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Manager Interview
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20 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 30th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Management    
Question 1 of 20
What qualities and traits do you look for in a candidate when hiring?
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How to Answer
There are many great qualities that you can look for when hiring an employee but the interviewer wants to hear that you understand the importance of engaging people who fit the workplace culture and have a proven theme of dedication to their work.

These are the core traits that every hiring manager should look for:

- Confident, yet humble
- Related education
- Ability to receive, and implement, feedback
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Self-driven and self-motivated
- Willingness to work with a team
- Reliability and dependability
- Transparency and honesty

In addition to these core traits, let the interviewer know that you also seek out unique skills. Some examples of exceptional skills or attributes are:

- Experience in your particular software or programs
- Interest in continued education opportunities
- Volunteer experience
- Interest in being a coach or mentor
- Bi-lingual or skilled in multiple languages
- Comfortability with presenting, and public speaking
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Answer Examples
1.
What qualities and traits do you look for in a candidate when hiring?
There are many great qualities that you can look for when hiring an employee but the interviewer wants to hear that you understand the importance of engaging people who fit the workplace culture and have a proven theme of dedication to their work.

These are the core traits that every hiring manager should look for:

- Confident, yet humble
- Related education
- Ability to receive, and implement, feedback
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Self-driven and self-motivated
- Willingness to work with a team
- Reliability and dependability
- Transparency and honesty

In addition to these core traits, let the interviewer know that you also seek out unique skills. Some examples of exceptional skills or attributes are:

- Experience in your particular software or programs
- Interest in continued education opportunities
- Volunteer experience
- Interest in being a coach or mentor
- Bi-lingual or skilled in multiple languages
- Comfortability with presenting, and public speaking

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When I am hiring, I look for the main core traits such as steady confidence, and ability to think for themselves. I also give preference to people who are active in volunteering. It's important to hire those who like to give back, and spend time investing in others."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"When hiring, I believe it is important to find people who have a history of being dependable, on time, and who know how to meet deadlines and exceed expectations. In this particular industry, I would also seek out candidates who have international experience and perhaps speak multiple languages or are well traveled."
Anonymous Answer
"Sales are all about being able to break the ice and relate to people under a variety of circumstances. I always ask my candidates to tell me a story because this indicates several things: 'Can they follow directions?', 'Can they think on their feet?' and 'Are they a good communicator?' The best stories are the ones that have nothing to do with the interview and everything to do with relating to me as a person. Those are the folks that earn a spot on my team."
Rachelle's Answer
This is an awesome approach - I'll have to steal it :) Another great answer.
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2.
If I were to interview those who report to you, what would they say is one strength, and one weakness of yours, as a leader?
This question is a slightly more indirect way to ask your strengths, and weaknesses because the interviewer is looking for your opinion from your team's perspective. Have you ever asked for feedback on your leadership style? Think back to your performance reviews with your leadership, or perhaps you have had comments from your team, in passing, regarding things they are thankful for about you. When you mention your weakness, be sure to express what you have been doing to improve upon that weakness. When you think of your strengths, you should relate them to the needs of the employer, according to the job description.

Here are some examples of unique strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths:
- Strong knowledge in a significant software program, used in this role.
- Ability to be objective or to take feedback.
- Disciplined and able to meet the most stringent deadlines.


Weaknesses:
- Perfectionism, internalized, AKA: being too tough on yourself.
- User level in a particular software program.
- Trying always to find solutions that make everyone happy (impossible!).

