Last week I spent the day teaching a job search seminar, and during the interview section, a Baby Boomer raised her hand and said, “This one question is tough for me. I know I lead a team, but I guess I never really thought about how I do it. In my last interview, I stumbled when they asked me this question: “describe your management style in dealing with staff.”
Before you can answer this question, you need to analyze the particular employer you are about to talk too. When you researched the company, you may have gotten some insight into its managerial style. I recommend you go to LinkedIn and look up the hiring manager and read about that person. Check out Glassdoor.com and read the reviews about the company’s culture. Of course, you also want to do a deep dive into reviewing their website. If at all possible, use your network to gain some insider information to enable you to answer this question more effectively.
During the interview process, they may offer information that gives clues to their culture. The more you know about the employer, the easier it will be to frame your answer to demonstrate your competent leadership capabilities. There are many management styles, but the most critical aspect of evaluating leadership is results. Some managers use firm decision making, and others micromanage to see that things get done. Some prefer an open, approachable style and stress a collaborative team environment. Some managers lack backbone; some don’t even deserve their job. Dictatorial styles are very outdated, but some supervisors still act that way. Lately, companies use teams and coaching the team with solid goals and objectives while giving people autonomy, and holding them accountable is becoming more popular.
Analyze your style and what you know about the company, then create your answer. An example might sound like this: “At my current job, it’s important to be a firm credit manager who enforces the company’s rules. I expect myself and my staff to do that. I hold each person accountable for doing their job and following company policies. I am also a reasonable person when negotiation is required to aid clients in the process of paying their bills. I listen to concerns or ideas from coworkers and staff. I’ll review clients’ needs and, based on the company’s goals, will change policies that become outdated or ineffective. I work closely with sales to enable the company to grow without extensive or undue risk. In credit, we hear a lot of stories, and I teach my staff that people lie, and they must keep in mind that their job is to collect the money owed to the company. Using professionalism and legal guidelines, we all work together and do just that.”
Another way to answer this question is to offer some evidence, like past performance reviews or commendations for your management style. You might say: “Good question. In fact my current company has our staffers rate the managers. My current boss has rated me in his performance evaluation as a superior and effective leader. Here is a copy of the review. The report says I bring intelligent leadership to my position. I’m defined as energetic, enthusiastic, and positive. They say I am articulate in defining the company’s vision and goals. I recognize and reward my people as they strive to obtain results.”
And for some reason, this question always seems a little awkward to answer. How can you respond in a way that shows you can be an effective leader who’s right for the team while not sounding too grandiose (and at the same time not being too humble)?
While there are plenty of ways to make an impression that strikes that balance, here’s one way that I think works particularly well.
Define “Good Management”
The secret to getting this question right is setting the parameters for how good management should be judged. To do this, you want to explain what you believe makes a strong manager, so that the scope of all the things a manager could possible be is narrowed down a bit. This ensures that you and the interviewer are on the same page on how to evaluate the story you’re about to share.
“Management style is so hard to put your finger on, but I think in general a good manager gives clear directions and actually stays pretty hands-off, but is ready and available to jump in to offer guidance, expertise, and help when needed. I try my best to make that my management style.
Add Your Spin
Now that you’ve defined what a good manager is and stated that’s your model, one up yourself and offer something extra that you do in addition to what’s already been established. Making the point to set the parameters early in your response will allow you to introduce an additional leadership trait that makes you exceptional.
“In terms of what makes me unique, I also go out of my way to make sure I know when my team needs help. I don’t hang around and wait to be called upon by my direct reports—I go to them. That means plenty of informal check-ins, both on the work they’re doing and on their general job satisfaction and mental well-being.”
Give an Example
Of course, all of this only works if you can back up what you’ve said. Give some evidence of your management prowess by offering a brief story of how you demonstrated the traits you’ve described. Since management can be such a lofty topic, you’ll have to be mindful of using a story that isn’t too long—you don’t want your interviewer to lose interest, after all.[/entity]
“I remember one project in particular at my most recent position where I supervised seven staff that involved everyone working on a separate aspect of the product. This meant a lot of independent work for my team, but rather than bog everyone down with repetitive meetings to update me and everyone else on progress made, I created a project wiki that allowed us to communicate new information when necessary without disrupting another team member’s work. I then made it my job to make sure no one was ever stuck on a problem too long without a sounding board.
Ultimately, despite the disparate project responsibilities, we ended up with a very cohesive product and, more importantly, a team that wasn’t burnt out.”
That’s it! Now that you have the basic structure down, just make sure you don’t flub the ending. Try connecting your response back to the position or switching it up and asking a question of your own. Practice, practice, practice, and you’re set.
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.
An open-ended question like “What is your work style?” is a common feature in most types of interviews. Hiring managers use this question to determine whether you would be a good fit for their organization, so a good answer can help you increase your chances of getting the role. While the question is ambiguous, knowing how to respond can position you as the ideal candidate for the job. In this article, we discuss why employers ask about work style and provide tips and examples to help you craft a compelling answer.
Why do employers ask about work style?
Interviewers ask this question to find out how well you fit into their company culture. Your response can help the hiring manager determine whether you have the qualities to deliver results in the position for which you are applying. Employers can also use your answer to gauge how you will perform in a team.
This question requires you to know your strengths and weaknesses and how to adapt to changing circumstances. The interviewer will expect your answer to highlight your skills, self-awareness, industry knowledge and the responsibilities of the position.
To answer this question satisfactorily, it is important to read the job description carefully and research the company before the interview. Go to the company’s website and study their previous job ads and recruitment materials. You can often find keywords related to the most valued qualities the organization wants in candidates.
You can also check their social media handles and go through the organization’s recruitment posts. This can help you identify the company’s culture and craft relevant answers that emphasize specific attributes the employer wants to see in employees.
Even if your work style differs from the employer’s, your answer should show your willingness to adapt to new environments to deliver results for the organization. Demonstrate your passion for the position and your commitment to collaborate with other people to help the company achieve its objectives.
How to answer “What is your work style?”
How you respond to this interview question is an important determinant in your ability to get the position. While you can learn about the company’s work style from the job posting and the employer’s website, it is vital to understand the environment in which you perform at your best. Here are some ways to learn more about your work style so you can give a convincing response when an interviewer asks you this question:
Consider your best work environment.
Consider your relationship with superiors.
Consider your speed and accuracy.
1. Consider your best work environment
One of the most important details the interviewer will want to hear when you describe your work style is whether you excel in teams or prefer working on your own. While many interviewers expect candidates who work well in teams, there is nothing wrong with being independent. If you love working as part of a team, discuss your experience collaborating with other people and how that helped you achieve better results. If you prefer working alone, make sure to also emphasize the value of collaboration and getting feedback from colleagues.
2. Consider your relationship with management
Another point to consider is your work relationship with your manager. The interviewer will want to know whether you like to take direction from your manager or team lead in every aspect of your responsibilities. Conversely, you may be more comfortable working with little or no supervision except for regular progress reports. In your answer, emphasize the importance of teamwork and feedback from your manager. This will ensure you deliver results according to the requirements and specifications of the job.
3. Consider your speed and accuracy
A good response will include your speed and accuracy and how it affects the quality of your results. This can show the interviewer you can perform in a fast-paced work environment. Your response should include the strategies you have used to achieve a high level of productivity. You can talk about how you plan your day, the number of hours you work per day and if you can stay late at the office to complete important tasks.
4. Be honest
It is important to be honest about your ideal work style. If you prefer working alone in a quiet environment, let the interviewer know. It’s also beneficial to discuss your flexibility and how you can adapt to different work environments.
5. Be concise
Keep your answer brief and relevant to the job requirements. Instead of talking about every aspect of your work style, talk about the best qualities that make you the perfect candidate for the position. For example, you could focus on the flexibility you’ve shown in previous roles.
Example answers to “What is your work style?”
Practicing with sample answers can help you brainstorm and create convincing responses to this interview question. Here are three ways to answer this question:
Example 1: Marketer
“I can adapt to any workplace. While working alone, I try to work at a fast pace to complete tasks on schedule. However, I also enjoy working in a team. In my last position, one of our clients placed a large impromptu order. Normally, I would’ve been able to handle the project on my own, but it would’ve taken more time. Teamwork allowed us to delegate the task between different people, and the company was able to deliver before the deadline. When I work alone, I prefer to get feedback from my supervisor. It’s often difficult to assess one’s work objectively, so I value the input of my manager and colleagues. The constant feedback has helped me become a more refined professional who delivers better results.”
Example 2: Accountant
“I can work in a team or independently. It depends on the demands of each project. Naturally, I love making friends and meeting people. This attitude extends to my workplace and makes it easy for me to collaborate with colleagues regardless of their position in the organization. However, there are many instances where I prefer to work alone in the quiet of my office. For example, when I need to reconcile my department’s accounts and file a report to the manager before the end of the week, I either work late or come to the office early in the morning. That way, I can focus my full attention on the task in front of me without distraction.”
Example 3: Project manager
“I value reliability in the workplace. In the past five years, I have only missed five days of work. Being dependable requires collaborating with colleagues to deliver projects to specifications and on schedule. That’s why I do everything I can to help my team achieve objectives. For example, my employer once hired a brilliant engineer. The engineer was intelligent and had exceptional qualities but was not familiar with the Agile method. I dedicated two weekends to explain to him how our team uses Agile and Scrum to improve collaboration and increase productivity. This reduced his learning curve and improved the team’s efficiency by about 30% in five months.”
