A hiring manager or human resources staff member will often ask potential employees about their management style. This question is to determine if your methods are a good fit for motivating current employees and providing clear direction for the company’s needs and future success. Although having previous management experience is beneficial, it is not necessary to answer this interview question effectively for a new job.
We’ll look at some tips and mistakes to avoid, how to use the STAR method, the key management styles, and then 21 sample answers to show the interviewer that you’re the best fit for the job.
5 Tips for Your Answer
- Be aware of the different management styles.
- Follow the STAR method when constructing a good answer.
- Be truthful in your answer.
- Try to cater your response to the job posting.
- Keep your interview answers straightforward.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
- Do not appear inflexible in your management style.
- Never tell them you do not have any previous experience.
- Avoid saying that you do not have a style.
- Refrain from including negative examples of previous employers.
- Do not let your ego dominate your answer.
How to Answer: STAR Format
The STAR format is the best way to craft ideal sample answers for common job interview questions. It is ideal for creating the right answer recruiters are looking for in common interview questions. It gives them a well-rounded idea of the type of manager you are, how you handle problems, use the necessary steps, and work towards the result.
The STAR method includes four essential components, including:
S: Situation – a situation where you had to solve a problem, use your skills, think outside the box, use innovation to craft a new result.
T: Task – describing your role in the situation and what your responsibility was.
A: Action – how you executed the necessary steps to achieve the desired results.
R: Result – the outcome of the specific examples you provide.
5 Key Management Styles
Many professionals have analyzed and examined the common management styles over the years. Although some terms have changed and other techniques have morphed together to create different methods, some remain present.
You can still find standard descriptions of current management styles that many good leaders still use today, while others may have alternative names. Here are the five main ones:
- Transformational Management (also known as Inspirational Leadership)
This management style uses inspiration and encouragement to motivate others in achieving an outcome, even in difficult situations.
- Visionary Management (also known as Innovative Leadership)
A visionary manager thinks outside the box, coming up with new ideas or directions for a team while letting subordinates work independently and checking in periodically.
- Democratic Management (also known as Participative or Shared Leadership Style)
With this style, a successful manager helps ensure the team of employees takes an active role in decision making, sets clear goals, and accepts responsibility for their roles in tasks.
- Mentoring or Training Management (also known as Servant Leadership)
Using a friendly approach to leading others, some of the best managers consider team members’ needs to encourage, support and drive results.
- Laissez-Faire Management (also known as Delegative Leadership)
This hands-off approach by the manager allows the subordinates to work independently in different situations with little supervision or intervention, taking responsibility for their decisions.
Best Answers for Experienced Managers
If you have previous employment experience as an acting manager, you want to focus on some of your good examples. Some of these best answers can give recruiters a better idea of how your management style will benefit their team.
1. Transformational Manager
- Example Answer 1: In my previous role as a shop supervisor, we faced many problems with vehicles we had never seen before. I helped push the mechanics to expand their current knowledge base so each person was prepared to handle new issues and build their skillset.
Each member of our shop floor was motivated to achieve new certifications. As a result, the company had a wide variety of trained personnel to handle any make or model of vehicle.
- Example Answer 2: Managing a pet store helped give me the leadership skills to motivate my employees for continuous learning. My team consisted of many local high school students who were only available for evening and weekend shifts.
Instead of having some of our senior staff members work evenings or weekends with these students, I encouraged them to expand their training at the store. This way, employees could handle our opening and closing procedures. Some staff members loved the added responsibility, and, in the end, we saved more money by having less staff on hand during these open hours.
- Example Answer 3: While I worked as a software marketing team supervisor, one of our contracts was for a library. I had extensive experience as a software program developer, while other team members had skills in other areas, including graphic interfacing.
The first thing I did was draw on my background experience to help create the vision of the end project, and my team drew on their skills to help design a working template. The client was impressed with how easy the finished program was to use, and we ended up with other library contracts afterward.
2. Visionary Manager
- Example Answer 1: While in a management position for an advertising agency, we had a client who wanted to rebrand their entire organization to a broader demographic. My responsibility was to motivate my team members to find a new look and style for this company that would give them success.
By using our vision board with how this client wanted to appear to its consumers, the team and I effectively transformed this client’s market niche to expand their target demographic and increase revenue.
- Example Answer 2: Instead of trying to boss people around at my last supervisor position as the head of the design team, I found it was best to create a vision of how we wanted our project to look in the end.
Our weekly meetings helped keep all team members on track with their role in creating the project on time without me standing over their shoulder, micromanaging their tasks. This approach was highly effective, and my design team never missed a deadline.
- Example Answer 3: Working as the office manager at my current job requires that I oversee the many organizational departments and report monthly to the board of directors. Instead of demanding direct reports from accounting, human resources, and marketing departments, I include them in my vision of how the information can help the Board of Directors make any necessary changes.
Once the departments realized how the management used this information for business practices and made operating decisions, they became more engaged in having them in on time. They included more detail that could aid in these business decisions.
3. Democratic Manager
- Example Answer 1: Acting as the shift supervisor for the local clothing store was challenging when it came time to draw up the staff schedules. We had a weekly scheduling meeting rather than spending hours trying to coordinate vacations and days off from employees.
This short weekly meeting allowed all the staff to see about swapping shift schedules for the upcoming weeks as needed before I finalized any set hours. In the end, we had fewer employees missing work for doctor’s appointments or not having enough people covering shifts.
- Example Answer 2: I once held a supervisor position at our local grocery store. I had one employee who was never engaged in his job duties or motivated to work productively. So, instead of disciplining him for lack of job performance, I sat down with him to determine what was causing these problems.
