All businesses are in a state of constant change, so any interview process for a management position will ask about your change management process. Change management questions are asked by the hiring manager to understand how new employees respond to different types of change.
Here are 25 common interview questions likely to be asked in any change manager job interview to understand your leadership style in the change process.
5 Tips to be Successful in a Change Management Interview
- Be familiar with common change models and have examples of applying them to previous projects.
- Discuss past experiences that showcase a track record as a successful change agent.
- It is a good idea to prepare for foreseeable follow-up questions to your examples.
- Research the company and be familiar with any major changes facing them or the industry.
- Be prepared to explain how successful change implementation is measured.
5 Mistakes for Potential Change Managers to Avoid
- Not being a team player (or not showing you work well with team members).
- Appearing to be a reactive manager (not having examples showing you are proactive).
- Not demonstrating strong leadership skills.
- Showing poor communication skills.
- Not being able to describe change management or the roles of a change manager.
25 Sample Change Management Interview Questions and Answers
#1. Tell me about yourself and why you would be effective for the position of change manager.
Important Points to Address: Only talk about your career and professional aspirations unless specifically asked about your personal life. Discuss the skills and key attributes that you bring to the role that makes you a good change manager.
I am an experienced and passionate change manager and have a proven track record of successful implementations. My ability to engage stakeholders, manage risks and lead teams through change make me an ideal candidate for the role of change manager in your organization.
If I am successful, I am not only determined to achieve the project goals but also to develop new skills and bring new ideas to the table to add value to the company and contribute to long-term future successes.
#2. What is your experience with change management?
Important Points to Address: Try to give general examples from previous manager positions, but if you don’t have much experience, any role close to a big change initiative can be used. Also, be enthusiastic and keep a positive attitude about your previous work experience in change management.
In my last position, the company underwent several radical changes. It was my responsibility to communicate with my team about the coming changes and the reason for these changes, to address their concerns, and ensure their complete buy-in.
In addition, I had to engage and manage stakeholders and their expectations, identify and manage risks in my department and ensure my team met their usual key performance indicators. With a history of enthusiastically and successfully delivering change projects, I am confident that I am an ideal business transition manager.
#3. What actions would you take in the first four weeks if you are successful?
Important Points to Address: Explain how you will quickly get up to speed on the company’s current situation, organizational culture, and existing business processes. You will then learn about the organization’s strategic goals and the intended outcome of the project or change request.
I believe that good luck is a result of good planning. In my first four weeks, I would concentrate on the four key tasks of briefing, clarity, planning, and execution. I would undertake the briefing stage to understand where the company is and what change is needed.
I would then seek vision clarity to gain as much information as possible about where the organization is going and identify the different people and different companies that will become key stakeholders.
After that, I would begin planning how to approach the particular situation, identify areas that lack support, and develop a stakeholder management plan, as well as identify the next steps. At the end of the four weeks, I would begin the first steps of execution as detailed in the developed plan.
#4. What Do You Think Is the Best Change Management Model and Why?
Important Points to Address: Be prepared to list a few popular models and explain the benefits and drawbacks of your preferred one.
There are several different approaches to change management, and no single model is right for every organization. The most important thing is to tailor the model to fit the specific needs of the organization.
That said, I think the ADKAR model is a good place to start because it is simple and easy to understand, which makes it easy to train employees, and all aspects of the change are considered, from awareness through to reinforcement.
However, it falls short in not addressing psychological factors and resistance, and the linear approach is not ideal for multiple simultaneous changes.
#5. What do you consider the most important steps in change management?
Important Points to Address: The steps in change management will vary by the chosen model, but some common themes that should be in any answer include planning, understanding and communicating the need for change, stakeholder management, leadership, monitoring progress, and consolidating the change.
The most important steps in change management, in my opinion, are leadership commitment, clear communication, stakeholder analysis and management, business process analysis, developing a change management strategy, training and education, monitoring and tracking progress, and reinforcement and rewards.
These steps are important because they provide a framework for successfully implementing changes in an organization. Without leadership commitment, there is no champion for the change and no one to drive it forward.
#6. What change management models do you have experience with?
Important Points to Address: You must be able to refer to at least one formal or common industry change model. If you don’t have experience, talk about a model you have seen applied or one you have a strong theoretical knowledge of.
I am familiar with several different change management models, including the ADKAR model, the Kotter 8-Step Change Model, the Lewin Change Management Model, and the Prosci ADAPT Model. I think each of these models has its strengths and weaknesses, but the most important thing is to tailor the model to fit the specific needs of the organization.
#7. Describe the fundamental elements of the change management process.
Important Points to Address: Familiarize yourself with at least two change management models so that you can provide a stronger response. Ideally, use a change model that you have experienced or applied in a work environment previously.
While the elements and steps for change vary with the change model used, there are four fundamental elements of change management common to all models. First, identifying the need for change and communicating it to everyone involved. Second, creating a shared vision of what the changes will look like. Third, developing a plan to execute the changes. Fourth, reinforcing the changes through training and support.
#8. How do you assess the risk related to change?
