Ready for the same old questions, not sure about new questions.
January 22, 2012 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I just landed a phone interview for potentially my first managerial job after five years of being a systems analyst. What questions do I need to be ready for in the phone interview and the face-to-face interview?

I have been a systems analyst with a few project manager responsibilities for about five years in three different companies. I have led project teams before, but I have never had direct reports.

Now I have a job interview to be a team lead for a small team of systems analyst at a new employer. I have interviewed successfully for several positions in the past five years, so I feel confident that I can answer the usual new job and the usual systems analyst questions. But since this would be my first managerial job, I am wondering what questions I might get about management, leading a team, and having direct reports in particular. My only preparation for being a manager has been my project management experience, observing my team leads and managers, and listening to the Manager Tools podcast. What questions should I be ready for and what else should I do to prep for these interviews?

(If I actually get the job I will be perusing the AskMe archives of manager advice to find out how to be the best possible manager. But this question is entirely focused on how to get the job, not how to act if I get the job.)
posted by Tehhund to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
- If you have to choose between being friends with your direct reports or being respected by your direct reports, which would you choose? (Being respected in the correct answer.)

- Tell us about a time when you were a team lead. What was your role, how did you interact with others on the team, and what made you a good leader for the team? (If I was hiring you, I would want you to know how to delegate and not do everything on your own, would want to know that you worked harmoniously with the other team members, and that the project was successfully completed.)

- Tell us about a difficult personnel interaction you were involved in. How did you resolve the issue? (They want to know if you can fire someone or have difficult conversations with someone.)
posted by eleslie at 5:00 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

How would you deal with a staff member who was underperforming? (demonstrate that you can be proactive, firm, authoratative, and that you know when to cut your losses and fire someone)

Tell me about a time that you failed. (show that you recognize when you make a mistake, and be able to articulate what your learned from it)
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:29 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have led project teams before, but I have never had direct reports

Actually, if you've led project teams before, you've got experience with the responsibilities of being a manager save for the hiring and firing part. Unless I'm missing something here, the scheduling, motivating, listening, leading, coordinating, etc. etc. role you played in leading a project team is exactly the same as what you would do as a manager. So you have some actual experience to draw on in answering the management-related questions.

You don't mention who will be conducting the phone interview; whether it's the hiring manager or someone from human resources. If it's someone from HR, they'll be looking to establish that you are qualified and interested in the job, and not some extreme nutcase who would damage their reputation if they moved you forward to a face-to-face interview with your prospective boss.

If the interviewer is another IT professional, though, it's hard to predict what type of questions they might ask. If they use a behavior-based interview style, you might get questions like those upthread. But in all likelihood, for a phone screen, they'll be exploring basic compatibility and save the more specific questions for the in-person interviews. So you might get questions like "Describe how you like to be managed" or "What's your approach to motivating system analysts?" or "How much do you like to build and rely on teamwork?" or "Why do you want to be a manager?".
posted by DrGail at 7:05 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

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