If you’ve struggled with the “What’s Your Management Style” interview question, you’re not alone.
Answering this seemingly simple question turns out to be much more difficult because describing one’s management style can be difficult — and for subordinates too.
Your subordinates might have to answer questions like these to best describe your management style:
- How you handle challenging situations with employees.
- How you handle issues with building sales and per-client revenues.
- How you approach concerns with cash flow and forecast cost commitments.
- How you coach and avoid micro-managing your staff.
Lily Zhang, author of “How to Answer What’s Your Management Style?”at TheMuse.com, offers this definition on defining good management: “Management style is so hard to put your finger on, but I think in general a good manager gives clear directions and actually stays pretty hands-off, but is ready and available to jump in to offer guidance, expertise, and help when needed. I try my best to make that my management style.”
Answering this question requires more than just the ability of your colleague’s to describe your management style, but to also explain how your management skills (e.g. ability to mediate, drive change) impact the whole team, department, and company.
You might be wondering: why this interview question at all?
Describing your management helps the job interviewer determine the level of intuitiveness you might have with your staff and somewhat puts you in the shoes of your colleagues.
Are the lines of communication open?
Does everyone feel you know what motivates them to do their best work?
Do they feel they can approach you if there is a problem?
The ideal answer for describing your management style is best done by incorporating one or two examples of how you’ve performed as a manager.
For example, how you direct your team; how to perform under pressure; how you’ve solved a problem; or, how you’ve steered the company.
An example of how to describe your management style might include:
“I believe my team would say I respect their talents and provide open communication and clear direction, while also allowing them enough space to get their work done without constant check-ins. I have a vested interest in understanding what motivates each person to do his or her best work.
For example, my company was working on revising a marketing campaign for a big client who was unhappy with the initial pitch meeting. I talked with my team and shared the client’s concerns and we discussed some new ideas to revamp the campaign.
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It was also during this talk, that I discovered one of my best team members felt slighted to not be included in the initial meeting, and as a result had not been invested in the discussion about how to improve the campaign.
I worked through this perceived slight with him and explained it was at the client’s request that the meeting only involves certain people. I stressed that it was in no way a reflection of the value of his input.
He seemed more engaged in the project after that and we reworked the campaign to the client’s satisfaction.”
You could also use this as an opportunity to ask about the team you would be leading and get a sense of possible challenges you may experience.
If the interviewer shares a concern about how effective your style would be with certain individuals, this is the perfect time to demonstrate an adaptable style that can evolve to match the situation and will contribute to the bottom line of the company.