The interview process is not just about finding out if your work habits and qualifications are right for the role, but also about determining how you’ll fit in with the team both culturally and functionally. This month’s interview question is “What do you want your next manager to bring to the table?” This question does double duty in letting your employer know how to give you your best shot at success and what your preferred work dynamics are. Here are tips on how to think about this question so you answer it honestly and impressively in the room.
Rather than speak in negativities, keep it positive. “I don’t want my manager to micromanage me” can sound harsh and unhelpful. Instead, try something like “I want my manager to count on me and think of me as a teammate.” Your attitude in an interview indicates how you’ll be on the job, so it’s best to give answers that make you look easy to work with. Often a positive version of your answer will highlight your own best qualities (in this example, that you’re trustworthy and are confident that you’ll bring good work to the table.)
Don’t get too personal
This is not the time to air grievances about previous managers, no matter how helpful an illustration of your ideal manager it might be. Spend time before your interview extrapolating your own experiences into general qualities so you can give a concise and honest answer. You don’t want to work yourself up in the room by speaking ill of your last job; it’ll make the employer wonder if you’ll do the same to them in the future.
Don’t make it impossible
We all have a wish list for an ideal job, but if you list too many qualities, you’re going to set the bar impossibly high— or look like you’re too picky. They are asking you this question to get a handle on how you like to work in a team and how you respond to authority, as well as what your values in leadership are. Picking two or three qualities is plenty! Stay realistic.
If you don’t know what qualities you desire in a manager, feel free to jot down some notes before your interview to get your thoughts in order. You don’t need to memorize anything, but it’s helpful to organize your ideas beforehand.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.