If you’re preparing to interview for a management position, you might be getting prepared to get asked, “What is your leadership style?” This is a tough question to answer.
We’re going to go through all the information you need to know to prepare yourself with not only answering this question but having knowledge about the various leadership styles you can choose to display.
Let’s go ahead and get started.
Who Gets Asked This Interview Question
This interview question comes up for those who are interviewing for leadership or management positions. It can even come up for those who are interviewing as a Project Manager or Product Manager.
Anyone responsible for a team and ensuring that a team gets their work done accurately and on time will get answered this question.
What The Interviewer Wants To Know
The interviewer wants to know that you’ve had experience leading a team. This means that if you can include a short introduction regarding your prior leadership experiences before giving your leadership answer, you’re going to exceed the interviewer’s expectations.
Ideally, you can communicate to the interviewer that your leadership experience is part of your experience being a manager. That you know how to influence and motivate people to do their work.
What Makes Up A Good Answer
The ability to answer this question is quite simple. The first part is knowing what type of leader you are. And having the working history of being able to back it up. Something that relates to your resume.
The second is the ability to communicate that leadership style and why it’s valuable or why it works for you. There are various leadership styles, so when the interviewer asks for you to describe yours, it can be unique.
The two qualities that make up a great answer are:
- Your ability to know your leadership style
- Your ability to communicate how it is leadership
The Various Types Of Leadership
There’s a lot of different types of leadership. And it’s optional if you want to include these styles in your answer. These are for the formal business management styles of leadership.
- Democratic Leadership
- Autocratic Leadership
- Laissez-Faire Leadership
- Strategic Leadership
- Transformational Leadership
- Transactional Leadership
- Coach-Style Leadership
- Bureaucratic Leadership
For this article and answering your interview question, we’re only going to focus on 3 of them here: transformational, transactional, and coach-style.
The Various Methods Of Leading
From the above list, we know the styles of leadership. But what about the methods of leadership? The difference is that leadership styles have a process associated with them. The methods of leadership are regarding your approach.
For example, do you spend time trying to lead. Or do you let people make mistakes and then correct them afterward? There’s a difference between those two approaches. The first is active; the second is passive.
Here are the three methods you should be aware of:
If you choose to use the fact that you are a hybrid, then you should explain that the way you lead depends on what’s required of the job at that moment. Which is a great answer!
Leading Through Accountability (Transactional vs. Transformational)
The best ways to describe your leadership are through transactional and transformational leadership. These are the two easiest to remember.
Transactional leadership is when you provide someone a list of tasks and ask them to accomplish those tasks. This would be the perfect type of leadership style for those who are applying for Project Management positions.
Transformational leadership is when you provide groups of people insights to achieve their work better. For example, describing a challenge and ideal outcome to a team. This is the best leadership style for those who are applying for VP positions or senior management positions.
2 Example Answers To “Describe Your Leadership Style”
Below are a few example answers to “describe your leadership style” using the information we’ve gathered from the guide.
I find myself having a hybrid method of leadership, both passive and active. Taking each instance of what’s required to motivate the team uniquely. Ultimately, I am always trying to lead through transformational leadership. Helping to inform our team and align their motivations to produce ideal outcomes. This is how I’ve found myself leading in the past and doing so with good results.
Leadership, for me, is an active method. I want to be proactive about how I can help to inform our team members. Though I recognize the difference between transformation and transactional leadership, I find that transactional leadership is best for a Project Manager because my goal is to be diligent in what the project requires and making sure each task is done on time and with the business requirements in mind.
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Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)
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As part of the interview process, employers might want to assess how you’ll respond to supervision if you’re hired. They’ll try to determine whether you have any issues with authority, so your interviewer might ask questions about your preferred supervisor in an attempt to figure out how well you’ll work within the company’s management framework.
Whether you’ve had great past experiences with managers or they were a collective nightmare, answering this question can admittedly be a little like walking a tightrope. It can help to have a firm plan going in for what you’ll want to say—and not say.
How to Answer Questions About Your Ideal Boss
How you answer this question will depend upon what sort of job you are applying for. If you are seeking a position where you will be expected to work on your own, then your ideal boss probably is someone who doesn’t try to micro-manage.
If, on the other hand, you will be part of a team, perhaps he or she is someone with good organizational talents, capable of clearly communicating tasks and expectations.
Research the company’s organizational structure before your interview so that you’ll have a good idea of their management style. Then, tailor your answer so that it shows how you could seamlessly adapt to their system.
Try to Strike a Balance. You’ll want to emphasize your ability to work independently as well as your comfort with taking direction from a boss. You don’t want to come across as needing too much or too little supervision. Think about the job you’re interviewing for before you answer, and try to estimate how much management the employer will expect that you’ll require. Use this to guide your answer.
Emphasize Your Adaptability. Share how you’ve thrived with a variety of supervisory styles in your past. Be prepared to give examples of how you’ve been productive with different types of bosses. but not too many. You don’t want to come off like a job-hopper with a mind-boggling, long list of previous jobs.
Take the Fence. One good strategy is to play it safe and mention something good about both sides of the equation, working independently vs. with a very hands-on supervisor.
Don’t Get Too Carried Away With Your Answer. Less is more—and less can go wrong—when you keep your responses short and sweet, so refrain from getting too wordy. Don’t imply that you have unrealistic expectations for some superhuman manager or that you’ll be too needy as an employee. The less you say, the less likely it is that you’ll trip yourself up. By the same token, one-word responses won’t do.
Sample Questions and Answers
Here are a few examples of how to answer questions about your ideal boss. Use them as models as you create your own replies as you practice for your interview.
Question: Describe your ideal boss.
My ideal boss would encourage clear communication between herself and her employees. I believe that communication—in person, as well as via phone and email—is critical to a successful relationship between an employer and employee.
Why It Works: This is a good example of how to keep one’s answer simple. It’s also a very “safe” response because it focuses on a common quality – clear communication – that is an asset in any manager, no matter what their industry.
Question: What types of managers have you worked for, and what type do you prefer?
I’ve worked under employers with a variety of management styles. I’ve had some employers who encourage lots of independent work, and others who prefer to give clear, specific instructions. I thrive in both environments. I work very well independently, but also know when to ask questions.
Why It Works: This candidate demonstrates how she can adapt to different management styles, even though she prefers to work independently. She thus is able to strike the perfect balance as an employee who is open to supervision but doesn’t require too much direction.
Question: Describe your worst boss.
I value an employer who communicates clearly with his employees. I’m a strong written and oral communicator and I appreciate employers who value those skills. In the past, I have had some employers who have been less than clear in conveying their ideas and directions. Although I work very well independently and I don’t require excessive supervision, I do appreciate employers who speak clearly to employees.
Why It Works: Here the interviewee takes the high road, dodging the temptation to criticize a previous employer. He also doesn’t single out a single supervisor, but instead speaks in general terms.
What Not to Say
Never Criticize a Past Supervisor. Your prospective employer will probably assume that you’re a difficult employee if you offer up a list of complaints, no matter how well-earned they might be. You don’t want this. Even when an interviewer asks you to describe your least favorite boss, focus on how you were still successful in this environment and emphasize what you look for in a manager rather than the qualities you dislike.
Don’t Elaborate. Try to focus on just one or two past bosses/employers so you don’t come off as a job-hopper.
More Interview Questions About Bosses
- If you knew your boss was 100% wrong about something, how would you handle it? Best Answers
- Who was your best boss and who was your worst? Best Answers
- What do you expect from a supervisor? Best Answers
- Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager? Best Answers
- What is the biggest criticism you’ve received from your boss? Best Answers
KEEP IT GENERAL: Focus on traits—like open communications or good organizational skills—that characterize all good supervisors.
KEEP IT POSITIVE: Don’t directly criticize a previous boss, even if you are invited to do so.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: Refrain from offering a long recounting of your previous relationships with managers. Instead, use your answer to illustrate how you would acclimate to the employer’s management style.
You’re in an interview and someone asks you to describe your leadership style. It’s a key moment as you know they’re asking about executive fit and leadership for their organization. You need to nail the description to express the right message and accurately capture your personal style.
Here are a few ways to frame your answer properly.
Do Your Homework
You never want to answer a question in an interview for the first time. Do your homework before the interview, anticipate the questions, and practice your answers. If it’s a management position, you know they’ll ask about your leadership skills so let’s be prepared.
Assess the skills needed for the job
Make a list of the top skills that are needed for the position. The job description will help you categorize the necessary skills. Talking to others at the company or in similar jobs can also help.
Think of scenarios when you’ve applied those skills
It’s not enough to use the right buzzwords. You need to have real-life examples to demonstrate how you used the skills they’re looking for during your career. Develop a couple of scenarios where you demonstrated leadership to successfully accomplish a task. Finish by explaining how you would use the same skill in the new position.
Answer Using the STAR Method
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result and can help you remember the things you should include in your answer.
Describe a situation you had to deal with that required leadership on your part.
