Interview preparation for line managers - The Ultimate guide

Interview preparation for line managers - The Ultimate guide

Are you a Line manager preparing for a candidate interview? In this article, we will go through what you should know to prepare for the interview and all the different steps in the process. 

Quite surprisingly, rare are the employers preparing their line managers to conduct interviews. As a result, we see too often unprepared line managers who do not dare to ask for support to help them succeed in this critical part of their managerial responsibilities. 

To gain more understanding of how to lead successful interviews, we first recommend reading our article about structured interviews. 

Click here to learn more about structured interviews. 

As a line manager, you may not be receiving as many resumes as you wish. While this might be true, options are often limited to recruiting the right talent for your team. The reality is that talents are changing jobs at a faster pace in a very competitive market. 

Therefore, your ability to stand out as a line manager is Key. 

Why? 

Because candidates decide to accept job offers based on the future boss they’ll want to work with : You! 

In this guide, we are going through the different steps of interview preparation.  We hope you find it useful! 

Prepare the interview, before the Interview 

Read the candidates’ resumes. You can only fully understand their answers if you know their background. And, it can help you ask relevant probing questions.

1. Review of the Applicant’s resume 

  • Progressive increase of responsibility
  • Listed skills (hard skills and soft skills)
  • His pre-employment assessment 
  • Years of experience
  • Length of prior employment
  • Possible gaps between employment
  • Neatness of the resume/application 

2. Review of the Job Description 

Identify the most important competencies/tasks for the position including the behaviors and soft skills required for the role. 

Ensure you have listed the most important responsibilities and the skills requirements for the role you are interviewing for. You should target questions to uncover the applicant’s skills and unique attributes that apply to your unique job requirements. 

3. Reminders before the interview 

Observations from the interview that may forecast the applicant’s work habits, attitude or personality on the job: 

  • Body language
  • How many times the candidate says “I”
  • Eye contact
  • Punctuality
  • Enthusiasm
  • How he/she structures thoughts/ideas
  • How he/she treated the assistant or receptionist 
  • Mobile phone is switched off 

Do not let you disturb by: 

  • First impressions and unconscious bias. 
  • Stereotyping
  • Comfort with similar people
  • Interviewer differences
  • Tendency to remember only negatives
  • Pressure to hire 

Keep in mind that a first interview or candidate screening call has been conducted by the Human Resources department. The recruiter has already introduced and reviewed:

  • Presentation of the Company + position Reason for opening
  • Interview Evaluation
  • Assessment of soft skills 

Use this input to prepare for the interview with the candidate you are about to meet. 

The Interview Steps 

Step 1. Introduction of the meeting ( 5 to 10 minutes) 

You talk most of the time 

Start by introducing yourself, your position, and your responsibilities 

Then, present the company. If you have additional information (company brochure), use them to support your presentation. 

Finally, introduce the context of the role, and explain WHY you are looking for the position. 

Objectives 

  • The candidate feels more at ease
  • The candidate learns about the company 
  • The candidate can project himself/herself in the company
  • The candidate gets the opportunity to ask questions (you can gauge the candidate’s curiosity from the first step). 

Step 2 - Candidate introduction ( 5 to 10 minutes) 

Ask the candidate to introduce themselves in 5 to 10 minutes without interrupting: From previous background until the reason why he/she is here. 

Golden rule: do not interrupt! The candidate is giving you precious information that you should note (ie. Reasons for leaving, reasons to join previous/current role, the main highlights of their responsibilities, how are they able to themselves in a clear and concise manner). 

Keep in mind: Candidates often purposely omit the reason why they leave jobs or unsuccessful experiences from their resume. Take note of these unexplained areas and keep them for the questions / answer step. 

Step 3 - Questions / Answers (15 to 20 minutes) 

You ask questions - The candidate talks 

Back on the information the candidate just provided to you: 

  • Emphasize on specific experience that the most related to the job offered 
  • Clarify areas where the information provided is not clear enough
  • Ask them about their role scope / responsibilities / position in the organization 
  • Their level of commitment and autonomy on past projects that they have been involved 
  • Why did they want to leave their previous employers.


At this stage, you should know whether the candidate presents some fundamental requirements of the role.

 If yes, continue to the next step. 

Step 4. Personality and expectations (10 to 20 minutes) 

Questions / Answers with the candidate

  • Questions on the candidate’s personality / Candidate
  • Questions on the candidate’s behavior at work / Candidate
  • Understand the candidate’s personal and family situation / Candidate
  • Clarify the role of the candidate / Interviewer 
  • Provide more information about the role: what are the most challenging parts, your short-term and long-term objectives / Interviewer
  • Ask the candidate to reformulate what he/she has understood about the role 
  • Ask the candidate why he/she wants to join the company 

Objective: validate whether what the candidate wants is in line with your offer 

Step 5. Conclusion 

Explain what will be the next steps of the recruitment process and inform about an estimated timeline for which you would like to have the candidate onboard (the HR team has already collected details about the candidate’s notice period and tentative starting date). 

