Interviewing for managerial roles requires more than a great resume and cover letter. While many people aspire to lead a team, research from Gallup shows only one in 10 people possess the talent to manage others. To keep a business productive and profitable, companies must vet their candidates well when hiring new leaders. This means asking manager interview questions that gauge leadership skills and management styles.
So, what can you expect from this type of interview? As career coach host of CareerVidz Richard McMunn explains, “Make sure you are prepared for hypothetical and situational interview questions.” He also says it’s important to speak like a manager during your interview by using common managerial words like “KPIs” “return on investment” “team culture” and “strategic vision.” McMunn also advises candidates to highlight their leadership experience and specific leadership style.
In this article, learn how to prepare for management interview questions by reading 40+ sample interview questions paired with insight on how to ace the interview.
40+ Manager Interview Questions to Practice at Home
Leadership and Communication
- Describe a time when you had to lead a team through a challenging project. How did you motivate your team to achieve the desired outcome?
- Can you provide an example of a situation where you successfully resolved a conflict within your team? How did you approach it?
- How do you ensure effective communication within your team and with other departments?
- Describe a situation where you had to give constructive feedback to a team member. How did you handle it?
- Describe a time when you had to lead a team that included remote or geographically dispersed members. How did you ensure effective collaboration and communication within the team?
- Discuss an experience where you had to handle a crisis or unexpected setback within your team.
Decision-Making and Problem-Solving
- What strategies do you use to gather relevant information before making a significant decision?
- Describe a complex problem you encountered as a manager. How did you approach the problem-solving process?
- Recall a situation where you had to make a decision with limited time and incomplete information. How did you approach this challenge, and what was the outcome?
- Describe a project or initiative where you had to balance short-term goals with long-term strategic objectives. How did you manage this balancing act, and what were the results?
Time Management and Delegation
- Describe your approach to delegating tasks to your team members. How do you ensure the right tasks are assigned to the right individuals?
- Share an example of a project you successfully managed from start to finish. How did you allocate responsibilities and ensure timely completion?
- What methods do you use to track the progress of ongoing projects and ensure they stay on schedule?
- Can you provide an example of a time when a team member struggled with time management or task prioritization? How did you help them improve their efficiency and productivity?
Team Development and Motivation
- How do you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, and how do you help them grow?
- Describe a situation where you had to motivate a team that was feeling demotivated or disengaged.
- What’s your approach to fostering a positive team culture and promoting collaboration among team members?
- Share an example of how you’ve recognized and rewarded the achievements of your team members.
- Can you give an instance where you went beyond your regular duties to recognize and reward the achievements of a team member? How did this recognition contribute to their motivation and overall team success?
- How do you set clear performance expectations for your team members? Can you provide an example?
- Describe a time when you had to address an employee’s underperformance. How did you handle the situation?
- What strategies do you use to provide constructive feedback and help your team members improve?
- Share an experience where you had to manage a high-performing employee. How did you challenge and support them to further excel?
- Describe a scenario where you had to lead your team through a significant organizational change. How did you manage resistance and ensure a smooth transition?
- What steps do you take to prepare your team for changes in processes, procedures, or company direction?
- Share an example of how you’ve effectively communicated and implemented change within your team.
Conflict Resolution and Emotional Intelligence
- How do you handle conflicts between team members? Can you provide an example of a successful resolution?
- Describe a time when you had to manage a team member who was emotionally upset. How did you approach the situation?
- What strategies do you employ to maintain your composure and emotional intelligence, even during challenging situations?
- Discuss your approach to building and maintaining strong relationships with stakeholders, both internal and external, in your professional network. How has your emotional intelligence contributed to the success of these relationships?
- Provide a scenario where you encountered resistance to change within your team or organization. How did you utilize emotional intelligence to navigate these challenges and facilitate a smoother transition?
- Share a specific instance when you successfully communicated the company’s strategic vision and goals to your team. How did you ensure that every team member understood and embraced these objectives?
- Share an example of how you’ve aligned your team’s goals with the overall company strategy.
- How do you stay informed about industry trends and incorporate them into your team’s objectives?