Explain your role in resolving the situation
Describe the steps you took and how you specifically addressed the situation
Talk about the positive outcome
You may also want to mention what you learned during the process and how it helped you in other situations. A key tenet in leadership is the ability to grow and apply lessons you’ve learned.
Here’s an example of how this might work. Let’s say the role you’re discussing requires problem-solving, active listening, and managing performance.
Situation: One of my team members was struggling to meet deadlines and it put a bigger burden on other employees to pick up the slack.
Task: I sat down to discuss the situation and probed for reasons that were causing the problem. During the meeting, I learned that they had difficulty using the new software platform we’d launched last month.
Action: We got him additional training.
Result: His performance improved measurably. Overall team productive improved as well.
Many times, candidates forget the last step and it’s the most important. In a leadership role, the steps are only worth talking about if the lead to tangible results.
Here’s another example.
Situation: One of my Account Executives was failing to hit their sales targets.
Task: In our meeting, we reviewed the account list and sales activity. I realized they while they were great at prospecting, they were not taking the time to qualify sales leads. As a result, she was spending too much time chasing unqualified prospects.
Action: Together, we created a checklist for qualifying prospects and she agreed to complete the list before investing additional time into any one prospect.
Result: Within a month, she was hitting her sales targets. She also had more confidence because she was closing more deals, and went on to become one of our top reps.
Handling Odd Questions
Of course, you may also get an oddball question that you wouldn’t think of in advance. If you’re interviewing for a management position at Google, for example, they might ask you to estimate how many piano tuners work in Chicago.
You can’t prepare for every question, but you can prepare for how you’d answer it. In these situations, it’s not so much what your answer is but how you get there that’s important. Interviewers will gauge how you react to the question and the steps you take to arrive at the answer. It may seem silly but in business, you’ll often face questions for which you don’t know the answer and have to use problem-solving skills to come up with the right answer.
Wondering now how many piano tuners do work in the Windy City and how to arrive at the answer? Check out this solution.
Model the role.
Studies show that first impressions are made within the first seven seconds of meeting with someone. This impression may be the lens through which they judge anything else you say or do. You may think that’s unfair, but it’s reality. Researchers at Princeton University did experiments showing that people made snap judgments about people’s appearance, likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and aggressiveness in less than a second.
So, it’s important to start strong.
You do this by modeling the job you want. It has to do with dressing professionally, acting in a manner consistent with the expected behavior, and the way you carry yourself. Speak confidently. Look them in the eye. Have a solid handshake. Don’t slouch. These subtle signals all send a message about your confidence and preparation.
The same research showed that additional exposure to someone rarely changed their first impression.
Common Management Interview Questions
To get you started, here are some of the more common questions you might get. Have a ready answer to demonstrate how you played a leadership role.
- What is your management philosophy?
- How do you deal with a problem employee?
- How do you motivate team members?
- If you believed your boss was wrong, what would you do?
- Have you ever made a decision that turned out poorly?
You might be able to answer any of these questions without using the STAR method but resist the temptation just to talk management theory. Almost everybody knows the right words to say in an interview. When you can tie your answer into specific situations and how your leadership led to positive results, it demonstrates your expertise.
Preparing for an upcoming interview? Schedule a free consultation to get matched with a Career Coach!
Expect management interview questions that explore your personal management style and the results you get.
These interview questions for management focus on:
- how managers interact with their employees
- the effectiveness of the working relationships they establish
Use the sample interview answers to these common manager job interview questions to prepare your own convincing responses.
Interview Questions for Management Positions Today
With the emphasis on adaptation and dynamic change you can expect management interview questions that explore your ability to handle diverse employees, organizational changes and new situations.
Be ready for these typical management interview questions that shine the spotlight on the particular style of management you have developed.
Which management style have you found to be most effective?
The interviewer is evaluating your ability to:
- adapt your management style to different people and circumstances
- recognize individual needs and motivations and not treat everyone in the same way is key to successful management
Describe how you are able to employ different management styles and interpersonal skills to get the best out of the situation. Give reasons why you use a particular management style in a certain situation and why it works.
Good sample interview answer
“I find that it is not effective to use only one type of management style, I have to adapt according to the individual I am dealing with and the situation.
For example with inexperienced employees I use a management style that involves a high level of task instruction and close supervision. I find this effective because the employee needs to be secure that they know exactly what to do and how to do it. They also require constant support to build their confidence.
For a more experienced employee who is comfortable with the work, I delegate the task and expect them to come to me for help if they need it. This demonstrates my trust in their ability to do the job on their own.”
Work-force diversity has important implications. Managers need to be able to recognize employee differences and respond to those differences in ways that ensure effective working relationships.
What type of people do you work with most productively?
This is basically finding out what type of employees you get on with and what type of employees you find it difficult to work with.
This is an important question because it again evaluates the flexibility of your management style.
- are you able to communicate and interact effectively with a variety of individuals?
- are you able to establish good working relationships with a diverse group of employees?
Good sample interview answer
“I work well with people who are hardworking, competent and confident of their abilities. Obviously I have had to manage people who do not fall into this category.
When this happens I set myself the challenge of developing the employee and helping them to use their skills to their fullest potential. My goal is to support them towards competence and confidence through guidance, direction and mentoring.”
What aspect of your management style would you like to change?
No-one is the perfect manager so denying that you have any areas for improvement shows a lack of self-awareness and insight.
Focus on an aspect of your management style that you’re working to improve. Describe the steps you’re taking and give evidence on your progress.
Good sample interview answer
“I have been trying not to give my employees all the answers when they ask for help with a problem. They need to learn how to come up with the solutions themselves and I need to guide and facilitate this process. I have read up on how to do this and have put these facilitation skills into practice.
For example, I allocate however much time is needed to sit down with the employee and work through the problem. We discuss it, I give my view of the situation and then ask the employee to go away and think about the best solution.”
The manager’s relationship with his or her employees is determined by the management style employed. Be sure to highlight your adaptability and responsiveness when describing your management style.
How to answer interview questions about your management style
What other questions are asked in a management interview?
Know the other management interview questions you can expect.
View frequently asked competency-based interview questions at behavioral management interview questions and be well prepared using the excellent interview answer guidelines.
Interviewers will often ask questions pertaining to company culture. These inquiries can reveal a lot about what it’s like to work at a particular company. During an interview, it’s also appropriate — and wise — for you to ask your interviewer about the company’s culture. Doing so will deepen your understanding of the work environment and how people relate to each other at the company.
What Is Company Culture?
Company culture includes a range of factors, including how employees dress and interact with company leaders, typical work hours, and more. Although company policy can certainly influence culture, the dominant force in creating and maintaining a company culture is generally social.
Ideally, workplace culture supports efficient work along with an enjoyable work environment.
There are many different company cultures that do just that. That is, there is no one correct workplace culture. The important thing is that new hires be compatible with the culture. Otherwise, communication problems or worse could develop.
Of course, a company culture can, by definition, be learned, but that does not mean that all qualified employees want to learn a given culture — some people will just never want to attend employee birthday parties, for example.
It’s also possible that a company culture might involve lifestyles that are inappropriate for some people. For example, a working parent might be unable to work frequently extended hours. Or a style you developed in your previous workplace might be totally different from the company where you’re interviewing, which could make a new adjustment period difficult.
Why Do Interviewers Ask Questions About Company Culture?
Interviewers ask questions about company culture to ensure the employees they hire will be a good fit for the organization. For instance, a person who thrives with a great deal of structure might find working for a company with a flat structure challenging. Similarly, someone accustomed to wearing a suit every day and having a closed-door office might find it jarring to work in an open office format with denim-clad co-workers.
Be ready with honest answers when the interviewer asks questions about company culture. And, if the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for me?” be aware that questions about company culture are a great fit for this moment.
Interview Questions About Company Culture
Interview questions about company culture are designed to determine whether you will be a good fit for an organization. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions—since a bad fit is just as problematic for you as for your employer—but you can practice answering typical questions in order to increase your confidence for your interview.
Here are examples of interview questions that are used to determine whether you’re a good match for the company:
Corporate Culture Questions for You to Ask
You’re being interviewed, but you’re also interviewing the company to see if you think you’ll fit in, enjoy the work, and excel at your new job. Remember, the hiring process is not just about finding a company that is willing to hire you — it’s also about finding a place that’s the right fit for you. Plus, you want to find an employer that can help you meet your professional goals.
Interviewers will expect you to have some questions about the job or the company. Here are some questions you can ask to determine if you’d be comfortable in the company’s environment:
- How would you describe your corporate culture in five words?
- What’s the best part of working here that I wouldn’t be able to see on a tour?
- What kind of employee achievements does the company recognize?
- What kind of philanthropy does the company contribute to or participate in?
- How often do you hold company-wide meetings?
- What is the company’s approach to career development?
- Describe the work-life balance of employees.
- What kind of opportunities do you offer for advanced training and education?
- Why are you proud of this company?
- What’s one thing you would change about the company if you could change absolutely anything?
Each company develops its own culture. Benefits and company policy play a role in culture, but there are also other aspects that are not formally codified.
There are no right or wrong answers to questions about company culture. Interviewers ask culture questions to find out if you’ll be a good fit for a particular company culture.
Make your own inquiries about company culture during the interview. That way, you’ll get a sense of the environment, and know whether it’s a good fit for you.