Offer the candidate the chance to ask questions! 

Sample questions for the interview 

The following questions are guidelines you can use to lead the interview. 

Open questions to address the applicant’s ability and willingness to prepare, plan & set goals. 

  •  Walk me through the important points on your CV.
  • Tell me 3 main achievements in your current position.
  • What elements of this job will be new to you?
  • Beyond this role, what are your long-term professional goals?
  •  What is your understanding of the role/company?
  •  Why are you looking for a new opportunity?
  • Why do you want to work at (company name)?
  • What questions do you have for me? 
  • Could you introduce yourself in 5 to 10 minutes?
  • Explain to me how your work experience is relevant to this position.

Questions to address the applicant’s behavior on the job. 

  •  How would you work with someone you don’t like?
  • What would you do if you saw someone (not reporting to you) breaking the rules?
  • What would you do if a co-worker/employee wasn’t performing their share of responsibilities?
  • Tell me about a time or how would you handle a client/partner who asked for too much.
  • Compared to your last position, what are the main skills/abilities you have improved?
  • How would you handle working for someone less qualified/skilled/smart than you?
  • How would you manage an employee more qualified/skilled/smart than you?
  • Tell me a time when you failed. What did you learn from it?
  • Tell me how you overcome a difficult interpersonal situation.
  • Give an example of a situation when your mind has been changed can you start immediately (with a shorter notice to your current company)
  • If your current company matched our offer, would you stay?
  • What would you do if you feel unhappy at work?
  • What do you like or dislike in your current job? 
  • Give an example of a situation when you have changed management’s mind.
  • What is the biggest decision you have made without your boss?

Straightforward questions:

  • Why do you think you are more qualified than other candidates for this position?
  • Describe how did you prepare for this interview?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How do you spend your spare time?
  • What book or publication did you last read?
  • What else should I know about you? 

Assessing personality 

  • Why have you had x amount of jobs in y years?
  • When have you been most satisfied in your life?
  • If you got hired, loved everything about this job, what kind of offer from another company would you consider?
  • Tell us about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted— like a promotion you wanted and didn’t get, or a project that didn’t turn out how you had hoped.
  • What sort of things irritate you the most, and what do you do if someone gets on your nerves? 

Assessing culture fit

  • What things do you not like to do? Describe the management style that will bring your best work and efforts.
  • What are the characteristics exhibited by the best boss you have ever had?
  • Describe your current workplace. What do you expect from your next workplace?
  • What do you expect from your future boss?
  • Do you have a best friend at work? How do you feel about becoming friends with your coworkers?
  • What are the positive aspects of your current job and work environment, or the last position you
  • held before coming to this interview?
  • When working with people, in general, describe your preferred relationship with them. 

Asking whether the candidate can be hands-on

  • Describe your team and their job positions.
  •  Have you ever implemented new processes for your company? What and how?
  •  Do you need your boss's approval to make your own decisions? If yes, how do you get the approval? Give some examples.
  • Do you go over your job description? When is the last time you have done so? How did you feel about it? 

Whether a candidate can influence others

  • Give an example of a situation when you have changed management’s mind.
  • How do you propose new ideas?
  • Describe how did you feel when one of your biggest propositions has been rejected by your management? How did you react in exchange?
  • What is the biggest decision you have made without your boss? 
  • How do you prioritize your daily routine? How do you face a big workload?
  • What is the biggest decision you have made without your boss?
  • When is the last time you performed a job that didn’t belong to you just to make it done?

MANDATORY BEFORE YOU JUMP INTO THE INTERVIEW ROOM

1. Make yourself ready – The candidate has a few questions to ask to you 

  • How would you describe the culture of the company and the workplace?
  • Why did you choose this company?
  • Will there be any form of training provided?
  • What will be my career path?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges/successes facing the department currently? What process will be used to evaluate my employee performance?
  • What will make someone really successful in the role?
  • Who will be my direct supervisor?
  • Are there many opportunities for professional development within the company? What is the usual time frame for making the hiring decision?
  • May I contact you if any further questions arise? 

2. Know the selling points of your company! 

Here are hypothetical examples of selling points for a company X 

  • A culture of performance and reward upon good results.
  • Decision Making and responsibilities: We encourage decision-making and autonomy. For ex: P&L management, team management, along with progressive growth, a strong sense of ownership etc
  • Flat organization. Managers are accessible (We do not have many layers in the organization unlike MNCs)
  •  A Fast-paced environment
  • Competitive base salary and fringe benefits 

Keep in mind: YOU are the biggest selling point of the job opening! 

The candidate shall be able to project him/herself working with you. Ensure to highlight the unique attributes of you and your team to put all the chances on your side. 

About Huneety 

Huneety is Southeast Asia Talent sourcing platform connecting talents to opportunities. We help organizations navigate talent shortages by creating new talent pools of qualified applicants. With Huneety you can quickly find, assess, and select the right talents according to your unique skills, behaviors, and cultural fit requirements. 

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