Questions to Ask When Hiring a Manager

Finding the right manager for your organization is crucial for its success. A skilled and competent manager can effectively lead teams, drive growth, and navigate the ever-changing business landscape. However, identifying the perfect candidate can be a daunting task. To assist you in this endeavor, we have compiled a comprehensive list of questions to ask when hiring a manager. By asking the right questions, you can gain valuable insights into their qualifications, leadership style, and ability to align with your company’s goals.

Why is it important to prepare questions for an interview?

Preparing interview questions for a hiring manager allows you to gain a better understanding of their team management style, company culture, and career goals. Asking the right interview questions can reveal problem-solving skills, job descriptions, communication abilities, and more.

Knowing what questions to ask during an interview with a potential hire is key to finding the best candidate for your organization and ensuring you have a successful management team. It also allows you to get a better sense of the person, which can help give you more insight into their potential fit for the job.

Finally, it allows you to ask follow-up questions should the interviewee not provide enough detail in their initial answer.

Questions to ask when hiring a manager

Manager Interview Questions and Answers

The interview process for hiring managers should go beyond the basic interview questions. You’ll want to gain a better understanding of their management style, how they motivate employees, reward them, and measure success. Use this guide to help you prepare for your next interview.

How long have you been a manager, and how many people were you managing?

This question helps to gauge the amount of experience your candidate has in managing people. 

What to look for in an answer

The candidate should be able to provide an example of how many people they’ve managed and for how long. They should also be able to discuss their experience with leading projects with additional team members.


“I’ve been a manager for the past 8 years, during which I’ve managed teams ranging from 2 to 39 people. My experience includes leading projects with additional team members who weren’t part of my direct team, which has given me a better understanding of how to motivate employees and handle multiple responsibilities at once.”

This shows the candidate’s level of experience and ability to think on their feet and handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

What is your management style?

This question helps to gauge the amount of experience your ideal candidate has in managing people in their career path and his working style.

What to look for in an answer:

  • The candidate should be able to articulate how they lead their team and how they foster a productive work environment.
  • They also should be able to show how they provide feedback and help employees develop their skills.


“My management style is based on creating a transparent culture that promotes open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect. I focus on setting clear expectations for my team and providing feedback that helps them achieve their goals. I also strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued and is supported in their growth.”

This answer shows the candidate is focused on creating a supportive environment and providing feedback to help their employees develop their skills and reach their goals.

How would your direct reports describe your management style?

This question during the job interview gives insight into how the management candidate works and interacts with team members, so you can get a better idea of their management style. It also lets the potential employer showcase any positive feedback they’ve received from their team in the past.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Confirmation that the job candidates are approachable and open to communication with their team.
  • Evidence that the candidate is an effective leader and motivator.


“My direct reports would tell you I have a collaborative management approach. I like to be involved in the strategy of projects, but still, give my team the freedom to take ownership of their work. They’d also say I’m incredibly approachable and well-versed in problem-solving. I believe strongly in recognizing successes and rewarding employees for a job well done.”

What is your definition of success?

This interview question will give you an idea of how the candidate sets goals and personal achievements, as well as how they measure success. It can also help you grasp their view of the company’s future, and how loyal they will be to the organization.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence that the candidate is focused on team success rather than individual achievement
  • An understanding of the company’s mission and goals


“I define success as achieving the team’s collective goals. To me, it means everyone works together to reach a common aim. It also means having loyal employees who have a better understanding of the company’s culture and values, and who are motivated to help shape the company’s future.”

What are your biggest challenges as a manager?

This interview question can provide insight into the candidate’s experience with hiring and managing teams, as well as how they handle difficult situations. It also provides an opportunity to learn what they view as their weaknesses, and how they’ve worked to address them.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A clear example of a challenge the candidate has faced as a manager
  • Indications that the candidate is able to recognize and address issues


“I think my biggest challenge as a manager has been setting expectations for new projects and ensuring team members are on the same page. I tackled this by introducing a weekly check-in process with each team member to ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities so that we can collaborate more effectively.”

How has your management style changed with experience?

This one takes your interviewee down memory lane to track their journey as a manager. It opens the door for them to talk about how they’ve grown and improved over time, which is an important element of success in any business role — but especially in management positions.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Adaptability
  • Humility
  • Critical thinking


“I used to be a micromanager, but I realized it wasn’t the most effective way for me to get results. Now, I try to focus on giving my team enough direction to stay on track and feel supported, while still allowing them the freedom they need. I also learned that it’s important to reward progress and have an open dialogue with employees to get the best from them — something I probably didn’t do enough of before.”