Excellent communication skills are essential for workplace success. If you’ve landed an interview, expect to be asked interview questions about how you communicate, and to have your ability to communicate in the workplace tested and evaluated.
Regardless of the role you’re applying for, employers seek employees who can get along with others and who can communicate well both verbally and non-verbally.
Read below for suggestions on how to respond to interview questions about communication, and review examples of the best answers.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
When you interview for a job, the hiring manager will ask about communication skills, including how you address issues, how you handle challenging situations, the style of communication you expect from management, and other questions related to your ability to communicate.
In addition to the responses you give, your ability to communicate will be evaluated. What are your verbal and nonverbal communication skills like? How well do you explain your answers? How articulate are you? Do you listen carefully to what the interviewers are saying, or do you interrupt and try to dominate the conversation? Do you look your interviewers in the eye when you speak to them? What does your body language say about you?
When interviewers ask their questions, they do so not only to gain information from you but to see how exactly you communicate through verbal tone and nonverbal expression.
Here are some of the top communication skills the hiring manager will be evaluating:
How to Prepare to Answer Questions About Communication
Interviewing can be challenging even for the best communicator. Responding effectively means achieving a balance between listening to what the interviewer is asking, and providing a well-thought-out response to questions.
If you need to brush up on your interviewing skills, take the time to practice. The more comfortable you are in the role of an interviewee, the easier it will be to showcase how well you can communicate.
Practice interviewing with a friend or family member, or even by yourself in front of a mirror. Even though it’s not a “real” interview, you’ll be able to consider, in advance, how you will respond and how you will connect with your interviewer.
Communication Interview Questions
Preparing in advance by reviewing these interview questions and examples of the best answers about communication will help you in formulating your own unique responses.
- Do you work well with other people?
- Tell me about yourself.
- How would you describe yourself?
- How would your co-workers describe your personality?
- What major challenges and problems have you faced? How did you handle them?
- Describe a difficult work situation/project and how you overcame it.
- What have you learned from your mistakes?
- What was it like working for your supervisor?
- What do you expect from a supervisor?
- Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?
- How do you handle stress and pressure?
- What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your pet peeves?
- What do people most often criticize about you?
- When was the last time you were angry? What happened?
- Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
- Give some examples of your teamwork in completing a critical project.
- Why are you the best person for the job?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What can you contribute to this company?
Review sample answers for these questions and more of the top questions that employers ask at job interviews.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are a few sample answers to various interview questions about your communication skills. As you craft and practice your own answers to these questions, remember that your expression, eye contact, and tone of voice are as important as the answers themselves.
“What are you passionate about?”
I am passionate about ensuring the welfare of children, which is why I decided to become a school social worker. When I was a kid, my parents were foster parents, and I couldn’t believe the stories some of our foster kids shared during their time with us. They’d tell me about how sometimes they were so tired or hungry that they couldn’t concentrate in school; a few of them had bad bruises from having been beaten.
So many kids in the foster system fall between the cracks. My hope is that I can identify these high-risk kids and connect them with the resources they need not only to survive, but to thrive.
Why It Works: This answer is effective because the passion the candidate chooses to describe is directly related to the job she’s applying for. She also provides some personal history—demonstrating that she’s open to sharing information about herself in order to better relate to others.
“Why are you the best person for this job?”
Well, I don’t know the other people you’re interviewing, so I can’t say that I’m your “best” candidate. However, I can say that I would be able to hit the ground running and, as I did for my previous employer, provide immediate results for you. During my first quarter with ABC Pharmaceuticals, I ranked as the #1 salesperson in the southeastern region, using my knowledge of medical terminology and the formulary system to increase our client base by 40%.
Why It Works: This is a good example of how to answer a “trick” question—the candidate could easily have gone wrong had his tone been overly boastful or pompous. Instead, he begins with a modest statement but then displays quiet confidence by providing a tangible example of his sales success in the past, proving that he’s a strong producer in his industry.
“How would you describe yourself?”
I’d describe myself as an enthusiastic team player. I played basketball both in high school and in college, so I learned how to work with others to achieve a collective goal. I also learned the importance not only of being able to lead, but also of knowing when I needed to follow. Those skills have served me well in my career as a police officer. I know how to communicate with, listen to, and support my partners and the public, and I’m proactive when it comes to identifying personal conflicts so they can be resolved quickly.
Why It Works: This response illustrates the candidate’s awareness of the elements of good team communications—including the ability to actively listen.
In this post, we will outline how to answer job interview questions about teamwork so that you can effectively prepare for the competency questions during your next interview.
Why Interviewers Ask About Teamwork
Teamwork is a skill that all jobs require and all employers need.
The hiring manager will want to determine:
- Are you easy to get along with
- Can you work well with different personality types
- If you will contribute your ideas and actively listen to others
Questions about teamwork are common behavioural interview questions. So it is rare not to find it among the job interview questions you are likely to be asked.
What makes your teamwork skills different from anyone else’s?
Whenever a graduate comes to me for interview coaching or interview mentoring I always tell them that interviews are won on the smallest details.
If you can find the smallest detail with regards to what makes you stand out you could shift the balance significantly in your favour when answering job interview questions.
The science of interviewing and to winning at them is to know what you have to offer; and to sell those skills in a way that meets the need of the company.
So, looking at job interview questions about teamwork will help if you understand what makes a successful team work well.
In order to sell your teamwork skills in a job interview, you need to know what you have to offer as a team member. So how do you really operate within a team?
Most people who answer this as a job interview question will say something general like: ‘I’m good at working with people’, ‘I can motivate and inspire others’, or ‘I am a good team player.’ But if you think about it these limp responses aren’t really telling the employer very much at all about the way you operate within a team. Chances are you are going to just sound like everyone else.
Demonstrating an understanding of teamwork skills in a job interview
During your job interview you may be asked by the interviewer to imagine a group of people in a teamwork situation. What many overlook while answering such questions is the behaviour of others in the team. You may be able to faithfully describe how you might work, but what about others?
You can demonstrate how you engage with others in a team environment by mentioning the following skills:
- Active listening
- Conflict management and resolution
Here’s a scenario. A team meets to brainstorm possible ideas to achieve a shared work goal but one of the members is an action orientated person and so keeps trying to move the meeting to the stage of assigning tasks. His attempts are honourable and needed – but not at the brainstorming stage of a teamwork activity.
Similarly you could have another team member who is the type of person who looks for risks in a situation and so keeps on highlighting why a given idea will not work.
In situations like these the action orientated person could be goaded toward using his gifting to offer ideas that he has been involved with in the past and the risk-adverse person to focus on the solutions rather than just the problems.
It may be that when you understand the strengths of the team members you choose the best phase of the project to bring a certain person in, and when to leave them out.
This does not mean they are not good team players. It simply means they contribute different values to the team project at different stages.
Answering job interview questions about your teamwork skills
Do you know what values you contribute to a team scenario?
You would do well to highlight these unique characteristics in your job interview answer about teamwork.
- Review your CV and identify times where you demonstrated your teamwork skills.
- Don’t forget about the non-academic activities you got involved in whilst you were at university. Being a member of a sports team or having a role within a society are valid examples of teamwork.
Examples of teamwork interview questions:
- Do you prefer working as part of a team or independently
- Tell me aboout a time you worked well as a part of a team
- Describe a time you had to resolve conflict in a team
- Tell me about a time where you had to give constructive criticism to a team member
- Describe a time where you had to adapt to consider a team member’s views.
Mark Murphy, the founder of LeadershipIQ, wrote an article for Forbes where he states that he asks candidates an open-ended question about teamwork.
He simply asks: “Could you tell me about a time you worked on a team?”
How to answer questions about teamwork in your interview
When answering competency based questions, use the STAR interview response technique.
- Situation – explain the team environment and provide context.
- Task – state what needed to be achieved as a result of working as a team.
- Action – describe what you did. Highlight any team leadership skills.
- Result – emphaise what was achieved as a result of working as a team.
When talking about working on a team project, mention what others contributed. This will show that you are a team player and that you focus on others as well as yourself.
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How to answer job interview questions about teamwork: summary
When it comes to knowing how to answer job interview questions about teamwork, preparation and empathy is key.
Teamwork isn’t all about you hogging the limelight but about understanding the skills and assets you bring to the team, how they fit into the whole team dynamic and when it is best to bring them in.
If you understand the same about those around you, or can indicate that you can learn, this is obviously an asset.
You will then be able to guide those with less self-awareness of their own strengths to use them in the best way for the whole team.
Because interviews are won on the smallest details, the science of interviews really is about dissecting those small details and presenting them to the interviewer in a way that will meet his or her needs.
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When you apply for a position in management, you can expect a variety of questions designed to assess your ability to lead a large group of people. In fact, of the 10 Most Common Management Interview Questions ,many are behavioral. Those questions are designed to judge your ability to problem solve. Other questions, however, are basic management interview questions that simply want to understand who you are and what you bring to the table.
One of the most common management interview questions is “What is Your Management Style?” It is a simple question that is asked at almost every job interview question. In general, this question is meant to be friendly. Interviewers are curious what your answer is, and whether or not you have an answer at all.
Yet this is also a good opportunity to show that you will be a great manager, by answering this question with a non-answer.
