The interviewer would like to know how much emphasis you put on financial compensation when considering a new position. In addition to compensation, there are many other factors to a fulfilling career. These other factors may include:
- Balance between your work and personal life
- Percentage of travel time required
- Medical and health benefits
- Perks such as a car or cell phone allowance
- Paid vacation days
- Location of the office you may be traveling to
- Career trajectory and pace of growth opportunities
- Overall workplace culture and company reputation
Talk about the most important factors to you when considering a new job, aside from a base salary or an hourly wage. If you are unsure of the compensation details offered for this role, you can certainly ask!
Tough Managerial Interview Questions
Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?
The interviewer would like to know how much emphasis you put on financial compensation when considering a new position. In addition to compensation, there are many other factors to a fulfilling career. These other factors may include:
"Salary is important to me because I know that I am skilled and well educated. With that said, I do look at the full picture, which includes factors such as benefits and the amount of paid vacation time. I am currently earning a healthy base salary plus two bonus opportunities based on company profits. I am looking for a compensation plan aligned with the role and provides an opportunity for growth. I look forward to discussing the details of this role in further detail so that we can determine a fair compensation plan."
Why are you the best manager for us?
This question is another way for the interviewer to ask why they should choose to hire you. When making hiring decisions, a company will choose the person they believe will help them solve critical problems or significant pain points. By clearly discussing how you will solve the hiring company's biggest needs, you are positioning yourself as the top choice candidate.
Stay on track with the purpose of the question! It's common for a job seeker to answer in a way that shifts the benefit from the hiring company back onto the candidate. One example of this happening (and the distinction is very subtle!) is to deliver a response like, 'I believe I am the best manager for you because I am passionate about sales. This job is exactly what I have been looking for, and I will work hard to deliver results for your company.' Notice how this answer quickly became about the job seeker and not about solving the hiring company's biggest concerns.
Carefully review the job posting for clues of what the hiring company needs. Zero in on the greatest (and proven) skills you possess that will meet the company's needs. Then, clearly highlight the benefits of hiring you. Make sure that your answer is unique and one that no other candidate will also deliver. Now is your time to stand out and shine!
"I understand your company is seeking a Sales Manager with a proven ability to lead a team of field sales reps. You seek a leader who can properly train, motivate, and encourage a boost in sales numbers while providing the tools for each team member to perform at their peak ability. My experience, and past results, align very well with this need. I am an experienced sales trainer, having trained over 50 successful outside sales reps this year alone. My teams' retention rate is the highest in my company. Over 80% of my team members have exceeded their goals for this quarter already. I am a passionate trainer and mentor who is very hands-on and approachable. I would love to bring these skills and traits to your company."
How do you react when a team member presents an innovative idea to you?
As a manager and a mindful leader, you must show your team members that you value their input and ideas. The interviewer wants to know how you respond to new ideas, foster creativity in your team members, and nurture new ideas from your team members. Perhaps you hold brainstorming sessions with your team members or encourage mind-mapping techniques. Discuss your approach to recognizing others' innovative ideas. Express that, although you understand that not every idea is a winner, you still respect your team members' thoughts and value their efforts.
"Quite some time ago, I learned the POINt technique, developed by Bob Moore, a former Pfizer executive. POINt is an acronym for Pluses, Opportunities, Issues, and New thinking. First, I praise the idea and look for the value that the idea brings. Next, I consider the opportunities or benefits that could come to fruition if we implemented the idea. Part of being a discerning manager is to still 'poke holes' in ideas but with respect, of course. A company still needs to be profitable and take a calculated risk, so I will consider some challenges we could face when implementing the idea. Through new thinking, the team and I can approach these challenges and find solutions. It may even turn out that although the original idea may not be a go, it can be a catalyst to an entirely new concept that we can successfully implement."
How do you show your direct reports the importance of communicating clearly with you and their fellow team members?
When there is a breakdown of communication in a team setting, it can have dire effects on efficiency, workplace culture, and profitability. As a manager, you must understand how communication should be taught and approached in the workplace.
