The general manager occupies one of the topmost positions in small organizations and ranks higher than most employees in hierarchical organizations. Also known as GMs, these professionals oversee the operation of one or all of the company’s departments and are directly involved in revenue generation and cost control.
Given the critical roles general managers play, they are generally subjected to thorough assessment during their interviews to determine how good they are and whether they can fit in well in the organizations.
This article looks at several questions that you should expect in a general manager interview to give you an upper hand when you appear before the interviewing panel. We will cover questions testing on your behaviors, experience, modes of operations, and requisite skills.
Take a look at the following:
1. Why Are You Interested in this Position?
This is an opening question to get you talking. It may also act as a foundation for other questions. It would be best if you used this as a chance to sell yourself and tell the interviewer what the organization or institution stands to benefit from your services.
I have always wanted to give management a try. I have been in this industry as a diligent and experienced worker for the last 16 years. I love your company values and missions and would therefore like to help you propagate them. Therefore, I would be honored if given a chance.
2. What are the Roles of a General Manager?
Do you understand what general managers do? This is a chance to convince the interviewer that you know what this position entails and will quickly adjust once given an opportunity. Mention only job-specific roles.
A general manager is charged with improving the organization’s efficiency and driving up its profits by managing its operations or that of a division. Other duties include managing staff, applying the best marketing strategies, overseeing the company’s budget, and controlling different facets of the business.
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3. What are Some of the Qualities that a General Manager Needs to Be Effective?
Every job has the requisite qualities that make one good at it. You should know the attributes, skills, patterns, abilities, and behaviors that general managers portray when executing their roles. Ensure that whatever you mention is specific to the job in question.
A general manager should have excellent leadership and decision-making skills. He/she should be visionary, able to communicate, and possess strong interpersonal skills. Other qualities are conflict negotiation, team building, and strategic management skills.
5. Briefly Describe Your Experience in This Field
What are some of the roles you have occupied, places you have worked in, and any other outstanding experiences that you have in this field? Since most of these are captured in your CV and work resume, you should avoid being verbose and only mention whatever will boost your chances of landing the job.
This is my seventh year in management. I have been in different management levels, as captured in my CV, which have been preparing me for this position…( You can then go ahead and mention these levels plus whatever roles you played and any other information that you deem necessary but are within these roles)
6. Describe Your Daily Routine
What do you do daily as a general manager, or how do you envision your day once you get this job? Try to find out as much information as possible about this particular job and tailor your answer around it. Also, try to portray your day as busy as possible.
My day as a general manager will be fully packed. It will begin with team meetings where I will delegate duties, review our progress and discuss any challenges that need attention. I will then get right into administrative responsibilities related to product manufacture and service provision. Part of my daily routine will also involve preparing staff work schedules and assigning new duties.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required For This Role
This is a pretty common question that seeks to reveal just how good you are at the job in question. Do you have strategies that will guarantee you success? Do you know the proper perspective when going about this job? Your answer should be convincing.
The best strategy that any general manager can use is building and working with a good and able team. Collaboration ensures efficiency and accuracy while maximizing output. As for the right mindset, a general manager should always be focused on results since they determine whether he/she has failed in the job. Good results can also only be achieved by having a positive attitude.
8. Mention a Challenge that You Foresee in This Job
Have you identified some of the potentially problematic areas in this job? You should mention anything that may give you a hard time when you finally succeed in your interview and start working. However, be careful not to appear incompetent.
For the last ten years, being in management has taught me that most of the problems managers face are common in all organizations. Having solved most of them successfully, I am well prepared to meet any that comes with this job. However, I will also not be shy to ask for help where necessary.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated in this Job?
Being a general manager might be lucrative, but it comes with its fair share of challenges, which you should be able to face and prevent from making you feel demotivated. Therefore, mention any motivating factor that does not involve money or any material benefits.
I usually have periodical goals that I work hard to achieve. I also have personal work deadlines that I strive to meet. Additionally, every time I feel that I have failed or performed poorly, I look back at some of my past triumphs and reflect on them, giving me the strength to work even harder.
10. Mention a Time that You Failed in this Role and the Lesson You Learnt
There are two possible examination areas in this question. The interviewer may either be testing your accountability or ability to learn from your mistakes. Therefore, own up and outline the lesson that you learned. However, we advise that you mention a past mistake as a beginner.
I came to realize that I was bossy during my first interaction with management. Instead of inspiring the staff and rallying them towards a common goal, I was busy giving orders and being unnecessarily harsh. I came to learn that you don’t need to be a boss to get things done. People need leaders.
11. Mention Your Leadership Style
This is a leadership position, and therefore, you should anticipate such a question. This operational question seeks to reveal how you steer employees towards achieving the company’s goals and missions. Make sure that you mention a leadership style that blends well with the company’s culture and leads to high turnover rates.
I believe in inspiring the staff before and during the subsistence of every project. I usually describe the vision for each task and let them know just how important they are in the quest for their achievement (projects). I have learned that this leadership style ensures that employees know what they are working towards at all times. I also believe in teamwork as it fosters productivity and encourages collaboration.
