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Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring a Manager

Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring a Manager

By Alison Green | ManagerLink

I recently put this together for someone, and I’m recycling it here: interview questions to ask if you’re hiring a manager of a department, organization, whatever.

As you’ll see, the idea of most of these to give you a good feel for whether this is someone who gets things done, is a strong manager who’s focused on results, etc. Please add in your own!


Send the candidate your annual report or other materials ahead of time. In the interview, ask him/her to explain the organization’s work to you as if you were a prospective funder or investor.

How would the people around you describe you?

What’s a common misconception some people have about you?

Tell me about a difficult decision you had to make recently. Walk me through the problem and what your thought process was, and how you ultimately handled it.

What is one thing that you have had difficulty over coming in your career, and how did you do that?

What is some of the most useful criticism you’ve ever received? Why?

Have you ever been given criticism that you disagreed with? What was it? How did you handle that?

Getting Things Done

What has your biggest achievement been at ___? What results there that you produced are you most proud of? (Then ask the same question for other jobs they’ve had. You’re looking for someone with a pattern of taking things from X to Y — with Y being greater than X.)

What were the big things you were trying to achieve in the past year at ___? What things were/are worrying you? What were/are you doing about it?

What were your organization or department’s major goals last year (depending on whether the person was managing the organization or a department there)? How did you settle on those? To what extent did you meet them? How did you measure whether or not you met them? Were there targets you considered setting, but ultimately rejected?

What’s an example of a goal you didn’t meet? How come? How did you respond to that?

What will success look like for you this year? Why is that important? How hard will it be to get there?

If I were to ask your ___ (someone who reports to the person) what her goals are, what would she say? Does that match what you would say they are?

Tell me about one of the organization’s largest or most important projects and how you managed it, from start to finish. I’m interested in something where others were doing the work, but you were overseeing it. - What was the vision for it? - What happened? - How did you ensure that happened? (You’re looking for managers who leave little to chance: either they have good reason to rely on the person in charge of the project, or they keep their hands in things enough to ensure success.) - How do you know it happened? - What lessons did you take away?

What are some of the biggest obstacles your organization/department (whichever they are responsible for) hit in the last few years? What did you do to address them?

Tell me about something you got done at ___ that someone else in your role probably wouldn’t have.