Important Points to Address: When discussing risk, your approach should discuss using analytic methods and/or mathematical models such as time row analysis to forecast the impact and the risk involved. Also, include using your company’s past experiences and learning from competitors’ mistakes.
When assessing risk related to change, I like to take an analytical approach. I start by looking at the existing process and using analytic methods and mathematical models to forecast the impact of the proposed changes. I also look at our company’s past experiences with similar changes and learn from any mistakes that were made. Finally, I look at what our competitors are doing or have previously done and try to avoid making the same mistakes as well as improve on their successes.
#9. What do you think is the biggest risk to successful change management?
Important Points to Address: A good way to deliver a strong answer is to demonstrate an understanding that there is a variety of risks and then pick a common, serious risk that faces all change practitioners, such as resistance.
Many risks can impact the success of a change plan, such as inadequate resources, unrealistic timelines, poor planning, and lack of support from senior leadership. It is hard to choose just one, but I believe one of the biggest ones is resistance to change because it can impact all other aspects of the change management process.
If employees resist the changes, they may not be willing to work with the new process or system, which can lead to problems with implementation. Additionally, resistance can also lead to negative morale and decreased productivity.
#10. How do you ensure success when convincing a stubborn employee to embrace change?
Important Points to Address: Your answer should show valuing team members and their concerns while pursuing and achieving the goals of the organization.
The key is to be patient and understand their point of view. It is also important to listen to their concerns and address them directly. Additionally, you need to be able to show the employee how the proposed change will benefit them personally. Sometimes, simply being able to relate to their situation and demonstrate that you understand their point of view can be enough to get them on board with the change.
#11. How would you deal with a manager or director who is clearly against the change management process?
Important Points to Address: The right people need to be on board for any change to be successful. This includes high-level managers and directors. Your answer must demonstrate resilience to resistance and strong persuasion skills.
For a successful change, senior managers and directors must buy into the change plan completely. I would start by explaining the benefits of the change management process and how it can help the company achieve its goals. I would also emphasize the importance of having everyone on board for the change to be successful.
If the manager or director is still resistant, I would be willing to compromise and find a way to work with them to ensure that the change is successful, provided the change goals are still achieved. If this were not possible, I would take it to the change advisory board and flag it as a serious risk to change success.
#12. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a lot of resistance to change?
Important Points to Address: When answering this question, be sure to focus on how you were eventually able to overcome the resistance and successfully implement the change.
I once had to deal with a lot of resistance to change when I was working on a project to improve the efficiency of our manufacturing process. The employees who were going to be affected by the changes were resistant at first because they were worried about their jobs.
I was able to overcome this resistance by working with the employees to show them how the changes would benefit them and the company. I also reassured them that their jobs were not at risk. In the end, we were able to successfully implement the changes and improve the manufacturing process.
#13. How do you measure the success of the change initiative?
Important Points to Address: Measuring success is about how well you have achieved the desired outcomes. It is important to discuss long-term and short-term success and to include how a well-defined goal is critical to measuring success.
Measuring success is highly dependent on the quality and clarity of the goal set. A good goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-specific. Some short-term measures of success include increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction.
Long-term measures of success include increased market share, sustained profitability, and increased employee engagement. Tracking KPIs and outputs against the stated goal is a tangible and measurable way to demonstrate the success of a project.
#14. What are some common signs that a change initiative is failing?
Important Points to Address: Your answer should not only demonstrate an understanding of common signs of failure but also how to address them.
Some common signs that a change initiative is failing include lack of progress, employees not following the new procedures, and increased resistance to change. To address these signs, it is important to check in with all stakeholders regularly, identify any areas of concern, and make adjustments to the plan as needed. Additionally, it is important to be prepared for resistance and any other identified risks and to have a plan to deal with them.
#15. Have you ever had to deal with a difficult stakeholder? How did you handle it?
Important Points to Address: Behavioral interview questions like this should be answered with the STAR model, being sure to give specific examples. Be sure to focus on how you were eventually able to overcome the resistance and successfully implement the change.
I once had to deal with a difficult stakeholder who was resistant to the changes we were proposing. As the change champion, I was tasked with getting the manager on board with the proposed plan. I was able to handle the situation by being both persistent and listening. I understood that they believed the change would not be good for their team or the company at large.
I realized they misunderstood the organizational goals and also how the plan would affect their team. But clarifying the intent of the change and how it affected them, I was able to get them on board, and the change was implemented successfully.
#16. Describe your change management style?
Important Points to Address: To be an effective change manager, you should explain that your management style is resilient and inclusive and why each of those elements makes you an effective change manager.
I like to lead from the front and endeavor to be an inspiring leader for those around me. I am resilient and inclusive and approach even the most difficult challenge with enthusiasm and optimism. I have faith in my skills and abilities as well as those of my team, and I provide my team with clear direction and focus.
My inclusive management style makes me approachable, and I take on feedback and concerns from team members and make sure they feel heard while having the confidence to take responsibility for the actions taken to achieve the desired transformation.
