The interviewer would like to know more about the level of responsibility you are accustomed to having. Start with the most amount of people you have managed, even if it is not from your current or most recent position. If you are unsure, ask the interviewer how many people you would be handling in this role. If there is a significant uptick in this role, from what you are used to, then you need to overcome that future objection of not having enough leadership experience.
"Currently, I am supervising 12 employees with an overall portfolio responsibility of $24MM. In my role, before this one, I managed 23 employees but with a smaller portfolio of $6MM. I can handle a large range of employees. Could you share with me the team size in this particular role?"
"As an executive assistant to the president, I look after the EA to the VP as well as the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable person. I also lead large teams of volunteers on the weekends, as I am the volunteer coordinator for the local soup kitchen. I know how to distribute tasks very well while playing to the strengths of others."
"In previous roles, I have managed up to 60 direct reports. In my current role I have under 60; however, I also manage other teams who do not directly report to me. You mentioned earlier that this team consists of 40 direct reports and 20 temporary associates. I am more than capable of managing that volume, and more- as your company grows."
"I have worked as a marketing freelancer, juggling many clients, and vendors; however with very few direct reports. For six years before starting my agency, I ran an entire marketing department. My team leadership experience spans all personalities and creative types. I am not shy to take the reigns and lead your team to deliver very successful campaigns."
"Currently, I have six full-time employees and five part-time associates and am the only manager in the department. In a previous role, I have had as many as 18 employees, but had another manager with which I shared responsibilities. How many staff members do you have in this department, currently?"
"Currently, I oversee a team of 5 direct reports, each of them has one direct report. So, ultimately, I oversee a team of 10. In the past, I've managed teams from 1 to 5 direct reports, and 10 being the greatest number of employees to date. I understand your team here is larger; however, with smaller territories. I come here with utmost confidence that I can manage this team efficiently."
"Currently, I have a class of 26 students! This class is the largest that I have led, but certainly not the most rambunctious! How many students do you expect to be in this class?"
The interviewer would like to know more about the types of employees that you find difficult to manage. As a manager, you will be required to lead a great variety of personality types. Discuss with the interviewer the types of personalities that you find most challenging to manage, and why.
"I find it most challenging to lead individuals who are not self-motivated. As a manager, you can do everything in your power to ensure that someone is successful, but you cannot force them to want it."
"I have come across administrators who are so disinterested in the job, company, or opportunity, that they'll continue to keep doing the bare minimum of satisfactory work. Those individuals are very challenging for me. At some point, they do eventually work themselves out of a job, but until then, it is difficult to manage."
"Every employee brings their challenges and strengths to teams. It is difficult to manage associates who are disinterested or resistant to engagement with the team. Luckily I do not encounter this often. The people who I have led are motivated and hardworking."
"While this is atypical in the marketing world, I find uninterested people difficult to manage. It's hard to have a collaborative, cohesive team if there's a sticky wheel that has no interest in collaboration or teamwork. When this happens, I try to get to know the person and understand what does make them tick, and how we can incorporate that into the team goals, so they become invested, too."
"My biggest challenge is the employee who has no interest in being a team player. I can handle most any personality or quirk, but if you're not motivated to help the team for the greater good, this not only bothers me on a professional level, but also I find it quite hard to coach."
"I feel as though I can adapt to most employees, but what challenges me is someone who is just looking to skate by with no real ambition. I do my best to find ways to motivate any and every employee. Even if they are not vying for the next promotion or to be a top salesperson, I feel there is some carrot I can put in front of their nose, whether it's a growth opportunity, a different department, or what have you. This approach works about 80% of the time for unmotivated employees."
"The students who I find most challenging to lead are the ones who do not believe in themselves. They are often cynical about the work and their abilities which makes it a challenge to motivate. I will plant seeds of belief in them and along the way they usually come out of it and start to see how smart they are."
The interviewer would like to know what you think the company's biggest challenge is. After researching the organization, what is this particular company's biggest problem, and how do you think that you can assist?
"After speaking with you further about the company, and this role, I believe that the biggest challenge this company has faced is in hiring the right talent. I have a strong background in recruitment as well as management and do feel that I can assist with this hurdle. Having the right team players is imperative to a company's success and, if we can tackle that, I see great things happening."
"From what I have read your biggest challenge has been the economic downturn as of late. I understand that this is a great time to reorganize your company and ensure that you are running lean. I look forward to helping you streamline many processes."
"Your organization is in a critical growth stage between being a medium size business and excelling as a large corporation. This stage you are in requires some an active focus on change management and organizational development, two things I look forward to bringing to this role."
"After researching your organization, I believe the biggest challenge you are facing is in recovering from the hiring freeze your company was under last year. An action like that can scare away top talent. I plan to help you overcome this challenge by bringing in my strong network and reputation in this industry."
"From what you've shared with me and my understanding of the industry, I believe the biggest obstacle that you face is lack of employee engagement. As is often the case, the team is comprised of mostly part-time associates who are using the job as a job, not a career path, and therefore are not as engaged or as excited as they could or should be. I have addressed this very problem at my current company, and I look forward to implementing my same sales, development, and opportunity incentives with your team to see the same productivity and financial increase as I was able to produce at Company ABC."
"From what I've learned so far, I believe the next big challenge is rising to the occasion and executing the high growth targets set for the business and upon which investors and the board are depending. I believe that my experience can help catapult the organization to the next tier of excellence in sales and service and look forward to helping address this challenge."