What is a common way you see people fail as managers?

This question evaluates whether your candidate has thought of management in terms beyond their own behavior. It helps you gauge whether they can consider the important principles required to manage a team.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Awareness of what effective management looks like
  • They own their mistakes
  • Confirmation that they are aligned with the job description and your company’s expectations of management


“One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen managers make is being less than transparent. Of course, some decisions need to happen at the executive level, but someone who is honest and accountable leads the best teams. If a manager is not upfront about challenges or changes, they can lose the trust of their team.”

What was your most recent experience with an employee not meeting expectations, and how did you deal with the situation?

This question evaluates how well the candidate can handle difficult conversations and confrontations. It also reveals their communication style, empathy, and problem-solving abilities.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A clear timeline of the event and a step-by-step approach used to address it
  • Evidence that they did not take a “one size fits all” approach to the situation
  • Use of positive language and conflict resolution techniques


“About six months ago, I had an employee who was struggling with deadlines and performance. Before I addressed it, I spoke with their peers and supervisors to get a better understanding of the situation. I then had a private meeting with the employee to discuss their progress and how they could improve. We were able to come up with a plan that set clear expectations and provided support.”

Dealing with performance issues is a key responsibility of managers. Learning how your candidate deals with this sometimes uncomfortable task can tell you a lot about them.

How do you motivate employees to exceed expectations?

Motivating a team is an important job for any manager. The interviewee’s answer provides insight into their understanding of what motivates people and how they think they can best encourage their staff to reach higher heights.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of the best ways to encourage and reward employees
  • Understanding that motivation comes from within as well as externally
  • Appreciation for how people are motivated differently


“I always strive to understand what drives each person on my team. Some need recognition, some need more autonomy, and others need more tangible rewards. I get to know each individual and then make sure I reinforce their efforts with the right motivation.”

How do you handle your mistakes in the workplace?

This interview question tests a candidate’s ability to face their own mistakes and learn from them. It also reveals how well they can take criticism and feedback, as well as how comfortable they are admitting when they have made a mistake.

What to look for in an answer:

  • How a manager deals with their own mistakes can impact their team and the company.
  • This question lets the candidate reveal how they face adversity and take responsibility for their miscalculations or other errors.


“As a manager, I think it’s important to have personal accountability. That sets the standard for the rest of the team. If I don’t admit and correct my own mistakes, how can I ask my direct reports to do it? When I know I made a mistake, I apologize to the people involved and explain how I will do better in the future. For instance, recently I sent the wrong report to a client. I corrected the issue by sending the right report and committed to the director that I would better organize my desktop files to avoid the same mistake again.”

Can you describe the most important contributions of a manager in the workplace?

This question evaluates the candidate’s understanding of the key responsibilities of a manager. It can also indicate if they have fundamental knowledge about leading teams, such as knowing what motivates employees or how to delegate tasks.

What to look for in an answer during the hiring process:

  • The evidence they are able to direct and motivate their team
  • Indications they understand the importance of communication
  • Awareness of how to promote an efficient and engaging workplace


“The most important role of a manager is to get the best out of their team. This means creating an environment where people feel comfortable communicating and collaborating. As a manager, I get to know each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. Then I create tasks that are tailored to those skills and set clear expectations for what success looks like. Finally, I recognize and reward the team’s successes so everyone feels appreciated.”

Questions to ask when hiring a manager

What strategies do you use to motivate your employees’ productivity?

Motivating employees is an important part of management. This question can reveal how your candidate motivates their team to be productive and efficient.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Indications they can create an environment where employees feel supported and appreciated
  • Evidence of reward systems or other techniques for recognizing employees’ achievements
  • An understanding of the importance of communication in creating a productive atmosphere


“I believe that motivation starts with clear goals and expectations. I make sure my team knows what needs to be done and discuss it together so they have ownership over the task. We review results together and celebrate successes as a team. I also give individual recognition as well. I like to give employees small rewards when they go above and beyond, such as a gift card or extra time off. This helps them feel appreciated and keeps them motivated.”

A word from SublimePeople

By asking these comprehensive questions during the manager hiring process, you can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s qualifications, leadership abilities, and compatibility with your organization. Remember, finding the right manager is a crucial step toward driving growth and success within your company.