co-workers at a conference table discussing manager interview questions

By Bond Collective Staff

Finding the best manager is crucial to the success of your team and your business. Manager interview questions are a vital part of that process. Here are the 20 best interview questions to ask candidates.

35 Best Manager Interview Questions

1) Tell Me About Yourself

woman in a yellow coat asking candidate manager interview questions

Though not technically a question, “Tell me about yourself” does generate the same type of response as the actual questions on this list. It’s also a gentle way to begin the interview process.

When you ask this question, you’re likely to hear some answers that start with information about the candidate’s personal life. Eventually, they should transition to how they became interested in being a manager and how they got started achieving that goal.

If you don’t hear relevant information about the job for which they’re interviewing, you may need to ask a more specific follow-up question to get the response you need.

2) Why Are You Looking For A New Job?

The answer the candidate gives to this manager interview question helps you evaluate whether he or she would fit in well with your company culture.

Listen for answers that express a desire for roles that are more challenging and opportunities to satisfy work-related goals and passions.

If the candidate is leaving their current job because of issues that are common to every business, they might not be the right choice for your company.

3) What Do You Know About Our Business?

The candidate’s answer to this question should indicate some prior knowledge about your business. They may have conducted research to find the information they need. They may have first-hand experience as a customer, client, or even competitor.

Either way, any detailed response reveals that the potential managerial hire likes what your business has to offer and is motivated to be a part of it.

If they know nothing about your company, other than that they want a job, they haven’t done their due diligence and shouldn’t be high on your shortlist of possible hires.

4) Why Do You Want To Work With Us?

This question is an ideal follow-up to, “What do you know about our business?” because it goes directly to the candidate’s motivation for applying for the job.

Asking this question — and the answer the individual provides — gives you insight into the benefits they perceive they’ll gain by working for your company.

If they reply with something about your stellar customer service or your business strategy, that’s a good sign. If they indicate that their interest is because your business pays the highest wage of all your competitors, that’s a bad sign.

If the candidate’s answer is vague, ask a follow-up question or two to get to the heart of the matter.

5) What Does Being A Manager Mean To You?

guys on couches working on laptops in a bright, open coworking space

This manager interview question helps you understand how the candidate views their role as a manager.

If they see it mainly as a “give-orders-and-demand-results” position, they may not fully understand what your business needs from a manager.

Being part of a successful team means leading and following as necessary. It goes without saying that being able to step up to work in any capacity in order to better the business is a big part of a manager’s duties.

An answer that reflects this team ideal can help you determine if the managerial candidate is right for your company.

If necessary, take the time to delve deep into this question so you get a full sense of how well the candidate understands what it means to be a manager.

6) What Did You Do In Your Most Recent Job?

As a business owner, you know what skills and abilities you’re looking for in a prospective candidate. This manager interview question gets right to the heart of that issue.

If the candidate’s answer is dramatically different from what you’re looking for, they might not be the best hire right now.

7) What’s One Essential Skill You Learned In Your Most Recent Job?

When you hear the candidate’s answer, ask yourself, “Will that skill bring value to my company?” If you’re unsure about their answer, ask follow-up questions about their other skills to see if they can fill a void in your business.

It should also raise a red flag if the candidate can’t think of anything they learned in their most recent job.

We should never stop learning. And even something as seemingly mundane as learning how to stay better organized shows that the candidate is always looking for ways to improve.

8) If Hired, What Would You Do In The First 30-90 Days?

This is a good question to ask to get a sense of how well the candidate understands the responsibilities of a manager.

The successful candidate will explain what they need to get started and what parts of the company they would need to get familiar with. They might even give a specific example of where they would start (e.g., revamping and tracking the company’s email marketing).

In the end, you, the interviewer, might do things differently — and the candidate, if hired, might as well — but being prepared to answer this question reveals that the prospective manager knows your business, knows their job, is able to get to work on day one, and is excited to start.

9) What Other Jobs Are You Considering?

For the most part, candidates should be looking for jobs in similar fields. It doesn’t matter if they’re looking at other companies or even other niches within a specific skill set.

What might raise a warning flag would be if they’ve applied for non-managerial jobs as well as the manager position in your business.

10) What Are Your Salary Expectations?

jar lying on its side with coins spilling out

At this point in the interview process, the candidate shouldn’t answer with a specific number. Rather, you want to hear that the individual is focused on finding the best fit for their skills and abilities.

