The more specific you can be with your answers to these, the better.

Check out these management interview questions that hiring managers or any interviewer within the company will probably ask you and every other candidate for the position. You'll feel a lot better prepared for the interviewing situation ahead.

1. Communication

Communication skills are incredibly important for anyone interviewing for a job. But for a manager, the way you communicate to your team will determine a lot of your success. It will also impact how you deal with the remaining three key skill categories. The way you answer questions will certainly be judged, but the evaluation of your communication skills goes beyond your conversational nature. Remember communication is not about what you say but how you say it. Managers have to deal with a wide range of personalities, not all of them will respond to the same style of communication. Here are the questions for which you should prepare:

  • How has your communication style helped you be successful?
  • How do you deliver information that you know will be unpopular to individuals or teams?
  • How did you use your communication skills to repair a misunderstanding or strengthen a weak relationship at work?
  • How do you communicate expectations to your team?

2. Motivation

Management interview questions surrounding motivation are asked to find out the kind of leader you really are. Should you ever get placed in a management role within their company, the interview wants to know how you will delegate the workload, teach your co-workers and keep morale up.

That's because, if you’re going to be a manager, you must be a motivator. It’s one of the most important skills you need to ensure your success. After all, people don’t leave companies, they leave managers and everyone wants to work for someone they find motivates them and believes in them. Again, just like with communication, each person on your team will be motivated by different things and in different ways. And it’s important to recognize that your team is comprised of individuals, all motivated by different things. You need to be able to show you’re capable of not just motivating a team, but also the unique individuals that make up that team. Here are the questions for which you should prepare: 

  • How do you motivate different members of your team?
  • How do you motivate your team to do something you know must be done but that they will resist doing?
  • Describe a time when you took a disengaged employee and coached them to be more productive.

3. Decision-Making Skills

One of the key things managers are expected to do constantly is make decisions — sometimes with little information at hand. Being decisive and able to make swift decisions without the agony of second guessing one’s self or the need to get more opinions than needed is critical in the fast-paced world of work. Of course, not every decision you take will be the right one. Interviewers will also be looking for an indication of your ability to admit when you’ve made a bad decision. Likewise, they will want to see that you’re able to take positive steps to move forward, making whatever changes are necessary, without the complications that can ensue when ego and pride interfere. Here are the questions for which you should prepare: 

  • What are the most difficult types of decisions for you to make and why?
  • What is your decision-making process?
  • When you have two possible routes to achieve a goal, neither with a clear guarantee of success, how do you decided which to pursue?
  • Tell me about a time you knew you made a bad decision and what steps you took to right the situation.

4. Leadership

Your job as a manager is not about you being in the spotlight. It’s about your ability to act as a supporter and coach to your team. That often means letting the light of success shine on them rather than on yourself. Of course, you should have a vision for where your team is headed and how best to achieve your desired goals. Taking initiative and being innovative while giving your team the breathing room to take ownership of their work is all part of the nuanced balance that needs to happen between a manager and his/her team. Leaders aren’t good leaders if they don’t listen to the things that matter most to their team members. Remember what Simon Sinek has observed about leadership in studying George Washington: “Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.” Here are the questions for which you should prepare:

  • How do you decide what work to delegate and who should be responsible for it?
  • How would people you’ve managed in the past describe you as a leader?
  • What do you think is the most important thing a leader can do to be successful?
  • How would you describe success? 

We didn't provide all the questions and answers for you, because every company differs in the candidates and experience they're seeking. Some might ask you more behavioral interview questions while others might ask you other tough interview questions about your problem-solving skills, your overall management style, your goals or how you well work with other team members to see if you're a good candidate for the position.

But you can still yourself apart from other candidates in the eyes of hiring managers by preparing for some job interview questions ahead of time. These tough interview questions are a good place to start.

And, of course, going into the interview knowing facts about the company because you've done your research also always helps. You should know about the person who is interviewing you, the company, the role itself (of course) and possibly also competitors of the company. If you come in equipped with all of this knowledge, you can be confident in your ability to nail the interview.