12. This is a Fast-paced Work Environment. How Will You Deal with the Stress it Will Possibly Bring?
As a general manager, you should expect lots of pressure and stress. Remember, your job gives you responsibility for several operations and staff members, making it highly challenging. Therefore, you must convince the interviewer that you have some healthy coping mechanisms and stress handling techniques if you need the job.
Having held this position in a number of places, I understand just how stressful this job can get. However, being a person who loves challenges, I am customarily motivated to do better in the face of pressure. I have taken up some healthy practices such as yoga and meditation, which have boosted my tolerance, focus, and motivation levels amidst challenges. I have also learned to multitask and prioritize my work, skills that come in handy when there are many deadlines to meet.
13. Can You Work During Off Hours/ Holidays?
By now, you should know that this job expects you to be flexible. You should be ready for unexpected issues that may see you reporting to work on a Sunday afternoon when you should be at home with your kids. Therefore, your answer should show that you understand the time and effort needed to be a successful general manager.
I am a flexible person who does not mind working odd hours or giving up my rest days to stay in the office and work. I understand just how important my role is and will therefore show up when called. However, I ask to be given ample notice if possible to get anything that may need my attention during that time in order.
14. What Do You Think Is The Best Way of Handling an Underperforming Employee?
The interviewer is testing your management and communication skills. Are you the type of manager who will get to the bottom of the matter and offer help, or fire the employee and get a new one? Your answer should show that you are able to approach an employee and fish for the root cause of the underperformance.
I have dealt with such instances before. I usually meet with the employee and discuss some of the issues believed to cause their underperformance. I then explain the effects of their inability to perform on the team and organization before giving the employee a chance to explain the reasons contributing to their poor performance. Lastly, I brainstorm with them the best possible ways of solving these issues and set new goals that they should meet to boost team productivity.
15. Is There a Time That Your Ideas Were Implemented in a Previous Job?
This is a common question in interviews that helps the interviewers know whether you can generate and execute ideas. As a general manager, you will only be an excellent addition to the team if you can come up with new ways of doing things and ensure their implementation. Give the specifics about the idea and highlight how you sold it.
During my former place of work, I suggested that we automate 60% of our operations. The company was still using several traditional models of operations which it could have easily replaced with modern means. I explained to the top management the benefits the company stood to obtain, such as reduced labor, increased revenue, and efficient operation. They saw sense in whatever I tabled, and I was assigned to head the change implementation team.
16. How Would You Approach the Review of Our Current Systems if Given this Job?
The interviewer wants to know how you will oversee the practices and procedures of the company aside from leading and inspiring change. Therefore, ensure that you have a well-laid out plan that will help you improve the current systems and increase productivity.
I would first start by looking at some of the deficiencies of the current systems and what can be done to better them. I would then put up an able team to develop solutions or additions before implementation. Once the new or improved systems have been implemented, I will monitor them and, based on the results, work on a further review with the team’s help.
17. What Do You Know About Our Company?
This is a common question in interviews that reveals whether you conducted some research and can clearly put across whatever you learned. Ensure that you know about the company’s offering and can even identify some of their key staff members by name.
I have been following your company for quite some time and therefore know a good deal of information about it. Through the leadership of your Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Brown Patel, you managed to win the best IT Company in Oklahoma for the third time in a row this year. You offer IT solutions to several renowned companies and have an employee base of 10,000. (You can mention anything relevant that you know about the company or organization)
18. How Would You Respond to a Staff Member Who is Opposed to a Process or Procedure that You Have Implemented?
Like most of the questions we have looked at; the interviewer is testing your management style and skills. How do you handle cases where other employees disagree with your line of thinking? Will you get mad and feel undermined or give them a chance to explain themselves?
I believe in a management style that has room for feedback. I usually tell my team or other staff members to be as open as possible. Whenever someone is opposed to a procedure or process that I have implemented, I give them a chance to table their opinion and explain their stand. I will then ask if they have a better alternative and invite the team to discuss and decide on it.
19. Do You Agree with Our Company’s Values?
To answer this question, you first need to know what the company values are. Therefore, always conduct some research before the interview. Try to relate these values to some of your personal values and convince the interviewer that you are okay with them.
One of the reasons why I applied for this role is because of your company’s values. I am a great believer in dedication, hard work, respect for humanity, and, most of all, the environment. I, therefore, agree with your company’s values and would love to offer my services here as I will also get to perpetuate some of my values.
20. Have You Ever Coached or Mentored Someone?
You will be required to coach and mentor your team members as a general manager. Therefore, give an experience where you positively influenced someone and made a change in their life. It doesn’t have to be through an organization or a big institution.
I once mentored an underperforming employee from a different department. He was fresh from college and had a hard time adjusting to the workplace. When he approached me, I offered to help and held his hand while teaching him what he should know and how to go about different roles. He became one of the best employees in the organization after some time, and still cherishes my support to date.
These 20 recommendations sum up some of the questions that you should expect in a general manager interview. Make sure that you also work on some of the necessary interview skills to increase your chances of landing the job.