Last week, I posted on being promoted to my first management position on the spot. I didn’t interview for that position, but have subsequently interviewed for many management positions, and have often been selected over seasoned people already working on the team. I also have hired many first time managers and can tell you exactly what hiring managers look for when conducting an interview for a management position.
There is a lot of resume and interview advice (Corporette is my usual go to source), which I think is great and useful. Those sources are very helpful in guiding you on what to prepare for a management interview. The purpose of this post is to provide guidance on how to show up and behave during the interview (and before).
Mrs. Type’s A’s tips preparing of an interview for a management position:
Set your intention: why do you want to be in management?
Ugh, Mrs. Type A that sounds ridiculous! Do I need an intention other than a promotion?
Yes! When I assess promoting someone to a management role, I want to know why you want it. Do you want it because it’s the “next step” or because “you’ve done well in your role as an individual contributor”? If so, I’m going to put you at the bottom of the pile.
I want to know that you want to interview for a management position for two reasons:
- the company: you can add more value that what you are currently doing
- the people: you have a passion for helping people succeed and you have already taken steps to do that in your current role (i.e., providing feedback to peers)
Why does this matter? Because you will be working with more autonomy and I need to know how you are going to make decisions. I am a lot more comfortable giving you autonomy if you care more about the company than advancing your career.
The intention to help the company and others has to be true; if you just say it and it’s not backed up with evidence of how you’ve made decisions in your career and in your work, the dissonance will be clear and red flags will go up.
When you are clear with your intention in your heart, your every day actions with follow. This relates to the second tip…
Display good judgment the other 364 days in the year
I recently shared the implications of having poor judgment at work. Since promotions are generally about having more responsibility with less supervision, I want to know you are going to make good decisions without me, and that you know when to bring me in.
If you do the right thing “when no one is watching,” I will have much more confidence in your ability to manage people. However, you need to show this everyday, not just the one day of the interview.
What if I have made a blunder at work?
Well, I’m sure you have because you are human! Don’t fret! I would just be prepared to talk about what you learned and how you would approach it differently next time. Don’t dwell; be factual about the situation and move on. See tips here.
Be objective about your weaknesses and failures
You do not have to be perfect to be promoted into a management role. You don’t have to be a subject matter expert, even.
In fact, in the last promotion decision I made, I chose someone who had very little related experience; I hired the candidate purely on her competencies of problem solving and communication. This person demonstrated the willingness to take feedback and grow, and I knew I could teach her everything else she needed to know.
Similarly, you do not need to be perfect. I spent many years as an MBA admissions consultant and had one client determined to get into Harvard Business School. He wasn’t particularly remarkable in terms of GPA, test scores, or extracurricular activities.
In fact, he was kind of boring overall. He worked for the United States Postal Service, and was responsible for technology that would support delivery of packages (so boring!). The candidate even seemed marginally competent in his work; he had messed up something with their IT system pretty badly and packages did not arrive on time and there was a big impact to thousands of customers.
In all my years of MBA admissions consulting, this was probably the biggest “failure” I observed.
So what did Harvard do?
What? Didn’t he mess up?
Yes, he had made a pretty big mistake! But then he identified a solution, implemented it such that to restore service, and then created a solution to mitigate against the issue in the future.
He obtained admission into a leading business management program despite this huge failure because of his ability to learn from his mistakes and be better for it. That is leadership, and that is what companies (and Harvard) want.
While this was not an interview for a management position, I think the lesson is still relevant. The idea here is that – if you show self-awareness and that you will take feedback – you can be trusted with a management position. If you hide weaknesses and errors, and blame others, you are not. And you need to do this everyday, not just the day of the interview.
4. Dress for Success
There’s a lot to be on “dressing the part.” If you look like you’re in charge, then you will more likely be given the opportunity to do so.
If you need to be convinced of this, check out what we learned from looking out how Fortune’s Most Powerful Women dress; each of them wore a blazer. Even most of Fortune’s 40 Under 40 wore a blazer as well.
My takeaway was, if you want to look powerful, you should wear a blazer. I don’t think you’ll regret wearing one to your interview.
If you’re interested in other professional fashion advice, see links at the bottom of this post.
So, that is Mrs. Type A’s advice on on preparing for an interview for a management position. I would love to hear your thoughts below.
If you have an interview coming up, check out Mrs. Type A’s FREE Interview Guide….
Lastly, if you are interested in how to dress for your interview, check out these posts:
- How do Fortune’s 40 Under 40 Women Dress for Success?
- How do Fortune’s Most Powerful Women dress for success?
- Knock ‘em Dead with a Killer Outfit: – Part 1: Blouses
- Knock ‘em Dead with a Killer Outfit – Part 2: Pants & Skirts
- Knock ‘em Dead with a Killer Outfit – Part 3: Blazers and Cardigans
Mrs. Type A also offers interview support in terms of Resume and Cover Letter editing. Click here for more information or email at MrsTypeA@MrsTypeA.com. I also offer MBA Admissions support, click here.