"Right now, I believe that the biggest challenge your school is facing is the recent budget cuts. I had significant budget cuts in my previous role and can say that I bring a great deal of experience in fundraising and making a budget stretch as far as possible."
Each new career will come with its own set of challenges. Openly share with the interviewer what you feel would be the biggest challenge for this particular position.
"I feel that the biggest challenge for this management position will be to learn your in-depth industry. I have some experience in your industry but understand that a lot of research still needs to happen. I am happy to start learning, right away!"
"I believe that the biggest challenge will be learning the ins and outs of your company while gaining a grasp of the workplace culture at the same time. I am expecting a learning curve, but I look forward to the challenge!"
"The biggest challenge for me when initially starting this role will be to learn all of your product SKU's. Your inventory is vast, and I am sure it will take me some time which is why I plan to begin studying up on your products immediately. I want my new team to see my investment right away."
"When it comes to marketing and project management I do spend a great deal of time with my clients with whom I create a bond. I believe the most challenging aspect of this role will be to garner the trust of your clients and build an immediate rapport with them. I am confident I can make this happen quickly."
"I think the biggest challenge with this role is earning the respect of a tight-knit team and getting them on the same vision. Second to that would be learning a new inventory management system, since I have experience with ABC and I understand you use XYZ. I'm excited about a new team environment, and I look forward to deepening my understanding of your processes."
"I believe the biggest challenge I'd face coming into this position would be getting the team on board with my new vision. It's something I'm excited about, but know that often teams are resistant to new leaders and change. I look forward to tackling this challenge with team building exercises, getting to know the team members, and, before taking action, getting their input on what is working and what's not, since they're the experts in the department and company. I know how important buy-in is to accomplish a task and look forward to getting everyone on the same page and excited about the changes that will be forthcoming."
"The greatest challenge for me, every time I start in a new school or classroom, is to gain the trust of the students. Kids do not always embrace change, especially if I am replacing a favorite teacher. I will get to know the students on a strong level that will make them comfortable with me. I look forward to earning their trust."
The interviewer would like to know more about your ability to make critical decisions on behalf of your team. As a manager, you will sometimes be required to make tough decisions that will impact your entire team. Talk about a time that you had to do so. What was the outcome and how did you ensure that the team's morale recovered?
"Just last week I had to decide to terminate one of our most popular team leads. This decision was critical because the team liked the individual; however, his performance was poor. This action produced low morale for a few days until the team recovered enough to see that their productivity was increasing without the distraction of this particular individual."
"I put in a request to have my teams desked moved closer to the accounts payable /accounts receivable department. We needed to improve communication between departments and being on a different floor was no longer an option. With the request granted, we have seen a great improvement in communication since then."
"In a past team experience, we were made up of several different functions and having a hard time sharing updates and communications outside of email updates. Our schedules were hectic, so we did not always have everyone in our update meetings. I decided to create and implement a shared team workspace so we could easily share documents and update communications as we went. It helped the team's performance tremendously and bridged the gap in our lacking communications."
"I decided to change our agency from a generalist agency to one that specialized in working within the food and beverage, and entertainment industry. 80% of our clients were already in that space, and I felt by carving out a niche we would gain further distinction in a saturated market. My plan worked, and my team is now busier than ever, and we have increased our employee retention rate by 56%."
"My two most senior associates have been in retail for a combined 60+ years and are as competitive as anyone I've ever seen. It has been a morale suck on the entire team. After months of trying to mediate this, I had to separate them and have only one overlap in shifts. Even though I expected a dip in sales because they weren't working as often, I found only one week impacted. With their negativity removed, my other associates began to shine. Also, the morale has greatly improved now that we're not all tiptoeing around their antics. Overall, sales are the same or up, and morale is greatly improved! Win-win all around!"
"With three states in my territory and three associates setting appointments, it would seem simple to divide them evenly or fairly, but no one is ever happy with how the territories are divided. So, rather than hear complaints, I decided to try something new. No more divisions by state, but rather by OEM. I took all of the total dealerships in the three states and grouped them into three equal groups and assigned one to each rep. This way they not only saw how it was all exactly even, but it allowed them to become experts on those dealerships. It upped productivity and morale while decreasing their complaints, so a great solution all around."
"I changed our seating plan around! It may sound insignificant; however, changing the seating plans of best friends in Grade 3 is no easy task. The students did not like the change, but it has benefitted them in the way of increased concentration and new bonds with other classmates."
It is essential that you are aware and honest, about your strong points and shortcomings when it comes to your leadership skills. Talk to the interviewer about what you honestly feel your team would say about your leadership skills.
"I often ask my team members for feedback on my leadership skills. The points that consistently come up are that I am a clear communicator and that I am approachable. One thing that I could work on would be my ability to be more concise in my direction, but I have been working on that and feel that I have improved significantly. "
"I have earned the respect of my team by working closely with them since the beginning. My team feels confident in my leadership, and we work through many challenges together on a daily basis."
"Consistently, I hear that I am very open, communicative, and a great cheerleader, but will hold people accountable for falling short. My areas for improvement typically relate to slowing down when presenting new information."
"My team members consistently comment on how much they like my open door policy and the fact that I will participate in even the menial tasks. It's important to me that even though I am at a director level, I am never sitting in my glass office looking down at the worker bees. I like to be involved, every step of the way."
