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What to Look for in Applicant Answers to Manager Interview Questions

Determine Your Candidate's Management Skills

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Womqn and man interview a woman - all dress in business formal attire

Assess Your Applicant's Interview Question Answers to Select the Best

The manager interview questions you ask, and the interview question answers your applicant supplies, are crucial to your assessment of the candidate’s knowledge, experience, and potential cultural fit within your organization. Hiring a manager or supervisor presents a special challenge. Ideally, you want a prospective employee who has both management skill and subject matter knowledge about the area he or she will supervise.

The subject matter expertise is easier to assess by looking at the candidate’s past jobs, accomplishments, and degrees. Management skills, experience, and approach are assessed during an interview and by a careful background check. The management interview questions you ask and the interview question answers you receive from your candidates help you evaluate the candidate’s management skill and experience.

Evaluating management skills and approach is daunting. A candidate may supply superior answers to interview questions, but the described approach may not fit your organization. A manager who professes a participatory, empowering approach to management, for example, might not fit in an organization that is hierarchical and driven by management decisions made at the top.

Any hope you have that the new manager will help transform the management style within your organization, unless there is a firm commitment already existing to do so, is misplaced. It’s more likely the new manager will never fit and leave a failed relationship.

In an interview for a manager role, the candidate’s interview question answers must also allay your fears that the new manager will not gain acceptance from the employees who must choose to follow. Employees, who were likely internal candidates – or wanted to be - are tough to win over unless the manager is skilled and experienced.

Overall Appropriate Manager Interview Question Answers

When you assess the manager job interview question answers from your candidate, pay attention to how your candidate answers your questions. Does he or she appear comfortable responding to each of the situations you describe and question? If not, the candidate may be inexperienced as a manager and may be misrepresenting his or her credentials.

Always ask these questions. These manager interview question answers give you valuable knowledge about the candidate’s experience. Ask:

  • how long the candidate has worked as a manager,
  • the number of employees who reported directly to him or her (the number of employees whom he directly supervised with performance assessment and compensation assignment responsibilities), and
  • to describe the exact responsibilities and activities over which he or she had oversight for these employees.

 

Aside from management experience as reflected in interview question answers, you are looking for answers that reflect the values and approaches that are acceptable and promoted within your workplace culture.

 

You are looking for truthful, genuine answers that accurately describe a management style and approach that will fit within your environment. Beware of a candidate who persistently says the right things but fails to back up statements with solid stories that demonstrate the requested value or approach in action. You seek demonstrable experience that is congruent with your culture, and a solid grasp of a manager's responsibilities and requirements.

Interview Question Answers for Potential Managers

These are the interview question answers you seek as you evaluate candidates for a manager role in your organization. If your interview process is well planned, and your candidate profile is clearly described, the skills you are assessing are already identified. The candidate’s interview question answers confirm his or her capability to perform the job successfully.

To establish the candidate’s skill in each area, the candidate’s examples and stories must illustrate how he or she effectively approaches and demonstrates competency in each of these manager skill areas. In his or her interview question answers, the candidate must demonstrate the competency to:

  • Lead people and motivate employees to follow his or her leadership,
  • Provide an effective process for performance management that gives measurable goals and solid direction to each individual’s job and clearly defines management expectations,
  • Provide frequent feedback and coaching to develop each employee’s performance continuously,
  • Communicate the information employees need to perform effectively,
  • Reward and recognize employee performance and contributions,
  • Step up to the responsibility of addressing and disciplining unsatisfactory employee performance, and
  • Plan, organize resources, direct, assign and delegate, control, and verify the accomplishment of work and department goals to achieve company expectations (the About.com management guide, John Reh, spells out these responsibilities).

Please send me a note if you think I am missing a critical area of management skill or experience from this list.

Conclusion to Manager Interview Question Answers

You can select potentially successful candidates by listening to and noticing the contents of the answers of your job candidates. Never underestimate your ability to assess their answers and read their verbal and nonverbal communication signals.

In a recent recruitment, the company narrowed their candidate selection to two applicants. In the debrief meeting, four different members of the second interview team had somehow concluded, on their own, that one of the applicants was a 9-5er, inflexible about hours of work. In a company that honors employees’ work life balance needs, but expects every employee to give their all in an emergency or to meet a customer’s expectations, this concerned the team. And yes, the other person got the job.

The team will never know if they made the correct assessment – the selected employee is working out well - but the power of the content of an interviewee’s answers, both verbal and nonverbal, should be considered in every hiring decision.

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