Top City Manager Interview Preparation Guide
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City Manager related Frequently Asked Questions by expert members with job experience as City Manager. These questions and answers will help you strengthen your technical skills, prepare for the new job interview and quickly revise your concepts

54 City Manager Questions and Answers:

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Top  City Manager Job Interview Questions and Answers
Top City Manager Job Interview Questions and Answers

1 :: Tell me what project management software do you prefer?

A project manager needs tools to plan, monitor and report on the project. There are many, from simple to more complex. This question reveals first how up-to-date the candidate is regarding software and project management tools. Additionally, it provides a picture of what tools and processes they use to manage a project.

2 :: Explain me how tall are the pyramids in Egypt?

Talk about not being prepared. Who is going into a job interview with this information in their head? You don’t really want an accurate answer to this question, but you do want to see how the project manager deals critically and seriously with the question. Because, during the project they will be sidelined with unexpected challenges and questions.

3 :: Tell us do you seek help outside of the project team?

This is an telling project manager interview question. Some project managers are going to think you want a person who is wholly independent and pulls from an inner-reservoir. Fair enough. But more resourceful is the project manager who knows when they’re over their head and asks for help from a mentor or a network of professionals.

4 :: Tell us how would you tackle the first 90 days?

Most people would say they would study the company's business. You must go beyond this answer to speak to specific job's key challenges or goals. You also want to assure your potential employer that current production will continue without interruption. Of course, you want to express that you would work with the team, your boss and any key influencers to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

5 :: Explain me how do you deal when you’re overwhelmed or underperforming?

It’s easy to forget that project managers are people, too. They are hired to perform and lead a project to success, but they can suffer the same setbacks as anyone on the team. The difference between a good and great project manager is the ability to monitor oneself and respond proactively to any drop offs in performance.

6 :: Tell us how did your last project end?

This question is about discovering any lessons they learned from that project. Everything is a learning experience, and each project offers lessons from which a good project manager grows.

7 :: Explain me how do you gain agreement with teams?

Where there are people, there are conflicts, and even the best projects have people problems. Good teams collaborate and trust one another. If there’s a problem between two or more team members, it must be resolved quickly. But this can also apply to stakeholders, vendors, etc. A project manager is a bit of a psychologist who must know how to resolve conflicts quickly.

8 :: Tell me when do you know the project is off-track?

Every project hits a snag along the way, but not every project manager is aware of that delay until it’s more pronounced or even beyond repair. The ability to monitor and track the progress of a project and tell immediately when it’s not meeting the benchmarks you set in the planning phase is perhaps the most important duty of a project manager.

9 :: Tell us what is your decision-making process?

Employers want to be able to trust how you’ll make decisions for them. While they may have internal processes to help with this, there will still be times when you’ll be on your own.

Begin with an outline of your process. You might start with a general statement, such as, “I gather all the available information to me, analyze the options, and prioritize outcomes based on the project and company goals and objectives.” Then, continue with a specific example of a business-critical, decision-making situation you navigated.

10 :: Tell us if the project is not adhering to schedule, how do you get it back on track?

Knowing that a project is not keeping to its schedule is only as important as being able to get the project back on track. Once a project manager is aware of the discrepancy between the actual progress and the planned progress, what steps do they take to get the project back on time without jeopardizing the enterprise? Any project manager worth hiring will be able to answer this with practical specifics.

11 :: Explain me how do you support an employee who is not meeting expectations?

While it’s important to have a good example on hand for all manager interview questions, it’s especially critical here to show your ability to take corrective measures on a personal level.

Interviewers ask this question to determine how you will work with a direct report to guide them back onto the path of success. They will look for methods, such as giving clear feedback to an employee and then jointly developing an action plan that supports meeting future performance goals.

12 :: Explain me how do you handle conflict between team members?

There are always two sides to every story, which is why it’s so important to me to remain as neutral and open-minded as possible whenever I hear of conflict between teammates. I was in a situation a few years ago where two members of my team were clearly unhappy with each other. Rather than let it fester or ignoring it with the hope that they would be able to work it out themselves, I sat down with them individually and asked them to explain what was going on. We discussed reasonable and professional solutions that worked for both parties and the matter was resolved.

13 :: Tell us what’s your ideal project?

The ideal project is the one that you’re hiring for of course! But seriously, try to get them to answer honestly. It will let you know what sort of projects they prefer to work on. In doing so you’ll get a better feel for what kind of work excites them and maybe even what they excel at. This can help you place the project manager with the right project, or help them adapt to the project you’re hiring them to manage.

14 :: Tell us how would your past experience translate into success in this job?

You might start with naming the top few requirements for this job and then describing how you meet or exceed each one. Or you might begin with your background and summarize how it has prepared you for this job. Often, the context of the job is almost as important as the skills required, so don't forget to speak to the specific challenges and objectives you see in the role.

15 :: Tell us an example of where you have had to make a difficult decision?

As a manager, you will often find yourself having to make difficult or uncomfortable decisions, such as choosing between two products or deciding to fire an employee. This question will help an interviewer see whether you can be decisive when the time comes, however hard the decision is.

