How to hire a manager + 4 traits to look for

Think back to any bad job you’ve ever had. Was it because of a bad manager? If your answer is yes, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that 82%* of businesses fail to hire a manager they can count on.

That’s no good because if you think about all that managers do, you’ll realize how important they are to the success of any business: They handle day-to-day operations, develop company culture, work closely with customers, and hire, train, and coach employees. So if your manager isn’t up to par, they have the potential to disrupt your small business operations in a big way.

But it can be hard to tell the difference between a great interviewee and someone who’s real manager material.

So, how do you hire a manager who will help you meet your business objectives and be a great leader to your employees? And how do you suss out the good apples from the bad? In this article, we’ll explore four ideal manager qualities to look out for, plus provide some common interview questions to help you find an ideal hire.

*Gallup, 2022

Where to find the best manager candidates

When you’re fishing for great candidates to fill your open management roles, it’s best to cast a wide net. Here are some of the top ways to do so:

  • Recruit from within your business: Promoting a talented employee is not only ideal because of the time it saves you in training. It can also motivate your other employees to learn more about their future opportunities and look for ways to develop themselves professionally.
  • Attend job fairs: If you have the means to attend a few industry-related job fairs or events, they can be great opportunities to meet serious, high-quality manager candidates face-to-face.
  • Post on job boards: Popular job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and Craigslist are great options for you to get your open manager position in front of as many eyes as possible.
  • Social media: Take advantage of your business’s LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook pages. Post your new manager opportunities and explain what makes your business unique. Around 84% of organizations are already using social media platforms for recruiting, so you don’t want to miss out on the great candidates hanging out there.
  • Don’t forget industry-specific job boards: If you work in the restaurant or salon industries, this is a great option. Restaurant job board ideas include RestaurantZone, PoachedJobs, and Culinary Agents. And for salon owners, you can check out SalonEmployment, BehindTheChair, and SimplySalonJobs.

Use an all-in-one solution: Don’t waste time copying and pasting your job posting into several different job boards. Instead, try Homebase hiring and onboarding. Our free hiring software lets you choose from customizable job description templates, and then we’ll automatically upload your advert to multiple popular job sites. And because Homebase is also a team management software, you’ll get access to tools for employee scheduling and time tracking, too.

4 top traits to look for when hiring a new manager

Managers all have unique career paths, levels of work experience, and skill sets, so it’s hard to establish specific qualifications to look for when hiring one. But one thing’s for sure: You can’t run a business without a good manager.

Here are four core characteristics that every business owner should look for in a manager, no matter your industry:

1. Trustworthiness

It’s important to trust your employees, but it’s even more critical to trust your managers. Not only will you be relying on them to handle things like budgeting, money, and sensitive documents, but you’ll also expect them to follow through on tasks autonomously and hold your employees accountable for their work.

That’s why we recommend asking for — and checking in with — references when you’re sifting through different managerial candidates. Here are some examples of questions to ask them:

  • How and why did the candidate’s employment end?
  • For this role, we need someone who can ____ (e.g., multi-task, budget, deal with customers, train employees). How would you rate this candidate’s ability to do that on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • How does this candidate do with managing a team on a scale from 1 to 10?
  • How often did this candidate fail to follow through with a task, and what are some common obstacles that get in their way?
  • What are this candidate’s biggest strengths?
  • What are the candidate’s biggest weaknesses?
  • Would you rehire this candidate if you met them today?

If you still have concerns about trusting new managers with your finances and money, you could also ask if they’re okay with you running a background check. Remind your new manager that the process is standard procedure for anyone entering the role and isn’t intended to be exclusionary.

2. Excellent communication skills

It can’t be overstated: Managers need outstanding communication skills. The fact is, they interact with employees, customers, and vendors the most out of anyone. They make sure everyone’s informed about and aligned on what needs to get done from day to day. They listen to employee feedback and coach them through their challenges, as well as communicate the overall business vision and expectations to team members.

So, how can you find candidates who have excellent communication skills that are up to your high standards? Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • How do you communicate with employees at the start of each work day?
  • How would you handle a customer who said your employee overcharged them?
  • How would you coach an employee who’s having a tough day at work?
  • How would you describe our brand to a new employee?
  • How would you describe our business mission?

