Make every hiring decision count with our 2023 Source of Hire Report. Download (for FREE) now!

January 5, 2024

35 Manager Interview Questions to Consistently Hire Better Bosses

interview questions for management positions

Hiring a manager is one of the most important decisions a company can make. But according to Gallup, they get it wrong about 82% of the time

A hiring mistake at this level not only costs businesses billions – it can also make or break your company culture. But if you manage to get it right, you can maximize employee engagement, achieve your biggest performance goals, and gain the competitive upper hand.

If you're ready to optimize your interview process and find the right manager for the job, it’s time to go beyond the tired “tell me about yourself” approach. This complete list of sample manager interview questions will help you find your next team leader.

Best interview questions for managers

  1. Background interview questions
  2. Leadership skills interview questions
  3. Management style interview questions
  4. Culture fit interview questions
  5. Self-management interview questions

Prep for your next manager interview with Breezy. Simply add your favorite questions to Breezy’s custom interview guides and you’re good to go. You can even create sections for Situational, Behavioral, Role-Specific, Soft Skills, and General or Company Knowledge questions. Start your free trial today!

Great managers are rare, but crucial

Brandi Britton knows how important it is to find the right manager. As a global executive director at Robert Half, she’s seen the good, bad, and ugly of middle management hires.

“Some people just aren't cut out to be managers because they lack communication and listening skills,” says Brandi. “These bad bosses can lead to decreased morale, lack of productivity, burnout, stress and ultimately turnover.”

When you’re under pressure to fill a managerial position, it can be tempting to jump at the first candidate who seems qualified. But experts like Brandi believe that, for this role, it’s much better to hire slow.

Let’s take a closer look at what the numbers have to say:

  • Only about one in 10 people have the natural talent to manage a team.
  • Only one in five (18%) managers display a noteworthy talent for managing other people.
  • Employees managed by an ineffective boss are 3-4x more likely to quiet quit.

Finding the right person won’t be easy. But if you can find a way to overcome the odds, a great manager can transform the rest of the team and your workplace for the better.

Here are some of the benefits of a highly effective manager:

  • Relationships with management make up 86% of employees’ satisfaction, second only to mental health.
  • Managers who balance results and relationships see more engagement from their direct reports, inspiring 62% of their employees to put in extra effort at work.
  • Talented managers can double the rate of engaged employees, leading to 147% higher earnings per share compared to the competition.

Employee Needs

  • Personalized support, clear feedback and active coaching to help make the most of their skills.
  • Inspirational leadership that recognizes success and motivates through rough patches.
  • Individual support for their unique learning style.
  • A mentor who can inspire passion and performance.

Manager Needs

  • Proven experience measuring employee performance against company goals and objectives.
  • A desire to inspire the team and the ability to pinpoint the type of recognition that matters most for each individual.
  • Strong communication skills and an ability to coach for diverse learning styles.
  • An eye for potential and the ability to nurture it.

Want more done-for-you hiring resources? Breezy’s got you covered. Check out our HR resource center where you can choose from over 800 job descriptions, candidate email templates, and more!

The best interview questions for management positions

Background interview questions

  1. How did you get from the start of your career to your last role?
  2. Describe a time you helped develop an employee.
  3. Describe a time you made a difficult decision. How did you handle it?
  4. What steps do you take to build and sustain relationships with clients and stakeholders?

Leadership skills interview questions

  1. Describe your ideal team.
  2. What's your plan for building rapport with a new team?
  3. How do you communicate with team members?
  4. Share an example of a time you successfully implemented a change within your team or organization.
  5. Describe a time you had to make an unpopular decision. How did you handle it?
  6.  Describe a time you successfully motivated your team to achieve a challenging goal or deadline.
  7.  How do you ensure team members have opportunities to grow and develop?
  8.  What steps do you take to foster diversity and inclusion within your team?

Management style interview questions

  1.  What's your definition of an effective manager?
  2.  Describe a time when a member of your team made a mistake. How did you approach it?
  3.  What would you do differently next time?
  4.  What metrics and performance criteria did you track at your last company?
  5.  How do you handle performance evaluations and setting goals for your team members?
  6.  Describe a time you used data to make an important decision.
  7.  How do you handle underperforming team members? Provide an example.
  8.  How important are deadlines and how do you handle late work?
  9.  What's your approach for delivering constructive feedback?
  10.  What’s the most challenging project you’ve managed?

Culture fit interview questions

  1.  How do you nurture a positive culture within your team?
  2.  How do you promote creativity and innovation in the workplace?
  3.  How would you help a team member who is struggling to fit in?
  4.  Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult team member. How did you address the situation?
  5.  How do you handle conflicts or disagreements within your team?
  6.  Describe the last person you promoted. What prompted you to promote them?
  7.  What steps do you take to identify and prevent employee burnout?

