“How many pennies would it take to fill this room?“
Have you ever had an interview question like this? Did it stop you in your tracks?
Employers use these seemingly crazy questions to see how well you can think on your feet and whether you can reason through a tough problem. Here’s a more common, but equally tough, question that can stump both new and seasoned managers alike:
“What is your management philosophy?“
This one can be difficult if 1) you’re not sure what the interviewer is looking for or 2) you’re not used to articulating your core beliefs as a manager.
First, as with the penny question, the employer wants to know you can provide an organized and reasoned response. They also want to know if your management style will fit with their organizational culture and whether you understand how your leadership impacts overall performance.
Second, it’s important to distinguish between management actions (what you do) and management philosophy (what you believe and why). Rather than listing tasks, think about how your management style creates a more effective and efficient organization, and focus on the results of your approach.
Stuck on where to start?
Consider working around the 4 basic management functions: planning, organizing, leading and controlling. (Remember those from business class??)
• How do individual and team goals correlate to organizational goals?
• What’s your decision making style?
• Do you have a preferred team structure? Why?
• What’s your foundation for distributing authority?
• What do you believe drives individual motivation?
• What are major sources of conflict within a team and how do you address them?
• How does evaluation relate to performance?
• What are your options when individual or team results are not in line with expectations?
How about you? Have you ever been asked about your management philosophy in an interview? How did you respond?
For more thoughts on the interview process, try these posts:
Revised from original post – July 4, 2013