Choosing the right candidate for a managerial role is one of the most important decisions businesses ever have to make. Managers are responsible for 70% of variance in employee engagement—and that means without great managers you’ll always struggle to maintain productive, satisfied teams who stick around long term.
The challenge is, it’s not always obvious who will make a good manager. We can all recognize examples of top talent who thrive at their own tasks but might not (yet) have the skills to manage and develop those they supervise. Identifying those who can (or can’t) might seem impossible—but the right interview questions can make a big difference.
Identifying the Managerial Skillset
Managers have to wear many hats—motivational coaching, career development and project management can often all be required in the space of a day. So, interview questions should cover these different categories. It’s important that candidates understand the skills required to be a manager and don’t just want the prestige and a license to give orders.
At the same time, all recruiters know that being able to talk the talk doesn’t mean a candidate will thrive in a role. Being able to show you understand the significance of different aspects of management is great—but more important is being able to prove it.
New vs. Current Managers
If you’re interviewing a candidate who is already a manager, it makes things easier—but you’ll want evidence they’re good at it. How have they managed employees with poor performance or disciplinary issues? Have they ever had to implement company policies they didn’t agree with? Do they manage to balance long-term planning with day-to-day productivity? Does the candidate rely on gut-instinct or are they more of a planner? Are they hungry for praise or happy for their team to take the plaudits?
For candidates who aren’t managers yet, interviewers face a tougher challenge. It’s about finding evidence of leadership, planning and emotional maturity in their job history, even if they weren’t technically supervising anyone. The solution: great interview questions that uncover the character of a candidate and offer a glimpse into whether they have the potential to step up into a management role.
Of course, a manager can be experienced and successful without being perfect. It’s a tough job, and inevitably all managers have strengths and weaknesses. So, companies need to decide what managerial style they need for a role. If employee engagement is low, it might be a good idea to find a motivator-type. But if there’s big, complex projects up ahead, finding a details-oriented manager might be the best path.
The aim should be to find a candidate who has a managerial philosophy that’s compatible with your workplace. Company culture is important anywhere, but it can come in different forms—for instance, short-term success might take priority; elsewhere, close collaboration with colleagues could be essential to getting things done.
Identifying a candidate who ticks all the right boxes isn’t easy, but without the right questions you won’t have a chance.
Get Manager Interview Questions
Finding interview questions to ask managers can be tough. To help businesses out, Paycor is offering a selection of sample questions to get you started. Use the questions as they are, or customize them to fit your industry, company, and the role for which you are hiring.