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Job Interview Essentials: Top 10 Competencies for Managers

Discover the essential job interview questions for managerial positions and learn how to showcase your competencies effectively. Prepare to excel in your manager job interview and secure your career advancement.

Introduction to Managerial Job Interviews

Interviews are a vital part of the recruitment process, enabling talent and potential employers to take the measure of each other and offering both the opportunity to showcase what they have to offer. And while it’s true that every interview matters, when you’re on the managerial ladder your next job can affect more than your own career. Here we look at what skills managers need in a job interview and how they can give themselves an advantage over their competitors.  

The Top 10 Competencies Every Manager Should Master

If you’re looking to move onto your next managerial role you’ll already have a raft of skills, abilities and experience. However, you may not be confident in all the areas needed to make the next move in your career easier. Let’s look at some of the prerequisites and offer advice on each point to enable you to master them all.

1: Leadership Skills – designed to find out more about your leadership style, questions about leadership skills can focus on team motivation, conflict resolution, making difficult decisions, delegation, and goal-setting. If you’re asked about your leadership skills at an interview try to focus on real life examples of when you’ve highlighted the qualities of good leadership skills  and explain what the outcome was.

2: Communication Proficiency – without clear communication skills there can be no clear leadership. Open and honest communication, both verbal and non-verbal, with co-workers is vital to achieving objectives, from the smallest to the largest. Demonstrate your communication proficiency by discussing your ability to put your point across clearly, listen actively, and read people’s tone of voice and body language. 

3: Problem-Solving Acumen – large or small, we all face problems in our daily work lives, but it’s how we deal with them that demonstrates how effective our managerial style is. Explain how you identified how a particular problem arose in the first place, how you  established exactly what the problem was, how you found a range of possible solutions and how you put the correct one into practice. This will show potential employers that you have a range of problem solving skills such as creativity, practicality, flexibility and reliability.

4: Decision-Making Abilities – good decision-making can define a career and lead to organisational success. To demonstrate how you’ve taken important decisions in the workplace at an interview, discuss how you identified the problem or the goal, collated all the information and ideas necessary to make an informed decision, sought the opinions of trusted colleagues, considered the outcome of every option, then made and evaluated the decision. 

5: Adaptability and Flexibility – how you adapt to change and demonstrate flexibility in the workplace is a good indicator of your suitability within a new role. It’s one of the ‘soft skills’ that employers look for in a world that’s constantly changing. Think about examples of how you’ve demonstrated personal flexibility, adapted to change, shown creative thinking and emotional resilience. 

6: Team Building and Collaboration – another crucial ‘soft skill’ which will give your potential new employers evidence of how well you work in a team, communicate with colleagues and contribute towards teamwork. In an interview, put forward examples of how much you value working with others, your approach to teamwork and how you’ve solved challenges using collaboration. 

7: Strategic Thinking – showing an ability to consider long-term goals, opportunities for growth and development and that you can think on your feet, strategic thinking helps organisations see the bigger picture. Answer interview questions about strategic thinking with examples of current and future trends you’ve noticed, risks you’ve identified or opportunities you’ve planned for. 

8: Time Management – another vital ‘soft skill’, time management shows your potential employer how you prioritise both routine and unscheduled tasks, and your productivity. You could include examples of how you manage your ‘to do’ list, how you deliver projects on time, and how you work to a deadline without losing focus or quality. Some job interview questions on this subject will focus on your work/life balance so consider how sustainable your priorities are. 

9: Emotional Intelligence – the ability to recognise and manage both your own emotions and those of your colleagues, emotional intelligence enables you to resolve conflict, motivate members of your team, build collaboration through trust and handle constructive feedback. Standard interview questions about emotional intelligence may be about things such as your motivations, how you handle differences of opinion, how you deal with errors, and examples of positive contributions you have made.  

10: Results-Driven Attitude – potential employers will often include interview questions about how you drive results to enable them to determine if you meet your personal and professional goals in a work environment, whether you can set goals for yourself or prefer to collaborate, and how you are motivated to achieve the desired results. Talk about your achievements to date, your strengths and specific skills, and give examples of what actions you took to drive the right results.

Answering Common Interview Questions and Showcasing Your Competencies

The need for capable, experienced and skilled life science managers has increased in recent years thanks to investment and demand, but interview performance is still one of the most popular ways to determine if you’re right for a role. Let’s look at some common questions you might face in an interview, with hints for showcasing your competencies.

Why do you want to work for us? This is your chance to show how you have researched the company and its achievements. It allows you to talk about future developments and how you can contribute to them. 

Describe your short- and long-term goals. Think back to the job description that attracted you to apply for the job in the first place and base your answer in relation to that. Emphasise that your long-term goals coincide with the company you’re applying to.

Tell us about your attitude to teamwork. Here’s your opportunity to emphasise how flexible and adaptable you are, and that you’re able to work both on your own initiative and make positive contributions to a team. Add that you’re happy to work in either situation as long as it’s for the good of the research.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? Avoid anything too negative about yourself but focus on how you’ve attempted to improve and learn from past mistakes. Highlight the strengths that the job description outlined.

What’s your style of leadership? Here you can outline how flexible and adaptable you are, depending on the situation and what the members of your team have required in terms of leadership. Give examples of how you’ve demonstrated your leadership qualities and how that impacted on research projects’ outcomes.

Assessing Managerial Skills and Experiences

Your interview is a chance for your potential employers to assess your managerial skills and experiences. Some interview questions you may be asked include:

  • How much managerial experience have you had?
  • How many people do you manage or supervise directly?
  • What are your exact responsibilities for your team?
  • How do you handle change? 
  • What’s your approach to development (your own and your team’s)?
  • What’s your vision for your team?
  • What’s your feedback style?

Securing Interview Success and Career Growth

Part of the art of securing interview success and, therefore, career growth is not only to successfully answer any questions the panel may ask you but also to ask good interview questions yourself. 

Here are some examples of questions to ask at a job interview to show that you’ve thoroughly researched the organisation, and to demonstrate your serious interest.

What training opportunities will you offer me?

Are there progression possibilities?

Tell me more about the team I’ll be managing.

What plans does the organization have for the future?

What challenges does it face?

Can you describe a typical day?

What’s the company culture like?

Why should I join?


Significant growth within the life science industry over recent years has led to a demand for highly-qualified and -experienced managers in various sectors. Here we’ve outlined some strategies that you can use to ensure success at an interview when you’re taking your management career to the next level in this exciting and innovative industry.