And once you find that perfect candidate, here’s how you can set them up for successful communication:

  • Create a manager-specific onboarding handbook: You can send new managers their onboarding paperwork alongside their job offers. Ask them to familiarize themselves with all the documents so you can review them together and answer any questions on their first day.
  • Set up regular 1:1 meetings and check-ins: Your manager needs a manager, too. They’ll need someone they can voice their concerns to, discuss business goals with, and receive assessments and casual feedback from. Sometimes managers have these kinds of relationships with owners, while other times there are several different managerial-level staff members that can work together.
  • Use a team communication app: A free app like Homebase team communication lets managers message employees, remind them when their shifts are about to start, and even track their performance. And they can do it all from their mobile phones.

3. Problemsolving

An ideal manager should be quick on their feet when problems arise and have a proven track record of solving issues in their previous roles. But how can you make sure a candidate has problem-solving skills in the interview process? Don’t you need to see them in action to find out?

No, all you need is behavioral interview questions, which you can ask to find out how a candidate responds or has responded in specific workplace scenarios. Here are some examples you can use to inspire your own behavioral interview questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you motivated other team members at work. What was your strategy?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a big mistake at work. How did you handle it at the time, and how did you resolve the issue in the long term?
  • What’s one thing you’d do to make new employees feel welcome?
  • Tell me about a time when you had several things to do at once. How did you organize or prioritize them?

4. Flexibility

Change is a constant in the small business world. Sometimes you’ll experiment with a new process only to find out that it wasn’t worth your time. Or you’ll try out new products and services that don’t get the customer traction you thought they would. And even if you have a strong company culture, it’s not uncommon to have employee turnover issues in certain industries like food service or retail.

That’s why managerial flexibility is key, especially if your small business is growing fast. So, what does a manager with great flexibility and adaptability look like?

  • The ability to wear a lot of different hats: Good managers have to be okay with the fact that their workdays won’t be predictable. They should enjoy facing a range of different challenges and get excited about working in a dynamic environment where they can learn lots of new skills.
  • Industry changes: Does your candidate understand that they’ll be expected to keep up with industry trends and shifts? For example, technology and software solutions for your point of sale (POS) or inventory management systems may change from year to year. A good manager should be aware of that fact and be ready to adapt to new ways of working when necessary.
  • Business changes: As your business grows, will your manager be able to rise to the challenge of managing a larger team? And how will they deal with an expanding customer base?
  • Operational changes: When it comes to policies and procedures, every business needs to go through the growing pains of trial and error. What works during your first year in business probably won’t work in the second or third year. With that in mind, reflect on whether your managerial candidate is open to updating processes and trying new, more efficient ways of doing things.

How hiring a manager is different than hiring other employees

Finding the right manager is even more crucial to the success of your business than building the rest of your team. Here’s why:

  • Your managers are the people team members will look to every day as examples of your business values and culture.
  • Your managers will act as the ultimate embodiment of your customer service standards, especially when issues or disputes arise between customers and employees.
  • It’s possible your managers will end up being more plugged into the real-time needs and happenings of your business than even you.
  • Bad managers can also take a toll on employee morale and reinforce poor workplace practices. Damage like that can take a long time to recover from.

Even if a manager is new to your business, they should have some understanding of how to carry out their work on a practical level. With that in mind, don’t be worried if the hiring process for a manager takes longer than it does with typical employees. You’ll want to make sure you find the right one!

10 interview questions for hiring managers

Hiring an effective manager is often about determining whether candidates have the right soft skills to effectively lead your team. You’ll also need to understand what leadership and organizational skills they have and how they would look in practice.

Here are some questions you can use as a starting point to create your own interview questions for hiring managers:

  • What made you decide to pursue this role now, and why at our business?
  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • How would you manage seasonal workers or temporary employees?
  • As a manager, what kinds of tasks would you prioritize for yourself and your team?
  • When was the last time you had to make a difficult decision? What process did you use to make it?
  • Tell me about a manager who has been a good example or mentor for you.
  • What’s an example of good feedback you’ve given? What’s an example of good feedback you’ve received?
  • What would your goals be for this team over the next year? The next couple of years?
  • Tell me about the last time you managed a conflict between employees.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to hold an employee accountable for something they failed to do.