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If asked, I believe that my team would say that I am a bit tough on myself when it comes to the expectation level that I put on myself. I am a bit of a perfectionist but am working on relaxing that a touch by letting the smaller, unimportant details go. My strength is in my knowledge of my team. I take the time to get to know every one of them, resulting in an excellent teamwork environment."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I believe that my current team would say that I am often trying to make everyone happy. It's an endless, and impossible pursuit, so I am working hard to shake that mentality. I recently picked up a couple of leadership books and will be getting some pointers from them as well. One of my strong points is my ability to research and respond when I know I lack a particular skill."
Anonymous Answer
"I have a tendency of trying to make everyone one, which is like chasing the wind. They would agree on my ability to bring them together to form a strong team."
Mary's Answer
Try reformatting for better understanding.
"If you were to interview past direct reports, they would share that my strength is my ability to unify a team and work together towards a shared vision. My strength has also been a liability, as I have spent too much time investing in individuals unwilling to align with the team's goals. This has improved over time."
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Anonymous Answer
"If they were to chose just one strength, it would be that I can be counted on to provide honest feedback. In contrast, one weakness would be that I have a tendency to take on too much at once."
Rachelle's Answer
I like this strength because it's a skill that many people struggle with...providing honest feedback. Try offering a weakness that is less common or typical and then follow that up with what you are doing to improve on that skill.
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3.
If I were to interview the people who have reported to you in the past, how would they describe your management style?
There are a plethora of management styles, and the interviewer would like assurance that your style fits well with their needs and workplace culture. Before your interview, you should have a solid idea of the type of leadership for which the company is seeking. There will be keyword indicators in the job posting, job description, and on their website. Use their terms, as often as possible.

Some management styles are:

- Democratic or Participative
- Authoritative or Directive
- Collaborative or Affiliative
- Pacesetting or Coaching

If you are unsure of your management style, try taking a free personality test like the one 16Personalities.com. By completing this exercise, you will gain a firm understanding of your personality keywords, and they type of leadership style you possess, as well as the type of leadership style to which you best respond.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I believe that my team would describe me as a pacesetter, or coach when it comes to my management style. I have strong expectations set for my team, and I motivate them to achieve these standards by showing my employees, rather than just telling."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"At this point in my early management career, I have been emulating the actions of my management, and have taken the points that I like, implemented those, and eliminated the parts I did not like. My team has responded well to me, and I think they would describe me as an affiliative style leader. I like to try new ways to get my team members to bond with each other, creating a more cohesive team environment. We spend a lot of time together, so I believe it's important to establish trust and relationship among coworkers."
Anonymous Answer
"This is a question I often ask my team because my goal is to be collaborative. The feedback I've gotten is that I am the type of leader that isn't scared to roll up her sleeves and assist whenever it's necessary. I am supportive of the needs of my team and their customers and communicate with them at the frequency that's needed so that they feel the support without being crowded."
Rachelle's Answer
I like that you already ask this question of your team. It shows a lot of awareness and a willingness to learn. Mentioning your ability to support without crowding is an excellent way to position your leadership style.
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Anonymous Answer
"Honest, reliable, happy, but serious about getting the job done. The type of person who believes in teamwork."
Rachelle's Answer
These are good descriptive words, and it's nice that you elaborated to discuss more of your management philosophy.
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4.
What strategies do you use to motivate your team?
There are a variety of ways that you, as a manager, can motivate your team. Discuss with the interviewer how you ensure your employees are consistently motivated.

Some ways that great managers will motivate their team:

- Encouraging the act of learning from mistakes vs. punishing mistakes
- Paying bonuses or offering increases attached to stretch goals
- Offering to pay for continued education or self-development opportunities
- Giving public kudos for a job well done
- Providing flexibility in work hours
- Avoiding micromanagement and allowing self-led exploration

Rachelle's Answer #1
"To motivate my team, I like to offer trust and autonomy as often as possible. When I show my team that I have trust in the work ethic presented, the team delivers better results than I ever imagined they would."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I like to be motivated by compensation rewards such as monthly or annual bonus' so I think I will have contests with financial rewards, available for my new team. Gift cards, discounts, free coffee, and the like - are often well received by employees and are motivating goals to reach."
Anonymous Answer
"I believe that positive reinforcement is the best way to motivate anyone, so I spend time looking for them to do well. The bottom line in any sales organization is, of course, achieving net sales, so I take the time to celebrate when goals are met and exceeded. Being able to provide feedback in a way that doesn't sound like criticism is a skill that is quite important in a manager."
Rachelle's Answer
Your strategies sound empowering, positive, and thoughtful. Well done!
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5.
What mistakes have you made when you have hired new employees? What have you learned from those mistakes?
The interviewer wants to know a bit more about your process when it comes to hiring. Discuss how you screen your candidates, and why you choose the employees that you do. Every manager has made at least one wrong hire in their career, but the question remains - did you learn from that bad hire, and how have you avoided making that mistake again?