Talking dollars should come at the end of the face-to-face interview — or even in a second interview if that’s what it takes.

This kind of “trick question” can tell you a lot about whether the candidate is right for your company.

11) What Can You Offer Our Business?

When a candidate answers this manager interview question, see how well it connects with your goals for the position and the job description you’ve written.

You want to hear what the candidate has accomplished in other jobs and how they will bring those same skills and abilities to your company.

12) What’s One Skill You’d Like To Improve?

There’s always room for improvement, and this question is another way to reveal if the candidate’s skills and methods mesh with your team and your business.

It also helps you see how the candidate embodies the information they wrote on their résumé.

13) Why Do You Think You’d Perform This Job Well?

An answer to this question gives you insight into what the candidate has to offer and is essential for making an informed decision.

Asking why they think they would perform well as a manager in your business helps you understand their unique strengths, skills, and level of experience.

Armed with that knowledge, you can choose the best candidate that most closely matches the unique needs of your company.

The valuable thing about this question is that it often elicits a response that, while similar to the “biggest management strength” question, is different enough that it provides a more complete picture of the individual you are interviewing.

14) What Kind Of Work Environment Are You Used To?

Managing a team is, by no means, an easy position in which to survive and thrive. Most businesses are full of high-pressure situations that can bring out the best (and worst) in your team members.

Those same high-pressure situations can also reduce the likelihood that a new manager will stay long enough to learn how to function in such a fast-paced environment.

Asking the interviewee what kind of work environment they are used to will help you understand whether they are well-suited to manage your team or not.

If you don’t get an informative answer the first time through, you may need to ask follow-up questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a high-pressure situation. How did you handle it?”

15) Tell Me About A Time When It Was Hard For You To Do Your Job. What Did You Do To Resolve The Problem?

group sitting around table with laptops, one guy shrugging in frustration

Even the most skilled manager will find it hard to do their job once in a while. Maybe they had a problem with their superior. Maybe they had a conflict with a direct-report.

Asking this question can help you get a better idea of how the candidate will react when their job doesn’t live up to their expectations.

Did they exercise their problem-solving skills and figure out a way through the issue? Did they make excuses and push the blame off on someone else? Or did they prioritize their responsibility and resolve the problem as quickly as possible?

16) What Is Your Favorite Part Of Being A Manager?

Including this as one of your manager interview questions helps reveal the candidates’ knowledge of the position. Do their answers use common business and managerial terminology? Are they familiar with the nuances of managing a team?

Do their answers touch on why they want to work as in your business? Candidates’ responses can help you gain a better understanding of the person underneath the veneer they show at the interview.

17) What Is Your Least Favorite Part Of Being A Manager?

This interview question makes a great follow up to the previous question. There are always parts of the job that people dislike. But when a candidate’s answer to this question has to do with regular managerial duties, it might be a red flag that this person isn’t right for the position.

18) What Is Your Biggest Management Strength?

The answer to this manager interview question should describe the candidate’s biggest management strength and explain how it helps get the job done and benefits their team and your business.

Job candidates should understand (and verbalize) how their strength integrates with the strengths of your team to form a cohesive unit.

19) What Is Your Biggest Management Weakness?

A candidate who acknowledges a weakness recognizes that there’s an opportunity to improve. An answer to this manager interview question should reveal a trait that the candidate feels they can work on and perhaps how it has affected their work in the past.

Part of the answer should also indicate how the management candidate is working to improve.

20) How Do You Handle Conflicts Between Team Members?

teammates working together to develop manager interview questions

This question provides insight into:

  • The candidate’s maturity level

  • How they handle stress

  • How they hold themselves accountable for problems

  • Their ability to deal with difficult personal situations

What happens between team members can affect the team as a whole. So if your management candidate can help colleagues let go of grudges and resentment, they can keep the team focused and engaged.

21) How Would You Describe Your Management Style?

If you’re looking for a specific management style in the candidate’s answer, rephrase this question to include the name. But don’t let it affect the interview if they mention another style.

Instead, ask them how they would approach, conduct, and complete a new project. Ask “What if…” questions to see how they adapt their style when problems arise.

22) What Do You Do When You’re Not Working?

Burnout is common among managers, so it’s important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This question helps you get a sense of whether or not the candidate can maintain the busy life that comes with leading a team in your business.

23) How Would You Tell A Team Member They Are Underperforming?

