12 ways to spot a good manager in your interview
Managers typically have a direct impact on the morale and success of their teams. More often than not, the relationship you have with your manager is a critical factor in your level of job satisfaction. If positive, clear and intelligent management is lacking, it’s easy to lose motivation, enthusiasm and productivity – and it’s likely you’ll want to start looking for new opportunities.
Everybody wants a manager that they like, respect and work well with – but unfortunately this can never be guaranteed. 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.
Here are some key things to consider:
  • What has your correspondence been like before the interview?
    If you’ve dealt with them directly, did you find them approachable and helpful? Did their phone call/emails put you at ease? Were they respectful and did they reply in a timely manner?
  • What is your gut instinct about your initial chemistry?
    Of course it would be a mistake to be overly impulsive and make your mind up about 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?
    Do they make time to offer you a drink or have some informal chat before starting, or are they extremely serious?
  • Are they clear, direct and confident in their questioning or are they 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? Get in touch with 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?
    Do they appear uninterested? You want to work for a manager that is interested in you, and in your success.
  • 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?



The relationship with your manager will likely be an important factor in your level of job satisfaction. Consider the following when you are interviewing for a new role:
  • It is a two-way street - you should be assessing the hiring manager and the organisation 
  • Does the interviewer seem genuinely interested in your experience?
  • Try and get information about your new manager from your recruitment consultant
  • What does your gut instinct tell you?
If you are looking to see what your new manager could be like, these tips will help you identify a good one.
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