Interview Question: "What Management Style Do You Prefer?"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 21, 2022 | Published November 23, 2020

Updated June 21, 2022

Published November 23, 2020

When employers interview candidates, they want to ensure that candidates' personalities align with their company as much as their qualifications do. Different management styles work for different employees depending on their work ethic, personality and values. By reviewing sample interview answers and thinking about your own preferences, you can develop a unique answer that allows you to convey your management needs while also remaining flexible.

In this article, we review why employers typically ask about your management style preferences during a job interview, discuss how to answer the interview question, "What management style do you prefer?" and provide several example answers to help you cultivate your own.

Related: Smart Answers To Interview Questions

Why do employers ask about your management style preferences?

Employers ask about your management style preferences to determine whether your leadership needs to match current company managers and other leadership personnel. This allows them to place new employees under supervisors or managers who can communicate well together and promote productive operations.

Related: 65 Common Cultural Fit Interview Questions

How to answer, "What management style do you prefer?"

When answering the question, "what management style do you prefer?" it's important that you structure your answer in a way that highlights the type of managers you work well with while also conveying your ability to adapt to different styles as needed. Review this guided list of steps to determine how to answer this question successfully:

1. Be honest about your preferences

When interviewing for a job position, you need to provide honest responses rather than offering answers, you believe the interviewer wants to hear. This is especially important when discussing your workplace culture needs and management style preferences. Your ability to effectively communicate about these needs helps your interviewer properly evaluate whether you're the right candidate for their company. It also ensures that you receive job offers with companies that have similar leadership and a workplace culture that allow you to perform well and enjoy your job.

2. Name a few management styles to convey flexibility

Instead of naming just one management style like Laissez-faire, you should also be sure to discuss a few other management styles that work for you, like democratic or pacesetting management. This demonstrates your ability to interact with and work under professionals with varying management styles. It also gives you more opportunities to identify with a common management style at their company.

3. Provide examples of previous managers you admired

To support the management styles you named, be sure to provide a few examples of previous managers you've had and how their management style promoted your work ethic or job satisfaction. This also allows you to convey the professional experience you have that qualifies you for the job in question.

4. Provide an example that highlights your ability to overcome communication barriers with managers

If your interviewer talks about how company management styles typically differ from the types of management you're used to, you should include an additional example from your past where you and a manager had different personalities. Be sure to highlight how you communicated with them to establish a better understanding of their expectations and your needs.

5. Conclude by conveying your focus on the big picture

To conclude your answer effectively, speak about your dedication to your work and your ability to see past differing management styles to uphold the goals and business initiatives of the company.

Related: 6 Management Styles To Lead Effectively: Overview and Examples

Example answers that highlight the type of management style you prefer

There are a variety of ways to answer the question, "what kind of management style do you prefer?" Here are several sample answers to help you determine the best way to describe your preferred management style during a job interview:

Example answer 1: authoritarian

Authoritarian managers enforce strict guidelines and expectations among their employees. They also establish clear roles for each employee.

"I find that I thrive under clear objectives and a more authoritative leader. It reduces confusion about my job duties and allows me to push myself to fulfill the role I'm given. In my previous job, I had a laissez-faire manager, and although I did enjoy the independence, I found that it was difficult to gauge their expectations and keep team members on task."

Example answer 2: laissez-faire

Laissez-faire managers trust their employees to conduct their job duties with little to no instruction. They typically provide advice in response to problems or initial guidance before employees start projects.

"I am a very independent worker, and I have a great deal of self-discipline that allows me to maintain my work performance with very limited instruction. Because of this, I usually work well with managers who instill their trust in me to complete tasks with little guidance. However, I do also enjoy working for managers who have a pacesetting style as it gives me clear goals to drive my daily tasks."

Example answer 3: transactional

Transactional managers aim to promote productivity and employee satisfaction by implementing individual or group incentives for the successful completion of job tasks. They also use incentives to encourage employees to work beyond their standard expectations.

"I prefer a manager who seeks to motivate their employees by setting up reward systems or incentive opportunities. At my previous job, my manager created a monthly program that awarded the employee with the highest sales quotas an extra vacation day and a gift card to the food establishment of their choice. This encouraged healthy competition between my coworkers and me and pushed us to become better salespeople."

Example answer 4: visionary

Visionary managers, also called strategic or charismatic managers lead their employees by helping them understand their job roles in the context of larger company goals or values. They also provide little instruction to employees besides making sure they all work toward the same goal.

"I have a lot of respect for managers who make a point of connecting their employees and individual job roles to the company as a whole, so I prefer the visionary management style. At my former workplace, my manager held weekly meetings to discuss how our department's actions affected the rest of the company. It really helped me develop a sense of accountability and a sense of purpose in even the smallest tasks. I also find it helpful when managers have a pacesetting management style as it gives me a goal to aim for each day."

Example answer 5: democratic

Democratic managers, also called participative or consultive managers demonstrate that all employees, regardless of their seniority, have the ability to offer ideas about company operations. They gather ideas from employees and value their opinions when making the final decisions.

"I usually prefer leaders who have a democratic management style because it demonstrates their respect for all employees and their ideas regardless of whether they work in an entry-level position or senior-level position. Similarly, I also work well under managers who have a coaching management style. At my previous workplace, I was constantly encouraged and challenged to enhance my skills and I always felt comfortable asking my manager questions, which ultimately helped me reach new career goals."

Example answer 6: pacesetting

Pacesetting managers establish challenging goals for employees to aim for, like sales quotas or quick deadlines. Their goal is to motivate their employees to reach beyond normal expectations to achieve heightened work performance.

" I love it when managers set high expectations to encourage employees to reach new levels of job performance, so I respond well to leaders who have a pacesetting management style. I also work well under managers with a transactional management style because it gives me an incentive to work toward. At my previous job, my manager used a management style that combined both transactional and pacesetting methods, which inspired me to exceed my weekly goals."

Example answer 7: servant leadership

Servant leadership managers or coaching managers are responsible for acting as a job coach or mentor to their employers rather than a disciplinarian. They aim to help their employees develop their skills and capabilities by providing a supportive work environment.

"I prefer a manager who uses a servant leadership style to lead employees. Not only did they teach me how to maximize my productivity, but they also gave my coworkers and me valuable insights into our industry and how it worked. Their positive encouragement also helped me perform to the best of my ability and it really inspired the rest of the office to be supportive and kind to one another."

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