Career advice

How to spot a good manager in your interview

Effective management is hugely important to any employee. If good, clear management is lacking, it’s easy to lose motivation, enthusiasm and productivity and it’s likely you’ll start to look for other opportunities. The relationship between a manager and their team will normally directly impact upon the morale and success of that team. You may also find that you respond better to some management styles than others.
Most candidates who are looking to make a career move will hope that their new manager is someone they like, respect and work well with – but can they ever guarantee it? Obviously, it’s hard to predict exactly what your new manager will be like, but you can get a good idea at the interview stage. Remember, an interview is a two-way process and you should also be assessing the employer and organisation to see if they meet your criteria too.
If you’re interviewing for a new job, here are a few questions to ask yourself when meeting your potential manager. By paying close attention to a few key tell-tale signs, you could get a much better idea of the type of manager you’re dealing with.
A few things to consider:
  • What has your correspondence been like before the interview? If you’ve dealt with them directly - did you find them approachable, helpful and respectful? Did their phone call/emails put you at ease?
  • What is your gut instinct about your initial chemistry? This is not to suggest that you be overly impulsive and dismiss someone in the first few seconds of meeting them – but first impressions can be telling.
  • Do they keep you waiting for a long time with no apology, or do they make a real effort to make you feel comfortable by offering you a drink or having some informal chat before starting?
  • Are they clear, direct and confident in their questioning or do they mumble and feel difficult to understand? Do they offer vague descriptions of the role and pose confusing questions? How they ask and answer questions in the interview will give you an idea of how they’d communicate tasks and projects to you in the role.
  • Read their body language. Are they relaxed, open and at ease or do they seem uncomfortable and fail to hold eye contact? Confidence and openness are key to effective management.
  • Do they seem genuinely interested in your experience and passionate about the business? If they appear to lack enthusiasm and to be just going through the motions, they may not be a particularly inspiring manager.
  • Can you get any inside information about your manager? Do you know someone who works at the organisation or has done in the past? Tap-up any contacts you have to get an honest view from someone who has worked with them. Obviously, use your discretion and act appropriately.
  • Do they reveal frustrations or undermine another section of the business during the course of your interview? If so, this could indicate a level of unprofessionalism and could suggest they’re unhappy in their own position.
  • Do they ask in-depth questions and really listen to your answers? Are they responsive and able to build on your answers or do they stick rigidly to the set questions and appear uninterested?
  • Try to ask a few questions that might reveal their management style – for example, what might I expect from a typical day working with you and the team? Use your discretion and try not to appear too forthcoming in your questioning.
  • Are they distracted by phone calls, Blackberry beeps or other interruptions? If so – this might be a sign of things to come and it might be hard to keep their attention.
  • Can they give a straight answer or do they show signs of awkwardness and vagueness with overly generic responses. Particularly note this if discussing the reasons behind the hire. Is there an indication that the experience with the last recruit ended badly?
Find your next interview by searching Michael Page jobs today