"Too often I've had managers that were so out of touch with what their team thinks, so I'm sure to ask for frequent feedback in meetings, one-on-ones, and in informal settings, too. I also have a "suggestion jar" that is anonymous so that the team can be candid and I can learn from their openness. The consistent feedback that I've received is that I communicate frequently and precisely what the expectations are. Occasionally I'm told my expectations are too high, but that's something I am comfortable with since I lead with an open dialog. I'm paying attention, especially with this feedback, to ensure that the goals are high but achievable."
"I am continually seeking feedback, as a manager. Honest feedback helps me better lead the team and grow as a leader. I conduct weekly check-ins where I meet with the account execs and the sales development pods. I ask for what I've done best that week and where I can improve. I then make it a point to incorporate their constructive feedback into my daily actions and touch base the following week to ensure that I'm developing in that regard."
"I am currently the Learning Leader in my school which means that I am the go-to for the Principal when she needs assistance, and I help to onboard and train new staff. Nominated for the role by the faculty, so I believe they quite enjoy seeing me in a leadership role. As a leader, I exercise excellent listening skills and am intuitive to the needs of others."
Have you had an influential mentor in your management career? Talk to the interviewer about what type of influences have shaped your management style. Describe a person that has defined what kind of leader you wish to be.
"The greatest influence in my career has been one of my Professors from University. Mr. Smith was my professor in Business Ethics, and I connected well with his teaching style. Even after graduating University, we kept in touch, and he has greatly influenced my coaching, teaching, and leadership style."
"The greatest influence in my career is the executive whom I support. He gave me a chance when I had minimal administrative experience and had come fresh out of school. I have worked very hard for him over the years, and in turn, he has taught me a great deal about business."
"The first CEO I reported to has been a tremendous influence on my career. That person helped shape my work ethic and passion for business early on, which has helped me become a better business partner along the way in my career. I wish to be someone who is fair, demanding and supportive. Someone who cares about the customers and cares about our people."
"The greatest influence in my career as a marketer, and a manager has to be Gary Vaynerchuk. He was one of the earliest adopters of social media and has helped millions of people like me, who want to stand out in the marketplace. I admire his approach."
"My second manager out of college, John, was my first and most influential mentor. I learned more from him about the industry, how to manage a diverse set of personalities, and how to coach, all while maintaining a professional level of friendship and rapport with employees. Even though I left that job, and company, over three years ago, I still joke that I follow the "What Would John Do?" school of thought for many of my tough decisions. We still keep in touch, for which I am grateful."
"I would say the biggest influence on how I manage would be my mom. She has been the leader of our household- taking charge of any and all projects by the horn, delegating tasks in our home like a pro. At the same time she delegates as appropriate, leads with compassion and kindness, and expects us to all rise to the occasion and do our best. This method is the way in which I've chosen to lead my teams: with high expectations, kindness, and a desire to help everyone do their best."
"As a teacher and a learning leader, my greatest influence have been the teachers that I have had along the way. The good, and the bad! As an educator, I truly learn and develop by observing those around me and taking note of what I like, and what I do not like."
You, as a manager, can only be as successful as your team. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to build exceptional teams in the past. What is your formula for success?
"I have built many successful teams as a manager and have found that the most important factor is to create a personal connection with each member of the team and then create a way for each team member to feel a connection to the team's end goal. Once everyone feels invested in the result, they will be active and involved team members."
"I build a successful team by showing everyone they are valuable, as are their ideas. When people feel like an important part of a collaboration they are more likely to exceed expectations."
"I build a successful team one key member at a time. I hire, train and equip team members to learn all aspects of their roles and our department. Cross training is an effective method of doing this because it provides everyone visibility with the larger picture of the organization and how they impact the bottom line."
"I am very aware of my team members' unspoken feelings. As a creative type, I believe this makes me more intuitive when it comes to the unsaid. I have successful, and motivated teams, because I treat everyone with genuine care. My employees know that they matter to me."
"I have built successful teams in the past, and I find it comes down to building a collaborative environment where everyone respects each other and gets along. Throw in some healthy competition, and you've got yourself a recipe for success!"
"I believe the most important components of building a successful team are connecting with each team member and understanding what motivates them personally. As a result, I can help them be successful in their current position, be a great team player, and I can also help them grow as professionals."
"I keep a collaborative class environment by acting as a harmonizing influence to my students. I keep my eye out for any pain points in the lesson plan, disputes between students, and then use my influence to redirect the mood and conversation."
The interviewer would like to know more about the type of employees that you tend to hire. Everyone has a 'type,' even in the workplace. Talk to the interviewer about the characteristics and personality types that you tend to engage and why you lean that way.
"When I am hiring I look for individuals with grit and drive. People who have a record of fighting through tough times, rather than giving up, tend to be the best employees. They are loyal and are willing to go the extra mile without being asked."
"Administration is often a solo gig, but if you don't work together with other departments, share ideas, and support each other, you won't be as productive as you could be. For that reason, if I were hiring an administrative assistant, I would look for someone individually driven who is still passionate about teamwork."
"I look at experience and qualifications but most of all, I seek relational competence. Someone who has the personality and fit to thrive in our fast-paced environment. When you have all of those things, you can truly fire on all cylinders."