Some common hiring errors include:

- Casting too wide a net in your description, resulting in a confused candidate pool
- Interviewing before you have a full scope of what your idea hire looks like
- Waiting too long to hire and then deciding out of panic
- Having too many decision makers in the process
- Not asking direct questions, resulting in vague answers
- Failing to do reference checks

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Earlier in my career, I did not see the value in checking references. I trusted my instinct, alone, and made a bad decision a couple of times. Some people can interview incredibly well, but it doesn't mean their work ethic is there. Now, I call 2-3 references, without fail."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I imagine that one of the bigger mistakes when hiring new employees is hiring someone because you know them, or because a reliable source referred them. I understand that referrals can be great, but only you truly know what your business needs."
Anonymous Answer
"I worked at a start-up that was experiencing expansion, and I allowed the pressure to hire right away to affect my judgment. This resulted in hiring someone for a position he was not prepared to handle. It was unfortunate because, under normal circumstances, I knew this candidate could've worked out, but the pressure to produce fast results was too high for him, and I had to terminate his employment. What I learned was to know what questions to ask to help me determine how someone behaves under pressure."
Rachelle's Answer
The pressure to hire fast is a predicament to which the interviewer will be able to relate. This is a very solid response.
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6.
What leadership qualities do you possess?
This question is designed to help the interviewer gain a better understanding of your definition of leadership.

Some great qualities of a leader are:

- Being someone who people naturally want to follow
- Exceptional interpersonal skills
- Strong relationship building skills
- Taking ownership of the team's errors and mistakes
- Excelling at motivating others
- Providing kudos to your team
- Knowing how to select and hire the right people to join the team
- Having a vision for the future

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I feel that I am strongest when it comes to motivating a team. Last year, I motivated my sales team every day, and we ended up being the top sales team of the year! I am also strong in the area of showing my team the big picture, and gaining buy-in from them."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I first lead by example, which is my strongest leadership quality. I am also an active encourager and a great coach. I love to research and learn new skills, and then pass that knowledge onto others. These are just some of the factors that will make me an excellent leader."
Anonymous Answer
"A good leader is also a good communicator. I am also honest and fair and know how to determine what to do during a crisis. I take accountability for the success and failures of my team, and most of all, I want to empower people to succeed!"
Rachelle's Answer
Your answer exudes confidence and more confidence! Great work.
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7.
Tell me about a cost-cutting initiative you created at your last position. Was it effective?
Many management roles also require budgetary responsibilities, and the interviewer would like to know that you take that responsibility seriously. Are you one to actively look for ways to save your employer money? Perhaps you do this by streamlining a process, minimizing the need to hire by doubling up on tasks, or ensuring that you procure the best price from vendors. Be sure to include a tangible result, success, or achievement, when giving your reply.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current position, I changed vendors for a few products and supplies because they were offering a better price. With some, I negotiated better interest rates and asked our service providers to be more competitive. In the first year of joining Company ABC, my cost-saving actions saved them just under $60K."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"While working for Company XYZ, I worked very hard to wear many hats so that my employer did not have to hire out certain tasks. For example, I offered to manage the social media accounts because I am good with that. As the assistant manager, it wasn't in my job description, but I knew I could to it, so I offered."
Anonymous Answer
"I had a rep that was using more travel budget than any other person on my team, and it was determined that she was not booking through our travel center. After speaking with her, I learned that she didn't like to stay at chain hotels, and her airline bookings were scheduled for off-hours that dramatically increased pricing. When I showed her how much more money she was spending than the rest of the team and how much time she could save by delegating her travel plans. This effectively cut costs by more than 50% the next quarter, and it was never a problem again!"
Rachelle's Answer
This example shows your keen eye for detail and the fact that you have a thumb on the beat of everything around you (what your team is doing). Great solution!
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8.
How do you determine if your team is successful?
The interviewer would like to know how you determine whether your team is operating successfully or not. Discuss the methods that you use to gauge if your leadership style is working or not working. Be sure to mention the action that you take, should you notice that your team is not operating as successfully as you would like.

