While all interviews can seem overwhelming and intimidating, interviewing for a management-level job is usually quite different from the usual job interview that most of us have experienced.
If you are interviewing for a management position for the first time, it is important to think about the kind of responsibility you’d be taking on in that role, and use this to demonstrate strategic thinking to your interviewer – be they your current or prospective employer. Prepare to highlight your skills such as decision making, negotiation, and delegation, and to talk about your experience in managing people, projects or budgets.
1. Know what type of manager you would like to be
Before you interview for a management position, it is important to understand that there are many different management styles, and that you will probably be asked what your personal management style is. Research the different management styles and understand which you would most like to be, and which would be best for the position you are interviewing for. By demonstrating that you already have an idea on how you aim to manage your team to achieve the team’s objectives shows forward thinking and ambition.
2. Show that you understand how your management skills affect the company's bottom line
This opportunity usually presents itself when your interviewer asks you questions. Be sure to demonstrate that you understand how your role as a manager will impact the company's profit margins.
You should have a good understanding of where you fit into the big picture, and the ways in which your role is important for the effective running of the business.
3. Act like a manager in the interview
The ability to cope under pressure is often explored in a management-level interview. Try to remain as calm as possible, and communicate effectively. Your interviewer wants to see that you are able to command the room, get your points across clearly and are able to remain focused under pressure. This way, your interviewer will have an easier time seeing you as the right candidate to fill the position.
4. Demonstrate you are a problem solver
Depending on the organisation type, size and sector, the role of a manger can vary greatly. However, in almost all instances, managers are expected to solve problems as part of their job. Sometimes those problems are staff related, as in solving a dispute between co-workers you manage. Other times, those problems might be related to a client or some technical aspect of your job or section of the business that you manage. Being able to demonstrate that you are capable of handling problems quickly and effectively will certainly count in your favour.
Prepare notes on some experiences you’ve had in your career that required you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. Ask your interviewer about possible challenges you may face in the role, and suggest some solutions to these, if possible.
5. Be prepared to ask questions
Managers need to get to the bottom of any issue that may arise. Be prepared to ask questions during the interview to demonstrate that you know how to enquire to get the necessary details for any situation. Very often, candidates would save their questions for the end of the interview. However, when interviewing for a management role, you may be encouraged to engage more in the discussion, rather than just taking part in a back and forth question and answer type conversation.
6. Dress for one level higher
Even if your employer is lax regarding employee attire, as a manager you may need to dress somewhat differently. Barring the uniform, you may need to suit up. Find out what the standard is for managers in the organisation and dress for the interview as if you already had the management position.
The road to being the best manager is, in reality, a never-ending one – and perhaps the best managers are those that know that they are not the best managers but are willing to keep learning. By constantly reviewing your management skills, and researching on how to get the best out of your team, you will become a respected manager that will inspire others in your team to follow your path and who will attract the best talent who want to learn from you.
Lyndy van den Barselaar is the managing director at ManpowerGroup South Africa.