Interview Questions – ‘‘What’s your preferred management style?’

Interview Questions – ‘‘What’s your preferred management style?’

Off By Ed Hanna

Our series of articles tackles those common but tricky interview questions.

For Service-leavers who haven’t got recent interview experience, the prospect can seem daunting. Here, we dissect another of the more common but no less difficult interview questions so that you can show your best side to interviewers and land your next post-Services role.

‘What’s your preferred management style?’

Most jobs will involve some kind of teamwork, so it’s a perfectly sensible question to ask. It can refer to how you lead as well as how you operate under management yourself.

A question of balance…
If you’re going to be employed in a management role, you’ll need to communicate that you’re able to be an effective leader, unafraid to tell people to do what they need to do to get the right results but at the same time able to show humility – standing back to let the talents of others shine through.

On the other hand, you’re also likely to have a manager, so it’s worth considering that for the most part managers should aim to manage in the way that we would most like to be managed.

The term ‘management’ covers a vast range of scenarios so it might help to give a brief definition so that you and the interviewer both have the same elements in mind as you continue the discussion. The broad answer should be that you’d like to be the boss (and the subordinate) you always wanted – recognising that imperfections are inevitable due to the challenges of both roles. 

The elephant in the room is your Military experience. Perhaps the interviewer is expecting you to be the much caricatured ‘drill sergeant’. Even so, there may be an extra opportunity here. Perhaps say something like: “The Military runs on being well managed and properly organised. I’ve successfully managed teams in a variety of situations, which of course, takes a variety of different managerial techniques to fit the particular job”.

The secret question
This is also another method of ascertaining whether you will fit in and get along with other employees.

Your future boss 
Keep in mind that the interviewer may well be your future manager. They’ll likely want somebody that doesn’t need constant management or direction but who also isn’t reckless in the pursuit of autonomy – realising the benefits of a chain of command. They’ll also need you to know that you realise that being the boss has its annoyances just as being the person answerable to the boss has theirs. Again, your Military background can be utilised to provide evidence of these issues, adding in a few (brief) anecdotes about when you’ve been the boss (and also the subordinate) – particularly when there have been moments of conflict and/or success.

This isn’t about outlining what you want in a boss. Particularly, if they’ve been in management for some time, their style is unlikely to change anyway. If you think this might be a problem, you could always look the interviewer up to see what kind of a reputation they have – though don’t believe everything you read.