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The Interview Decoder - "Tell me about your previous management experiences."

Job interviews are intimidating. More often than not, you spend hours preparing yourself, ensuring you have all the answers to any question they could possibly ask - then, they ask you something you somehow don’t have the answer to.

In this series, you’ll get insight into the true meaning behind some of the toughest interview questions out there, as well as a few different options for how you can best answer them.

With this question, your interviewers want to know what you’ve already experienced as a leader and more importantly, how that experience will translate to you leading a team in their organization. Basically, based on your experience, can you get them to where they want to go?

Anticipating you will get a question similar to this, take some time to prepare a detailed summary outlining your past roles and experiences in leadership. Do some research about the company and what their leadership style is and goals are so that you can answer this question more effectively if and when you get asked this during the interview.

There are a few different ways you’ll want to convey your past management experience. The first to think about is your leadership style. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What did the team accomplish under my leadership?

  • How did we accomplish it?

  • Am I someone who leads by example?

  • Am I a hands-on leader or do I supervise from afar?

  • How have you successfully hired, led, and mentored a diverse team? (Hopefully, you have.)

  • How would I describe my leadership style overall?

  • What are some technologies we’ve implemented that we liked and disliked?

Part of creating your own narrative of your career is deciding what kind of leader you want to be and how you want to be portrayed to people in your professional network. Think about the leaders you admire most and what qualities you would like to emulate in your own career. Make sure when you leave the interview, the interviewer is very clear about your goals and leadership style.

You also want to make space to recognize the people who helped you get to where you are today. As much as it’s true that hard work, effort, and a good work ethic are an important part of your success, it’s also true that we are only as good as the folks who gave us a chance and helped lift us up. A humble leader who gives due credit is much more impressive than someone unwilling to admit that luck, good timing, and a support system helped them on their journey. Whether it was your first boss, a parent, or a mentor, make sure you’re ready to acknowledge the people who deserve it.

You’ll also need to be prepared to talk about the logistics of your management experience. Think about things like -

  • Size of your team(s)

  • Your responsibilities as the leader

  • The job titles of the people you managed

  • In-office, remote, or a mix

  • Local, national, or global team(s)

If you have decades of experience as a leader in your field, obviously, you’ll want to summarize. If you’re interviewing for a global remote leadership role, you won’t want to emphasize your local, in-office experience. Highlight the most impressive teams you’ve led and the most significant accomplishments that you’ve achieved alongside them.

This is one time when it’s incredibly important to use “we” statements vs. “I” statements. Even if you’re the one leading the team, you don’t want to be taking all the credit. Good leaders understand that their success depends on the success of their team.

Once you’ve created that image in your mind of the type of leader you’re striving to be, get your story straight and be ready to stick to it. This is your chance to show what you’ve already accomplished and what you’re ready to take on moving forward.

Most importantly, remember this advice -

  • Have a great Attitude

  • Be Charismatic

  • Bring Enthusiasm to each and every interview

Good luck, get out there, and ACE your interview.

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