#17. What are some common reasons why people resist change?
Important Points to Address: People generally act in self-interest and don’t like change. It is important to demonstrate an understanding of this and a readiness to resolve the challenge.
Some common reasons why people resist change include fear of the unknown, lack of trust, and feeling like they do not have a voice. To overcome these objections, it is important to be open and honest about the proposed changes, to build trust with those who are resistant, and to give people a chance to have their say in the process. Additionally, it is important to be prepared for resistance and any other identified risks and to have a plan to deal with them.
#18. How Do You Manage Resistance to Change?
Important Points to Address: Don’t just give a single cause of resistance. Provide 2-4 causes of resistance and what you do to address them.
The most important thing is to identify the source of the resistance and then address it directly. Sometimes, employees resist change because they fear the unknown or they don’t understand the reason for the change. In these cases, it is important to communicate openly and frequently with employees about the change and its purpose.
Other times, employees may resist change because they feel like they are being forced to do something against their will. In these cases, it is important to involve employees in the decision-making process as much as possible and to get their buy-in on the change.
Finally, some employees may resist change because they have a vested interest in the status quo. In these cases, it is important to identify what those interests are and to try to find a way to address them during the change process.
#19. What are some common pitfalls when implementing change?
Important Points to Address: Try to keep your answer general, mention at least two common pitfalls and discuss one in more detail.
Some common pitfalls when implementing change include lack of communication, resistance to change, and inadequate resources. To avoid these pitfalls, it is important to have a clear and concise plan for the change, communicate with all stakeholders about the change and keep them up to date, and provide adequate resources for the implementation. Additionally, it is important to have identified the change’s risk factors and have robust risk management plans in place.
#20. What challenges have you faced when implementing change in the past? How did you overcome these challenges?
Important Points to Address: Give a specific example of a challenge you have faced when implementing change and how you overcame it.
I once faced the challenge of resistance to change from employees who felt like they were being forced to do something against their will. To overcome this, I involved employees in the decision-making process as much as possible and got their buy-in on the change. Additionally, I communicated openly and frequently with employees about the change and its purpose.
Finally, I identified the interests of those who were resisting and tried to address them during the change process.
#21. How do you know that a change is needed?
Important Points to Address: It is important to demonstrate a strong understanding of how to systematically identify and addresses an organization’s need for change.
First, the organization must be assessed in terms of its performance against its desired outcomes or goals. This can be done through a review of performance data and interviews with key stakeholders. Next, the factors that are impacting the organization’s ability to achieve its desired outcomes must be analyzed. This includes an examination of the internal and external environment, as well as an assessment of the organization’s resources and capabilities.
Based on this information, it will be possible to identify any gaps between the current state and desired outcomes, as well as any areas where improvement is needed. This will provide a basis for recommending organizational changes.
#22. Can you describe a time when you had to manage a significant change within your organization?
Important Points to Address: Give a specific example of a significant change that you managed and how you did it. Try to include as many details as possible without being too long.
I once had to manage a significant change within my organization when we switched from a traditional office environment to a remote work environment. To manage this change, I first developed a clear and concise plan for the transition. Then, I frequently communicated with all stakeholders about the change and kept them up to date.
Additionally, I provided adequate resources for the implementation. Finally, I identified the change’s risk factors and had robust risk management plans in place.
#23. Tell us about a time when you had to lead a team through a difficult period of transition. What were the challenges involved, and how did you manage them?
Important Points to Address: You must provide an example where an obvious difficulty or challenge was faced and successfully overcome.
I was once leading a team through a company-wide reorganization. There were inevitable tensions that arose as people’s roles changed and some team members were transferred to other departments. My role was to communicate the vision and goals of the transition to the team, help them understand how their roles had changed, and answer any questions they had.
I also worked with each team member individually to address any concerns they had and help them see how the reorganization could be beneficial for them. Overall, it was a challenging but rewarding experience.
#24. How do you communicate the change to others?
Important Points to Address: The two main points to convey when answering this question is the importance of communication in change management and your approach to communicating the change to others, including listening to their concerns.
I believe that communication is key in change management. When there is a change, it is important to communicate the goals and objectives of the change to those who will be affected by it. My approach to communicating the change to others is to first explain the reasons for the change and then detail what will be different once the change is implemented. I find that it is also important to listen to feedback and address any concerns that people may have.
#25. How do you motivate change?
Important Points to Address: When answering this question, you should focus on how you inspire others to buy into the change and see it as something positive.
I think it is important to first understand what motivates people and then use that knowledge to help them see the change as something positive. For some people, it may be about the benefits the change will bring, while for others, it may be about the sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully implementing a change. Whatever the case may be, I think it is important to tailor your approach to each individual and help them see how the change will positively impact their work lives.
These change manager interview questions are asked when applying for change projects or change-related positions such as a project manager role. A great way to prepare for these common questions is to practice sample answers that mirror the job description and reflect the project goals and strategic vision. Having the right answers is the best way to impress any human resource manager and demonstrate that you will be a great asset to any project team during your next interview.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.