This is a question that hiring managers are likely to ask you, if you are applying for a job where you will be managing other people. Like with many questions that can be asked in an interview, it can be difficult to find the balance to show you are an effective leader, whilst not sounding overly cocky or too humble either.

The interviewers ask this to get to know more about you and your style, and to also see what you can bring to the company. The style of management someone uses can say a lot about the person, so this can give the interviewer a deeper insight into you – so make sure you plan your answer to give a good impression!

So to begin with, lets think about what style your management is. Here are 6 commonly known management styles:

  • The Directive/Coercive Leader .This is a top down (“My way or the highway”) leadership style.
  • The Authoritative Leade. This leadership style is for a manager who is looking to provide direction for employees.
  • The Affiliative Leade. The style emphasise harmony between employees themselves and also the management and employees.
  • The Participative Leader .This is a leadership style where the objective is to build commitment and unity among employees.
  • The Pacesetting Leader This manager is looking to complete the job to a standard of excellence.
  • The Coaching LeaderA manager with this style of leadership is aiming to provide development for employees.

So now we know a little more about the different styles of management. However, it is likely you can relate to several of these styles at the same time or in different situations. All of the above styles have things they are effective for and also some drawbacks – this is why when answering this question in a job interview, you should emphasis flexibility in your management style. The main style you would want to talk about with caution is the ‘Directive Leader’. This style of manager closely controls the employees beneath them, and motivates through threats and discipline. This leadership can leave employees underdeveloped and frustrated at the management and it is the least effective management except for is a crisis. Therefore, this management should be used sparingly and in the job interview you should only talk about it if either the company itself is in crisis or you used it previously for a specific problem or employee where all other styles had failed.

So as mentioned briefly above, when you answer this question, the best way to go about it is to avoid naming a single one style. You want to show the interviewer that your management style is flexible and you base it upon the situation it is required for. Different circumstances in a business require different styles of leadership and in general, the most effective management is to use a selection of factors from all the different styles. You should describe you what believe makes a good manager and how you work to make that your management style.For example you could say: “I think a good manager is someone who gives clear directions and goals to their employees, however they are also prepared to offer guidance, help and their skills when it is needed. This is how I try to make my management style.”

After you have highlight what your management style, you can add something more to let the interviewer know what is unique about your style of management.
For example: “However, what makes me different from other managers is that I make sure my team know they can come to me whenever they need help. I believe this helps promote harmony in the team and establishes a good relationship between myself as the manager and the employees in my team. For me, this seems to make a more effective team.”

Now once you’ve done this, you need to give an example of this. Its all well and good talking the talk, but you also need to show that you can walk the walk! Give the interviewer an example of how you have used the management style you described and this will really drive your effective management style home to the interviewer. When you are giving an example, try not to give a long and complicated tale that includes too many people, as the interviewer may get lost and this will make the example ineffective. If you are applying for a management position but you haven’t actually had a job as manager, you can still give an example to show why you are right for the role. Perhaps you could talk about a time when your actual manager was absent or otherwise engaged and so you stepped up and helped the team out when they needed it. For example: “Although I haven’t had the job title of manager, I have taken on the role before. In my previous job, all the team managers were in a meeting and a lot of the members of my team needed some guidance. I took it upon myself to help them by answering any queries they had and ensuring everyone completed the work we had been set to complete.” Something like this lets the interviewer see that whilst ‘manager’ may not be listed on your resume, you have experience in supervising others and have what it takes.

Once you’ve given your example, you can finish by connecting what you have said back to the position you are applying for, or perhaps ask a question of your own, for example “What sort of management styles does this company look for?”. If you have something solid to finish with, it will help stop you continuing on awkwardly and drawing out a story until the interviewer becomes uninterested.
So now you have the basic structure of your answer:1. What is good management and your structure.2. Taking it a step further with what makes you unique as a manager.3. Give an example.
Now you know, think about your answer, plan, practice and then you can wow! And as always, answer with confidence. Let the interviewer know you know what you are talking about and that you have confidence in yourself. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, neither will the employees you could be managing and the interviewer won’t have confidence in you taking the position as manager.

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