10 Questions To Ask Your Potential Manager

It is important to assess the person who will be your manager if you are hired.  At some point during the interview process you should get to meet him/her.  If not then request a meeting.  You want to get a sense of whether you will be comfortable working for this person and quite frankly that person should want to know the same about you.  You will not want to barrage the person with all 10 of these questions at once but in the course of the conversation ask the ones that seem most appropriate for the interview. 

  1. What do you do when there is conflict between team members?  You’ll learn about the manager’s ability to manage conflict.  He/she might allow the parties to solve the conflict themselves without intervention, he/she might help facilitate the discussion, or he/she might make an executive decision.  What would you prefer? 
  2. What happened to the last person who had this job?  You want to find out if there is something about the job, the team or the manager that got in the way.  This is a question that could be answered by someone in the organization other than the manager.  Use LinkedIn to find such a person.  It would be ideal to be able to talk to the person him/herself and sometimes the manager will arrange that for you.
  3. What are 3 accomplishments this department has had in the last 6 months?  You’ll learn where the focus of the department is, how quickly they move on a problem and how complex the problems were that were solved.  It should tell you whether the group is working on projects where you could add value and where the work would be meaningful to you.
  4. How is an employee’s performance evaluated?  This is a question every employee should know the answer to.  It is a great question to ask at the interview.  If you don’t get it answered there, then get it answered when you start the job.  Knowing the criteria before you start will give you a head start on having a strategy to make great strides in the first 90 days.  That is the time where you reputation is formed.
  5. What would you consider excellent performance for the person in this position in the first 6 months?  The answer to this should go hand in hand with the question on how your performance is evaluated.  In the end you should find out how you are evaluated, how frequently evaluations are done and what an excellent performance for you looks like.
  6. How would you describe your management style?  Once you find out how the manager would describe him/herself it would be good to ask members of the team what the manager’s management style is like.  You will find out how well the manager knows him/herself.  This is useful information in making a decision about whether to accept the job offer.
  7. What are your goals for this department for this year?  Are you on track to achieve them?  The manager’s goals are your goals too.  From the manager’s answers you should be able to see how your role fits into his/her department. It may also tell you about the stress level of the job since if they are not on track to achieve the goals, there may be a push on you from the start.
  8. I noticed on the company’s website your mission is _________________, how would the successful candidate contribute to that mission?  Showing that you have knowledge of the company is important and you will need to demonstrate your knowledge throughout the interview process.  This is another question that will help you decide if you will easily fit into the company and can make a contribution.
  9. What do you value about this company and why do you enjoy working here?  You will want to know that your boss and his/her team like the company and enjoy the work.  If the manager seems insincere or something doesn’t seem right about his/her answer, question others.  Working for a company where the manager and team members are unhappy is going to be stressful and discouraging.
  10.  Do you have any concerns about me or my background and accomplishments?  This is a question that should be asked to each of the people who interview you.  It allows you to address the concerns immediately.
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