5 Tremendous Interview Questions for Manager Candidates

Jim Roddy Asking Manager Questions To CandidateEvery hire you make is important, but hiring the right managers and senior executives carries even more weight. I consider managers and executives to be in hub positions — like the hub is the center of a wheel. Hiring the wrong person for a hub position will negatively impact multiple employees. Hiring and appropriately managing the right person creates a big lift for your entire organization, especially the group that employee directs. Because of the added importance, ask these candidates additional questions to increase your chances of making the right hire. You’ll need to add hours to your pre-employment process, but making the right decision justifies the extra time.


1. Can you tell me a couple of examples of systems or processes you installed that didn’t exist in the company before you worked there?

1a. How did you ensure those systems didn’t erode? How did you make sure they operated successfully for years?

Successful managers enable their department or team to achieve high performance without the supervisor’s constant intervention. Excellent managers will solve the immediate problem plus will install a permanent solution so the company doesn’t suffer from the same mistakes again. Competent managers test the system from multiple angles to ensure its dependability.

2. Tell me about a time you identified a problem and took action to correct it rather than wait for someone else to do it.

Initiative and problem solving are two important characteristics of successful managers. A strong leader should be able to regale you with details of multiple times they solved a problem without needing their supervisor to tap them on the shoulder – or kick them in the behind.

3. Tell me about the hardest conversation you ever had with an employee.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said it best: “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” Excellent managers project humility and kindness while at the same time confronting employees who are not in line with company goals.

4. Tell me about the last employee you fired. What led up to it, and how did you do the firing?

A well-rounded manager has experience getting some employees good and getting other employees gone. This question will give insight into how quickly (or slowly) the manager reacted and how humanely (or inhumanely) they treated the outgoing employee. This question can also shed light on a manager’s courage (or lack of courage) to confront a substandard employee.

5. Have you ever sought out criticism from your supervisor? How did it go?

Humility is one of the most important traits of all employees, especially managers. Candidates will claim they are humble and could put on a good show during the interview. They’ll even tell you how meaningful they consider constructive criticism. This question tests to what degree their actions match their words.

Please Note: Asking these questions without understanding the why behind each one is dangerous. You won’t make the right hiring decisions because you won’t fully understand the best practice principles or the outcomes you’re shooting for. So if you haven’t read the book yet, please go back to Chapter 1 and start reading.

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