"I look for employees that are versatile and laid-back. For instance, someone you'd want to work with all day and then grab a drink with after work. That's the best employee in my opinion."
"Especially in retail, it's important to have a few key characteristics such as being a people person, possessing an upbeat disposition, and hunger to go after something you want to achieve. If a candidate is determined, easy to hold a conversation with, and likable, they will succeed in most things."
"When building a team, I look for passionate, dedicated employees who are competitive and driven both financially and by a pat on the back. These are incredibly important characteristics to have in sales. I also look for someone who knows how to get what they want without burning their team in the process, which is ever so important."
"I have never been in a position of hiring teachers; however, I can tell you the characteristics I look for when I need to choose a substitute teacher. I look for someone reliable who communicates promptly and has the flexibility to connect with my students, no matter who they are. A teacher who can take direction but also fill in blanks on their own, when needed, is someone I would hire."
Terminating an employee is never a task that people like to do. Talk to the interviewer about how you go about employee terminations. How does that conversation usually sound?
"I have had to terminate employees in the past, yes. These terminations stemmed from missed targets or insubordination. I find it challenging to terminate employees because I do care about them and their well being. I have to remind myself that I did absolutely everything that I could to ensure their success but, I cannot carry the full weight."
"I have had to let go of a couple of part-time administrative assistants. While it's certainly not my favorite task, I feel confident in my abilities to identify a low performer and work to coach up or out, and terminate as necessary."
"Unfortunately, terminating employees is a part of wearing your management hat. I recently had to separate employment with someone who was under-performing. We coached them, offered additional learning experiences and worked with them on a performance improvement plan. It was the right person in the wrong role, and we had to decide to move forward."
"There have been several occasions when I have had to terminate an employee, which weighs on me since I don't want to see anyone fail or be in a financial predicament. However, since I have spent so much time with my team and working on coaching them, I will remind myself that I did as much as I could do and the rest was up to them. They chose not to work to improve, so I did what was best for the rest of the team and the company at large."
"I have been a part of a team that chooses when an employee is going to be terminated, which is not enjoyable but necessary. I always take the approach of coaching up or out for an employee, so it's evident for a while if someone is going to end up being coached out. More often than not, that employee recognizes that it is a poor fit and leaves on his or her own accord."
"I have, unfortunately, had to let an employee or two go in the past. I have always done the best that I can to help coach an employee. I create a plan to help get them on track, provide them with any training or additional resources they may need to achieve at the level we expect and have frequent check-ins with them. However, sometimes we still have to go our separate ways. I am always sure that it's not a surprise to that employee since we go through a coaching process to get them up to their targets."
"I have never had to expel a student, and I am thankful for that. If I have a student on the verge of expulsion I will coach them heavily, and get their parents and the principal involved."
When you are leading a team, it is vital to be aware of the level of success that each team member is experiencing. One under-performing team player can drag down the entire group. Talk to the interviewer about how you can stay aware of each team members' success.
"I have a very in-depth and successful system for evaluating success among my team members. I check in twice per week with each member of my team. On Mondays - to set our goals together. Then, on Fridays, to discuss any successes and challenges. I have them self-evaluate, and then we create a plan for success for the upcoming week. I evaluate their success based on their follow through and willingness to work hard to reach their goals."
"I know my team is successful when we have a harmonious work environment, are not stressed about deadlines, and are all getting along."
"I typically have KPI's in place to measure the success of each of the members of the team. I also manage our overall success in working together. For example, are we hitting on key initiatives within the department, developing each other for succession planning and having fun along the way!"
"I evaluate the success through client feedback, projects completed by the deadline, and staff retention. These factors tell me if the agency is performing like a well-oiled machine or if particular tweaks need to happen."
"In retail, I'm not always there during every shift, but I understand the importance of knowing what is going on, who is performing, and who is not. I've put into place overall department metrics, as well as individual sales targets for each associate. These are specific to week, month, and quarter-long targets. I run a daily and weekly log of sales activity to see that every member is performing and am sure to take into account the minutes spent doing non-revenue generating activities like merchandising, as these are also part of their goals. Also, there are specific targets for thank you cards sent, sales reminders sent, and phone calls to recurring customers that we track each month to help grow their book of business. If anyone is falling short, we are quick to have a meeting to get back on track and evaluate what the barrier to success is, together."
"There are evident expectations set for each member of our sales team, from sales dollars quotas in the big picture to the smaller milestones to achieve those financial goals like calls made, minutes talked, appointments set, etc. We have weekly sales meetings each Monday morning when we go over everyone's successes and numbers from the previous week. This method me to have transparency between my team and me, but also there is clear transparency where everyone stands in the pack in front of the whole sales team. The larger group accountability seems to help motivate these performers on my team."
"I evaluate success in our school by the overall grades of our students, community and parent engagement, and the amount of disciplinary action required. If we are doing a great job as teachers, the culture in the school will be more positive than negative."
The interviewer would like to know more about your ability to juggle multiple projects simultaneously. As a manager, you will be required to take care of various projects and deadlines. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of doing so.
"In my current position I handle multiple project deadlines all of the time. I can do so effectively by ensuring that I delegate the proper tasks to the best-matched team member. My strong organizational skills ensure that I am in control of every project."
"As an executive assistant, every project that the CEO has on his desk is, essentially, mine as well. I handle flights, meetings, events, and some of his matters as well. I have never underdelivered on his expectations."
