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4 Things Every Candidate Needs to Know Before Preparing For a Management Interview

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

female job candidate waiting to be called into interview

In the world of career progression, few moments carry as much weight as the looming management-level interview. The stakes have never been higher. The terrain is different, the rules are distinct, and the butterflies in your stomach flutter with both anticipation and trepidation.

You've mastered the art of acing interviews for regular positions, but management interviews are a wholly different beast, lurking in the shadows of unpredictability. The question is: How do you navigate this new arena? How do you transform yourself from a candidate into a managerial champion?

As you embark on this journey to the corner office, we unveil the four sacred secrets that will sculpt your destiny. Buckle up for a rollercoaster ride through the intricacies of management-level interviews, and learn what sets them apart from the junior leagues of your career. Read on to uncover the vital knowledge that will redefine your interview readiness.

Talk about achievements in terms of figures, not abstracts

When I ran for my second promotion in 2021, I was actually pulled into a random meeting with the senior director for my region, who gave me an informal interview.

By informal, I mean, he never called the meeting an interview as such, so I had no idea of what exactly to expect, but it was a rigorous interview nonetheless.

Thankfully, I came prepared and armed with a list of all that I had contributed to the organization. This was my moment, my opportunity to shine, and I wasn’t going to waste it with meaningless flaff.

I had my notes which listed quantifiable results such as:

  • By what percentage I had achieved and exceeded KPIs each month, and what those specific KPIs were

  • How many team members I had supervised and trained

  • The quantifiable impact of my training and supervision—how my team were able to achieve and exceed their KPIs, and by how much, how many were promoted, etc.

Notice: the key word here is quantify.

In this situation you will most likely be interviewing with the director or head of department.

As such, they only care about actual results. They don’t care about your philosophy or theory of management.

If you can prove you’ve delivered tangible results before, and give them strong examples, then in their minds, you can recreate the same for their teams. Giving them abstract, cliched phrases will bore them and you will be skipped over for a promotion, to someone else who deserves the role more because they evidenced their previous success.

Focus on the team, not you.

When transitioning into management, one of the limiting mindsets you’ll need to release yourself from is that of “me” and “my performance” because it is now about taking ownership of others, whether or not you have direct reports.

As a manager you will need to think about department, programs, and projects that involve managing people to some extent, and not just focusing on yourself.

Therefore, it’s important to remember to talk in a collective way when referencing previous experience and when highlighting skills that make you perfect for the role, and not just talking about you.

Think big picture and ask long-term questions.

At the end of your management interview, you should ask insightful questions that show you have much more on your mind than every day benefits, team culture, or a typical day in the life of the job.

Some useful questions I have asked in my management interviews have included:

  • How far have you progressed in achieving your 3-5 year strategy outlined on your strategy report?

  • What is the organizational hierarchy structure like?

  • What is your goal for the team/program/department/project for a year from now?

  • What are your key priorities you’d like for me to concentrate on in my first 90 days of this role?

  • How was this role created? Is this in response to a newly identified organizational need as part of your strategy, or am I replacing the last person who filled this position?


Focus specifically on preparing your answers to these common management interview questions:

  • What is your management style?

  • Give me and example of a time when you have managed an under-performing or difficult employee?

  • How would you influence a senior stakeholder to support your decision if they initially disagreed with it?

  • How would you manage conflicting deadlines and priorities?

  • Give me an example of a time when you initiated or managed change.

  • What key strengths do you bring to this role?

  • If you were to be successful in this position, what challenges do you anticipate in your first few months?

So to recap what we’ve discussed so far, the four main things to remember as you prepare for a management interview are:

  • Talk about achievements in terms of figures, not abstracts

  • Focus on the team, not you.

  • Think big-picture and ask long-term questions.

  • And finally, focus specifically on preparing for management interview questions like the ones I listed above, not the generic questions you’ve prepped for earlier in your career.

One of my clients, Lisa, had her first management interview coming up and booked me literally TWO days before her interview for coaching.

After a one hour session with me where we explored the above in detail, and another one hour session the following day (literally 24hrs before her interview) she felt fully equipped and confident for the meeting with the hiring manager. The very next day after the interview, she received an offer!

Lisa's success story can be your story too. Imagine walking into your management interview with the confidence of a seasoned pro, armed with impeccably polished questions, answers, and interview techniques.

Secure your place now for exclusive 1:1 interview coaching with me. Just a click away, this opportunity is your direct route to mastering interviews and achieving the results you desire. Book your coaching session today and let's set you on the path to success.



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