Clement May Blogs

Applying for your first management role

Management experience comes in different shapes and forms

Your previous roles may not have included the word manager but you may well have been doing management tasks.  Some people move into management through promotion but plenty apply for a first management role.  You just need to be clear on why you are suitable for the post and the transferable skills you have gained in non-management roles.

These are the qualities hirers are looking for in their managers. Think of examples of comparable experiences you have had to demonstrate that you are more than capable of management!


Work with a team

Good management is not about being in charge.  A good manager works with a team and offers strong leadership when required.  In most IT management roles you will have a team of experts who know how to do their jobs and what is required of them.  Your role will be to work on future planning, ensure targets are met, report to senior management and to support your team in doing so.  Of course how you do that may not be so simple but it’s important not to overcomplicate.  


Motivate others

This is where the soft skills come in.  The hirer wants to see that you are someone who can get your team on board and develop a productive, motivated department.  This is where the doubt may lie when moving from expert consultant to manager – they may be good at their job but can they really gel a team together?  Think about examples of when you’ve had to enthuse colleagues previously. You may have led a project or even organised a charity event.  Most importantly you must show enthusiasm for the role.  If you don’t appear genuinely excited by the job what chance are you going to have to motivate a team.  Remember to avoid your own ego.  You want a management job because you feel you can benefit the company rather than to increase your status.


Strong decision making

Inevitably you are going to be asked what you would do in a hypothetical ‘tough’ situation.  Think about the issues that arise in the workplace.  If you want a management role you are going to be the person to deal with them.  It’s important to be familiar with the basics of employment law too.  List some questions – here’s a few that could come up;

  • There’s been a serious data breach that’s been tracked back to your department.  What is the first action you would take?

  • A member of staff has had repeated absence and you are unconvinced by their explanations.  What action would you take?

  • A new member of staff doesn’t seem to have integrated with the team.  How would you encourage closer communication?

  • You suspect corporate espionage because you have witnessed suspicious behaviour by a team member.  You don’t have concrete evidence.  What would you do?

The issues a manager has to deal with range from petty arguments to legal difficulties.  Every problem must be dealt with correctly.  Petty arguments can turn into employment tribunals and legal difficulties can be easily resolved – it’s not always the nature of the problem that gives it importance, it’s the way that it is dealt with.  

By rigorously going through as many scenarios as you can you are not only preparing yourself for interview, but preparing yourself for life in a management role.


The bigger picture

As a manager you will be expected to have a broad understanding of the company as a whole.  Research is key and you should go into interview having really read up on your potential employer.  You don’t need to make the hirer aware of all the reading you’ve done but you must be able to comment if asked on the recent acquisition of a rival company or a newsworthy change in CEO.  As an expert you are expected to do your defined role, as a manager you become a brand representative and you need to show a whole new level of commitment to the company.



There are loads of tips out there but we felt these were particularly useful.

A seasoned manager's advice for preparing yourself for a leadership role

How to apply for your first role in management: an essential guide