The interviewer wants evidence that you lead by example when it comes to your workplace communication approach. Describe what you believe to be proper and effective communication, and discuss how you support these beliefs.
"I show my direct reports the importance of communication through my willingness to ask questions if I do not understand a situation the first time. I do not pretend to know something to save face just because I am the leader. By creating an environment where questions are encouraged, I greatly increase my team's communication levels. As a result, I have seen a healthier safety record, better efficiency, and a boost in team camaraderie."
Walk us through a time when you provided honest feedback to a direct report.
There is an art to giving honest feedback, and the interviewer would like to know that you are capable of this tedious task. Excellent feedback means that:
- You are specific.
- You make the feedback actionable.
- You provide a clear timeline for change.
Discuss any formal training you have received on giving feedback or a book you have read on the topic. Perhaps you use a particular methodology to delivering feedback that generates positive results the majority of the time! If you have a specific story-based example of a time when you provided honest feedback to a direct report with a positive result, be sure to weave in the details of this real-life example.
"When providing feedback, I like to use the 3x3 method, which I was trained on in my first management position. With this method, I offer up three strengths and three potential areas for development. I had a team member who was often late to work or would call in sick. I let her know that she was well-liked by her coworkers. I told her that our clients complimented her customer service skills. I said I appreciated her willingness to help new hires. Then, I proceeded to let her know that her team felt disappointed, hurt, and lost trust in her whenever she would call in sick, leave early, or show up late to her shift. Together we worked on a 30-day perfect attendance plan. In the end, she did much better and, although her attendance was not perfect, it significantly improved."
Tell us about the last time you implemented change. Describe the issue, what you did, and the impact you made.
This question is an excellent opportunity to highlight your skills as an innovative leader and change maker. Since the interviewer is looking for a specific story-based example of a time when you implemented change, try delivering your story using the STAR answer method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result, and this framework can help you craft a response that is easy for the interviewer to understand and follow.
Think of an example that will resonate with the hiring company. For instance, if the company faces a challenge attracting new talent, consider giving an example of a time when you improved your company's talent attraction process to be more enticing and competitive. This approach will help the hiring company to see a fit between their needs and your skills.
"(Situation) When I first joined my current company, I quickly noticed there was little structure in how we followed up with high-quality leads. (Task) As the new Sales Manager, I knew that I had to repair this lack of structure since it directly tied to my sales team's success, including our sales numbers, closing ratio, and other critical metrics. (Action) The company had invested in Salesforce, but they were not utilizing it properly, so I engaged a Salesforce Administrator. The Salesforce Administrator and I had discussions on how we could maximize the team's capability in the system. Next, the Salesforce rep and I held a 3-day training with the sales team to ensure they were fully capable of following through and completely bought into the importance of utilizing the CRM correctly. We trained on Contact Management, Lead Management, and Dashboard Dynamics. (Result) Over the period of three months, we saw an incredible boost in our sales numbers. The team increased their outgoing calls by 70%, and our call-to-close ratio skyrocketed."
If we hire you as our next manager, what do you need from us in order to succeed?
If you are asked questions about the tools you need to succeed at work, it's a good sign that you have landed an interview with a mindful company that values its employees. Congratulations! Give this query the thought it deserves. That means answering beyond the physical tools you need, like a computer and a CRM.
Remember that a great manager is focused on the logistics of managing people, projects, and more while also focusing on the soft skills required to lead effectively. Some resources that a manager may need to succeed include:
- Access to a mentorship program. Managers need to grow and learn from their leaders, as well!
- Autonomy on the job and trust that they will make the right decisions.
- Resources to provide their team members to encourage knowledge building.
- An innovative leadership team steering the ship.
First, consider the resources you believe a manager needs to succeed. Then, think about what you specifically need to excel in your role. When you express your needs, be as specific as possible. At the end of your response, if the vibe of the interview allows, think about asking a direct question regarding the tools and resources that will be made available to you.
