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When it comes time to select a great manager for your organization, experience is not always the key factor to look at.  Yes, a track record of success can be helpful in determining future success, but how do you determine a great manager if they’ve never managed anyone, or if they will be successful in your organization?

We’ve compiled 25 top questions to identify a manager that will help you narrow down your selection in the interview process.

Personal Style and Fit

This group of question can help you get to the core values of a job seeker to understand what makes them tick.  When looking for a great manager, it’s important to recognize someone that puts the team and the organization above their personal goals.

They need to be able to support and motivate others while being able to navigate the road ahead.  It’s important for them to be able to evaluate what drives them, what they bring to the table as an individual (managing), and how that contributes to the bigger picture.

  • What motivates you?
  • How do you handle stress and pressure?
  • What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
  • What do people most often criticize about you?
  • What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
  • Describe three components of your philosophy of management that demonstrate what you value and add, as an individual, to an organization’s culture and work environment.

It’s also important to assess how the candidate views their work experience.  What they see as a challenge or an accomplishment can tell you a lot about them.  Is everything me, me, me or do they talk about interacting with others, helping others rise to the occasion, or seeing how they contributed to others success?

While it may not always be black and white, if you can learn to read between the lines you can read how they view their interactions with others.

  • What were your responsibilities at your current (or last) positions?
  • What was most / least rewarding?
  • What was your biggest accomplishment / failure in this position?
  • What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?

Prior Management Success

You don’t necessarily have to have experience as a manager to be a great manager.  But interviewing someone who’s never held the title can sometimes be tricky.  One way to help determine their success (both for non-experienced and experienced managers) is how they view management as well as their interactions with other team members.

Do they have the ability to be constructive?  When they identify a weakness or a challenge can they see a path around it?  How a person views management can often help determine what type of manager they will become.

If you choose to hire the person, it can also help provide insights into coaching them to become a better manager by understanding their thought process and helping them work with others by reminding them of what they did and didn’t appreciate from their own experience.

  • What was it like working for your previous managers?
  • Who was your best manager and who was the worst?
  • If you knew a manager is 100% wrong about something how would you handle it?
  • What do you expect from a manager?
  • Tell me about an important assignment or task that you delegated. How did you ensure that it would be completed successfully?
  • Describe a time you had to provide training or coaching to different staff members on the same tasks.

And for those that have had management experience, it’s important to assess it and understand the full grasp of their responsibilities.

  • How many employees reported directly to you in your management job?
  • Describe the exact responsibilities and activities over which you had oversight for these employees.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a reporting employee who performed very well. The employee exceeded goals and sought more responsibility. Describe how you handled this situation day-to-day and over time.
  • Conversely, tell me about a time when a reporting employee was underperforming and how you handled the day-to-day situation over time.

Planning Ahead

A great manager isn’t only focused on the here and now, but also what lies ahead.  They understand the needs of an organization and of their team and try to support growth all around, not just for themselves.

These questions can help determine if a candidate looks ahead and at the larger scope of the work in front of them to get things done and bring the work to a higher level of achievement.

  • What important trends do you see in our industry?
  • Describe the work environment or culture and its management style in which you have experienced the most success.
  • What factors are crucial within an organization and must be present for you to work most effectively?
  • How do you view the employees that directly report to you versus the ones that don’t?
  • If an employee leaves your team due to a promotion or change in work focus, how does that make you feel?

Identifying a great manager is no small feat.  But, by asking some of the right questions to help you get into their mindset you can gain better insight to their management style beyond just flat out asking them, which can garner a generic response that can mean little in an interview setting.

What are some of your favorite questions to ask to help identify a great candidate for management?

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