I quickly found out that although management hired this employee for the deli section, he was vegan and did not want to handle the meat or products but needed to work full-time to feed his family. As a result, I relocated him to a different store area, where he became a much happier and more productive employee.
- Example Answer 3: Years ago, I worked as the manager for a local gym and took a democratic management approach to my team. We had monthly meetings where anyone could voice concerns or opinions about work procedures, and I would take them under consideration.
At the end of the day, I was responsible for deciding on proper cleaning methods, suppliers of equipment, and other business choices. Still, the employees knew that I would listen to their suggestions and consider them before making changes.
- Example Answer 4: I was the acting supervisor for a cycling shop for many years. It was my responsibility to order supplies, create work schedules, and train new staff members. In addition, I would periodically check in with the employees when new products came on the market and asked for their input on new training courses.
The staff felt connected to my decisions to help them work more efficiently and have the knowledge necessary to perform their job correctly.
4. Training Manager
- Example Answer 1: I worked as a supervisor for the Teacher’s Aid Association at the local summer school program one summer. I was responsible for ensuring all the teachers and educational assistants had the tools and resources needed to teach and support the students. Consequently, I had all staff check in each Friday about missing supplies, needing constant support, or having issues with a student’s learning program.
I arranged meetings the following Monday to go over any ideas or tools we could use to help support one another better and be more effective at our jobs. As a result, that summer, we had the lowest rate of summer school dropouts in over five years, which I believe is due to the exceptional support of the staff.
- Example Answer 2: Many employees responded well to my mentorship and training approach when I held the manager position at a construction company. I made myself available to give each person the support and training required to be safe and efficient on the worksite.
Instead of letting new employees figure out processes on the job, I was with them each step during their beginning first days to observe proper safety methods and ask any questions along the way. This approach helped my team gain and retain knowledge faster than other work crews on the job sites.
- Example Answer 3: At my last job as a manager in our local butcher shop, I found that a mentorship management style worked best for my team. In a work environment where the job duties require precision cutting and expensive products, like meat, being available to the team was essential.
The employees knew of my open-door policy for any questions or concerns during their shift. This approach resulted in having less food waste and a more efficient work environment, making the business more profitable.
- Example Answer 4: Working as a shift supervisor at a local fast-food restaurant help me fine-tune my management skills. Many of the employees looked to me for support and training on the equipment and the cleaning procedures.
As I built a strong relationship with the staff, some employees expressed interest in receiving more training to advance through the company. So I supported them while developing their careers, giving them better job satisfaction and more efficiency.
5. Laissez-Faire (Hands-off) Manager
- Example Answer 1: Our last long-term manager at our printing company was let go due to corporate cutbacks. The team still required a figurehead to help communicate with clients. The company offered me an interim client liaison position. Many of our office staff were not accepting of a new leader so quickly after having their supervisor of 27 years leave for early retirement.
I took a hands-off approach to the team’s tasks and let them know I was there for any questions or concerns with suppliers or clients. I knew each person could handle their jobs effectively, so in the end, I found that letting them come to terms with the departure of their old supervisor was the best approach for everyone.
- Example Answer 2: Years ago, my office merged with another smaller company, and my company gave me the task of overseeing the production teams of both our company and the merged company. The staff of the merged company was comfortable with their current working style and did not need a lot of direction to get their jobs done.
I would check in with them each week and answer questions or provide direction whenever they needed it. But they worked efficiently together without having me oversee every task each day.
- Example Answer 3: Many employees do not like being told what to do every day at their job, which I found when I was managing a group of carpenters at a construction site. Each of those individuals had the proper training and equipment to perform their job tasks without much intervention or guidance from me.
I took a more laid-back management approach to monitor tasks, and employees worked more efficiently when not regularly interrupted by someone from the management team.
Best Answers When You Have No Management Experience
Even if you have no previous management role experience, you can draw from school, volunteering, or community activities when applying for a managerial position. The following examples can help job seekers secure a managerial role.
- Example Answer 1: School Yearbook Team
While in school, I was part of the school yearbook team as the managing editor. It was my job to gather all the submissions from each extra-curricular club and organize them for print. I sometimes had to remind some students to do their parts, and I had to ask for revisions or changes of other submissions if they did not fit with the layout of the yearbook.
It was my job to ensure everyone stayed on track with the submission schedule to get all the necessary pieces to the printers before the deadline.
- Example Answer 2: PTA Member
As a parent of two children in school, I was pretty active in the PTA community. Then, I took on the position of Volunteer Director, which required that I oversee and manage all volunteers for the various fundraising activities throughout the school year.
Although it was challenging to manage parents with multiple work and home schedules, I was able to have a successful year, helping to raise over $5,000 for our school library with our volunteer efforts.
- Example Answer 3: Community Clean-Up Crew
Each year, our local community hall needs volunteers to do groundskeeping and get the area ready for the spring season. Last year, I accepted the responsibility of organizing the individuals who would handle the many tasks.
After orchestrating a quick meeting with all residents, I devised a list of individuals who could help with trash cleanup, mowing, weeding, and other chores to help minimize the impact it would have on the entire group. As a result, we had the community hall greenspace clean and ready to host events a week early that year.
- Example Answer 4: Social Fund Manager
At my last job, I was not the department manager, but I did manage the Social Fund Committee during my time there. I was responsible for contacting employees, collecting funds, and planning events for the company.
I frequently relied on input from other employees on what choices were popular for social events and helped manage volunteers to orchestrate these activities. Although I was responsible for all monetary decisions, I let the employees help decide which retreats and events they preferred to use with the funds.
When you craft your own answer to an interview question like your personal management style, you can give a prospective employer a closer look at how you work with a team as an effective leader. Remember to use the STAR method as the most comprehensive way to give an effective response to help get you to the next step in the interview process.
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.