"Thank you for asking this question. I appreciate that Company ABC has expressed a desire to help me succeed in this role. As an ambitious manager and an enthusiastic leader, the tools that I value the most include active and positive support from my leadership team and training-based opportunities for my team members. When I am equipped with the right tools to boost my team's knowledge base, I can generate the strongest results. These resources might come in the form of continued education opportunities or internal training supports. My ultimate goal is to succeed on the job while empowering my team members. Could you share with me the tools and resources Company ABC has available to help managers and their teams to succeed?"
What is the kindest thing a direct report has said about you? How did the compliment make you feel, and did you agree with the praise?
The interviewer wants to learn more about your greatest strengths as a leader while gaining insight into what your team members see as your best management qualities. The final part of this question will help the interviewer see if you can accept compliments while remaining humble. Show the interviewer that you recognize your strengths and greatness while also showing that you are open to hearing feedback and improving your management skills.
"It used to be hard for me to accept compliments from my direct reports. I am a naturally humble person; however, it does feel nice to earn verbal recognition for a job well done. Recently, I helped one of my team members put the finishing touches on a project they were falling behind on. My team member was impressed that I recognized their struggles and went out of my way to help them achieve their goals. They wrote a very nice review that went to my leadership team. The employee-submitted review spoke highly of my hands-on management style and the attentiveness I bring to the team. It felt fantastic to be recognized as a dedicated leader, and I couldn't help but smile ear to ear."
What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
The interviewer is looking for red flags, gaps in your knowledge, and how you carry yourself as a leader on the job. When discussing your weakness, genuine vulnerability is essential, but be sure to include what you are doing to improve on the weakness. The interviewer wants you to be honest about your shortcomings. At the same time, they want to see that you are proactive and dedicated to professional growth.
It's important to maintain a positive tone, show confidence, and display a desire for growth. Choose a weakness that is not a core skill for this management position. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness. Avoid cliche answers such as 'I work too hard,' or 'I am loyal to a fault.' These are sugarcoated weaknesses that candidates use when they are unprepared. Interviewers never appreciate this approach.
"My biggest weakness as a manager is [X]. I believe that [lift yourself up by mentioning that you show potential in this area]; however, I could improve. To grow in this area, I am [discuss the specific action steps you are taking to improve this weakness]. By [give a dedicated timeline], I plan to [mention the goal you wish to reach when it comes to improving this weakness]."
How do you measure the success of your team members?
There are many metrics for measuring employee success. The interviewer would like to know your preference, which will tell them more about your management and leadership style. As a manager, you know that it's important to track the performance of your team members. These metrics help you understand where to give praise, what areas to provide additional training, and which team members you may need to put on an individual performance plan. When discussing how you measure your team members' success, you can also mention which tools you use to keep your metrics and reporting in order.
"I like to take a 360 view of each team member's activities to measure their success. The primary social factors that I look at are attendance, how they get along with other team members, and their workplace initiative. Attendance is a major factor that connects directly to the team members' success and performance. When a team member likes the people they work with, they will be helpful and cheerful on the job. They are also more likely to stay with the company for the long term. When a team member shows initiative, they know their value to the company and their team. These team members are likely highly engaged. When it comes to productivity and performance KPIs, I look at sales growth, customer satisfaction survey results, and customer retention rates. We use Salesforce diligently, and I run regular reports and check our dashboard regularly."
What is the biggest challenge you face as a manager today? How do you overcome this challenge?
Managers have always faced significant challenges. These demands became more apparent with the 2020/2021 COVID-19 pandemic changing the landscape of work dramatically. At the same time, new challenges presented themselves. Some of the most significant issues a manager might face today include:
- Managing a remote or distributed team of employees, ensuring optimal productivity.
- Creating camaraderie among remote employees, despite the social loss of traditional office environments.
- Making smart hiring and termination decisions and following through correctly in a remote environment.
- Driving teams of people and projects in a new environment demanding flexibility, adaptability, and agility.
- Remaining highly knowledgeable of social justice issues and how they impact businesses and teams.
Choose what you believe to be your most significant challenge as a manager today. Discuss the matter, and focus the bulk of your response on the actions you take to ensure a positive outcome.
