Hiring a Manager? Ask These 5 Key Questions


We all know the importance of first impressions. Though we may not want to admit it, we’re programmed to analyze quickly and judge accordingly, which is why those initial 30 seconds of meeting someone are so crucial, especially when it comes to hiring.

While being dressed appropriately, arriving ten minutes early and giving a firm handshake are all important things to look for in someone vying for a job at your company, if you’re looking to fill a management role you’ll have to dig deeper.

Over the past 14 years, my team and I have interviewed over 10,000 people looking for careers in industries like marketing, digital, advertising and design. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the very ugly, but through the process, we’ve learned how these five questions can reveal the true character, purpose and personality of a potential employee—all essential things to assess when you’re working to fill your managerial ranks.

Question 1: “Why are you here?”

So simple, yet so important. You need to understand what brought them to the table. Is the candidate only shopping around, without a real motivation to move? If so, they’re probably not seeing the value of your company and will likely lack the passion needed to help grow your business.

Did they have a falling out with their previous employer? If they start speaking negatively about their current or former bosses, mark it as a red flag. Blaming others is not a good look for a manager.

Question 2: “What core values would you want your employer to have?”

You want to make sure that a candidate for any job is aligned with your company’s values, but it’s especially important when seeking to fill managerial roles. If the candidate lists values like structure and personal growth as important, while your business is based on creativity and team building, your working styles will likely clash. (Bring out that red flag again!)

Question 3: “How do you build corporate culture?”

Whether you’re a large corporation or a new startup, I believe you have to recruit for culture. Even if the applicant has years of relevant experience required, if they don’t have the right personality to get along with the rest of the team, don’t hire them. Hard skills can be learned, but culture is about chemistry. The worst thing you can do to disrupt a healthy team dynamic is to hire a manager who doesn’t care about how people work and get along.

Question 4: “If money were off the table, what would motivate you to do this job?”

If your company goes through tough times or grows rapidly, who’s going to ride the roller coaster with you? Money is a far less of a motivating factor than most leaders think. You want managers who really believe in your mission, and whose answer to this question demonstrates their deep, committed interest in working towards achieving it. If that passion for your business isn’t there from the start, a big paycheque will never be enough to ignite it.

Question 5: “Why do you think people quit their jobs?”

If you’re hiring someone that will be leading a team, this question will reveal how much they value communication and cultivating professional relationships. While there are multiple reasons that would make someone want to leave, your candidate should be aware of how often leaders can influence this decision. If they don’t acknowledge this in their answer, chances are they won’t acknowledge the needs of your staff, either.

• • • • •

These questions involve a bit more in-depth analysis than garden-variety interviews. But when you’re looking for the right candidate, the best thing you can do is to hire slowly. So many leaders make the wrong hiring decision because their motive was based on panic, rather than proficiency. However, this will only cost you more in the long run. Take your time, and most importantly, involve as many people from your team in the decision as possible. They’re going to be the ones reporting to the manager on a daily basis, after all, which gives them every right to have a say who is chosen.

Mandy Gilbert is the Founder of the recruitment firm Creative Niche, and Co-Founder of RED Academy, a technology and design school that specializes in preparing professionals for Canada’s in-demand technology roles.


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