Why this matters:

Hiring, onboarding, and training new employees are important hard skills for general managers. Candidates should be able to define an onboarding workflow that covers significant ground without overwhelming new hires — and extends appropriately into the first few months or even first year of tenure. This question reveals the candidate’s priorities and experience when it comes to onboarding.

What to listen for:

  • Related experience in onboarding and training new hires — and optimizing the process
  • Strong communication skills
  • The use of objective measurements to determine success in an onboarding program

Why this matters:

Every successful business must track costs and profitability, so general managers with hard skills in financial forecasting, budgeting, and meeting production goals are most desirable. Ideally, they will emphasize time and cost-cutting measures without sacrificing service or quality. Candidates can use this opportunity to share specific work experience relevant to their role in managing complex objectives.

What to listen for:

  • Understanding of how to prioritize competing demands to help meet organizational goals
  • Demonstration of hard skills in process optimization and project management
  • Specific examples of allocating resources and implementing time-saving efficiencies

Why this matters:

Technology plays an increasingly important role in business management. This question gives candidates the chance to show their familiarity with industry tools and commitment to ongoing learning to keep up with competitive trends. Hard skills in data analysis, project management, payroll, accounting, and reporting are great assets to have coming into this role.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of relevant industry technology, tools, and trends
  • Description of experiences using technology to achieve role-specific objectives
  • Innate curiosity, analytical skills, commitment to ongoing education, and desire to make improvements

 

Why this matters:

Managers are trusted to make countless decisions on behalf of the company’s best interests. These may include who to hire or fire, where to redistribute work when someone quits or falls ill, where to cut the budget, who to promote, and when to implement changes to a process.

What to listen for:

  • Clear recap of a difficult decision and what actions were taken
  • Leadership and positive growth mindset in problem-solving
  • A decision-making approach that prioritizes inclusion and collaboration

Why this matters:

General managers juggle multiple projects, tasks, and objectives at once. They must communicate expectations and priorities clearly to keep the workforce engaged and productive. Candidates require time management and organizational abilities to meet deadlines and achieve maximum profitability. This question explores how candidates have set and measured goals to help team members advance their careers.

What to listen for:

  • An organized process for goal setting, prioritization, and collecting feedback
  • Consideration of multiple factors such as urgency, importance, feasibility, time commitment, and budget
  • Experience with delegation, teambuilding, deadlines, and personal accountability

Why this matters:

The best general managers go above and beyond executing the vision of their leadership team. As a trusted advisor with ground-level experience, the general manager can also provide insight into process improvements, employee development opportunities, and recruitment strategies that can make the company more competitive.

What to listen for:

  • Clear description of a problem the candidate anticipated
  • Creative, forward-thinking exploration of potential solutions
  • A favorable outcome for the company, with tangible results

Why this matters:

Leadership style has a profound impact on employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. Managers can be direct in outlining expectations and holding others accountable, or they may be relational in building strong collaborative teams. They can be visionary, priding themselves on inspiring others with out-of-the-box thinking, or they may be operational and focused on how work gets done.

What to listen for:

  • A clear definition of what constitutes “good management,” in the candidate’s eyes
  • A personal story that illustrates a particular style of leadership and the candidate’s unique benefits
  • Evidence of communication abilities and interpersonal soft skills like empathy and listening

Why this matters:

Essential negotiation and conflict management skills help general managers succeed. Collaboration, exchange of ideas, settling disagreements, persuading others, and maintaining good working relationships are all part of a general manager’s day-to-day duties. Strong candidates have experience working with different types of personalities, building consensus, and creating dialogue that leads to beneficial outcomes.

What to listen for:

  • Empathy, listening, communication, cooperation, and sound judgment
  • Strategies for determining the root cause of conflict, negotiating with both parties, and resolving
  • Experience managing diverse personalities with professionalism and resilience

Why this matters:

The best managers are innately hardworking. A general manager with a strong work ethic sets a positive example to all employees and serves as a dependable assistant to the CEO. Qualified candidates might approach this question from various angles — focusing on how they like engaging with coworkers, their greatest accomplishments, challenges they find rewarding, or processes for staying motivated.

What to listen for:

  • Description of qualities that align with the company’s work environment
  • A positive approach to problem-solving, drive, intrinsic motivation, and introspective qualities
  • Accountability, follow-through, and consistency
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