Make hiring simpler with Homebase

A lot of thought and strategy goes into finding the right manager for your business. And even if you think you know the right questions to ask and what qualities to look for, the entire hiring process can be a strain on your resources and limited time.

Saving small business owners time is one of our top priorities at Homebase. And we’ve designed our platform specifically for those that work with hourly teams. With our hiring and onboarding tools, you’ll be able to write job descriptions, publish them on multiple job sites, communicate with candidates, and hire and onboard new staff members — all in the same place. That way, you can spend more time interviewing candidates and finding the perfect fit for your team and less time dealing with back-and-forths, inquiries, and emails.

FAQs about hiring a manager

homebase customer photo homebase customer photo

How do you spot a bad manager?

You can spot a bad manager by looking out for some of these typical “red flag” traits during the interview process:

  • They’re unprepared for the interview and haven’t taken the time to think of any scenarios from their past work experience that demonstrate their managerial qualities.
  • They don’t take feedback or suggestions well. If your candidate can’t think of a specific example of feedback they’ve received or behave like they’ve never gotten constructive criticism, they’re displaying ego and inflated confidence rather than humility and honesty.
  • They haven’t thought about their career goals. If your applicant hasn’t put any time into thinking about their own goals, how do you know how they’ll progress within your business? And how will they help their direct reports set their own professional objectives?
  • They display micromanaging behavior or mention that they have a hard time delegating tasks and letting employees work autonomously.
  • They don’t ask you any questions about the position and don’t seem interested in learning about what makes your business unique.

What interview questions should you ask a management candidate?

You should ask your management candidate a mixture of questions based on their past work experience and hypothetical professional scenarios. Some of your questions or prompts could include:

  • What made you decide to pursue this role now, and why at our business?
  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • How would you manage seasonal workers or temporary employees?
  • As a manager, what kinds of tasks would you prioritize for yourself and your team?
  • When was the last time you had to make a difficult decision? What process did you use to make it?
  • Tell me about a manager who has been a good example or mentor for you.

What are the qualifications for a manager?

The right manager for your small business should possess a blend of soft skills, managerial skills, and previous experience and education. Let’s take a look at some examples of each:

Soft skills

  • Trustworthiness
  • Excellent communication capabilities
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Flexibility

Managerial skills

  • Experience with analytical and organizational thinking
  • Team management and coaching skills
  • Budgeting
  • Industry-specific skills 
  • Business knowledge

Previous experience and education

  • At least two years of experience managing employees
  • Experience in the same or a similar industry (for example, if you’re hiring a manager for a small restaurant, candidates who’ve managed a bar or cafe could still qualify)
  • An Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree

How can Homebase help my business hire a new manager?

Homebase can help you hire a new manager with our hiring and onboarding software. Here’s how it works:

  1. Use our pre-written, customizable templates to create your job description. Then you can post your job advertisement from our platform to popular job sites like ZipRecruiter, Craigslist, and Indeed.
  2. Create screener questions in the Homebase app to find the best candidates. You can also communicate with candidates and set up interviews with them within our platform.
  3. Send your ideal candidate a job offer through our app! And when you do, you’ll send them onboarding materials like tax documents, employee handbooks, and employee information forms. They’ll read and e-sign everything before they come in for their first day at work so you can hit the ground running and begin training right away.

How do you know when you need a manager?

Here are some tell-tale signs that you need to hire a great manager:

  • You find that you can’t ‘do it all’ the way you could before. You might be burning out, neglecting tasks, or just feeling like you have too much work for one person to do. Either way, it’s time to get some help.
  • Your business is growing fast. If your business is booming, don’t wait until you’re desperate for help. Be proactive and start the hiring process while you have time to find a great candidate and train them well.
  • When you have too many small fires to put out. This means you’re spending most of your time solving day-to-day issues as they come up rather than focusing on big-picture goals for your business. 
  • When you’ve become a serious micromanager. It’s hard to let go of total control when you’ve built a business from the ground up. But you won’t be able to grow it sustainably if you don’t hire a team to help you.

Remember: This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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