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Am I Ready? Tips to Prepare for Your First Management Role

Manager and colleague smiling near a whiteboard - Tulane School of Professional Advancement

Whether you've been in the field for a year or 10, you'll know when you're ready to step up and pursue a leadership role. While you may be intimidated at the thought of assuming managerial responsibilities, you don't necessarily need a checklist of experiences to qualify for a leadership position—in fact, there's plenty you can do on your own to prepare. Make the leap with Tulane School of Professional Advancement to learn how to obtain a leadership position.

Thoroughly Research Your Prospective Employer

Learning more about the leadership team at the company you'll be interviewing with will better equip you to succeed in the role. If you can beforehand, find out who you'll be reporting to and note their title, background, and core responsibilities—if possible, try to find details from your professional or academic background that could help you better support his or her department or internal goals. Use these research tactics:

  • Read all bios on the company website, LinkedIn, or in any media mentions.
  • Try to get any information you can on the organization's financial health: Are they growing rapidly? Replacing a departed employee? This could impact your onboarding and how quickly you'll be needed to jump in to support the team.
  • Gather any information you can on the company's culture—what's more important? The ability to delve into independent work or being available to collaborate on short notice?
  • If you're new to the field, read up on any industry competitors and what you can bring to the table to better set their product or service apart.

Tulane School of Professional Advancement offers students a wealth of career development resources, including advising appointments with our Senior Career and Professional Development Advisor, career planning guides, as well as industry-focused career resources.

Leverage Your Professional Network

If you're feeling ready for a management position but are struggling to find an open role as your graduation date nears, you're likely overlooking an extremely effective method: getting help from your professional network. People you know or have previously worked with may have insight on positions that haven't even been posted to job boards, which could put you in an even better spot to get the job.

Stay on Top of Tech Trends

It'll be more difficult to convince the interviewer that you're the right person for the job if they'll need to spend extra time with you to ensure you're familiar with the software needed to get the job done. While you don't need to be a tech whiz, it's helpful to have baseline knowledge working with a word processor, spreadsheets, and cloud computing technology. If any of the aforementioned technology is unfamiliar, you don't need to enroll in a four-year program to get up to speed—a basic tech certification can help you garner an understanding of technology fundamentals without setting you back.

Stand Out With a Master's Degree

Be honest with yourself about market competition. Are most candidates applying with a certain amount of experience or industry knowledge that you may not have? This doesn't mean that you won't ever be ready for the job, but you can draw attention to your resume by putting the right credentials on paper. It's not true for every title or company, but not every resume is reviewed by an actual person—many use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to speed up the candidate sourcing process, and you may be excluded from the spotlight if the job description required a specific academic background. Earning a master's degree demonstrates elevated competency within a certain field and can even set you apart from other candidates who may have more work experience, but not necessarily the knowledge of certain processes that you may have been exposed to in your coursework—which you should absolutely demonstrate in the interview.

Next-level Interview Prep

Never attend an interview, virtual or not, without preparing yourself beforehand. This preparation is different from research in that it can help create a more memorable experience for the interviewer when it comes time to score candidates on how well the conversations went. Hiring managers will interview more than a handful of people for a position, and they can tell someone who did their homework vs. a candidate who's just winging it. Make yourself memorable by following these tips:

  • Get a copy of the job description and match your skills to each line item, wherever possible
  • Prepare to "dig deep" by writing down examples of varying work scenarios that are often inquired about in interviews
  • If you're prone to verbal fillers ("umm", "uhh", "err"), practice speaking exercises
  • Perform practice interviews with a friend or colleague to prepare

Include Compelling Add-ons in Your Resume

Your resume matters. Even though some companies may use an ATS, many combine these systems with an actual resume reviewer who takes a look at each candidate's credentials to find someone who may have been mistakenly overlooked. Hiring isn't a one-and-done process, and it can be lengthy. If you were overlooked in the first round of reviews solely because of your resume, that might not mean that you definitely won't be considered. Many companies return to their list of original applicants to schedule a time to have a conversation because they know that not everyone is a proficient resume writer. In fact, there's plenty you might be tempted to exclude from your resume or CV that could help you out:

  • Keywords from the job description
  • A bulleted list of technical skills (anything that may not be mentioned in your professional summary of your current and previous roles)
  • Certifications and professional memberships
  • Academic and professional achievements and awards
  • Community involvement or volunteer work
  • Freelance projects

Common Questions Asked in Management Interviews

While there are many common interview questions you should be ready for, if this is your first management interview, you should also prepare for harder questions that might make you pause or even confuse you. Companies don't just want to ensure that you're the right person on paper; they also want to assess your ability to think critically, solve problems, work with others, and introduce new ideas. Read through and answer the following questions commonly asked in management interviews:

  • How do you define success?
  • How do you motivate your employees in tough times?
  • Can you provide an example of a difficult conversation you've had with a coworker?
  • How do you stay updated on your management skills?
  • Can you provide an example of how you would deliver bad news to a client?
  • How do you handle conflict between team members?
  • What do you think should be expected from a manager?

Take the Next Step in Your Career

Tulane School of Professional Advancement wants to be your partner in your next job search. We offer a range of bachelor's, master's, and professional certificate programs for adults looking to return to school and increase their earning potential. Students can find the best schedule to accommodate their current professional and life responsibilities, as well as earn credit for previous work and life experience through a variety of assessments. Get to know more about our programs by requesting information from our admissions department today.

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