4 interview tips to help you prepare as a NEW manager 👊

So, you just got promoted (yay!) and are now managing people for the first time (another yay!).  It’s a great opportunity for anyone to gain people management experience and when you do, you learn a ton not only about others but about yourself.

When you step into your first leadership role, you’ll inevitably be faced with the task of hiring people as well.  Whether it’s hiring someone for your own team, or simply participating in an interview for a role in your dept./division and you’re elected to be on the interview slate.  What’s important in either situation, especially if it’s your first time is knowing how to conduct an effective interview.

There’s no manual on how to perfect an interview and I would confidently say, it’s all about practice, practice, practice!  But there are some best practices you can learn and adopt to ensure you’re starting off on the right foot.  I for one early in my career remember sitting in on interviews as an observer, listening in and it was a great learning opportunity on not only to understand what questions to ask (pertaining to that specific role) but the importance of preparing ahead of time.

Besides, second to being a great leader and leading your high performing team, hiring people will be one of the most important sets of responsibilities you’ll hold in your role.  Too many times, new managers are entering their leadership position with little to no guidance on how to interview and more importantly, how to assess talent.   Having some guidance and structure on what to keep in mind at the offset can be helpful and set you up for success!

Keep in mind your approach may vary depending on if you’re hiring for your team or someone else’s, however the below tips can serve as a great starting point to help you prepare before diving into your first interview as a first-time manager.

  • This may seem obvious; however, be sure to understand the position / scope of the role you’re hiring for AND ensure everyone that’s part of the hiring team is aligned and on the same page on what to look for.  The last thing you want to do is walk into an interview and not be clear on expectations and what you or your team are collectively looking for.  This will allow you to position and customize your questions appropriately.
  • Ask what you want to know. 
    • I can’t stress this one enough.  It’s been my experience, too many hiring managers will draw conclusions or make assumptions based on what a candidate said in passing or a comment they made vs. having asked a specific question.  *Get curious*, ask open-ended questions, learn the story, then form an assessment. 
  • Talk to your boss or other colleagues who have experience interviewing.  
    • You’re likely not the only one going to be interviewing whether for your direct team or someone else’s.  Find out if there’s a structure in place amongst the interviewers on the interview slate.  In some instances, if there are multiple interviewers, each person may focus on assessing a different skill set or component of a candidates background specific to the open position, i.e. one interviewer interviews for technical aptitude, another interviewer focuses on assessing for team or project management skills, etc. etc.
  • Design your questions to learn of a candidate’s WHOLE self vs. just their professional skill set
    • As a first-time manager new to interviewing, this is a great opportunity to develop a best practice of assessing for a candidate’s WHOLE self vs. just their professional background.  Learn to get to know the individual and assess for all skills. 

Remember, interviewing is a practice and a skill to cultivate.  The best thing you can do is prepare, then practice.  The best opportunities to learn are also when you fail, so if you feel as though your first interview doesn’t go as well as you would have liked, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try again.  Learn from those experiences and apply those learnings to your next interview.

Here are 2 questions I’d love to get your thoughts on. Leave a comment below and share your experience!

What other tips would you add to the above list?

If you’ve gone through this experience before, how did you prepare as an interviewer when you became a manager for the first time?

Stepping into your first people leadership role can be nerve wrecking to say the least, so be brave and share your experience that might just help someone who’s in this very place today.

With so much love ❤,

Lisa xo

What skills should you take notice of and why are they important?

What’s the most important skill you’re assessing when you’re interviewing talent?

Does a talent’s soft skill vs. hard skill and/or competencies to do a job hold the same level of importance for you?  I can probably guess that your answer would likely be no, although I’m sure you would agree it’s important just not as important as the hard skills to actually do the job.

In a world where artificial intelligence is creeping its way into many different industries and jobs, there will be forever the skills that AI simply will not be able to offer or do. That’s the human skills that we bring to the table, or otherwise known as soft skills.  Effective communication, compassion, empathy, passion, drive, etc. just to name a few. 

Why is this important and how does it effect you?  Well, if you’re a company that hires people, you want to focus on the FULL package a talent has to offer; meaning ALL skills are becoming increasingly important.  Not just their ability to perform a task and do a job.  It all matters.  In fact, LinkedIn‘s data as noted in their 50 Big Ideas in 2019:  What to watch in the year ahead article, suggests the fastest growing skills gap are related to soft skills.

If you’re someone who will likely be looking for a job at some point in your lifetime, your creative abilities and soft skills are what will set you apart.  They are the skills that can not be taken away from you and be automated.  The workplace is evolving, technology is constantly changing and skills and jobs are being automated.  As a job seeker, you want to understand how this affects you.

Now, I’m sure you can imagine, soft skills I find are typically more difficult to measure and assessing them can be tricky.  Simply reviewing a resume for key or ‘buzz’ words isn’t enough either.

For hiring managers and recruiters, here are some questions you can ask to help measure a few of the more common and important soft skills during interviews:

  • Communication skillsTell me a time when your communication skills were imperative to a problem you solved?  How were they used and what was important about that? (here, you’re not just looking for oral or written. Communication also includes what’s not being said – body language. You want to go deeper here)
  • Adaptability & FlexibilityHow have you dealt with change in your organization and what soft skills were critical to demonstrate during that time?
  • CollaborationWhat are some examples you can share when you’ve had to work with others you don’t know and how did you approach the situation? 
  • EmpathyShare an example of a customer service issue with your company or make one up.  Ask what soft skills they would demonstrate in that situation

I would also add to these.  You can also ask a candidate to share a real-life work issue at their current company (if they’re employed), and what soft skills are needed to solve it.

There are all kinds of different questions you can come up with and likely add to this.  The ones above are those I have found helpful in my experience, but please feel free to play around with these.   Also, don’t be shy to ask directly, what soft skills they deem themselves to be strengths of their’s and how they would relate to the position at hand.  As simplistic and obvious as it may sound, it’s a good question to ask, as chances are, candidates aren’t commonly being asked about their soft skills.

What are your thoughts on the skills gap being related to soft skills?  

How important are soft skills when you’re assessing talent for your organization? 

Please share your thoughts below! 

Thanks so much for your time,

Lisa  😉