"Juggling multiple projects is my forte! I just recently launched an organizational effectiveness survey for the department as a pilot for the rest of the company, while introducing a new compensation plan for the US region and hiring about 35 new critical leaders for our anticipated growth this upcoming fiscal year."
"I usually have about ten client projects on the go at one time. I rely heavily on my systems and apps to ensure these projects run smoothly. Luckily, I am a naturally organized individual, and I have an incredibly supportive team of creatives who are always on the ball."
"I thrive under pressure and keeping multiple balls in the air at once, both personally and professionally. Currently, I am in charge of scheduling, goal setting, and reviews, hiring and termination, merchandising, forecasting, and have a hand in the buying decisions, too. Not to mention just the daily tasks of acting as a sales manager on the floor. I am sure to delegate tasks as appropriate and spend time away from the sales floor to complete tasks whenever necessary. I have no issues managing and completing multiple ongoing projects simultaneously. It keeps my job interesting and different each day."
"I always have about ten things going at once, and it's my favorite way to work. It makes every day different and keeps me on my toes. I am currently responsible for five direct reports, and each of them has one direct report, totaling the team at 10. I am responsible for managing the five account executives and helping them be team leaders. Not to mention, I am accountable for forecasting our sales, sitting in on weekly sales meetings and defending our pipeline projections. On the day-to-day, I go into any number of sales calls or pitches, requests to help transition accounts to the customer success team, and more, including interviewing and reviewing, as well as firing, employees. It's a lot on my plate all at once, and I love it."
"I overshot my capacity the other week by assigning two homework assignments and having an exam all in the matter of 3 days. I had a much larger marking workload than usual. I blocked off time each evening to ensure that my students were not left waiting for their marks for more than three days."
Motivated employees are productive employees. Talk to the interviewer about how you ensure that your team is feeling motivated and being as productive as possible.
"My formula for a motivated team is to get to know them, uncover what they are passionate about, and find out how they like to be recognized. If I can provide my team with proper recognition, tasks that they enjoy and feel they are good at - then they will perform as motivated employees."
"Motivating my team to do well is one of my greatest joys. I put incentives in place that resonate with them and utilize multiple recognition techniques to get the job done."
"Something I like to do as soon as I hire new team members, to understand better who they are and how they want to be motivated, praised, and coached, is doing a DISC assessment. This assessment shows where they fall in regards to four traits: dominance, influence, steadiness, compliance. The results help me understand them better as humans."
"I motivate my team by being an example, first and foremost. I show excitement for new projects, find the best in all clients, and always have an infectiously good mood! The right mood will set off a great creative environment."
"Typically, sales contests resulting in a financial bonus of some kind, or an extra long break, are great incentives for my team. The other motivator is regarding a preferred task like merchandizing the mannequins rather than cleaning out the dressing rooms. If they win a contest on selling a particular item or finishing the markdowns the quickest, they can choose which activity they get to do the rest of the day, for instance. It's a great way to get them in a friendly competition and amp up productivity."
"Naturally, salespeople are motivated by financial targets, bonuses, etc. which is already part of the compensation structure. So, to supplement this, I like to run sales contests with other prizes, like gift cards, first dibs on the ping-pong table, and the like. It gets the team excited, and they get incredibly competitive, in a healthy way."
"I motivate my students by empowering them. I empower them by giving them a say in the direction of our lessons, asking for their input on their and my performance, and asking them for their ideas. This approach makes my classroom feel like a community of collaboration versus a dictatorship type of learning environment."
Being able to delegate to your team correctly is an essential part of successful management. Talk to the interviewer about a time that you have appointed in error. Be sure to discuss how you repaired the mistake.
"Earlier in my career I would delegate tasks at random, thinking that everyone had the skills to complete any company-related task. I found that these employees would procrastinate on these tasks if they seemed overwhelming or if they did not understand them. After a bit of time, and some learning, I began to delegate based on personality type and skill-set. This method proved to be much more effective, and I follow this delegation style to this day."
"I once tried to utilize one team member on a project without realizing their workload was already at maximum capacity. In hindsight, I would have offered additional resources to the work they were already doing to free up their time to tackle other projects."
"Too much delegating is something that I did, in error, when I was newer to my career. I think I was a big over my head in my job title and was not as confident in my abilities as I should have been. This fact has, of course, changed tremendously over the years. I now delegate to my teams' strengths, starting with myself."
"I have made the mistake of being unclear about the quality and expectations when delegating. This mistake resulted in poor work submissions which caused me a great deal of time putting out fires. I am now sure that expectations are crystal clear when I delegate tasks to my team."
"In the past, I have delegated some of my managerial duties, when I am not working, to the most tenured employee as would seem natural. These employees have the most experience, so they should be the best equipped to help run the department if I am on vacation. However, it soon became clear that they were in sales for all of these years for a reason; it's what they are good at and what they like to do. They were neither cut out for nor interested in, the administrative side of management. Because of this, I'd come back to some bizarre schedules or poorly planned floor plans and would have to spend twice as much time undoing their work. I soon learned that it is not the length of employment that makes the best acting manager, but rather the person and personality."
