Love ‘em or hate ‘em, managers are crucial to every organization.
A great manager will take ownership over business goals, motivate employees, and lead the company's most crucial projects. Let’s just say, they have a lot on their plates.
But a good manager is also a leader. Dedicated to making their team better, happier, and more productive, strong managers cultivate a work-hard-smile-hard environment.
It’s not an easy job. Expectations are high, and stakes are higher.
Research from Gallup found that 70% of a team's engagement is influenced by its managers. The right manager can make or break your team’s work ethic. And that’s why nailing the job interview process is oh-so crucial when hiring for management positions.
If you're ready to make your next management hire your best yet, this list of interview questions will help you find your perfect fit. 🙌🏻
Hiring a manager
- Why you can’t afford to botch your next management hire
- The best interview questions for management positions
- The art of interviewing for management roles
- What to look for in a great manager
Why you can’t afford to botch your next management hire
Falon Fatemi is an ex-Google financial analyst and current CEO of Fireside who learned about the true cost of a bad manager the hard way. “I once hired a function leader who didn't plan well and generally disrespected other team members' priorities. As a result, we lost two — nearly three — key employees. That's an exceptionally high price to pay,” she told Forbes.
Here are just some of the numbers on the real cost of a bad hire:
- A bad hire can cost you anywhere from $17,000 to $240,000 in expenses related to hiring, compensation and retention.
- Nearly three out of four (74%) companies admit they've hired the wrong person and lost nearly $14,900 per hire because of it.
- Thanks (or no thanks) to the pandemic, hiring mistakes have an even higher price tag. Today, 64% of senior managers say that the pandemic has exacerbated the negative impact of bad hiring moves.
And it’s not just the financial aspect.
On a larger scale, a bad manager negatively impacts employees’ productivity as well as the company’s culture. In the same Forbes article, Fatemi shared another bad apple work experience.
“I once hired a manager who built a chaotic, everything's-a-fire-drill environment. Even after removing the employee from the equation, we still had to invest time and resources to reset the behaviors of team members who emulated the manager's approach.”
A manager isn’t like other hires. Their performance directly impacts workplace morale and employee development.
In these situations, a bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch, driving away even the most loyal employees. Make sure you get your management hires right the first time around to avoid future fires.
Say goodbye to wasted interviews. Try Breezy for free today and get instant access to built-in scheduling links, plus all-in-one emailing and SMS, and done-for-you interview guides!
The best interview questions for management positions
As an A+ interviewer, you know it’s all about the quality of your interview questions. But for a hire as crucial as this, what kind of questions should you ask?
To make sure those ‘hire-me-now’ vibes flow in both directions, check out these question suggestions and can’t-miss clichè-busters.
Work history and experience questions
These questions will help you find out how a candidate's background relates to the open position.
1. Tell me your story. How did you get from the start of your career to your last role?
This is a great icebreaker that also gives you insight into how they view their career path.
2. Tell me about your leadership experience.
Ask them to tell you about a time they helped develop an employee to get an idea of the kind of coach or mentor they'll be. Good leadership styles make good managers!
3. What was the age, gender and race makeup of the last team you managed?
The right answer to this question is huge. You need to know their views on workplace diversity and inclusion. Stay vigilant and look out for red flags.
These questions can help you predict a candidate's future by evaluating their behavior in past roles.
4. Can you tell me about a time when a member of your team made a mistake? How did you handle it?
Get a glimpse into the types of boundaries that are important to the candidate and what brand of culture they want to build.
5. What would you do differently next time?
Hopefully, they know what to change so that the next time there’s a better outcome.
6. What was the reaction after that happened?
See how the candidate relates to their team while putting out a fire, and if they're someone who can take responsibility for their actions. If they deflect or throw their team members under the bus, they may not be manager material.
Soft skills and motivation questions
The number of positions requiring social as well as analytical skills has increased by 94% since the 1980s. These questions will help you understand if a candidate can work collaboratively and lead diverse teams.
7. What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months?
Instead of hitting your candidates with the same old “What are your strengths” question, this is a more organic way to uncover their strengths and passions.
8. What was the worst day you’ve had at work in the past three months?
To identify the candidate's weaknesses, simply swap the question around. This can also give you insight into their problem-solving skills.
9. What's your plan for building rapport and credibility with your new team?
You want to know how your candidate plans to win the respect of the team and build camaraderie. Can they balance diplomacy and energy to get top-notch (team)work out of every employee?
10. How do you stay in contact with your team members?
Find out more about their communication style. Are they quick emailers, phone-callers, or video chat enthusiasts?
11. What's your process for prioritizing tasks during busy times?
Get a feel for how they handle work and delegate tasks amid stress and overwhelm.
These questions are designed to help you quickly evaluate a candidate's leadership skills and mindset by measuring how they handle specific workplace situations.
12. How do you find opportunities to integrate management goals within your team?
Find out if they're someone who can step up and get strategic when required.
13. What's your definition of an awesome manager?
Uncover the type of manager your candidate plans to be. Learn more about their role models and who they pattern themselves after.
14. What criteria did your last company use to reward employees?
Find out which performance criteria they're used to tracking, and how they might consider these to motivate their team.
15. Who was the last person you promoted? What prompted you to promote them?
The answer to this will let you know if they actively work to grow and retain employees. It may also uncover any latent biases.
17. How important are deadlines?
Get an idea of how firm or flexible they'll be and how they handle late work during project management.
18. How do you handle missed deadlines?
Get a feel for the candidate’s ability to lead through a rough patch. Are they nurturers, disciplinarians, or somewhere in-between?
19. How do you give helpful feedback?
See if they're the type to address performance issues directly and work with employees to find a solution together.
