How To Answer "What's Your Management Style?" in an Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 24, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Management styles determine how teams function and collaborate. Your management style also helps create a healthy company culture. Identifying your management style and learning how to highlight it in an interview is essential to your success. In this article, we discuss why your management style matters, how to figure out your management style, and how to answer the "what is your management style" interview question.

Why do employers ask interview questions about your management style

Employers ask you what your management style is to determine how you fit into their team and to identify how you fit in with their employees. This is important because the management style required for a department depends on its tasks and daily responsibilities.

The importance of management styles is reflected in their teams' productivity and company culture. Some, for example, may need a manager who allows them to be more autonomous. Others need a manager who provides more support and collaborates on all projects. Before interviewing candidates for a management role, employers identify the needs of their department before recruiting. From here, employers look for managers who fit those needs and who have a management style that suits the team.

Related: How To Respond to “Tell Me About a Time You Failed”

How to answer the "What's your management style?" interview question

To develop a great response to this common interview question, you need to understand your management style. To figure it out you can:

1. Consider previous managers you admire

Think about previous managers who have left an impact on you. Consider the management style they had when they supervised you and what you liked about it. Identify which qualities helped you perform your best. Once you have a better idea of which qualities you admire in a manager and why you can decide on which qualities you want to emulate.

You also need to identify which qualities previous leaders had that didn't motivate you. This provides you with a comprehensive idea of the qualities you want and don't want when you're a manager.

2. Determine which of your own qualities makes you an excellent manager

When you're done thinking about the skills you admire in previous managers, you can think about which skills you have that make you an excellent manager. Reflect on the times in your life when you've worked as a manager or taken on leadership positions. Before your interview, think about which qualities led you to succeed in those roles to guide you in preparing an answer.

3. Think about which skills you want to develop

The next step to figuring out your management style is deciding which qualities and skills you want to develop. During your interview, mention these qualities and how you're working toward developing them. You can begin to understand what your management style is.

4. Prepare a story that exhibits your management style

When you have figured out your management style, think of a story that shows when you've used this style before. This provides you with a base if you're asked questions about your management style and provides you with a better idea of how you've used your management style to create positive results.

When you're preparing for your interview, this story about your management style also provides you with a starting point for you to expand on how you want to improve as a leader.

Related: What Are The 4 Working Styles? (And How To Learn Yours)

Types of management styles

If you're unsure about what your management style is, here is a list of several management styles and what they entail:

Transformational management

Transformational management styles focus on motivating and inspiring employees. If this is your management style, you work on helping employees reach their highest potential. These managers provide employees with the opportunity to develop their skills and build on the ones they already have. These managers are always trying to find new ways for their employees to succeed.

Visionary management

Visionary managers are leaders who have a vision in mind and manifest it into reality. These managers communicate with their employees and explain their goals, which then encourages their employees to contribute to this vision. Visionary managers collaborate with their employees frequently to determine whether their team members have any questions or need guidance.

Democratic management

Democratic managers are those who appreciate their employees' capabilities and skills. These managers encourage their employees to speak out and contribute their ideas to the team. Democratic managers want all of their employees to feel heard and valuable. They also ask employees for their opinions when the time comes to make big decisions. Moreover, democratic managers encourage their employees to work on bigger projects that have goals which the whole team can work towards together.

Training management

Training managers focus primarily on supporting their employees or team members. This leadership style demands that managers consider their employees' needs before those of the manager or projects. Training managers create meaningful relationships with their employees and motivate them to create the best results possible.

Laissez-faire management

This management style is useful if you have employees who are autonomous and don't need supervision. These managers make many of the decisions for projects and tasks, which they then divide into subtasks for employees. These managers listen to the needs of their employees and understand when their employees need less supervision.

Related: 9 Types of Management Styles for Effective Leadership

Example answers for "What is your management style?"

Use these sample answers to guide you in crafting a response to "What is your management style?" in an interview. Here are some sound responses based on various styles of leadership:

Transformational management

"I've always worked better when my managers were encouraging and motivating. When I've worked with these managers, I've always been able to expand beyond my comfort level and create greater results. That's why I try to support my employees and team members to do their best. I know what the people I work with are capable of, which is why I also know that they can overcome any challenges they face."

"I consider myself to be a transformational leader because I want to motivate my team to work the best they can, and I make myself to guide them whenever necessary. I used this management style in my previous role as a digital marketing manager. I frequently encouraged my team to work on projects that they had limited experience on and discovered that many of them had skills they didn't know about."

Visionary management

"Visionary managers have excellent communication skills. I've always worked best when my managers or leaders had a vision for a company and communicated it with us. Whenever I have a big project to work on, I have a vision in mind for that project. At my current place of employment, I work frequently with our marketing department. They are experts that are turning my vision into reality. A few months ago, we had to rebuild a client's entire brand. I had an idea in mind as to how we could do so and, when I communicated it with them, they made it come alive."

Related: What Is Laissez-faire Leadership? Definition and Examples

Democratic management

"While I'm the marketing manager at my current place of employment and that holds certain power, I prefer to lead by example. With that in mind, I manage my team like they're potential and future managers. They all have something to bring to the table and, when I listen to their opinions, our projects are successful. Ultimately, I want my team to feel like they're being heard. In doing so, they're happier and have a more positive workplace culture. I find happy employees feel motivated to work harder. We make all decisions together and work as a cohesive unit."

Training management

"My best work experiences occurred when I had managers who tried to build meaningful, professional relationships with me. I emulate training management by mentoring my employees and providing them with exceptional support. I use positive reinforcement to congratulate my employees and team members on their successes. Positive reinforcement is a great tactic whether they're increasing our productivity, hitting targets, or finishing a project before the deadline."

"Because I use training management as my leadership style, I pay attention to their feelings when we work on complex projects. If they're overwhelmed with their projects, I listen to those concerns and make adjustments accordingly."

Laissez-faire management

"The best managers are those who trust their team to finish their work without excessive supervision or monitoring. That's why I use a laissez-faire management style when I'm at work. I know every employee works in their own way and at their own pace and I don't want to get in the way of that. I trust them to come to me if they need any help or if they need guidance."

"At my previous place of employment, I worked directly with our human resources team. We had to draft new policies to reflect our new benefits programs. I separated the project into tasks for them to complete and gave them a deadline. There were a few bumps along the road that I helped them navigate, but they delivered everything on time."

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