Leadership and management interview questions

If you’ve been invited to an interview for a management role, you’ve most likely had prior interview experience. You may even have interviewed candidates yourself for various positions. However, even with your experience, it’s still important to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the more you’ll stand out to the interviewer and the more likely you’ll leave a positive lasting impression.

A good place to start is to consider some of the questions you may get asked. Whilst you may not be able to know exactly what questions you’ll come across on the day, you can make some good assumptions. For example, an interviewer will want to know about your past experiences, your management style and your career plans for the future.

Examples of leadership and management interview questions

Here are seven common interview questions for managers to prepare for. We also share some helpful advice on what interviewers are looking for in your replies.

1. Describe your biggest accomplishment and failure (if you had one) in your most recent role

This question allows an interviewer to find out more about what you did well at your previous job and how you deal with difficult situations.

When discussing your biggest accomplishment, try to relate your example back to the role you’re currently interviewing for. To do this, you could take a look at the job description and see if there are any skills that you can include in your example.

No one likes to discuss their failures, but it’s a popular question that interviewers like to use, to see how you react. Be honest, but at the same time, you may want to pick a relatively small failure, as you still want to be employable. Don’t blame others for what went wrong and ensure you explain how you solved the problem and what you learnt from the situation.

2. What is your management style

Most interview questions for managers are aimed to uncover whether you will fit well within the business, the company culture and the team itself. A question they may therefore ask you is about what your management style is, as it will impact how you work, how you communicate, how you make decisions and more.

Consider whether you like to take control of situations, or whether you prefer to take a more hands-off approach. Do you always jump in to help when your team needs you, or do you wait for them to come to you? Perhaps you just use one blanket approach, or maybe you tailor your style to each individual employee and the particular situation? Make sure you back up your answer with a clear example of where you have used your management style and how it worked.

3. Share an example of where you have had to make a difficult decision

As a manager, you will often find yourself having to make difficult or uncomfortable decisions, such as choosing between two products or deciding to fire an employee. This question will help an interviewer see whether you can be decisive when the time comes, however hard the decision is.

To answer this interview question, think of a time when you made a difficult decision and explain how you came to your conclusion. For example, did you weigh up all the consequences, or did you just go on your gut instinct? Did you also consider the needs of the business and its employees?

4. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

Not only will you need to make difficult decisions, but as a manager, you will also have a lot of pressure on you to perform, as well as stressful situations to deal with. An interviewer will ask this question to understand how you cope.

In your answer, demonstrate how you can deal with pressure and stress in a positive way. Talk through some of the steps you take to help manage stress, such as deep breathing, getting organised with a to-do list or clearing your head with a quick walk. It’s also important to explain any techniques you use to ensure stressful situations occur less frequently in the future. Don’t forget to share an example too of when you have dealt with a stressful situation effectively in your most recent job.

5. How do you delegate work to your team?

While there are many interview questions for managers, this question in particular is important to prepare for. An interviewer will want to hear that you can comfortably delegate tasks to your team, both fairly and effectively. Consider past projects you have worked on and clearly explain your process for delegating work. Make sure you discuss how you picked the right people for the task and briefed them in.

6. How do you motivate people?

When managing a team, it’s important to keep staff morale high. In your interview, explain why it’s important to motivate employees, along with some of the methods you have used in the past. Are there any unique incentives you have tried, how have you managed different personalities and what have the results been from your motivation techniques?

7. What are your goals for the next five to ten years?

An interviewer will want to find out more about your career goals, to determine if you’re motivated, dedicated and are likely to stay at the company for the long-term. It can be a difficult interview question for managers to answer, but there are some key things to consider. You may not know exactly where you want to be in ten years’ time, so keep your answer truthful, but broad. To prevent raising any red flags, show that you’re enthusiastic about the specific role on offer and explain that you are looking for a long-term career.

You only have a short amount of time to impress the hiring manager, so it’s important to research critical interview questions for managers that you may be asked, and consider how you will answer them to put you ahead of the hiring queue.

Want more sample interview questions? Here are the 10 most common interview questions (and how to answer them).

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