Congratulations, you’ve landed the big interview with a manager at your dream company!
While we’ve already covered second interview tips, we haven’t covered what you should be looking for in a manager, including the characteristics of a good manager.
Thanks to the Great Resignation, you probably have a little more power during the hiring process than you would have in the past.
Now is the time to say yes to a good fit — not just the first offer that lands on the table.
Characteristics of a Good Manager
When it comes to the characteristics of a good manager, soft skills are key.
While a manager with solid technical skills can be a good mentor (or simply just thrilling to work with), this person’s main role is to ensure the team works effectively. To do this, some of the characteristics of a good manager might include the following.
How does the manager handle emotionally stressful situations? Do they bounce back easily? Can they emotionally regulate? Or do they need a lot of time to cool down?
Emotional resilience isn’t a “must” in a manager, but this skill can reclassify an “OK” manager as a great one.
It’s very important for all leaders to show empathy and/or compassion.
While empathy is important (the ability to understand how others are feeling), compassion (the ability to have concern for others) can be an even more important skill.
Does the manager show compassion and empathy for others? Or do they struggle to understand how others feel?
All managers need to show fairness. If a person cannot be unbiased and fair, that person shouldn’t be in a leadership position.
How has the manager handled tough situations in the past? Have they shown fairness by taking action without allowing their emotions to get in the way?
Ability to Lead
Of course, all leaders need to be able to… well, lead!
How much experience does the manager have leading teams? How do they handle conflict? Are they decisive, or do they waffle when making decisions?
Are they able to make kind and fair decisions? How do they conduct themselves? Do they lead by example?
Yes, all managers need to show confidence. Confidence in their decisions and in their actions.
It’s important to note that confidence is something that can’t be faked. It comes from within and shouldn’t be confused with cockiness or aggressive behavior.
Questions to Ask a Manager During a Job Interview
You know that part of the interview where the manager asks if you have any questions for them? This is the time to ask these questions!
Do you ever stress to think of thoughtful questions to ask? If so, some of the following questions could help you determine if the manager is a good fit or not.
Asking solid questions will also help you stand out when applying for a job.
How do you handle conflict between your employees?
This question is so important. The question isn’t whether you’ll experience conflict with someone on your team — but how you, the other party, and your boss handle conflict.
While you don’t want to give the manager the impression that you’re a magnet for conflict (or that you can’t handle conflict without intervention), how a manager handles conflict can tell you a lot about their managing style.
You’ll also want to know that your manager has the skills to handle serious situations, should one arise.
The difference between a manager that handles conflict well and one who does not can mean the difference between a great work environment and one that may end up a nightmare.
How would you address performance challenges in your department?
Again, you want to tread lightly with this question. You don’t want your manager to think that your performance has been an issue in the past.
But you do want a heads-up on how performance issues are handled in the department should your work not live up to your manager’s expectations.
One characteristic of a good manager is the ability to timely and effectively communicate their expectations and offer constructive feedback on your performance.
How do you track employee successes and challenges?
How a manager addresses praise and constructive feedback could make or break your relationship (and your interest in a job).
Does the manager offer praise when it’s deserved and constructive feedback in a timely manner?
How a manager responds could tell you a lot about their managerial style in general.
What to Look for During an Interview
Just as a manager will be on the lookout for non-verbal cues, you should pay attention to the person interviewing you!
If you feel as though you haven’t been treated well during an interview, you might want to pass on the position. While it’s possible the manager is having a bad day, they could also be showing their general demeanor, too.
Check for the following during any interview with someone you’ll be working closely with.
Does the manager listen to you?
Or do they just wait for their turn to talk?
If a manager doesn’t listen to you during an interview, you can bet that they won’t listen to you on a daily basis, either.
How does the manager speak about other employees?
How someone speaks about others who are not in the room speaks volumes about how they may treat you when you’re not around, too.
Does the manager speak about employees with kindness and compassion? Or do they talk about others “behind their backs”?
Do you enjoy talking with the manager?
While it’s not necessary to be besties with your manager, you should enjoy their company!
You’ll probably be working side-by-side with this person, and liking (or at the very least getting along) with this person will help you succeed.
Want more tips on how to interview an interviewer while they’re interviewing you? Suffering from job search burnout? Join the Rise community to find out more characteristics of a good manager and what you should be looking for during an interview.