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How to Interview with a Less Experienced Manager
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

One always assumes that when interviewing with a hiring manager, that they are in the top of their field. But as you proceed through the interview, you may notice that the interviewer isn’t following up on questions or seems frazzled and unable to keep track of your answers.  You don’t get to manage the people interviewing you. If they don’t know how to interview, an effective strategy is to accurately present your skills and experience and guide them to solve real problems they are facing.

Sometimes, preparing yourself for the interview isn’t enough – you might have to prepare for a less experienced hiring manager. 


Get in the Zone

Before even thinking about the interview, you need to position yourself as a key player for your future teammates. Get into the mindset that the company needs a hero, which is why they are interviewing people. By providing the information they need to help them see your value will play a key part in getting hired. You’re offering them that value in the interview itself. 

The key is to make it about solving their problems and not so much about what’s on your resume.

Preparing for the Interview

When approaching the interview, set an objective to provide value and to understand and begin communicating how you’ll work with the new team to meet needs and reach goals. You need to know what some of those needs are before walking in the door – the interview is not the time to learn about the company. Your prior research and informal conversations will provide a framework for your formal interview. Make sure to focus on how’ll you’ll bring your skills to the organization, it’s not about your experience or needs this time. You need to ensure you’re able to provide ways on how to fill in the gaps and meet the needs of the team. 

Practice your Pitch

Being prepared for inexperience on the other side of the table is crucial for making an impression on someone who might be a bit more difficult to tackle. Our coach Sarah Richardson provided insight into her interview preparation and how to tackle this issue. “Interviewers will often ask similar questions, so preparing by having three to five well-defined answers is key for being able to respond to questions about your experience, previous success and failure, why you are looking, and why you would want to work at a certain company,” Richardson explained. “If you are further along in your career and interviewing with a less experienced manager, stick to measurable results and specific, concise examples of how your experience was/is a benefit to the organization.”

Even if you aren’t a skilled interviewee (like everything else in life), you can improve some practice in informal conversations. Talk about yourself succinctly with one or two sentence answers and 4-sentence stories. Focus most of your time of experience within the last five years and be sure to connect the dots of your experiences.   Our mentor Ron Rapatalo discusses how to be clearer and more direct in your answers. “A less experienced hiring manager/interviewer will likely ask questions in their guide without probing for more evidence or asking a clarifying question so an experienced candidate should be prepared to give the detail needed to answer a question. It’s better to be a bit more detailed than non-specific."

Act Like a Strategy Consultant

In order to be able to provide the information the hiring manager will need; you need to think like a strategy consultant to anticipate what they want before they ask.  Ask them on their mission and vision for what’s possible today and in the future. Here, you can shift to understanding their specific frustrations and challenges, as well as the opportunities they are seeing.

Also, tie in how you’ve learned to pivot in 2020 and 2021.   Sarah adds how it’s necessary to discuss how you operated throughout the pandemic. “It is also important today to be able to illustrate how you navigated the pandemic and its ongoing effects as well as addressing remote workforces, employee well-being, and virtual team dynamics. If the candidate worked in person, what protocols created a safe environment and how has that created an environment for a competitive edge where many organizations have become hybrid?”

If you’re still thinking that you may be at a loss for questions you can ask your interviewer, we’ve provided a list of questions to ask below. We’ve also provided a list of questions from the perspective of the hiring manager so you can think about how you can best prepare for a less experienced hiring manager.  Note, this is a long list so ask over the course of your interviews, not in the first 30-minute conversation. 

Interview Questions You Can Ask 

1. How do you plan on measuring the success of the person in this position? In the first three months? Six months? One year? 
2. Is this a new position? If not, how has the role evolved? If yes, how did you know you needed this position? 
3. How long did the previous employee hold this position? Did they move within the company or leave? Why did the previous employee leave?
4. What are the types of projects this employee would work on? Is that daily or is it more fluid? 
5. What is the training for new hires in this position?      
6. What are the performance expectations for the next 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? 
7. What are the biggest challenges you expect this employee to face? 
8. What is the culture of the team? Department? Company/brand?      
9. What is the organization’s commitment to DEI? What is it doing well, what does it need to improve?     
10. What do you know about plans for the growth of the company? 
11. What type of people thrive and do their best here? 
12. How have you and your team handled racist, sexist or exclusionary behavior in the past?  
13. What’s the biggest thing you love about working here and what’s the one thing you wish you could change? 
14. Is there anything you’re concerned about that makes you think I wouldn’t be a great fit for this job? 

Interview Questions for Which You Can Prepare Answers

1. From everything you’ve learned about this role, me and our company, tell me how you feel you’d make a contribution.
2. Why should we hire you?
3. If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?
4. Describe the best boss you have ever had.
5. Tell me about what motivates you.
6. What frustrates you?  What is your behavior in these situations?
7. Tell me about the toughest negotiation you have ever been in.
8. How do you involve your staff when an important company strategy decision needed to be made? 
9. Where do you want to be in 5 years?
10. In what environment do you perform best?
11. What would you describe as your superpower?
12. Tell me about a time you set difficult goals.
13. Pitch our company to me as if I were buying our product/service.
14. Tell me about the relationships you've had with the people you've worked with.
15. What project would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?
16. What have you done professionally that is not an experience you'd want to repeat?
17. Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
18. In five minutes, could you explain something to me that is complicated, but you know well?
19. What is your definition of hard work?
20. If I were to poll everyone you've worked with, what percentage would not be a fan of yours?
21. Tell me about a time you screwed up.
22. Who is the smartest person you know personally? Why?
23. What is something you'd be happy doing every single day for the rest of your career?
24. If you had $40,000 to build your own business, what would you do?
25. What's the biggest decision you've had to make in the past year? Why was it so big?

ArcVida Helps you Prepare for Your Interview

ArcVida programs are designed to help you find the best fit for your career trajectory. Set up a free strategy call to help you identify a role where you’ll thrive, land the interview and overcome challenges that may arise throughout the process. After your initial call, we’ll be able to recommend a program that will best suit your career goals, and help you get there.


Published on 9/14/2021