Self-management interview questions

  1.  How do you prioritize and delegate tasks during busy times?
  2.  At what point do you find it necessary to bring others into your decision-making process? Why?
  3.  How do you handle stress and pressure in your role as a manager? Can you give an example?
  4.  How do you stay updated with industry trends and best practices related to your field?
  5.  Do you lead by example? How so?
  6.  Describe a time you used feedback from your team to improve your own performance.

Need interview questions for specific skills? Check out our library of interview questions for hundreds of different roles.

Red flags to look out for 🚩

The right mix of culture, leadership and background questions can definitely help you find what you're looking for in a future manager. But what about weeding out what you don’t want?

Here are a few tips to help you uncover any red flags in your face-to-face manager job interviews: 

  • Analyze their resume: Before you move forward with a managerial candidate, take a closer look at their resume. If they list several leadership positions with short tenures for each, it might be a sign that they’re not manager material.
  • Listen to their language: From CVs to interviews, a good leader will often use “we” instead of “me”, shifting the focus to their team’s work – not just personal accomplishments. Proceed with caution if a candidate takes all the credit for results or speaks poorly of direct reports.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Problem-solving interview questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no can be excellent tools for digging deeper. Also known as behavioral interview questions, these sets of questions can also give you a feel for how the person may react in a challenging work situation.
  • Avoid hypotheticals: Ask for specific examples to help you understand why a candidate made a certain choice and what they learned from it. This gives you valuable insight into their leadership style and unique approach to problem-solving.

3 simple tips when hiring for management roles

No one wants to take the fall for a bad hire, especially one this crucial. The following tips will help you audit your current manager recruitment process and make the necessary updates to attract the best candidates.

1. Update the job description and post to the right job boards

Great hiring starts with a strong job description. Make sure you’ve clearly outlined the responsibilities, as well as the must-have vs. nice-to-have qualifications for a successful manager.

Next, optimize your job posting for inclusive language and applicant engagement to attract the widest pool of qualified talent. 

Once that’s done, it’s time to get your shiny new job ad in front of the right candidates.

For optimal reach, post the open role to Google and all the top free job sites.

If your company has a lack of representation at the managerial level (and let’s face it, most companies do), you can also publish the role to premium diversity job boards.

If you’re hiring for a specialized or technical role, try posting to a niche job board – which, according to findings from Breezy’s annual Source of Hire report, could also reduce your time to hire.

Advertise tab in position settings

2. Use automated questionnaires to screen the right candidates in

With a stellar job ad, you’re bound to see dozens of applicants coming in. 

Cut down the time it takes to wade through those applications and give candidates the experience they deserve with a quick automated screening questionnaire.

The right set of questions can help you identify your best candidates faster and even replace the phone screen in some cases.

Here are some of the areas you may want to cover in your questionnaire:

  • Years of management experience
  • Self-described management style
  • Ideal work environment
  • And more

Once the candidate submits their questionnaire, you can trigger an automated follow-up email to immediately thank them for their application and let them know that you or your human resources team will get back to them asap with the next steps.

Got a particularly high volume of applicants? 

Enlist the help of some candidate-friendly AI. With Breezy’s Candidate Match Score, you can automatically see which candidates best align with your open role using a simple 0 to 10 rating scale.

3. Use team scorecards to keep it fair and collaborative

We’ve already established that managers are so much more than administrators – they’re leaders. That likely means they’ll be interfacing with a variety of teams and individuals inside the company.

With Breezy’s Team Scorecard feature, it’s easier than ever to hire a manager that everyone feels good about.

With an easy-to-share thumbs-up, thumbs-down system (plus room for notes on each scorecard item), you can get the all-clear from team members with the press of a button.

Bonus tip: Circle back with unsuccessful candidates

After you’ve found the person with all the right management skills, take some time to follow up with unsuccessful candidates to share your feedback and thank them for their time. 

To make the process even better next time, you can also circle back with candidates who made it through the first or second round to get their insights on the process via a quick candidate experience survey.

Zeroing in on manager material

In the end, the old adage is true: 

People don’t leave companies – they leave bosses.

Great bosses go above and beyond to transform talent into performance, creating a healthy work environment where everyone can thrive. With a smart set of applicant tracking tools and the right management interview questions to guide you, you can find the leader you need to take your team to the next level.

When you’re ready to find candidates with pacesetter potential, Breezy has your back. Learn more with a free 14-day trial.