- Can you provide an example of a time when you had to adapt your team’s strategy to respond to changing market conditions or shifts in the company’s long-term vision? How did you navigate this adjustment while maintaining alignment with the overarching strategy?
- Describe a situation where you had to develop a long-term plan for your team’s growth and success.
Innovation and Creativity
- Can you provide an example of how you’ve effectively managed a project that required a high degree of innovation or out-of-the-box thinking? What were the key factors that contributed to its success?
- Can you give an example of a time when you empowered your team to think creatively and generate innovative solutions to a problem or challenge?
- How do you approach problem-solving in a creative and unconventional way?
- Share an instance where you implemented a new idea or process that positively impacted your team’s efficiency or results.
- Describe a situation where you had to navigate an ethical dilemma as a manager. How did you ensure your decision was in alignment with your company’s values?
- What steps do you take to promote an ethical and inclusive work environment within your team?
How to Answer Interview Questions for Managers Using the STAR Method
One of the most popular, effective ways to answer interview questions for managers is the STAR method, which helps candidates provide comprehensive responses to behavioral questions by breaking down their answers into four components:
- Situation (S): Begin by briefly describing the context or situation. Provide enough background for the interviewer to understand the scenario.
- Task (T): Explain the specific task or challenge you were faced with in that situation. What was your responsibility or goal?
- Action (A): Detail the actions you took to address the situation and task. Highlight your skills, behaviors, and decision-making process.
- Result (R): Conclude by discussing the outcome or results of your actions. Quantify the impact whenever possible and explain what you learned from the experience.
How to Use the STAR Method
- Listen Carefully: Pay close attention to the interviewer’s question and identify the specific behavioral aspect they want to explore.
- Select the Right Situation: Choose an appropriate example from your past experiences that best aligns with the question.
- Structure Your Response: Use the STAR framework to structure your answer, ensuring you address each component clearly and concisely.
- Be Concise and Specific: Keep your responses focused, avoiding excessive details that aren’t relevant to the question.
- Quantify When Possible: Whenever you can, include measurable results to showcase the impact of your actions.
- Highlight Your Role: Emphasize your personal contributions and actions within the team or context.
- Stay Positive: Even when discussing challenging situations, focus on your proactive responses and positive outcomes.
Examples of Answering Interview Questions for Managers
The following questions and answers illustrate how the STAR method can be effectively used to structure responses to behavioral interview questions, allowing candidates to showcase their skills and experiences in a clear and compelling manner.
Example Question 1
Interviewer: “Tell me about a time when you had to lead a team through a high-pressure project. How did you handle it?”
Response (Using STAR)
Situation: In my previous role as a project manager at ABC Company, we had a critical project with a tight deadline due to a client’s request for an early product launch.
Task: My responsibility was to lead a cross-functional team of engineers, designers, and marketers to deliver the project on time while ensuring the quality of the final product.
Action: I initiated daily stand-up meetings to keep the team aligned, clarified roles and responsibilities, and created a detailed project plan with clear milestones. I also conducted weekly progress reviews to identify any roadblocks or bottlenecks.
Result: As a result of these actions, we not only met the deadline but also exceeded the client’s expectations in terms of product quality. Our team’s cohesion improved, and the project’s success strengthened our reputation, leading to more client projects.
Example Question 2
Interviewer: “Can you share an example of a time when you had to resolve a conflict within your team? How did you approach it?”
Response (Using STAR)
Situation: While managing a cross-functional team in my previous role, a conflict arose between two team members, Jane and Mark. They disagreed on the allocation of project resources and had become openly hostile.
Task: My task was to address the conflict promptly and ensure it didn’t disrupt the project’s progress or damage team morale.
Action: I scheduled a private meeting with Jane and Mark separately to understand their perspectives. I actively listened, acknowledged their concerns, and then facilitated a joint meeting with both to find common ground. We discussed their expectations, clarified roles, and set clear communication guidelines.