There are a variety of ways to measure success, as a manager:

- Employee engagement levels
- The resignation rate of your highest performers
- The number of promotions you or your team receive
- Overall client feedback
- Trends in bonus' or commission

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I determine the success of my team primarily from our direct client feedback, and by looking at our KPI's and delivery deadlines. If we are meeting and exceeding client expectations and delivering projects on time, I know that team engagement is high. If this is not the case, I will meet with my team to find out the core of the issue immediately. If we ever receive less than favorable feedback from a client we all meet to discuss what we could have done differently and then put those ideas into action immediately."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I believe the best indicator of team success would be the overall engagement level of the team members. If a significant number of team members as disinterested or have not bought into the overall team goal, it's likely they do not see enough successes to keep them happy. How do you measure team success in your company?"
Anonymous Answer
"Besides the apparent success of meeting sales goals, I believe a successful team is one that is cohesive and isn't afraid to take risks, and most learn from mistakes. When I get positive feedback from customers about my sales reps, I believe that is one of the most important indications of success."
Rachelle's Answer
These examples are very good measurements of success. Nice response.
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9.
Discuss a time you managed an employee with a behavioral problem. What was their behavior, and how did you correct it?
The interviewer would like to further learn about your management style when it comes to delinquent employees. Perhaps you have a system in place for handling recurring behavioral issues. Confirm with the interviewer that you are capable of approaching a situation like this head-on, but professionally. Mention that you involve the human resources department, when necessary, and put a strong emphasis on your documentation and reporting when it comes to tracking problematic behavior.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Just last month I had an employee who was late four days in a row. This behavior was very unlike them so I pulled them aside and asked if there was anything I could do to help them get to work on time. I documented the late days, to which they were aware. The employee's behavior was corrected immediately. I did not need to come down hard on this employee - I simply needed to address that I noticed their tardiness."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I had an employee with a recurring behavioral problem, I would have a one-on-one meeting with them and ask them point-blank what was causing the issue. There is no sense beating around the bush in situations such as that. Employees need to be accountable for their behavior, and a good manager will address a situation like this immediately."
Anonymous Answer
"When it comes to problematic behavior, it's important to address it head-on and begin documenting right away. Everything seemed fine until he made a mistake in documenting a sensitive report and as a result required re-training. He turned defiant and refused to accept responsibility. It was clear he was worried he would be terminated, and I set up a meeting for him to speak to the head of compliance on his own to address his concerns. I documented the issue with HR and followed up with the compliance department as well as set time aside to meet with my subordinate one to one. When someone is unsure about their job, they can behave in surprising ways."
Rachelle's Answer
Very good point you make in the end! Your focus on documentation is incredibly important and should be appreciated by any potential employer.
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10.
Rate your management skills from 1 to 10 with 10 representing excellent management skills. Why did you choose that rating?
If you are responsible for rating your skills, chances are, you will lean more on the modest side versus overselling yourself. On a scale of 1-10, discuss how skilled are you in managing a business, or others. Avoid giving yourself a 10, and nobody is perfect, and you do not want to come across as overly confident or someone who has no room for feedback and improvement. Alternately, avoid giving yourself too little credit. You do not want to appear incapable when it comes to managing others. Best case is to remain in the 7.5-9.5 range while staying honest and accurate. Use an example of your excellent management skills in action.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I would rate my management skills as a 9/10. Sometimes I am not as swift with delegation as I could be but I am a very approachable leader who encourages questions from my team, which they seem to appreciate. I recently had an employee tell me that I was the best manager they have ever had. That felt great to hear."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Despite my being new to a career in management, I would rate myself as a 7.5. I have done a deep dive into many management books as of late, to hone my skills and abilities further when it comes to managing a team. I strive to be an eager learner who will pass that knowledge on to my team."
Anonymous Answer
"I would rate myself 8/10, the reason being that I've had the opportunity to learn from functional managers. Not only that, but I have also taken leadership classes in college."
Mary's Answer
This is a great start. Consider adding what areas you are actively working to improve.
"I would rate my management skills as 8/10. I studied leadership courses in college, and have had the opportunity to be mentored by excellent managers. There is always room for improvement, so I study current leadership and management trends and stay open to feedback and learning."
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Anonymous Answer
"I will choose a 7.5, and the reason for that is that there will always be something new to learn and an opportunity for me to be a better manager. I am skilled at rallying my team behind a common goal and have learned to rely on my intuition regarding the strengths of each individual on my team. These skills make me very good at what I do!"
Rachelle's Answer
You do an excellent job supporting your management skills while also showing that you recognize room for improvement.
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11.
Who is your favorite influencer in the management or leadership space?
There are many influencers in the leadership and management arena's, and the interviewer would like to know who your favorite one is. An influencer is a famous individual who is often the pace-setter when it comes to change and ideas in your industry. They may be someone famous, an author, the host of a podcast that you listen to, a journalist, or a local business owner that you admire.