Every candidate will have a different method for dealing with an underperforming team member. What you want to find out is if the interviewee will base their communication on what works best for each team member.

The candidate should be willing and able to motivate the team member in question positively rather than negatively.

24) What Was Your Favorite Experience As A Manager?

group of senior executives proposing manager interview questions for upcoming manager search

This interview question serves two purposes:

  1. It gives you insight into what the candidate sees as successful management

  2. It helps you gauge the level of excitement they feel about their successes

The story and how they tell it can give you an understanding of what being a manager means to them.

25) What Was Your Least Favorite Experience As A Manager?

Talking about failure is much more difficult than talking about success. So this interview question helps you see two things:

  1. What being a “bad” manager means to them

  2. How they handle their mistakes

Do they take responsibility for the problem? Or do they make excuses?

26) How Do You Define Success?

The answer to this manager interview question shouldn’t be one word (like prestige or money). And it shouldn’t be only about the candidate. Rather, you want to hear how they define success from the team’s perspective.

If need be, ask follow-up questions such as:

  • “What small successes do you strive for?”

  • “What large success do you strive for?”

It’s important to establish if the candidate’s definition of success matches your business’s definition. Because, ultimately, the way a candidate defines success will influence how their team gauges their activity.

27) What Does Being A Team Player Mean To You?

Asking a candidate how they define “team player” helps you gauge how well they will fit in with your current managerial staff and the team they are being tasked to lead.

The interviewee’s answer should show that they’re ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done and to be both a leader and a follower as the situation dictates.

28) How Would You Prepare For An Important Meeting?

executive preparing to interview prospects

Does the candidate do all the work alone? Or do they bring in trusted team members to assist and to gain valuable training? The way your interviewee prepares for an important meeting is indicative of the way they will manage a team and integrate into the existing business culture.

29) What Things Do Team Members Do That You Find Annoying?

You’ll hear some unique answers to this question, but what you really want to know is how the candidate handles those annoying behaviors.

If the candidate’s answer is brief or restricted to specific behaviors, ask them to elaborate on how they would deal with the situation.

30) How Do You Handle Stress On Your Team?

A good answer to this interview question is a story that relates an instance when the candidate successfully managed their team’s stress. If the candidate has never managed a team before, find out exactly how they would investigate and incorporate stress-management strategies.

31) How Do You Handle Stress Personally?

Stress, like conflict amongst team members, is a normal part of business. The successful management candidate should understand that and have developed their own personal strategies to mitigate and deal with said stress.

In the moment, perhaps they breathe deeply or count to 10. In the long term, perhaps they meditate, or exercise, or unwind with a good book.

Whatever strategies they employ, the manager candidate should be able to express in clear words how they handle the stress of the job without letting it get the better of them.

32) What’s Your Approach To Delegating Work?

If the candidate delegates work in alphabetical order, that would be cause for alarm. Ideally, you’re looking for the interviewee to verbalize that they would delegate based on aptitude and experience after examining the big picture.

33) How Would You Go About Terminating Someone?

group of coworkers discussing upcoming hiring process around a conference table

Answers to this interview question will vary. But all should contain at least three key behaviors:

  1. Use professional language and behavior

  2. Keep Human Resources apprised

  3. Document everything

Letting someone go is never easy. A candidate shouldn’t make light of the responsibility but, rather, do what needs to be done in the most professional way possible.

34) How Would You Motivate Your Team Members?

Motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Successful candidates will understand that. They’ll relate a time when they successfully motivated their team or were motivated by their manager (and would like to emulate this experience).

Underneath it all, they’ll see the importance of getting to know their team members to find out what motivates them best.

35) What Does Your Ideal Office Space Look Like?

large comfortable coworking space

This manager interview question is a bit lighter than others on this list, but it can give you insight into how the candidate will assimilate into your working environment.

Do they thrive in a coworking space? Or do they work better in a private office? Can they keep their team members on task with lots of activity going on around them? Or do they need a space all their own to be the most successful?

shared office space with a variety of work areas

If you’re forming a new team, you’ll find a space that fits everyone’s needs at Bond Collective. Your team can work from community spaces, hot desks (available on a first-come, first-served basis), dedicated desks (i.e., reserved), private offices, and conference and meeting rooms. There’s a workspace for everyone at Bond Collective.

For more resources to help you manage your business or to learn more about the advantages of coworking spaces for digital nomads, remote workers, and businesses of all kinds, visit today.