Result: The conflict resolution allowed Jane and Mark to collaborate more effectively. Their improved working relationship positively impacted the project, leading to better results and a healthier team atmosphere. It also demonstrated my ability to handle conflict constructively within the team.
Human resources and recruiting leader Madeline Mann advocates all four steps in STAR aren’t necessary. “Taking four steps to tell a story during the interview is ridiculous. It’s too many, and it’s too easy to mess up and ramble,” she argues. Instead, she says just remember PAR: (problem/challenge, action, result).
Example Question 3
Interviewer: “Describe a situation where you had to address a team member’s performance issue. How did you handle it?”
Response (Using PAR)
Problem/Challenge: In a previous managerial role, I encountered a situation where one of my team members, Sarah, was consistently falling behind in meeting project deadlines and her performance was affecting the team’s overall productivity and morale.
Action: To address this challenge, I took immediate action. I scheduled a private meeting with Sarah to discuss her performance concerns. During the meeting, I empathetically listened to her perspective, identified the root causes of her struggles, and collaborated with her to set achievable goals and expectations. We also provided additional training resources to help her improve her skills.
Result: As a result of these actions, Sarah’s performance improved steadily. Her ability to meet project deadlines increased, positively impacting the team’s productivity. Furthermore, her confidence grew, and she proactively sought assistance when facing challenges. This experience highlighted my capability to address performance issues constructively and foster individual growth within the team.
4 Tips for a Management Interview From Industry Experts
In the pursuit of a managerial role, the insights from seasoned experts become invaluable. Before interviewing, make sure to do your homework and study how to ace an interview, taking note of the wisdom from career and leadership authorities. To excel in your next interview make sure to:
1. Tell Impactful Stories and Give Strong Examples
“What a lot people suffer from is not having stories that are worthy of telling because they’re not highlighting the impacts they’re having . . . If your stories are richer in color and in impact, you’re going to win out,” says career and leadership coach Andrew LaCivita.
2. Be Authentic and Real
Sean McBurney at Korn Ferry Advance, a career coaching service, explains, “If the interviewer says he’s a Yankees fan and you’re a Mets fan, don’t pretend to be a Yankees fan. That authenticity, the honesty, transparency—those are all really important parts of being a leader[.]”
3. Discuss Areas You’re Inspired to Grow In
“[O]ne of the things people don’t do enough is talk about the things they are learning or how they have an interest in something, and their next goal is learning that—specifically something that is parallel to what they’re doing,” advises Ben White, a recruiting leader and host of Ben Talks Talent.
4. Emphasize and Ask About Team Culture
“There’s nothing like sitting in front of someone and saying, ‘Is there a good, positive team aspect here? Is this a fluid work environment where everyone is as important as everyone else?’ and seeing what their response is,” Matt Curtis, Director of Government Relations at HomeAway Inc. tells Capture Your Flag in an interview.
When it comes to a managerial interview, it’s important to view it as an opportunity to showcase your leadership abilities authentically. Draw on compelling examples from your experience, maintain a balanced and confident tone, and emphasize your dedication to cultivating a collaborative team culture. By doing so, you’ll position yourself as a standout candidate who embodies the qualities of a strong, empathetic, and effective leader.
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- Beck, R., Harter, J. (n.d.). Why Great Managers Are So Rare. Gallup. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231593/why-great-managers-rare.aspx
- CareerVidz. (2022, January 9). HOW TO INTERVIEW for Your FIRST MANAGEMENT or LEADERSHIP Role! [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ReaTh82_U
- Self Made Millennial. (2021, February 4). Answering Behavioral Interview Questions Using the STAR Method [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSSID5mp93o
- Andrew LaCivita. (2019, February 12). The Best Stories to Tell in a Job Interview [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcN4lxvv6m0
- Korn Ferry Advance. (2018, August 23). Being Authentic in an Interview [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNJyMpNWj4s
- Ben Talks Talent. (2022, August 18). More Ways to Stand Out to the Hiring Manager in Your Job Interview [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgfo3clnd5E
- Capture Your Flag. (2012, July 24). Why to Ask About Company Culture in a Job Interview – Matt Curtis [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BRcn1_JzeU