"I would say a mistake I have made in delegating would be incorrectly assuming that everyone would be up to any challenge thrown their way. I know they all have had the adequate training to figure out whatever task I delegate to them, but many of the employees felt they were either ill-equipped for the particular job, or that it wasn't in line with the career path they wanted. That said, I soon saw that there was a more efficient way to assign tasks that would get more employee buy-in, accomplish the tasks with more efficiency, and ultimately get better results."
"When I was a new teacher I did not tie tasks to an outcome or end goal. This error meant that many of my students failed to see the importance of the work assigned to them. I will now make the connection for them as to why we are learning this lesson, and why the homework is important to complete."
The interviewer would like to know more about your goal setting techniques and process. What types of goals are you most keen on setting for your employees? Talk to the interviewer about the kinds of goals that you find most important.
"I put my team's goals into three categories. Financial goals, client acquisition goals, and personal growth goals. Financial goals focus on their commercial sales targets for the quarter. Client acquisition goals are the number of new client relationships that they bring in. And personal growth goals focus on their professional development. This goal can include taking a course or reading a new career-related book."
"I like to set two types of goals; current projects, and future projects. It's important, as an administrator, to not remain focused solely on the tasks in front of our noses. We also need to prepare for shifts in the business that may happen down the road."
"I tend to set high goals for myself and my team and then work hard and smart to achieve them. I look at the business needs and align the department goals to reach them. Then, I take into consideration the individual goals of our team members to account for them in our progressive work."
"It's important to have goals that focus on the client, the company, and the employee. I have set the following goals for my team; happy clients, profitable company, growing employee. Each week I sit down one on one with my team members to find out what personal growth plan they are putting into motion. In addition to this, every morning I meet with the team to choose a client we can make the happiest today, and choose one activity that will add to our company's bottom line."
"First and foremost, our sales goals are the most important. The next goal of focus is repeat business and the tasks associated with acquiring and retaining these loyal customers. For instance, touch points in the form of emails, calls, cards. Finally, development goals, which look different for each employee. Some are on track to become a manager or shift supervisor, while some are just using this as a job with hopes of doing something else eventually. Either way, I set personal metrics associated with their growth opportunities. These tasks could be anything from merchandising to scheduling, or learning how to create the budget. We review each of these goals in a formal setting each month and quarter, with informal check-ins daily."
"My sales team has different metrics they have to hit daily, to ultimately hit their weekly and monthly targets. Those include calls made, talk time, and appointments set. Those are just the incremental goals to get us to our targets. As far as big picture goals, I set our financial targets for individuals and the team as a whole, growth goals to make up for any potential deficits in their current role or prepare them for the next role. Finally, I like to work with the team to come up with a personal goal they're working on, whether it is for proficiency with a particular product or talking point, or public speaking, and do check-ins to see how their project is going."
"I set a variety of learning goals for myself and my students each week. Once I have outlined the chapters we are focusing on; I will ask my students what they think they can take on this week. They will usually surprise me and set some great goals such as reading an entire book or memorizing their nine times tables. For myself, I love to read books on personal development for educators so I will share my goal, of reading three chapters per night, for instance. The students like to see that I have "homework" too."
The interviewer would like to know more about your delegation style. Delegating tasks to employees is always a requirement when you are in a management type of role. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to empower your team and correctly delegate tasks.
"I find that to delegate tasks effectively you first need to understand each employee's strengths. I will always delegate to someone's strength so that they will innately know how to complete the task. This process eliminates a lot of resistance and promotes an effective and productive workplace."
"Recently I have spent a lot of time delegating to the new executive assistant to the VP. She is newer to her career and has not caught her footing quite yet. I want her to succeed so I give her step by step instructions on what needs to happen next. She has greatly appreciated the help so far."
"Prioritization of our workload is critical to our success. I tap into the resources of my team by finding out their strengths and career aspirations, then assigning them work that will compliment them. I will change these tasks around now, and then so everyone has a fair workload and the ability to round out their skills and experience."
"I would like to say that, for the most part, my team runs like a well-oiled machine and I rarely need to delegate. When we take on a new project we all gather, storyboard our ideas, and then make a plan for smooth execution of that plan. Everyone takes on the tasks they feel they are strongest. At that point, should there be any remaining tasks, I will then delegate them to the people I feel would do the best job."
"In my department, it's important to me that everyone is well rounded, so I make sure that everyone gets assigned each task each week. In retail, there are some unglamorous tasks that many associates try to shirk out of, such as cleaning out the fitting rooms, but we all have to take our turn and pitch in so we have a good-looking, and performing department. That said, I make sure everyone has a rotation on each task. Everyone wants to be on the sales floor, hoping to make a commission, but we need to rotate the glory with the grunt work, too. This system means that I also have to clean out the fitting rooms, markdown items, or restock the swimsuits for the 15th time that afternoon. Everyone must lend a hand for us all to succeed."
"As a sales manager, I have been responsible for taking the workload and dictating who will take on which task by region, the customer of focus, or manufacturer. In either case, I believe it is important to recognize that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I believe it's important to identify those and provide opportunities for growth and new skills."
"I delegate to my students on a daily basis! I believe in showing, rather than telling, so my approach will be to say to my class, "I think it's a great idea to keep our books in alphabetical order so that we can find them easier! Who is the best at their A, B, C's?" Of course, they all raise their hands. Then I can say, "Wonderful! Alex, you take all the books that start with A... Jessica, you are in charge of the books that begin with B"....and so on. It then becomes a fun game rather than the chore of cleaning up."
