Job interview questions to weed out bad managers

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Rey Elbo-125

In The Workplace

I’m the recruitment manager of a medium-sized corporation. For the past year, we made a series of wrong hiring decisions that caused resignations and a decline in the morale of newly-hired supervisors and managers. It turned out that there was no good fit for these new hires. Last week, you wrote about how job applicants may handle difficult and stressful job interviews. Can you help us design a list of killer interview questions for management applicants? We plan to share the list to our department heads. Thank you in advance. — Cheat Sheet.

Aunt Sarah was celebrating her ninety-ninth birthday in her home town in rural Cebu. She was a healthier compared to other much younger women. Among the guests at her birthday party was her 41-year old nephew who was a priest based in Manila. At the conclusion of the party and as the priest was preparing to leave, he said:

“Auntie Sarah, I hope that one year from this very day. I will be able to come again and celebrate your 100th birthday with you.”

The old woman looked at him briefly, from head to toe, then said: “I don’t see why not! You look fairly healthy and vibrant to me.”

Sometimes, we look at the situation of other persons rather than our own. It’s natural to many of us. If something has gone wrong, then we tend to blame other people. But things don’t work that way. That’s why you have to examine your hiring process to ensure that there will always be a good match.

Having a list of killer job interview questions could be the start of something new to improve your hiring process. Just the same, it should not be considered the end-all. You have to devise other control points so that you can come out with the best possible approach in weeding out bad applicants. These control points are as follows:

One, start using a panel or wolf-pack job interview. Include the prospective key colleagues of the applicants as well as the requisitioning department head. The panel interview saves time for the applicants as well as the interviewers. Remember, job applicants can be busy as well. But even if they’re not busy, you don’t want them to spend their time waiting for your interviewers to free their time. Besides, it’s not a good impression. Job applicants must be treated the same way as your customers.

Two, prescribe a job interview form for all interviewers. The interview form may include a 5-point rating as in Excellent (5), Above Average (4), Average (3), Below Average (2), and Poor (1). If this format is a bit elementary or unsophisticated for you, then you can devise your own ratings to conform to your current performance appraisal system. Another option is for you to remove the “average” rating to force the department managers to either or pass or fail an applicant.

Three, conduct the onboarding interview of those in the shortlist. This means limiting your final interview to the top two contenders. While it is common for many organizations to do the new employee orientation in the first few days of new hire, it is best for you to test the waters by exploring all possible issues that may not be acceptable to your candidates. To pick up more insights, you need to review the results of your exit interviews for employees leaving within one year of their hiring.

Last, decide on the total package of the applicant. Don’t rely on the interview results alone, although we have to admit that it consists of about 65% of the hiring process. Consider other factors and content of the job applicant’s CV. Test every important detail for accuracy. Remember that many job applicants tend to polish their resumes to highlight their strengths, rather than their weaknesses.

Now, here are some of the killer job interview questions that I’m recommending to test the fit for a managerial candidate:

One, executive task. How would you define the principal task of a management executive? Which is more important — process or results? Why or why not? What must be managed first and foremost? Give me your top three approaches to achieve tangible results. How would you reconcile your personal values with our company vision, mission, and value statements? What is your management style?

Two, communication. How would you proceed to understand a prospective boss? Define two-way communication process and give concrete examples. How would you do participative management? Give specific instances when you have had to admit your mistakes. How would you like the workers to see you? Tell us of a specific case when you were successful in managing conflict between and among the workers.

Three, people development. How would you coach a difficult employee? How do you ensure the full cooperation of the workers? How do you motivate employees without giving them material rewards? What’s the role of your employees in problem-solving? What is a result-oriented performance appraisal system? How would you handle the discipline of your best and brightest worker? Are you delegating enough? How?

Four, getting work done. How would you ensure that the company’s goals and plans are clearly understood by the workers? How do you plan? What is the best delegation style? On a typical day, how do you make the best decision? How do you manage change? How would you achieve the target with an undermanned department? How would you know if you’re setting the right goals? How do you define an untapped market?

Last, handling tough situations. What is the most common cause of a major problem? How were able to solve it? Do you follow a systematic approach in handling a difficult situation? How would you sell an idea to your boss? How would you reject an instruction from your boss? What’s the gentle art of saying “no” to an employee request? How would you prevent hostility from breaking out? How do you make a deal with a difficult boss or employee?

This list is not complete, but more than enough for you to determine if your job candidates know something about the basic principles of management. It is always the same, whether you’re in a service or manufacturing industry or working with a small business or a multinational, or whether it is for profit or not-for profit. Management skill is determined by constant practice. This is the importance of asking these killer job interview questions.

ELBONOMICS: Learning management is not accidental, but by a determined effort of practice.


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