"As a manager, I face many demands and a great deal of change. Some situations are difficult roadblocks, and others are exciting challenges. The biggest challenge I face as a manager today is remaining agile in inclusive practices. I find this challenge to be exciting and inspiring. It's critical that I, as a leader, am ready to answer to social justice issues and help my organization to react appropriately as social justice movements evolve. Evidence shows that inclusive practices are critical to a company attracting, keeping, and growing talented teams. I meet this need by ensuring that my team members are provided with equal opportunities while always feeling accepted in the workplace. I educate my teams on social justice topics and have transparent conversations regarding my expectations in treating their co-workers with kindness. I also work hard to ensure that my diverse team is excited to work with me and feel that their contributions are desired and valued. I evaluate my talent attraction and hiring process regularly and survey my existing team to identify improvement opportunities. While onboarding a new team member, I ensure that the processes are friendly and accessible for all. I also spend time researching and learning about disparities in the workplace to remain empathetic and hyper-aware of the needs of others."
If we hire you for this Manager role, what do you believe will be your biggest initial challenge?
When joining a new company and team, even the most seasoned manager will face a unique set of challenges. The interviewer wants you to openly share what you believe will be the biggest initial challenge for you in this particular position.
Some of the initial challenges you might face include:
- Your new team generating decreased performance, which can occur after a change in management.
- Reframing communication expectations if the previous manager was not strong in their role.
- Pressure to perform and make an immediate splash as the new manager.
- Creating a new workflow structure that meets the vision you have for your new team.
To answer this question with meaning, it will be important to draw on the job description and show that you have a solid understanding of the position requirements and the pain points you need to solve. With this knowledge, you can customize your response to show that you understand the hiring company's needs. Discuss the most significant initial challenge you believe you will face. Then, focus most of your response on the actions you will take to meet these demands.
"I understand from our discussion and the landscape you have described for me that the current team is experiencing an absence of structure and decreased performance levels. As a manager joining this team, I will be the 'outsider,' which means implementing a new workflow structure and a solid set of performance expectations should be handled carefully to avoid further demotivation and mass employee turnover. I will take my time when developing and introducing a new structure. I will first take the time to meet and get to know each employee while finding out what they expect from me and what they need to feel motivated at work. I will listen intently and learn how I can gain their loyalty and respect. I will carefully review existing processes and perform a detailed workflow analysis to develop initial ideas for improving systems and structure. Then, I will ask the team members discovery questions and work alongside them to offer solutions that will get us to our goals. Group and one-on-one meetings will be important, as well as 360 feedback. I expect this will be a significant undertaking; however, I am confident that I am equipped as an organized manager and enthusiastic leader to create the change that Company ABC wants to see."
Discuss the last professional development opportunity you provided to your team members. Why did you choose this approach to development, and what were the results?
As a manager, there are many ways you can support the career advancement of your team members. Depending on allowances from your company, the provisions may vary.
Some of the ways you can provide professional development opportunities to your team members include:
- Promoting opportunities for online learning and training.
- Offering a mentorship program.
- Facilitating participation in professional organizations.
- Providing credits or tuition toward continuing education.
- Sending employees to industry events and conferences.
- Providing up-to-date technology, resources, and tools.
When you take a professional interest in your employees, everyone benefits! Speak with enthusiasm about the latest professional development opportunity you provided to your team. Discuss why you chose this particular avenue, and be sure to include details of how this choice made a positive impact on your team.
"The most recent professional development opportunity I provided my team members was an all-access MasterClass Business membership. MasterClass is an immersive online experience where learners can enjoy pre-recorded video content from experts of all kinds. In my team development budget, I requested a pass for our team of 12. The business-focused offering from MasterClass is an incredible way to help my team members learn new business skills. They can learn at their own pace, and I also created a schedule to learn together and discuss topics and ideas in our weekly Lunch and Learns. This month we focused on developing skills in leadership, negotiation, storytelling, and effective communication. The results have been incredible. My team members show more confidence, especially when communicating with our clients and putting their ideas forward in group meetings. The investment has been well worth it."
How do you approach diversity and inclusion issues within your team?