The interviewer would like to know how you handle under-performing employees. As a management professional, how do you treat employees who are not meeting targets and company expectations? Discuss with the interviewer your style when it comes to managing under-performing employees.
"If an employee is not meeting their goals I will first sit down with them one-on-one and ask them why they feel they are missing their targets. It's important to hear someone out and see, from their perspective, why they are struggling. I will then present their average statistics to them over the past 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Often a review of their work history is constructive when it comes to revealing a pattern. We will make a plan and review progress once per week."
"If an employee were not meeting their goals, I would probably take the nice guy approach by taking them out for coffee and asking them what I could do to support them in the workplace. If there were a recent example of their work falling short, I would refer to that - rather than an example from too long ago. From there, I would help them to set some goals or offer tips and tricks for increasing productivity."
"Individual coaching is a large component of my role as a manager. I will find out what is preventing that associate from meeting their goals and work with them to overcome those challenges. Perhaps something is going on outside of work, or they did not receive training to be properly equipped to exceed their goals. Once we identify those items, we will formulate and execute a plan to get them on track."
"When one person does not meet goals, it affects entire campaigns and project deadlines. For this reason, I hold a morning meeting on a daily basis to ensure everyone's deliverables are on time. If someone is not delivering the quality they normally do, I will ask them privately if there is something wrong. I like to have genuine conversations with my staff because their success is important to me."
"If someone on my team is not living up to their expectations, we have a chat before things become too far gone. I like to let them lead the conversation by asking 'Why do you think I asked for some time today?' With very few exceptions, they immediately open up about being disappointed for falling short of their goals and offer up suggestions on how they think they can improve."
"It's immediately apparent if an employee starts to slip on their goals since we have the weekly sales meetings. Also, there are running scoreboards that are updating live stats, so we have a minute-by-minute and week-by-week update. That said, I'm sure to touch base with every employee at least weekly, but especially if their numbers are slipping. I want to get to the root of the issue with them and like to get their side of the story, which often is all it takes to get them to shake it off, learn from their mistakes, and turn it around the following week. If that's not enough, we go further. We will put the employee in question on an individual performance plan if warranted with clear goals and deadlines they must meet."
"If a student were not meeting their goals, I would call a meeting with them, and their parents, depending on how severe the case. I have individual plans for students where they can write down self-guided learning goals attached to a timeline. This approach has worked for me very well for many years."
The interviewer would like to know more about your ability to recover your team when a project starts to unravel. Assure the hiring manager that you can keep your team together, even when times get tough.
"Just last month our team was falling behind when it came to hitting our targets for the final quarter. We were at risk of losing rank and not winning the company's president's club trip to Mexico. We were able to meet as an entire team and create a success plan. Everyone worked overtime for the final three weeks of the year, and we made it! It was a great success story for us."
"During tax season a few years ago, we were inundated with phone calls about a promotion that we had put on. We literally could not keep up with the volume, and my three phone lines were non stop ringing. Our boss is not overly proactive, so I took the opportunity to suggest that we hire two temporary admin associates to help us until the tax season was over. He agreed, and I made the call to get back up! It was a great decision, and we do this every year now."
"During a product launch last year, the R&D team was delayed in their innovation process, and this caused the rest of the team to lose focus or interest in the launch. We brought everyone together to introduce a great incentive for the organization to launch and deliver sales above quota on time. The team hit their target and was engaged because they had a stake in the game."
"Last year we lost a major client, and this was when the blame game started. Everyone felt the loss and wanted to place the blame on another. I held a team meeting, asked everyone what they felt THEY could have done differently. Seeing everyone take accountability for their part was a good thing, and we are reminded to avoid those errors in the future."
"My two best sales associates are incredible performers, but they also work very poorly together. This year when the down coats launched, which are one of our highest priced items in the department, it got so hostile between them that other sales associates were staying out of the section entirely. It made for horrible morale, and we were also letting down our potential customers. I decided to implement a rotating section "zone defense" in which the associates changed sections per hour, meaning everyone got a fair shot at the pricey items. It boosted the confidence of the new hires, cut down on the cat fights, and made the place much more fun to work. It's been our practice ever since."
"When one of our beloved account executives on my team left, there was a bit of discord among the rest of the team vying for the position and territory. It started as friendly joking but soon spiraled. I held a team meeting about how the position and the territory, and their distribution. I let them know that, if they were interested in the Midwest region, the top three sales reps for the month would be eligible to pitch why they would be best suited to switch regions. It became a friendly competition instead of an opportunity to make digs at the other employees. Also, it improved productivity and allowed me to see who would rise to the occasion, and thrive under pressure. It made it fun in the office, and despite the competition, everyone was rallying around each other."
"This year my classroom has a significant imbalance of boys and girls which has led to some interesting testosterone led arguments. It's a situation which I have never experienced as a teacher before! Seventeen pre-pubescent boys and two girls. You can imagine. I overcame this by addressing the elephant in the room and telling the boys that they need to set an example for the younger Grade 5 boys on how to behave. They took to be 'role models' very seriously, and their behavior has improved significantly since."
Why do you think that you are a successful leader? Talk to the interviewer about the variety of things that you think have to lead you to your success.
"There is a multitude of factors that have helped me to become a strong leader. First and foremost; I had an excellent mentor from a young age. Secondly, I have studied leadership at great length. My personality has also contributed to my success as I am a natural coach, teacher, and leader."
"Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work closely with the CEO of a fast-paced organization. We ran very cleanly, financially, and I gained exposure to a wide variety of the business practices which helped shaped who I am as a professional administrator."
"I aim to always act like a partner to any business I support. This methodology is something that drives my leadership style. I am passionate about making the right choices, to lead by example, coach others on ways to improve in a gentle fashion, and be a resource for anyone that should need help."
"Professionally, I have led several teams ranging from one to five direct reports, so I come prepared through experience in the workplace. I know that I can run an effective, and efficient team, and I look forward to expanding on my experiences to bring my leadership skills to your organization."
"I have been a leader since childhood, as cliche as that may sound. I was the go-to person on projects, or who the teachers would ask to sit with the new kid in town. In high school, I was the captain of the tennis team, so I've truly always been a leader. I have carried that over into my adult life."
"I feel I have been a leader as long as I can remember- it's something innate in me. I always was the one picking up the slack on the group projects, or organizing the neighborhood street hockey game. Throughout life, both in school and professionally, I have never wanted to disappoint. I will take on more than my fair share of the workload to get it done on time and in the best way possible."
"I was raised to be a headstrong individual, and my household always encouraged independence. I know this shaped me as a professional who can take the lead in a project, or run a group of students without issue."
The interviewer would like to know about your personal experience with poor leadership. As a manager, it is essential that you can recognize poor leadership. Discuss with the interviewer how you can identify a weak leader vs. a talented one.
"When I was just 15 I took on a job as a salesperson in an athletic shoe store. The manager that we had was not well trained and thought that he needed to demand respect to be a good leader. This attitude created high employee turnover and low productivity. Even though I was very young, I learned a great deal from this experience. As a leader, one should never demand respect but should earn it."
"Earlier in my career, I had a boss who just yelled all day long. When he wasn't affecting the mood in the office, he would send mean emails or call in just to say something rude. It was like something out of a movie. It ended up being a running joke amongst the staff. He thought he was "respected" because he tried to manage through fear. I learned very early on in my career, thanks to him, you attract more flies with honey."
"We are all flawed, and that is the beauty of human dynamics. One of the worst supervisors I had, always operated in a reactive mode. They could not anticipate change and solve problems before they manifested. It made my desire to be a proactive leader difficult but shaped me into handling these types of situations better."
"I have not had a bad boss, but I can certainly tell you about a professor I had when taking my degree in marketing. He was always late, would rarely hand assignments back in time, and left a lot of students hanging. It was my first taste of relying on someone who never delivered. I operate completely differently than that - many thanks to this particular example I had early on."
"When I worked in a restaurant in high school, a new manager came in and seemed to think that to be taken seriously as a young female, she needed to be especially brutal. I believe her tactic was intended to be hard at first, gain respect, then ease up. However, she was so off-putting that most of the staff quit. As a young female manager now, I can appreciate her dilemma with being taken seriously. However, I learned early on that being hard and rude is a fine line, and one best not cross that line. I believe there are more efficient ways to gain the respect of your team."
"I'd say my worst supervisor was a VP of Sales who was hired to bring clarity and unity to the team. However, he ultimately was more of a busybody who seemed more interested in making friends than learning the industry and leading the team. This situation was frustrating as it inhibited my growth as a salesperson and into a leadership role. It seemed he was so busy making friends and being liked that he forgot why he was brought on. It has reminded me always to be friendly and kind, but be ready to lead my team and keep them on the task at the same time."
"I have worked with many great teachers in my career; however, when I was first teaching, I was the TA for an educator who was ready to retire. She had one foot out the door, and everyone knew it. I did not appreciate her style because I felt that if she were ready to go, then she should have just done so and spared the kids that year. I swore to myself that I would always remain engaged until the day I fully retire. My students deserve the best from me, every day."
The interviewer would like to know that you feel ready for the responsibility that comes with being a manager. Discuss with the interviewer all of the things you have done to prepare you for this particular opportunity.
"I have spent the past eight months reading leadership books and have taken two leadership workshops in that time frame. I have never felt more ready to take on the responsibility of leading a team."
"I have trained numerous administrative assistance in my ten-year career and have also begun to train another executive assistant. I deliver perfect work and train others to do the same."
"I have worked in manufacturing environments with a diverse range of people, motivated in different ways. I believe this uniquely equips me to excel in the production manager role and I look forward to proving myself right in your eyes at every opportunity."
"I have eight years of experience in supervisory and assistant management responsibilities in an agency environment. I have led large teams through complex projects and am ready to take the next step in my career."
"I have worked in retail since high school, totaling nine years of experience in the industry. Specifically, I have been an associate, a shift supervisor, and a team leads in another, smaller department. I know that your shoe department is the second largest department in the store. Shoe sales are where I have done the bulk of my time in retail, so I believe that by combining my experience as an associate in shoes and my management time in sportswear, I will lead a very successful department."
"I believe I'm very well prepared for this leadership opportunity as I've managed teams of varying sizes, from a one-person direct report to teams of operational assistants to a sales pod of five. I have experience with many personalities and skill levels."
"I have been able to successfully manage a classroom of fifteen students which has prepared me for the responsibility of a larger classroom. I have researched many techniques from leading educators and am confident in my ability to command attention in such a large classroom environment as this."