Job Interview Question And Answer: What Characteristics Do You Think Make A Successful Manager?

Posted October 13, 2011, by Josie Chun

If you’re being interviewed for a job where you’ll be playing a managerial role, your prospective employer will want to know what kind of manager you admire and aspire to be.

There is no right way to manage people – it will depend on your personality, the needs of the role and company culture, and different styles can be effective at different times and with different people. Some roles require strong decisive leadership, while others benefit from a more collaborative, consultative style.

While your personality will determine your management style to a large degree, the best managers are flexible and can modify their approach depending on the situation and the people they’re dealing with. However, there are some characteristics which almost all successful managers possess. These include:

  • Trustworthy and open
  • Communicative both in informing and giving feedback, and listening to staff and their concerns
  • Positive and encouraging
  • Calm and reasonable
  • Set clear direction and expectations
  • Flexible
  • Hard-working
  • Strategic in vision and problem-solving
  • Decisive and clear-thinking
  • Well-informed and knowledgeable about the business

To answer this question, choose three or four characteristics and expand on why you think they’re important, how they would be relevant to your role and how you have demonstrated them in the past. You could also describe how a previous manager of yours displayed these qualities to good effect, and how you learned from that example.


Here's an example:

My management style is very people-focused. I think to be a great manager you need to really understand what motivates your team and to make sure they feel supported and that their professional goals line up with the company’s goals.

I like to do this by having monthly one-on-one catch-ups with anyone on my team. This gives them an opportunity to be heard, but to also receive feedback on an ongoing basis.

I also think great managers have to be communicative and to lead by example. For instance, I don’t expect my team to do anything that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself, and I hold myself to the same standards that I hold my direct reports to.

See our full list of interview questions and answers to help you in your next interview!

Josie Chun

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