How to Answer "How Do You Manage People?" in an Interview
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When you're seeking a managerial role, you can anticipate and prepare for certain interview questions. If the job involves significant time running a team and managing colleagues, you'll naturally be asked about this. You need to think through several aspects of this question so that you can give a convincing answer.
Above all, what your interviewers are looking for are some real life examples of how you've managed people in professional situations in the past. Think through your career and come up with a couple of examples where you've really helped people come together to overcome a difficult obstacle or to significantly benefit your employer, such as by improving productivity. Work these into succinct stories that you can can use as examples during the interview.
It's informative for interviewers if you can give a sense of your management style. You may be someone who sits back and allows your team to work through things until they hit a problem. Or perhaps you are more proactive. Some managers may be outgoing, and manage through friendly interactions, while others are more authoritarian. Formulate a description of your personal style, and make a case for why it works for you and those you manage.
Give an idea of how much input you like from the people you are managing. Some bosses don't like to govern by committee, but find it's more effective to give specific direction up front. On the other hand, some like to gather feedback from the team on the way forward before making a final decision. Be clear about which route you usually take.
Stress how your management of people contributes toward getting the job accomplished. Your interviewers will be impressed that you are results oriented when you manage people. Describe how you set goals and motivate your team to work toward and achieve them.
Conflict is a natural part of any workplace, and can even be constructive if it's properly managed. Don't shy away from describing a time when you had to manage conflict between colleagues; your interviewers want to know you are adept at handling tough interpersonal situations when they come up. They may also ask about how you would respond to an employee who came to you with a personal problem.