The Best Way to Answer the Question:
There are a number of different types of management styles. Have a look at our posts:
You may have your own unique management style as well.
However, when answering this question, it is a good idea to give a “non-answer.” Don’t answer the question directly. Good managers are willing to adapt to different situations, so your answer to this type of interview question should be:
“I do not conform to a specific management style. I try to adjust my style of management to each situation, since part of my job is to assess both the best way to complete the project efficiently and the style of leadership that works best with current staff dynamics.”
If they press you further, then feel free and discuss the management styles you utilize most often, but your first answer to questions about your management techniques should always be that you are willing to change and not stuck with a set technique. You want your interviewer to understand that they are getting someone that isn’t rigid in their beliefs. They are getting someone that is thoughtful and analyzes each unique situation for its properties.
Take Away Interview Tip
Answer interview questions about management styles with your willingness to adapt your solutions to each scenario.
These examples of manager interview questions can help you identify the best candidates for senior level positions. Use the most suitable management interview questions to assess candidates’ team-leading skills in these important roles.
Are you a candidate?
What to ask candidates
Managers play a strategic role in a company’s performance and growth. Their responsibilities include:
- Setting and tracking goals
- Increasing team productivity
- Training and motivating subordinates
- Taking part in business development planning
When hiring for management positions, look for experienced candidates. These are individuals who have a deep understanding of your industry and business objectives. Use role-specific interview questions to test their knowledge. Also, interview for soft skills and traits essential for all senior level roles. Those include:
- Leadership skills
- Problem-solving attitude
- Motivational personality
Managers need to report results and suggest improvements. Focus on candidates who can take accountability for their actions and possess strong decision-making skills. Managers juggle different tasks on a daily basis and coordinate with people from other departments (and/or customers.)
Gear your questions toward identifying candidates who enjoy variety in their work and can handle challenging duties. They should also demonstrate high professionalism, as they set the example for their team members.
Knowing your personal style will help you create a wardrobe you truly love.
“Personal style” is a term that gets thrown around a lot—as if it’s just something we automatically have. The reality is that personal style takes work. Even the most fashion savvy need to reevaluate their styles. This should come as a relief to anyone who’s struggling to create a wardrobe that reflects who they are and their lifestyle.
But where do we even begin to discover our personal style? Do we simply take to the mall and start buying everything that looks semi-interesting? Before you take action (or take out your wallet), there are several key questions you can ask yourself. These questions will help you learn about yourself and, ultimately, bring your personal style to life.
01. What words would you use to describe your style?
(Examples: quirky, polished, bold, experimental, cheerful, comfortable, sleek)
Take a moment to think about the overall vibe of your style. What are some descriptive words that come to mind? For example, if Zooey Deschanel were to answer this, her answers might look like this: “quirky, playful, colorful, feminine, and slightly retro.” These words will help you recognize an overall theme or feeling of your style, allowing you to take the first step in curating your look.
02. What do you want your style to say about who you are?
Style is a form of self-expression, but it is also a means of communication. The way we dress gives everyone around us information on who we are. So, what do you want people to see when they look at you? Do you want them to know that you’re professional, innovative, expressive, straightforward, or confident? Or maybe boldly feminine, strong, and pulled-together? Writing down the qualities you want to express to the world will help you pinpoint your major identity traits while also helping you become conscious of how you’re actively communicating those traits with how you dress.
03. Who inspires you, and why?
Many incredible women have come before us, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to emulate their qualities and style. Think of the women who you aspire to be like and the outfits they wore. This could be your mother, sister, friend, a modern-day celebrity, style blogger, or any influential woman. If Jackie O. inspires you, think about the overall look of her style and the specific items in her trademark ensembles. Noting who it is that you define as a style icon will help you recognize what you subconsciously see as being truly stylish.
04. What is your favorite store to shop at, and how would you describe the overall vibe of the store?
What stores do you find yourself drawn to? Every brand has a look that it is known for. How would you describe the overall vibe or look of your favorite stores? All brands have a target audience and specific woman in mind for whom they make their clothes. Who do you think that woman is, and do you fit into that description? For example, the Gap woman is in her mid- to late twenties and early thirties; she works for a living in a business casual office space and enjoys wearing her polished yet relaxed basics in her free time. Her clothes are more traditional and simple, but she loves to experiment with colors and prints.
05. What are the first items you gravitate toward when shopping?
Upon walking into your favorite store, what items do you look at first? Do you feel a pull toward those flouncy floral dresses? Or maybe that smart tailored blazer is calling your name? Noting the natural gravitation toward one type of clothing versus another can help you understand which styles you actually like and will most likely wear. If you always find yourself in front of the jean section, you might enjoy a more relaxed or comfortable style. Look for other casual or street wear–inspired clothes that emulate the same laid-back vibe of your go-to jeans.
06. What items do you repeatedly wear?
It’s one thing to want to wear a certain style and another thing to actually wear it. Being practical about what you will actually wear will help you stay true to your personal style rather than getting carried away with an idealized look that isn’t comfortable or doesn’t suit your everyday life. Most of us wear the same outfit formula every week, consisting of the same five to ten items. To save yourself from buying a bunch of things that will sit in the back of your closet, think about the clothes you wear all the time. Make a list of those key pieces. Now, think of practical ways in which you can add some variety to those outfit formulas. For example, if you love comfy boyfriend tees and skinny jeans, consider trying French-inspired button-ups and boyfriend jeans.
07. How does your style fit into your lifestyle?
Similar to the previous question, this one is about practically incorporating your style into your life. Your lifestyle greatly impacts your style, and you want to make sure that your wardrobe matches your everyday activities. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you know that comfort is key. If you’re a partner at a law firm, you know that looking polished and professional is a must. Make sure you keep your lifestyle in mind when defining your style because you want to create a wardrobe that reflects reality.
08. If you could raid anyone’s closet, who would it be?
We’ve all been guilty of fantasizing about whose closet we would rob. For legal purposes, we will say borrow. Thinking about whose wardrobe we’d ransack tells us a lot about our tastes. Think about what items you’d first go for. If we’re hypothetically going through Amal Clooney’s wardrobe, would you pick her professional statement pieces or her iconic dresses? This will tell you if you like classic items better versus more feminine pieces. Do you want to emulate a more polished persona or a more expressive, fashion-forward look?
09. Picture yourself in three years. What are you wearing?
Picture yourself three years from now. Are you going to a party, walking to work, or relaxing in your free time? Allow yourself to mentally create this scene and take note of what you’re wearing. How has your style developed? What does your outfit reflect on how you’ve grown? Envisioning the future version of ourselves reveals who we really want to be now, so why wait? Clothes can help us become the person we want to be and to feel more confident in a new role. Write down what it is that your future self is wearing: the styles, the colors, the silhouettes, and the key pieces. Start incorporating these items into your wardrobe now.
Employers value employees with a strong leadership philosophy regardless of the position. Even if you are not applying for a managerial role, you may be asked to describe what leadership means to you during an interview. This question allows employers to better understand you as a person and assess how well you will fit in the organization. This article will help you prepare for the interview question, ‘What does leadership mean to you?’
Why employers ask, ‘What does leadership mean to you?’
Employers ask this question to learn about your views on leadership, what you consider a leader to be and what you value in a leader. This information provides insight into your personality and helps employers assess your fit in the organization. Regardless of whether you are applying for a managerial position or not, how you answer this question speaks volumes about your confidence and personal values.
If you are applying for a managerial position, this question helps employers assess what kind of leader you will be and if your leadership philosophy is a good fit in the organization. It gives them insight into how you will manage a team of employees and what employees can expect from you as a manager.
If you are not applying for a managerial position, this question helps employers assess what you value in a leader, what style of leadership you respond to and your confidence in your skills and abilities. Leadership does not only reside with people in managerial positions but can come from all levels of an organization. Employers use this question to estimate your ability to collaborate on a team and drive innovation even when you are not in a managerial position.
Surprising ways employers ask, ‘What does leadership mean to you?’
Employers may gather information about your leadership philosophy through more subtle questions.
Here are some surprising ways employers ask about leadership during an interview:
- What major problems or challenges did you face in your last position and how did you handle them?
- How do you handle situations when you disagree with your manager or believe they are wrong?
- What advice would you give your previous boss?
- How would you persuade someone to do something they didn’t want to do?
Asking this question in different and surprising ways prompts answers with greater honesty and perspective, which allows employers to develop a more accurate image of your leadership philosophy.
How to answer, ‘What does leadership mean to you?’
Here are some steps to help prepare for questions about leadership during an interview:
1. First, consider the traits of good leaders that you admire
Make a list of people in your life who represent good leaders. It can include people you’ve worked with, managers you’ve had, family, friends or prominent figures. For each person on your list, consider what qualities demonstrate good leadership. Consider the traits that you admire and would like to develop in yourself. Think about if your examples of good leaders share any traits. Those are the traits that make a good leader.
2. Second, consider the traits of poor leaders you might know
Repeat the first step for people in your life who represent poor leaders. Consider what it is about their leadership style that makes them poor leaders. Consider what traits they share; these are traits that make a poor leader. Think about how you would change their leadership styles to make it more effective.
3. Then, study leadership skills
Research leadership skills to further understand the different components that make up a good leader. Identify the skills you currently have and the skills you would like to develop. Leadership is as much about how you treat yourself as it is how you treat others. You can be a good leader without a title or position of authority.
