Questions To Ask Manager Candidates

Great teams start with great interviews.

By recording live interviews, our platform harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to help teams run a faster, better interview process.

Request a Demo

Questions To Ask Manager Candidates

There are many types of managers. Good managers, bad managers, micro-managers... haha - okay, all jokes aside, there are four basic types of managers- top-line managers, mid-level managers, first-line managers, and team leaders.

Top-line managers are generally those in some type of executive role managing strategic goals, setting the business unit's vision, and making high-level decisions. Mid-level managers act as a bridge between top-line managers and first-line managers translating executive vision into operational action - which is critical for the implementation of initiatives, processes, and workflows. First-line managers, or supervisors, work closely with employees on the front lines, directly managing the day-to-day operations of a business and ensuring tasks are carried out efficiently. Lastly, team leaders, though not always officially considered "managers," play a vital role in guiding project-based or functional teams toward specific company goals and objectives, fostering collaboration among the team, and providing on-the-ground support, training, and motivation.

However, one thing unites all managers- the people that they lead and serve. And that is why it's important to thoroughly interview manager candidates no matter their level. Understanding their management style, skills, vision, and experience can give you valuable insight into how they will lead and interact with your team.

The old saying goes, "People don't leave companies, they leave managers" - and this highlights the impact anyone leading a team can have. So, what are the top 10 questions to ask a manager about management to decide if they're "a fit" for your team?

  1. If we asked your old team what they thought of your leadership style, and they knew you would never hear their responses, what do you think they'd say? Can you give 2- 3 examples?
  2. How do you motivate and develop remote team members? Can you share a specific instance where this was successful and one where it wasn't? What happened?
  3. How do you handle conflict among team members or with upper management? Do you have an example to illustrate your conflict resolution style?
  4. What experience do you have managing different personalities, work styles, and diverse teams? Can you give specific examples?
  5. Have you ever had to let someone go? Why? Walk us through the situation and how you handled it.
  6. How do you handle difficult conversations with employees, such as performance reviews or addressing a sensitive issue? Can you give an example of how you handled a tough conversation in the past?
  7. How do you prioritize and delegate tasks to ensure team efficiency and productivity? Can you walk us through your process for managing a team project?
  8. How do you handle underperforming team members? Can you give an example of a time when you had to address and improve someone's performance?
  9. How do you handle stress and pressure in a managerial role? Can you share a specific instance where you successfully managed a high-pressure situation?
  10. What do you think sets apart exceptional managers from average ones? Can you share any personal experiences or observations of exceptional leaders who've you've worked with?

Interview questions to ask manager candidates don't have to be complex or ethereal. The goal is to get to know the candidate's management style, experience, and skills in a way that will give you confidence in their ability to lead your team. The questions we mentioned above were primarily people-related but that's only one part of the equation.

We have more than 1000 interview questions in our interview intelligence library. These questions can be added to your interviews to help you assess candidates at all levels using a data-driven approach and the power of AI. We'll come back to this a bit later.

Best Interview Questions To Ask Manager Candidates

The next thing you'll want to assess is your candidate's vision and strategy. Alignment between a candidate's strategic vision and the company’s mission and goals is vital for long-term success. Candidates who can provide a clear, ambitious, yet achievable vision for their team, and explain how it supports the wider organizational objectives, often prove to be the most effective and inspirational leaders.

Questions about strategy and vision are vital as they offer a glimpse into a candidate’s ability to think critically, plan ahead, and innovate, ensuring the sustained growth and relevance of your team or organization. Strategic interview questions to ask manager candidates could be as simple as:

  1. How do you stay updated on industry trends and changes, and how do you incorporate that into your overall growth strategy?
  2. What is your process for setting clear goals and objectives for your team? Can you provide two examples- one of when you set a goal and surpassed it, and a time when you were unsuccessful?
  3. How do you ensure alignment between individual employee goals and the overall team or company objectives? Can you give a specific example of when you had to realign goals and how you did it?

Or, you could create interview questions to ask candidates for manager positions that reflect on their measurement of metrics and team strategy:

  1. How do you measure success for your team? What metrics or KPIs do you use, and why?
  2. Can you tell us about a time when you had to pivot your team's strategy due to unexpected challenges or changes in the market? How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?
  3. How do you incorporate feedback from team members into your strategy? Can you give an example of when you received constructive criticism and how it impacted your strategy?

The best interview questions to ask manager candidates will revolve around what matters to your executive team and culture. If they value sales and you're hiring a sales manager, then the questions you ask will be different than if you're hiring an HR manager in a people-centric company.

In reality, there are millions of managerial interview questions to ask candidates - the ones you choose should allow the person you're interviewing to reflect on their experience and management style, provide examples of how they've handled challenging situations in the past, and demonstrate their ability to think critically and strategically under pressure.

Interview Questions To Ask Candidates For Manager

Let's shift to good interview questions to ask manager candidates for newly formed roles. Many of our customers are startups and SMBs and they're in phases of rapid growth - What interview questions do you ask for roles that are flexible or still undefined? An example of this could be a newly funded startup bringing on board a sales and marketing manager to oversee a team of two salespeople and a marketer. This person will need two teams selling a product that isn't fully ready to go to market.

  1. How do you approach creating a go-to-market strategy for a product that is in the final stages of development but not yet fully complete? Can you walk us through a detailed example from your past experience where you successfully launched a product under these conditions?
  2. How do you plan to set up, structure, and manage this new team? Can you walk us through your process for creating a strategy and roadmap for a newly formed team or department?
  3. How do you handle ambiguity and navigate uncharted territory as a manager? Can you share an example of when you had to lead in a situation?

Asking strategic and adaptable interview questions to candidates for newly formed manager roles can help you assess their ability to handle uncertainty, think critically, and adapt to changing circumstances. This is especially important in startups or fast-paced organizations where a manager's role may evolve rapidly.

Overall, the best interview questions to ask candidates for manager positions will vary depending on the specific needs of your team but don't forget they all share the same core concepts- Leadership and management style, strategic vision, execution, and adaptability. A mix of the best interview questions to ask candidates can give you a well-rounded perspective of a candidate's potential to lead your team to success.

In conclusion, we hope the interview questions we've suggested have given you some ideas on how to assess the leadership potential of the manager candidates you interview. Remember, the key is to ask open-ended questions and actively listen to the candidate's responses. Listen for what they say and what they won't say - which is often the most important.

If you'd like to use the power of AI to assess candidates, check out Pillar's interview intelligence software. Our system piggybacks on your video interviews to record micro-expressions and tonal changes to uncover candidate insights and predict success. We've been able to help teams lower employee attrition by more than 30% and save recruiters and HR professionals 12- 14 hours per role.

Book a demo or chat with someone from our team to hear more. Happy Hiring!