To answer this interview question, think of a time when you made a difficult decision and explain how you came to your conclusion. For example, did you weigh up all the consequences, or did you just go on your gut instinct? Did you also consider the needs of the business and its employees?

16 :: Tell us how do you keep your team motivated?

This is one of the most common manager interview questions. As a leader, your team looks to you set the tone of morale and motivation. Interviewers seek the following in your answer:

☛ A description of your communication style
☛ Examples of specific things you do to empower your employees
☛ An explanation of how you take time to get to know your employees (so that you understand what motivates them on an individual level)

In your answer, give specific examples of ways that you provided positive reinforcement to your team, encouraged them to take the initiative, and understood each person’s strengths. Also, take care to explain how you’ve shown recognition to employees who meet or exceed expectations.

17 :: Tell us what’s something you don’t want us to know?

Ouch. Yes, you need to go there and make the candidate uncomfortable. It’s not that you want to learn some secret or catch them in an unethical act. Less important than the content of their answer is the way they deal with the question. You’ll get a better picture of the person instead of the persona they’re presenting. It also shows their communication skills while under pressure. It might seem cruel, but it’ll help you get to the heart of the person that you’re going to trust with the management of your project.

18 :: Please explain what’s your leadership style?

Talking about managing a project will inevitably lead to a discussion of leadership style. There are many ways to lead, and all have their pluses and minuses. Depending on the project, a project manager might have to pick and choose how they lead, ranging from a top-down approach to servant leadership. See how well-versed they are on leadership techniques.

19 :: Tell me how do you manage team members that are not working to their full potential?

Sometimes, no matter how much due diligence you put into assembling a skilled and experienced team for the project, someone underperforms or creates conflicts. While the project is rolling, you don’t have time to stop and tweak your team. Rather, the project manager must deal with the problem and resolve it. This comes up with even the best team, so any capable project manager would know how to nip underperformance in the bud.

20 :: Tell us what’s your preferred project management methodology?

There are almost as many ways to manage a project as there are projects. From traditional methods like waterfall to hybrid methodologies, you want a project manager who understands the many ways to work. And more importantly, can they use the methodology that best suits the work at hand?

21 :: Explain me about a time you let an employee go?

Nobody likes firing people, but there are times and situations when it just has to happen. One summer I was working as a supervisor for a local pool. We had a lifeguard who was consistently late to the job. As his supervisor, it fell to me to talk to him about this situation. I pulled him aside on three occasions and spoke with him about why he was late and how that was a violation of the company policy and how the fourth time would be grounds for his dismissal. I made sure to keep the HR team involved with every step and properly document each meeting. Unfortunately, he was tardy a fourth time and I had to let him know that he was being terminated. It wasn’t an easy task, but it had to be done.

22 :: Tell me do you consider yourself to be an organized person?

This is not asking if you are a neat and tidy person. Rather, interviewers include this question among their normal manager interview questions to see how you prioritize your time and which tools you use to help you along the way.

Walk through your typical manager’s work day with your interviewer, stepping through your smart daily routine while explaining how unforeseen circumstances are handled before things spin out of control. Emphasizing your ability to multitask and pivot between changing priorities is a nice touch, as well. Use examples that show off your flexibility. You can share your specific methods, for example, but also how you change your approach depending on the situation at hand.

23 :: Explain me what are your goals for the next five to ten years?

An interviewer will want to find out more about your career goals, to determine if you’re motivated, dedicated and are likely to stay at the company for the long term. It can be a difficult interview question for managers to answer, but there are some key things to consider. You may not know exactly where you want to be in ten years’ time, so keep your answer truthful, but broad. To prevent raising any red flags, show that you’re enthusiastic about the specific role on offer and explain that you are looking for a long-term career.

24 :: Tell me an example of how you’ve had to provide negative feedback. What was your approach?

While this question involves a direct report, there are many other situations where you’ll need to have your criticism taken seriously. You’ll ace your response if you can produce a positive example of how you followed the best practices when delivering constructive feedback. Interviewers look for three primary things in your answer:

☛ Whether you keep your feedback specific or general
☛ If you deliver your feedback promptly or wait for a performance review
☛ Whether or not you encourage the employee to work alongside you to create an action plan that will rectify the shortcomings.

25 :: Can you tell me an example of a tough decision you had to make?

When making professional decisions, I like to keep in mind the good of the company before I consider personal feelings. A few years ago, I was in a situation where I was responsible for hiring a new team member for a large project we were working on. I had managed to narrow the selection down to two candidates; a new hire who was perfect for the job and another, established employee who was not quite the right fit for the position but whom I considered a personal friend. While I would have loved to hire my friend, it wouldn’t have been the right choice for the company, so I hired the new employee. When my friend asked me why I had made that decision, I explained it to him. We discussed other opportunities that he would be a better fit for. At the time it wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one and one I would make again.
City Manager Interview Questions and Answers
54 City Manager Interview Questions and Answers