Why this matters:

While the assistant manager should generally follow the lead of a more senior manager, they are often the ones left in charge when the manager is away for any reason. As such, they should feel comfortable making the kinds of decisions that a manager would typically make.

What to listen for:

  • Awareness of boss’s management style and decision-making process
  • Mention of organizational policies and ability to keep the organization’s values in mind
  • Confidence in leadership skills

Why this matters:

Assistant managers juggle many different tasks in a short period of time, ranging from office logistics to staff management to assisting senior management with larger projects. Because their schedules vary constantly and their responsibilities impact everyone in the organization, it’s important to hire someone who knows how to manage their time effectively.

What to listen for:

  • Comfortable with a variety of responsibilities, and knowledge of how success impacts others
  • Ability to quickly pivot as required by business demands

Why this matters:

In a busy organization, it’s important for leaders to be willing and able to delegate. A strong assistant manager knows this — and can strike the right balance between taking primary responsibility for something, pitching in where needed, and assigning some tasks to others.

What to listen for:

  • Decision process for determining what to take on and what to delegate
  • Keen delegation skills, and open to others working as they choose

Why this matters:

Assistant managers are frequently on the ground with other employees and should be able to quickly sense when a conflict arises. They should be able to gather objective data on the situation and effectively diffuse it — without having to bring in senior management.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to resolve conflicts in a way that leaves all parties content
  • Empathy and an ability to relate to others
  • Past examples demonstrating an ability to approach conflict in a constructive way

Why this matters:

An assistant manager’s responsibilities may vary by the day — or even by the hour. It’s important to find someone who won’t shy away from going outside their job spec. This question can also demonstrate a candidate’s ability to lead a team — or contribute meaningfully to a shared goal.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to self-start and go the extra mile as necessary
  • Examples showing the candidate’s innate problem-solving skills

Why this matters:

Working effectively with others often requires sharing skills and techniques so that everyone is on the same page — which is especially important in the event that a given individual is out of office. Strong instructional approaches are the only way to ensure that others are able to understand and internalize the skills a candidate teaches.

What to listen for:

  • An instance of having taught a team member a new skill or technique
  • Strong oration skills that demand attention
  • Effective teaching abilities that help cement ideas

Why this matters:

In addition to managing the staff on a daily basis, assistant managers may also be responsible for approving time off, coordinating schedules, and arranging other office logistics. A stellar candidate thrives under stress. This question allows them to simultaneously demonstrate their flexibility, empathy, and operational chops.

What to listen for:

  • Empathetic personality that showcases strong priorities
  • Problem-solving skills and a resourceful attitude that prioritizes availability of backup strategies

Why this matters:

In many ways, the assistant manager is the bridge between management and staff, so it’s important that they are on the same page — particularly with regards to top-down directives and policies. This allows the candidate to showcase how they choose their battles, stick up for what they believe in, and manage up, if needed.

What to listen for:

  • Maturity and an ability to constructively resolve disagreements
  • A desire to be as effective as possible throughout every avenue of responsibilities

Why this matters:

The role of an assistant manager is often a stepping stone to a higher leadership role. It’s important to learn how the candidate envisions their future career path — and gain a sense of their longer-term interest.

 

What to listen for:

  • Enthusiasm about the organization and industry
  • Ambition and the desire to grow with your organization
  • A desire to build upon and improve relevant leadership skills and processes
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