Top 10 Interview Questions For Managers In 2019 (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Imagine if the job market were like a video game.

You start out with an objective (goal: steady paycheck), have to complete tasks and quests (interviews) and eventually get the job of your dream (achievement unlocked: career!).

Of course, no good game simply ends with you achieving your first goal (getting your first job), which means you’ll continue to get side quests and tasks (increased responsibilities, performance reviews) and receive rewards (raise! promotion! parking space!).

Eventually, with enough of these under your belt, you’ll start advancing…aka leveling up! 

When you first start your job search you’re at ground zero (unemployed).  Then you move to:

    1. entry level
    1. probationary
  1. full time employee

While each level takes longer and longer to complete, eventually you’ll get to one of the biggest opportunities of your career (level up: Management!).

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Congratulations! 

You’re ready for your next adventure (insert cheesy 8-bit synth wav file theme song and applause here), mastering interview questions for managers!

Of course, like the hero in any good video game, leveling up takes time and effort, and making sure you’re ready before you tackle this new quest is critical.  Trying to level up before your skills are properly honed is a good way to incur a critical hit with your supervisors and lose points with the company you’re working for.

And yes, we’re having way too much fun with this video game analogy to let it go, so sit back, get comfortable and make sure you’ve got a steady supply of Monster and Doritos on hand, because we’re just getting warmed up!  Consider this your unofficial “walk-through guide” to interviewing for a management position.

When A Management Position Opens Up

To continue our video game analogy, let’s pretend you’ve been at level 3 (full time employee) for a few years now.  You’re making a great paycheck, you’re good at your job, you consistently get great employee reviews and the rest of your team look up to you and respect you.

One day you overhear a few of your supervisors talking about a management position opening up in your department and that they’re looking to hire from within.  The pay bump is substantial, and the work is stuff you’re already familiar with, so you start thinking…maybe you’ll apply!

All this is incredibly exciting, but before you rush home to polish off your resume, let’s take a step back and make sure you’re really ready, and that means doing some serious self-evaluation.  Ultimately a company wants to hire a manager that they know can competently lead a team, get good results, and shares the organization’s long-term goals for the position.

While each industry is different, there are some standard requirements you can pretty much be guaranteed all companies will be looking for in a manager.

We’ve compiled them into this quick little self-assessment quiz:

    • Do you consistently achieve positive results?
    • Do you complete tasks assigned to you quickly and efficiently?
    • Do you have a history of positive interactions with your fellow employees?
    • Speaking of relationships, do you handle conflict professionally?
    • Are you a problem solver?
    • Do you take on leadership roles?
    • Are you considered a mentor?
  • Are you considered a leader?

Most importantly:

  • Are you already being viewed as a member of the management team and if offered the position, would you be ready to step up and officially take on that role?

Now let’s pretend that each of these questions are actually check boxes for your video game character, and every ‘yes’ gets you a green check and every ‘no’ gets you a red x.

Do you have more green checks than red x’s?

If the answer is no, don’t feel bad.  There is no shame in staying where you are and continuing to hone your skills and work towards more green checks.  Better to be overly ready than just overly eager.

If you answered yes, congratulations!  You just unlocked the next section!

Prepping For The Battle Ahead

Yes, we said battle, but before you start polishing your cosplay armor and trying to figure out how to fit a siege machine in your office, we’re talking mental battle…not physical battle.  Regardless, you need to both prep and strategize how you’re going to tackle this new challenge.

The first thing you need to do is realize that the types of questions you’ll be getting are not all the same sort of questions you’d be getting in a traditional job interview.  Whereas before you were asked questions about your specific skills and experiences as an employee, your questions now will be more focused on your ability to get results from the teams you’ll be leading.

Speaking of leading teams, dealing with diverse personalities is another aspect of project management, so expect some questions regarding leadership roles and conflict resolution.

Finally, be prepared to answer some traditional interview questions as well.  Areas that are likely to be covered include your long-term goals, your ongoing role with the company, and where you see yourself down the road.

Now that we’ve gone over what to expect, let’s focus on building your answer arsenal so you’re ready for the actual interview.

Much like the behavioral questions we’ve gone over time and time again in other blogs, project manager interview questions should always be accompanied by concrete examples from your past.  Your goal is to demonstrate to your interviewer that you’re not just knowledgeable, but that you’re experienced (max XP!).

Mike's Tip: Keep in mind that as management is a leadership position, having examples that include success stories with you demonstrating leadership success is a quick way to boost your answers!

Top 10 Management Interview Questions and Answers

Here are 10 example management interview questions (and answers) for you to practice with:

1. Describe your management style

Example answer:  I trust my team.  I start out every project by making sure that I give clear directions and outline our overall goals, but I make a real effort not to micromanage.  I prefer to remain hands-off when it comes to individual tasks, but at the same time, I’m always available for help, guidance and assistance when needed.  I like to know what’s going on with regular informal check-ins, but I try not to make people feel like I’m breathing down their necks or forcing everyone to sacrifice valuable work time in order to hold unnecessary team meetings.  I was on a large software project a few