Best Manager Interview Question

Peter Drucker said “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and while that may be true, managers hold the knife and fork. Hiring a manager is not like hiring any other employee. Managers, particularly a first line managers, are the conduit through which all communication and cultural changes passes. These are vital positions in any organization so getting the hire right is critical.

If I could ask just one question of a managerial candidate it would be:

“As a manager in this role you will be responsible for leading a team of X people. What specifically will you do during year one to help ensure they each become more valuable to the company and stronger performers overall?”

With this single question I discover the following:

  1. If they understand a manager’s role in employee development
  2. Have specific plans for taking performance to the next level
  3. Are able to adapt their approach to different levels and skill sets
  4. And bonus points: See if they can expand on the timeline i.e. what I would do in the first 90 days, results for year 1, and next steps.

Too many recruiters and hiring managers fail to adjust their interview tactics when speaking to a candidate for managerial roles. What works for individual contributors and even high-level subject matter experts does not apply to these positions. Sure, having a foundation in the relevant technical space is helpful, but management is its own disciple. Ignore it and you’ll not only risk a poor hire, but one that creates turmoil among the existing team.

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