Some of the top influencers in leadership and people-management right now are:

- Simon Sinek
- Lolly Daskal
- John Maxwell
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- Tony Robbins

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My favorite influencer in the leadership space right now is Lolly Daskal. I recently read her book, "
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have followed the work of Tony Robbins for years now, and recently attended one of his workshops dedicated to modernizing the thought process of an effective leader. I have put a great deal of effort into molding myself into a great leader, before even taking on my first leadership role. I am ready!"
Anonymous Answer
"I have taken several leadership courses through John Maxwell and am a big fan because his principals are so empowering. Another book I've read is Step Up; Lead in Six Moments that Matter by Henry Evans. This book points out that there are many situations both at work and in our personal lives that call for leadership, even if you're not the one in charge."
Rachelle's Answer
This book sounds very interesting! I like that you give a couple of options, and dig into them, leaving more opportunity for the interviewer to relate.
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12.
In any of your leadership roles, what was the toughest decision you have made?
As a manager, you will be expected to make some tough decisions from time to time. The interviewer would like to know more about these tough decisions, and how you come out of these situations, on top.

Some of the challenging decisions that a manager will need to make include:

- Termination and hiring decisions
- Promotions and salary increases
- Budget allocation or budget cutting
- Creating or implementing a new policy

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The toughest decisions that I make as a leader are always surrounding the termination of an employee. It's never a fun activity, to have to let someone go from there role. There is the emotional component, as well as logistical components that which need consideration. With that said, I have made these decisions many times in my career, and I can go through with terminations as needed."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I believe that the toughest decisions to make as a leader would surround the creation and implementation of a new policy that greatly affects someone's livelihood. For instance, incorporating more overnight travel into an employee's schedule, or changing their bonus structure. These types of decisions would have to be well-researched and justified."
Anonymous Answer
"Hiring right is the single most important skill any manager can have, and it is the most challenging. I follow my intuition a lot, and because I am such an intuitive person, I also recognize the emphasis I have to make on being objective. It's tough to choose just one candidate from a pool of excellence, and I have spent lots of time counseling my peers and mentors so that I make the right choice."
Rachelle's Answer
Hiring is incredibly hard. You show a healthy balance between intuition and analysis, which is a wonderful approach.
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13.
What do you expect from your own manager?
The interviewer would like to know the expectations that you are going to have your manager, should you join their organization. Be clear on how you are best motivated, the style of communication you like, and how you prefer expectations to be laid out.

Some expectations you may have of your manager:

- Mutual respect
- Consistent communication of expectations
- Clear targets and goals
- Regular check-ins
- Frequent opportunities for continued education
- Mentorship and coaching on a regular basis
- Camaraderie when it comes to the company goal
- Support when tackling challenging employee related issues

