What is the best approach to the question: "How you see the department now, what you would do to improve it?"

I am currently a non-manager and will be interviewing for a managerial position next week. It is internal within my department. I will be interviewing with my boss (technically I'm a skip). He asked that I be prepared for the above question.

I certainly don't want to attack my boss with problems. In the same light, I want to be able to answer his question.

If not handled carefully, this one could certainly blow up in my face.

Mark's picture
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Interviewing questions like this created the statement, "be honest, but be SMART honest."

I recommend NOT talking what is being done that you don't like, NOT talking about people, NOT talking about known failure.

Look at the team from a high level, and see if there isn't one area where the team isn't focused that its mission or vision ought to have it. Rather than being negative about what is, suggest that there is an area where new focus would generate value.


jhack's picture

Do you have the interviewing series? Great stuff for understanding how your past accomplishments can be used in an interview.

Dig into your past to find an example of a time when you acted to address a similar situation. Describe the steps you took then, and the result. Relate this to the current situation. Help the manager see you doing the things that it would take to get the right focus.


VerbatimIT's picture

If your views are well thought out, and your boss (manager) throws out a "loaded question" you might diffuse the load of the question by asking, "Do I have your permission to speak frankly?"

Given that permission, you now have an opportunity to share with her/him your thoughts, and to speak freely, thereby opening up a door to conversation.

That said, if you're a writer, and you have an interview to be transcibed please consider using, instead of doing it yourself, to free yourself to write, what you do best.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Kelly, owner/operator

jhack's picture

Tell your boss the truth, and the truth shall set you free...

Permission to speak frankly does not protect you from consequences.


tlhausmann's picture
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[quote="VerbatimIT"]"Do I have your permission to speak frankly?"

Bad idea. That, to me, is like speaking to a reporter under the assumption that everything is "off the record."

Mark's picture
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ramiska's picture

Thanks, Mark for the advice. I had some things in mind ahead of the question being asked but I want to be cautious. I pulled out a copy of our department's objectives and found a few of my suggestions already in there. I can help improve the department by working to strenghten those.

Was that an advertisement I just read in the thread? Strike two against that post.

AManagerTool's picture

I have always found that it is OK to point out problems in the department as long as the hand that you use to point out the problem is holding a solution for it.

By the way, please don't plug your business on these boards. Additionally, trying to disguise the plug as feeback is even more insulting than if you just spammed the board.