4. Next, define your own leadership philosophy
Compare and contrast the traits of good and poor leaders to help you define what leadership means to you. Identify the traits that align with your character and which you can improve to develop stronger leadership skills. Developing your own leadership philosophy helps you clearly articulate what leadership means to you.
5. Lastly, use the S.T.A.R. method
When you understand what leadership means to you, think back on your work experience and identify an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership. Describe the event using the S.T.A.R. (situation, task, action, results) method by explaining the situation, the task you had to complete, the action you took and the results you achieved. This allows you to answer the question, ‘What does leadership mean to you?’ and provide an example of when you have demonstrated leadership accordingly.
‘What does leadership mean to you?’ example answer
Here is an example answer for the question, ‘What does leadership meant to you?’:
‘Leadership means inspiring others to work together toward a common goal. It encourages and enables people to do their best work. Leadership is understanding your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the team, then leveraging individual strengths to compensate for individual weaknesses and overcome insurmountable challenges. It is recognizing that a team is more than the sum of its parts, and people work best when they work together.’
When answering this question for yourself, think about what a good leader is to you, what qualities good leaders demonstrate and what skills are important to be a good leader.
If this interview question has you running for the hills, have no fear. Today I’m going to tell you an answer that not only is something you’re already doing but sounds impressive to boot.
A great answer to that tricky question is: “Well, I really like to approach classroom management proactively.”
Proactive classroom management involves thinking about ways to head off problems before they even begin.
Here are 3 key talking points you can use.
1. I plan active, engaging lessons that relate to students’ interests, so they are motivated from the get-go.
2. I have clear, consistent expectations with clear, consistent consequences.
When students know what is expected of them up-front, they are less likely to test boundaries, as they already know what the consequences will be.
3. I have consistent routines that are communicated in a variety of ways.
When students know exactly what to do upon entering the classroom, watching a demo, or cleaning up, they feel at ease. Routines create structure and a feeling of security for students, so they are less likely to act out.
Talking about how you will actually stop problems before they start is a simple and effective way to answer that loaded classroom management question. It’s sure to impress any interview panel and help land you your dream job!
Tell us, how would YOU answer the question about classroom management?
What interview questions are the most difficult for you to wrap your head around?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.
I don’t want to beg for the job by describing the exact kind of job I’m interviewing for.
I don’t usually know very much about the job opening when they ask me “What are you looking for, exactly?” It feels like a trick question.
Watch on Forbes:
It’s such a cliche to say “The main thing I’m looking for is great people and a lot of challenges” but for me it’s true.
I don’t want to describe my several unpleasant job experiences to the interviewer, but I truly care more about the culture than almost any other aspect of the job.
Yet I don’t want to sound wishy-washy or desperate by saying “I just want to work around good people.”
What do you recommend?
You can take your answer to the question “What’s your ideal job?” in one of several directions — whichever one feels truest for you.
Here are some ideas:
What’s your ideal job?
• My ideal job is a job where I’m managing a project, or more than one, with a lot of participants and a lot of moving parts. I love a high level of activity and a lot of interaction because it builds relationships.
• I’m happiest working in Inventory, Production Planning or Purchasing because I love the connections between the raw materials coming in, getting everything out to the production floor and keeping track of what’s going where. I’m comfortable in any of those areas.
• My ideal job is a job in a professional services environment where I’m supporting consultants, trainers or salespeople in their dealings with clients.
You don’t have to know a lot about the job you’re interviewing for to answer the question “What’s your ideal role?” thoughtfully and authentically.
The level of specificity in the three sample answers above is the right level for this question.
You will know before going on a job interview whether the job is a project management job, whether it’s in the Operations side of the business or whether it has to do with supporting consultants, trainers and/or salespeople.
The one thing to watch out for is not to answer the question so specifically that you make the interviewer think the job you’re discussing would be a big disappointment for you!
Think about the things you love to do and do best during a workday. Think back on the stories of the times when you felt most powerful and most like yourself at work. Your stories are your power.
They describe the activities, events, people, and energy waves you need around you!
Talk about those mojo-building people and things when you hear the question “What’s your ideal job?”
You can even answer the question by sharing a quick Dragon-Slaying Story from one of those triumphant days you experienced at a previous job.
in Brief:” Management interview questions are questions that focus on evoking a reaction from a candidate for a certain purpose – to provide a general image of the manager (i.e. the candidate).
How is that? Because the answers that the candidate provides present his way of thinking and demonstrate if he can disentangle himself from a given situation with a good lesson learned – to see how skilled and experienced he is”
Why would the employer want to ask these management questions?
The employer wants to know how this particular manager will perform if hired, verifying his ability to think about a complex problem and the way he may solve it – is he a follower or a natural leader?
This article provides manager interview questions and suggests how to handle these tough manager interview questions.
After reading thisarticle you may be interested in reading the articles: Leadership interview questions and Examples of competency based questions.
Senior Management: Interview Questions for Management Positions
As opposed to any other interview questions, when answering these management questions, you should organize your answer (the way you construct your answer – through the required elements of an answer) for the interviewer to assess your managing skills.
Manager Interview Questions & Answers – Leadership
• Examples of strategic thinking in past situations
• Have you ever challenged, shaken old work methods.
• How do you make your decisions in general?
• How do you reach a decision if you don’t have all the facts?
• How do you usually solve problems?
• Examples of situations when your initiative ideas for improvement have made a significant difference.
• How have you coordinated the work of your team to achieve target goals?
• Example of adaptation to changes and the difficulties.
• When did you last update your business management education? What are your professional development needs?
• How do you handle a heavy workload? How do you prioritize day to day tasks?
• How do you handle failures? Provide examples.
• How do you define your key team members?
How to answer these questions?
The above group of questions may be put forward to identify your leadership and management style and the methods you take to achieve your objectives as a key leader in an organization. The employer would want to see your initial reaction to these questions, how you analyze before answering and the quality of your answers – a good story with a value added lesson learned.
I won’t give examples, as you probably know your achievements better than anyone else.
Management interview questions: Communication skills
• How do you build and maintain a relationship with co-workers, key managers and customers?
• How do you start a working relationship with a new customer?
• What are your influencing tactics? Which people are hard to persuade?
• How do you satisfy customers? What is a good product for customers? How do customers choose a product?
How to answer these questions?
The above group of questions is designed to define your communication skills and see how open you are to forging new contacts – your networking abilities. These questions also aim to evaluate your sales skills and marketing experience. The employer wishes to observe how you behave when you meet new people. He also wants to know if people like working with you and how you influence people. When answering, you may want to provide past examples and recent scenarios.
Take a few seconds before answering
In summing up these management questions, the main thing is to evaluate the quality of the answers. If one has already prepared his answers and “thought it through” (or “blurts them out”) without presenting his “thought process”, he hasn’t really shown the interviewer his analytic mind – which was the whole point of these questions.
Therefore, think before answering.
I hate my job, but I’m proud of myself for getting my resume together to launch a stealth job search. I go on interviews during my lunch break.
Watch on Forbes:
One time I had to get up and leave the interview because if I hadn’t, I would have been late getting back to work. I get an hour lunch break but I can’t be even one minute late coming back from lunch.
I had an interview last week that was going well until I got the question “What would your boss say about you?”
That really threw me, because in reality my boss “Natasha” wouldn’t have anything nice to say about me. I just said “She would probably say I add a lot to the department.”
My answer was vague because I had a picture of Natasha in my head as soon as the interviewer asked the question. Natasha is truly evil, like the villain in a Disney movie for kids.
Natasha is the worst manager I’ve ever had. She brags to us about how she got fired from her last job. She says “You guys realize I can terminate you at any moment, don’t you?”
Natasha is a liar. She lies to get people in trouble. Nobody in our department trusts her.
What’s a good answer for “How would your boss describe you?” in case I get that question again?
Think of the nicest thing your boss has ever said about you. If your boss is evil like Natasha and has never said anything nice about you, then revert to an earlier boss.
Let’s face it — the question “What would your boss say about you?” is a dumb interview question. What makes a boss that the interviewer doesn’t know and will probably never meet such an authority on you?
It’s very rude to ask a perfect stranger “Say, what does some other perfect stranger say about you? Their opinion matters, because they are a manager and you are not.”
Even though the question is impolite, you still have to answer it. Here are five sample answers to inspire you:
How would your boss describe you?
My boss would say I’m good at my job and attentive to our customers. She’d say I try to help our new hires get up and running in their jobs.
How would your boss describe you?
I think my boss would say that I support him both by taking care of urgent projects and also by brainstorming with him to arrive at better decisions.
How would your boss describe you?
She’d say I make her life easier by keeping our wonderful but sometimes-needy reseller partners happy — leaving her free to do her job.
How would your boss describe you?
My boss would say that I came up to speed quickly in the job and keep the department running when he’s out of the office.
How would your boss describe you?
My manager would say that she and I make a great team, because she’s a terrific strategic thinker and I’m good at implementing plans.
Notice that when somebody asks you “How would your manager describe you?” you don’t have to give them a string of adjectives for an answer.
You don’t have to say “My boss would say I’m hard-working, easy to work with and punctual.”Adjectives don’t convey a lot of heft.