20. Tell me about a time you had to give some difficult feedback.
Determine how well they deal with having to give "bad" news.
21. How would you help prevent employee burnout?
Find out where they stand in terms of work/life balance.
What to watch out for 🚩🚩🚩
The above questions are great for finding what you're looking for in a future manager, but what about weeding out what you're not looking for?
Here are a few tips to help you uncover any red flags.
- Screen for values fit: Your future manager's ability to adjust to the way the rest of the team works is key. Hiring for network fit improves employee performance, creating a better match between values and work styles.
- Ask open-ended questions: Questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no are a great way to make the candidate think. They can also give you a feel for how the person communicates in an impromptu situation.
- Avoid hypotheticals: Always ask for examples to help you understand why a candidate made a specific choice and what they learned from it.
- Assess the silent stuff: Don’t forget, 55% of all communication is non-verbal. The way the candidate responds to everyone, from your receptionist to your CEO, says something about who they are and how they'll lead.
The art of interviewing for management roles
While it may be tempting to hire any warm body to fill a vacant role at the high-workload management level, resist the urge to make a quick hire and focus on hiring the right person for the right reason.
“The temptation to hire anyone willing to take the job should be tempered by the many potential consequences of making a bad hire,” says Associate Professor Of Management & Organization at Penn State, Margaret Luciano in a recent SHRM editorial.
No one wants to take the fall for a bad hire, so if your interview process needs a revamp, it’s best to start at the beginning.
1. Update and publish the job description to the right job boards
Good hiring starts with a strong job ad.
From the top job boards for reaching talent from diverse backgrounds to all the best free job sites to help maximize your recruitment budget — you want to spread the word far and wide about your amazing new management role.
2. Screen applicants using automated questionnaires
Do a killer job advertising your open role and you’re bound to see dozens of applications coming in, and quickly.
Kick things off right with an automated Q&A to screen top candidates into your hiring pipeline. Standardized applicant questionnaires make it easier to find the truly superstar candidates.
Here are some of the areas you may want to screen for in your questionnaire:
- Years of management experience
- Self-described management style
- Ideal work environment
- Preferred start time/work hours
- And more!
If you’ve got a particularly high volume of applicants, you could also enlist the help of some friendly AI. With Breezy’s Candidate Match Score, you can automatically see which candidates best align with your open role using a simple scale of 0 to 10.
3. Use team scorecards to keep it fair and collaborative
We’ve already established that managers are so much more than administrators — they’re leaders. That likely means they’ll be interfacing with a variety of teams and individuals inside the company.
With Breezy’s Scorecard feature, it’s easier than ever to hire a manager that everyone feels good about. With an easy-to-share thumbs-up, thumbs-down system (and notes on each scorecard item), you can get the all-clear from team members with the press of a button. ▶️
What to look for in a great manager
In the end, the saying is true: People don’t leave companies—they leave bosses.
So what sets a great boss apart from an average one?
In a role where there’s no cutting corners on soft skills, here are just some of the top traits that can set a great manager apart.
A knack for transforming talent into performance
Employees need personalized support, clear feedback and active coaching to help make the most of their skills.
The ability to discover what’s unique about an individual and leverage that into tangible business outcomes is what separates a great leader from just another meh manager.
Knowing how to transform talent into performance is major, especially in the age of remote and hybrid work. Time management, productivity, and communication can quickly become a challenge for some work-from-homers.
But a strong management hire will inspire performance across the board, finding and nurturing team members’ natural skills whether they work from home, the office, or that cute little coffee shop down the road.
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A desire to recognize and inspire the team
Most managers know employees respond well to recognition. (Who doesn’t love a gold star now and again?)
But how many managers can pinpoint the type of recognition that matters most for each individual? How many managers can use that as an opportunity to inspire the entire team?
“[Successful leaders] leverage positivity, vision, confidence and recognition to influence performance and motivate workers to meet their challenges.”
According to the previously cited Gallup report, the ability to inspire others is a critical competency of the modern manager.
“Furthermore, the traditional role of a boss as a command-and-control function does not work for today's workforce. The expectation is for the manager to be more of a coach than a boss,” says Vibhas Ratanjee, Senior Practice Expert, Organizational and Leadership Development, at Gallup.
An ability to coach for diverse learning styles
To quote the late great Stephen Covey, "Strength lies in differences, not in similarities."
We all learn differently, and that's ok. In fact, it’s pretty crucial to our success.
Some of us are analyzers, some are doers, others are viewers. Great managers get that there are multiple types of diversity in the workforce.
Mediocre managers, on the other hand, make the mistake of assuming all employees are motivated by the same things and that they all learn in the same way.
What works for one employee may or may not work for another. It’s the managers job to adapt their coaching style to play to each team member’s strengths.
An eye for potential
Great managers don't limit their team's potential to the list of skills and responsibilities on a job posting. They know a hard worker when they see one, and they have the skills needed to nurture that passion into stellar performance.
Chances are, your new manager will need to know how to find and hire candidates with the right skills and talent — not just the right words on a resume. Look for managers who know what’s required of a role and boldly recruit the right talent to help take the company to the next level.
The stakes are high, but we’re betting on you.
Hiring the right managers is a challenge for every employer. But with a smart set of applicant tracking tools and the right management interview questions to fall back on, you'll have no problem finding an inspiring leader for your team.
Before you launch into any manager interview, make sure everyone on your hiring team is on the same page about what you're looking for and what questions to ask to help uncover your next A-teamer for successful management.
When you’re ready to hire the best manager for your team, Breezy has your back. Find out how it works with a free 14-day trial.