There are many strategies available today to address diversity issues in the workplace. Significant diversity issues that a company can face may include a lack of acceptance or respect between employees, gender equality, little accommodation for varying beliefs, lack of accommodation for physical disabilities, and generational gaps.
The interviewer would like to know if you have ever deployed strategies to address any workplace diversity issues. If you are an experienced manager in a larger organization, you may have more experience in this area; however, any management level can take actions - big or small - to improve company diversity efforts. When you answer this question, be as direct and specific as possible. Questions surrounding diversity and inclusion are no time to give a vague or wishy-washy response.
"As an HR Manager for a mid-level organization, I must be conscious of potential biases occurring in the workplace. This year I led our company in a new technology implementation meant to reduce bias in the talent screening, hiring, and evaluation processes. As a result, our hiring process has become fair to genders, races, religions, and other social categories. I approached this issue by presenting data on hiring bias and gaining input from my team regarding ways they felt they could actively contribute to making change. I was able to gain excitement from my team members and value the ideas they brought forward. As a result, we have seen a significant increase in diversity hires and a boost in overall company morale."
As a skilled manager, how do you deal with conflict on your team?
Your conflict resolution skills are a vital part of being an effective manager. The interviewer wants evidence of your ability to communicate with your team swiftly and professionally when conflict arises. You must show that you are unafraid to handle sensitive issues when they arise. An effective conflict management process includes:
1. Talking openly with the people involved.
2. Focusing on the events and facts rather than personality differences.
3. Listen carefully to all parties, allowing everyone to get their grievances out big and small.
4. Carve out the primary points of disagreement.
5. Carve out the primary points of agreement.
6. Create a collective plan of action to improve each area of conflict.
7. Review and follow up on the plan regularly.
Rather than delivering a general response of how you deal with conflict, try giving a real-life example of when you worked closely with your team to resolve a conflict. Show the interviewer that you can deal with conflict in a manner that aligns with the company's core values and leadership approach. When providing your story-based example, use the STAR answer framework to ensure that your story is clear, concise, and easy for the interviewer to follow. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
"I have strong conflict management skills thanks to my years as a manager in high-pressure and competitive environments. In my current position, I have had to exercise my conflict-management skills numerous times since my team works in a high-stress, highly commissioned work environment. Although positively challenging in many ways, this environment can cause conflict among the team when misunderstandings arise. For instance, a few months ago, I had a team member come forward claiming that another team member had poached their client and unethically taken credit for monetary commissions. This was a serious accusation, so I took it upon myself to dig into the reporting and see what evidence I could find. I collected the information that I needed from our CRM and gathered reports from the HR department regarding commission payouts. I then asked the two into my office for a meeting where we collectively reviewed the situation. There was a grey area that the employee's decisions and behavior fell into, so the three of us came up with a satisfactory solution. I have regularly checked in with each employee, and it seems that they are working nicely with each other again. I will continue to be diligent in my follow-up, and I will review the reports carefully over the coming weeks. When a conflict presents itself, I like to deal with it swiftly, openly, and with total resolution. Transparency and openness are how I lead my team, and this approach has generated positive results throughout my career in management."
Have you ever mistakenly said something offensive to a direct report? If so, how did you mend the relationship? What did you learn?
Do you think a chain of command is essential in the workplace?
When hiring, what qualities do you look for in a candidate, and what do you consider red flags?
We are looking for a manager who brings empathy to their team but also knows when to draw a professional line. How do you know when to be firm with a team member?
Talk about the last person you terminated. What was the situation and how did you approach the conversation?
Walk us through your decision-making process when facing a challenging management decision.
What is the #1 attribute a manager should possess? Discuss how you emulate this characteristic.
One of your team members asks for a compensation raise. What do you do?
Choose any leader you admire. What do you admire about their platform, and how have you implemented their work into your leadership style?
How do you come up with new leadership approaches?
Talk about the last disagreement you had with a team member.
We believe that a great manager has more than the ability to lead; they also have the passion. Why do you want to lead others?
Why do you want to leave your current management position, and how will moving to our organization be a better fit for your needs?
What questions do you have for me about the team you would be leading?
Tell us about your proudest moment as a manager.