Instead of adjectives, tell your interviewer why your boss values you.
If your current boss doesn’t value you, tell the interviewer why a previous boss (any boss you choose) valued you.
It’s high time interviewers stopped asking the question “How would your boss describe you?” but until they do, you’ll be ready!
Stress is a normal human response, and we all deal with it in different ways. If you’re in an interview and the employer asks you how you handle stress, it’s because they know you’re going to deal with stress at some point in the workplace and they want to know how it will affect you.
How an employee handles stress is a pretty big indicator of how well they will work under pressure, and if you’re interviewing for a job where stress will be a regular occurrence, the employer needs to know you’ll be able to keep your cool even in a stressful situation.
Here are some dos and don’ts on answering the question “How do you handle stress?”
Dos and Don’ts
- Be honest, but also be positive.
- Think about the types of stress you’ll encounter at this job before you answer the question.
- Don’t answer in a way that will seem like you can’t handle the job.
- Do give specific ways that you manage your stress.
- Don’t pretend that you never encounter stress in your life.
- Do talk about what you’ve learned from working under pressure.
- Try to share a personal story or a specific example of a time when you were able to handle the stress around you.
- Focus on the triumphs you’ve had when dealing with stress. Don’t talk about a time when you fell apart because of all the stress you were under.
- If the job you’re interviewing for is extremely stressful, make sure you communicate that you’re used to dealing with stressful situations.
- Be prepared to answer any follow-up questions.
- Don’t focus on the emotions you felt when you were stressed.
Best Answers to “How Do You Handle Stress?”
1. “I work well under pressure, and do my best to complete tasks on time even in stressful situations. When I find myself under a lot of pressure because of a deadline, I make a specific schedule for myself to help me get my work done, and having specific times for each task helps me manage it.”
The interviewer wants to know how stress will affect your work, and if you’re able to still work hard under pressure. Deadlines are a reality at every job, so sharing a specific way that you handle the stress of deadlines is a great way to answer this question. When you’re sharing a specific example, it’s also important that the stress wasn’t caused by you. It’s okay to say you were under pressure because of a deadline, but don’t say you were stressed because you missed the deadline.
2. “When I’m in a stressful situation, I try to focus on what I need to fix, instead of how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling stressed because of an issue with a client, I try to focus on what I can do specifically to fix the situation instead of thinking about how stressed I am.”
Stress can be overwhelming for many employees, and some let it get the best of them. When an employer asks you how you handle stress, they want to make sure that you’re not going to give in to your emotions when you’re in a stressful situation. This answer works because it shows that you choose to focus on the task at hand instead of getting angry or overwhelmed.
3. “It’s easy to get caught up in all the stress when those around you are panicking. If I’m working on a group project with my team and there’s a lot of stress in the team, I try to help my teammates and see how they’re doing with their stress levels. I find that checking in on those around me helps them relieve some of the stress, which ultimately makes me feel less stressed as well.”
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s not always because of a situation you caused, like missing a deadline. Sometimes when you’re in a stressful environment, you soak up the stress around you. An answer like this one lets the interviewer know that you not only handle your own stress well, but you can also handle the stress of your teammates.
4. “I choose to handle stress by making sure I communicate clearly with those around me. For example, I was stressed about the expectations for a project my team and I were working on. Instead of reacting to the stress, I communicated with the project manager, and the clarity he gave took a lot of the pressure off of me.”
Communication is key to having a productive team, especially when that team is forced to work under pressure. Mentioning that communication is part of how you handle your stress lets the employer know you’re not going to stress about something until you have all the facts.
5. “When I’m stressed about work, I tend to spend a lot of time exercising to relieve stress. Going to the gym or going for a run helps relieve some of the stress, and it’s a positive outlet where I can let some of the stress go without reacting with my emotions.”
When you’re answering the question “how do you handle stress,” it’s okay to share an example from your personal life. Even if you handle stress well while you’re at work, showing that you have a positive way of relieving stress in your personal life will make you stand out from other applicants.
6. “Staying calm under pressure is one of my strengths. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I stop what I’m doing and take a deep breath. Pausing for a moment before I continue my work helps me put things in perspective.”
Even something as simple as taking a deep breath when you’re feeling stressed can make you seem like a well-rounded individual. The interviewer wants to know that you’re level-headed and that you’re not going to do anything rash when you’re working under pressure. Using an example like this one proves that you’re mindful enough to pause before reacting with your emotions.
7. “Stress is actually a motivator for me. I like to keep a strict schedule, and I enjoy working in a fast-paced environment. Instead of letting the stress get to me, I choose to use it as a motivator to do my best work and get things done in an efficient way.”
No employer wants to hear that you don’t have any stress in your life, because they’ll know you’re not being honest. Every person experiences stress at some point, and for most people, it’s a part of their daily lives. If you want to show that you can handle the stress in your life in a positive way, talk about how it motivates you. Especially if you’re applying for a high-stress job, you’ll impress any employer by telling them that you use the stress in your life as a motivator to do better.
Some employees handle stress better than others, so it’s important for an employer to know whether the quality of your work will be affected when you’re stressed and if you already have systems in place to deal with the stress in your life. Although there are many ways you could answer this question, the interviewer wants to make sure that you’ve figured out how to manage your stress and not let it consume you.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith’s work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.
Company culture refers to the shared values, practices, and beliefs of what an organization stands for. It can easily be explained as the personality of a business, including its mission, expectations, and work atmosphere.
Usually, talent management searches for candidates whose own values, beliefs, outlook, and behavior suit their company’s culture. Why? The answer is simple. Employees that match the company’s personality and fit well within the work environment are more likely to be satisfied and happy with their job. As a result, the likelihood of talent retention increases, as well as their job performance.
During an interview process, behavioral questions such as, “Give us an example of someone you worked well with,” allows talent management to evaluate if your style and attitude are suited for the company. Your responses reveal your unique skills, abilities, and personality.
Crafting a great answer to behavioral questions can be tricky. Luckily for you, we have a full list of tips on how to answer them!
1. How would your colleagues describe you (if you are working) or how would your classmates describe you (if you are studying or have recently graduated)?
A helpful tip to prepare for this type of question is to ask someone close to you to describe an occasion in which you were your best self. This will allow you to get a good picture of the positive attributes others see in you. Describe yourself in a positive light that demonstrates you share the values of the company – hopefully, we assume, you have done your homework and know what the organization’s culture is about! -. But don’t overdo it, you don’t want to come off as arrogant!
2. What motivates you?
Hiring managers want to know what makes you tick. It’s also a way to determine whether your motivators and personality will be a fit for the job duties. When answering this question, be honest — but keep your audience in mind. For example, if you are applying to be a receptionist, an answer built around your passion for helping others and providing excellent customer service might be a stronger answer than saying you are individually motivated and prefer to work alone. Make sure to address your best skills and abilities fitted for the job.
3. Tell me about a team project when you had to work with someone difficult.
Here, talent management wants to evaluate how you handle stressful situations and whether you are a good team player or not. Remember, you must be able to deal with conflict professionally to succeed at work. The best way to answer this question is to briefly describe the context that arose (without getting caught up in unnecessary details), talk about the key actions you took, and finish with a positive description of the outcome of your efforts.
You might encounter similar questions to this one, like: “Tell us about a particular time when you had to deal with an unexpected situation?” You want to show the interviewer you have the problem-solving skills needed to manage conflict.
4. Tell us about a particular achievement at work or school.
At this point of the interview, talent management wants to find out what you’ve done that sets you apart from the rest of the candidates. Choose a story that highlights your best qualities and makes you stand out. Consider moments in your career or life that you are proudest of and emphasize what you value in those moments. That way, you can show the interviewer how well your values link with those of the company’s culture.
5. Describe an occasion when you made a customer or client pleased with the service you gave them.
This is your chance to showcase you can go above and beyond when it comes to doing your job. Prepare an answer that describes a genuine example of your excellent service skills. Remember to mention the key actions you took and the finishing results that made the client pleased with your service.
6. Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
It might seem like the obvious answer is to respond you prefer to work as part of a team. But there are positive aspects to both options. Mention your preference, but explain that you’re flexible. For example, if you prefer working alone, a better way to express it is by saying: “I can work independently to complete my tasks on time, but I also enjoy brainstorming and collaborating with my colleagues.” Choose your answer depending on the job and project needed to be done.
7. What would you do if you don’t get the job?
Look for another one? That might be the obvious answer. But, this question allows the interviewer to measure how you deal with obstacles or failure. If it so happens that you are asked this question, be sure to express that you will use this experience as an opportunity for improvement. End it on a positive note!
There are no right or wrong answers, but preparing in advance will increase your confidence for your interview and will help you make a stronger impression.
Now that you’re done answering questions, you want to measure your own fit within the company. Here is a list of the best questions to ask at the end of an interview that’ll help you decide if the job you’re applying to is a good fit for you as well.
For this question it’s important to come across as serious and capable, but not too extreme or consumed with work. That might lead the interviewer to thinking you’re unbalanced in some way.
A popular style of answer to this question has been:
“I’m a workaholic, I’ll stick to a task for a long time, hour after hour, to get a good result. I believe in completing work at or above the desired standard.”