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I expect from my manager that they challenge my learning, and career growth, as time goes on. I prefer having a manager who is strong in the areas of mentorship and coaching. Does this describe the qualities of the individual I would be reporting to, in this role?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I would like to work for a manager who is consistent and respectful in their communication. When I know the expectations at hand, I deliver my best work!"
Anonymous Answer
"Clarity. Honesty. Fairness."
Rachelle's Answer
Great words to choose as they are memorable and not part of the 'most common ' descriptive words that many candidates choose. Be prepared to expand on these a bit as well.
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14.
When has another manager criticized your work? How did you respond?
The interviewer would like to see that you can handle criticism and feedback professionally and productively. Nobody wants to hire the manager that believes they are perfect and have all the answers. Tell the interviewer about a time when your work was criticized and describe how you reacted. Did you implement the feedback? Perhaps you asked for further coaching. Maybe you took the criticism to heart and took a course or workshop to improve in that area.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Last year, I had a manager of another department let me know that they noticed my team morale dropping a bit. She had overheard some conversations in the break room about my leadership style. These particular employees were complaining about my last-minute changes to the schedule, to be exact. I thanked this manager for approaching me with the information, rather than allowing me to continue being blissfully unaware. I asked for her help with scheduling, and she took the time to train me on her method for building out a schedule, one month in advance. I think her honesty, transparency, and assistance saved me from having these employees quit my team."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I recently had my manager criticize my approach in pre-screen interviews. He thought that I should ask tougher questions from the get-go to better screen out. We have many applicants per job posting, so this feedback made a lot of sense to me. I have researched challenging phone interview questions and now mix them in with my usual question set."
Anonymous Answer
"I have found that what most folks believe to be feedback can appear to be criticism, and that is because the person giving it isn't skilled in delivering honest and balanced feedback. I had a fellow manager tell me that I rambled on too long during a conference call, and while it was terrible to hear, he was correct! Instead of getting angry with him, I began to study how to become a better communicator. I joined Toastmasters, and it's been the best career decision I've ever made. That manager still blurts out what he thinks all the time, but I don't ramble anymore."
Rachelle's Answer
The last sentence made me chuckle. Of course he does! Ha. The fact that you so intelligently carve out the difference between feedback and criticism is a great added touch to this answer.
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15.
Describe how you like to train new employees.
Yo
Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have not yet been in charge of training new employees, but my style would emulate the style of onboarding that I have received in my current role. This onboarding included a great mix of reading and research, hands-on work, and job shadowing. This all-encompassing training method ensured a successful start."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have a great method for training new employees. I ask for their involvement right away. I believe in limited classroom training and more hands-on work. I encourage questions, feedback, and opinions right away. This method of training increases engagement and creates a sense of importance, and belonging, right away."
Anonymous Answer
"I like to set them up for success. I give them all the tools they need to study and learn their product and set up expectations about corporate training. When they return from training, we analyze the sales data and come up with a business plan together. Training is ongoing on my team."
Rachelle's Answer
It's good that you mention the fact that training is ongoing. It sounds like you genuinely care about your employees and setting them up for success.
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20 Manager Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. What qualities and traits do you look for in a candidate when hiring?
  2. If I were to interview those who report to you, what would they say is one strength, and one weakness of yours, as a leader?
  3. If I were to interview the people who have reported to you in the past, how would they describe your management style?
  4. What strategies do you use to motivate your team?
  5. What mistakes have you made when you have hired new employees? What have you learned from those mistakes?
  6. What leadership qualities do you possess?
  7. Tell me about a cost-cutting initiative you created at your last position. Was it effective?
  8. How do you determine if your team is successful?
  9. Discuss a time you managed an employee with a behavioral problem. What was their behavior, and how did you correct it?
  10. Rate your management skills from 1 to 10 with 10 representing excellent management skills. Why did you choose that rating?
  11. Who is your favorite influencer in the management or leadership space?
  12. In any of your leadership roles, what was the toughest decision you have made?
  13. What do you expect from your own manager?
  14. When has another manager criticized your work? How did you respond?
  15. Describe how you like to train new employees.
  16. Tell me about a manager you have had in the past and how you have modeled your behavior after them?
  17. For you, what is the most difficult aspect of leading employees?
  18. What immediate changes would you like to see, if you were hired for this management position?
  19. What has been your favorite management role so far? What made it so enjoyable?
  20. If you could buy any new skill what would it be?
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