While it’s overall a good answer, the word “workaholic” carries a negative connotation – someone who works to the detriment of other aspects of a healthy life. The same answer can be given without the negative word.
“When something has to be completed, I complete it. But it’s not rush, it’s attention to detail and to quality – it’s not just a job done, but a job done well.”
Your answer should reflect your strengths, while overall emphasizing the qualities of a good employee.
“I plan well, so I always make, and often beat deadlines without a loss of quality.”
“I’m first in line for projects and new responsibilities. I don’t mind extra work if it means I can contribute to overall success.”
“When I promise something you may as well write it in stone, because for me a promise made is a promise kept.”
“I lead by example. People who work for me know I don’t tell them to do things I’m not willing to do myself. And I prove it by doing things, not just with stories about things I’ve done in the past.”
“I’ve always been a top performer, from school to my first job to the present. It’s not that I’m smarter than other people, but I put in a lot of extra effort and clearly define goals so I can meet and exceed them.”
“I’ve never called in sick, always met deadlines, and according to past bosses my performance has met or exceeded expectations. My last boss told me I work like the sun rises and sets, every day, without fail.”
“I like to plan things, and stick to a plan, but I know that sometimes the best plan needs changes on the fly. It’s actually part of good planning to be flexible.”
The best answers touch on many elements.
“I take what I do seriously, and I enjoy meeting the challenge every day by planning, working with the team, and finding creative solutions to problems that arise on the way.”
This answer was one of the most clever ever given. “Hire me and see for yourself.”
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Don’t let this behavioral interview question trip you up.
As you may know, behavioral questions are common in job interviews. The reason? Hiring managers and employers love to know how you handle certain situations you might come across in your position — especially conflict. Here are some examples of popular behavioral interview questions about conflict in the workplace:
How do you deal with conflict?
Tell us about a time when you had issues with a colleague.
Tell us about a time you disagreed with your boss.
Give us an example of a time you had to deal with an unhappy client.
How do you deal with differences in opinion when working with a team?
These conflict resolution questions are popular in job interviews because they help the hiring manager evaluate your conflict management ability and interpersonal skills.
Why do interviewers want to know how you handle conflict?
Regardless of which organization you choose to join, your job will most likely require you to get along with different kinds of personalities. Some of the team members might be absolutely pleasant to work with and end up being your closest friends. At the same time, some co-workers, or even bosses, might turn out to be bullies and a pain to work with. Sometimes, climbing the corporate ladder essentially means being able to handle conflict at work professionally and efficiently. The hiring manager doesn’t just want to hire a candidate who has the right skill set for the job; they also want a good team player with emotional maturity.
How to answer conflict interview questions
Conflict in the workplace interview questions often catch you off-guard and force you to talk about an unpleasant situation at work. It will be really difficult to answer the question on the fly, so it’s critical to do your research on conflict interview questions and answers to be prepared. You can use the STAR method to prepare your responses to these potential interview questions. This technique allows you to curate your answer by listing down bullet points for each of the key aspects of the story. Here’s how job seekers can use the STAR method to answer a conflict-type interview question:
Briefly describe the context for the conflict situation that arose at your workplace and describe your role in that situation. Be as specific as possible. It’s helpful to talk about a story that had a positive outcome for all parties and can be summarized easily.
Example: I was managing the creation of a new website for the company. The IT consultant that we engaged kept missing his deadlines and got angry at me when I confronted him.
Next, elaborate on the approach that you took to resolve the conflict. Be sure to emphasize the steps you took to resolve the conflict in a professional and productive manner. Focus on what you did, rather than what your boss or colleague did in resolving the problem.
Example: I was surprised by his reaction, but remained calm and explained the reasoning behind the tight deadlines and the importance of having the website running on time. He opened up to me about the other projects on his plate at the moment and how overwhelmed he was with his workload. I agreed to approach his manager with him to explain to her about how time-consuming this project was. The manager was completely understanding and assigned some of his ongoing projects to other consultants in the team.
Finally, end your response by describing the positive outcomes of your action/approach. It’s even better if the results are quantifiable (increased sales by 30 percent, saved the company $100,000, etc).
Example: After our meeting with the manager, the IT consultant was able to fully focus on completing our website design. He apologized for getting angry and thanked me for talking to his manager. We successfully launched the website by the deadline set by my top management. The website enabled us to promote our new line of products that led to an increase of $500,000 in sales.
The key to answering workplace conflict interview questions is to be honest and emphasize communication and conflict resolution skills. If you realized during the conflict that your opinion was wrong, be honest about it! Show the interviewer that you’re willing to learn and are open to constructive criticism. This will certainly make you a more attractive prospective hire during your job search.
Feeling a little shaky when it comes to answering questions like this? A professional interview coach can help you.
It might seem light an interview question to answer at first, but don’t be fooled. This is a VERY loaded question, so be careful when you answer it. The primary objective is to find out how you handle authority.
It can be asked in a number of other ways including “Who was your best boss?,” “Who was your worst boss?,” and “Describe your ideal boss.”
Don’t bad-mouth your previous boss
Every interviewer knows that there are bad bosses out there, and there’s a very real possibility that you just came from a company where you were dealing with Satan in boss form. But, do you think that the interviewer wants to hear you bad-mouth that boss, no matter how bad he/she was? Absolutely not!
The truth is that the interviewer doesn’t care about how good or bad your boss was in your last job or jobs. What they want to see is how compatible you are with the style of management in their company, how you deal with horrible bosses, and whether or not you’re carrying a grudge, nobody wants a toxic employee.
Stay positive and don’t get too specific
To successfully answer this question you have to remain positive as any hint of negativity will probably mean you have blown the interview. But you can’t just describe your ideal boss down to the last detail either. If your description of the “best boss” doesn’t match the person who is interviewing you or their style of management it is just as bad as being negative. You give a positive description, that is also relatively vague. That way everyone goes home happy. Crafting an effective answer will take some preparation.
Here are a few great answers that can help you get out of answering with specifics:
- I’ve learned something from every boss I’ve had. I have found that the great bosses help me to go further in my professional life, but the challenging bosses help me to learn what not to do in my personal and work life.
- I loved working with one of my bosses, as he helped to mentor me and offered invaluable advice. Obviously, not all of my bosses were the same, but they all helped me progress in valuable ways.
These answers are very generic, and the interviewer may press for more detail. They may ask you to describe your “worst boss”. Once again, remember that they’re looking for your reaction.
Here are a few more ways to answer the question:
- I had a boss who had a very different communication style. Although we worked well together and achieved all our goals, it wasn’t the same as with other bosses and managers I have had. (only use this if you are pressed to describe your worst boss).
- I’ve been able to get along professionally with every boss I’ve worked with, even in the company where I am currently working (and now leaving).
- No matter how easy or hard it is to get along with people, the most important thing for me is just to stay focused on the objective and completing the task at hand.
- Even when I’ve found it difficult to accept the tasks I’ve been given, I find that agreeing to disagree helps to smooth relationships when everyone remembers to work hard to reach the goal.
- There will always be challenging bosses, no matter where you go. I just work hard to get along with each boss, and I’ve been able to forge a strong working relationship with my manager or supervisor.
- I have had a rocky start with a boss or two, but that’s just because we had different expectations. Once we realised our goals were compatible, we found it was easy to work together successfully.
- Talking with a manager at the onset of a project helps to avoid any problems, and ensures that we’re all on the same page as we work.
- I try to get along with everyone, no matter their personality type.
Remember, the real key to answering this question is to be positive. The interviewer wants to see who you are; they don’t care about how nasty your last boss was.
Have you ever been asked this question in an interview? What happened? Did you stay positive? Your thoughts and comments below…
Interviewers commonly ask “How would you describe your Excel ability” or “How much experience do you have in Excel?” Taking a quick informal survey, I found most people answered, generically “intermediate”. This makes sense, no one wants to claim to be a beginner, but no one wants to claim to be advanced and be asked questions to verify. You won’t stand out using this approach.
Instead, we suggest the following response:
1. Qualify your response by indicating that while you think you’re good at Excel, that you want to become much better.
It really depends on who you compare me to. Compared to my classmates I think I’m very advanced, but being a student there’s only so much experience with Excel I can have. I’m happy with where I’m at, but I know I have much to learn.
2. Name drop some Excel features.
I know vlookups, PivotTables, text functions, and I have a little experience with macros.
3. Mention areas that you are working to improve.
Recently, I’ve really been concentrating on keyboard shortcuts and not using the mouse. I’ve seen people work ridiculously fast with just the keyboard and want to get to that level.
4. Going along with item #3, mention how you’re working to improve.
I’ve actually been working through this Excel Tutorial
and I’ve really been learning a lot.
Rememeber Spreadsheet Boot Camp has a free Efficiency Trainer that you can download. Try referencing that!
I’ve really been concentrating recently on keyboard shortcuts and not using the mouse. You can work so much faster that way. I’ve been going through an “Efficiency Trainer” by Spreadsheet Boot Camp to help learn the techniques I need.
From my own experience, I’ve noticed interns with weak Excel skills be “cast aside” and not given work or attention during their internship. Training them takes too much effort. So you can bet employers want to weed out potential hires without strong Excel skills. Not because Excel skills = competence, but because if you have weak Excel skills you’re going to waste other people’s time while they bring you up to speed. So, go out and learn Excel!