Going to school for business management is just the first step of preparing for a leadership role in the business world. Getting your first professional business job with your degree requires you to find job opportunities that match your level of experience and to perform well enough in interviews to be hired for these roles. Only after you prove your skills in entry-level business jobs will you have the opportunity to move into managerial positions. As you prepare for the job interview that will kickstart your career, make sure that you practice answering interview questions and consider what skills and experiences are most important for you to highlight to your potential employer.
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Be Ready to Answer Common Management Interview Questions
Even experienced business professionals often feel nervous about going on job interviews. You can feel like there is a lot of pressure to say the right thing and make the perfect first impression, and there is always a risk of rejection if you aren’t chosen for the job you want. However, what separates great interviewees from so-so interviewees often isn’t a matter of higher skill level or even lower rates of anxiety. Rather, the candidates who tend to perform best at interviews practice interviewing for the job, which allows them to develop confidence in spite of their nervousness and come up with the best ways to convey the information they want their prospective employer to know.
No two interviews are precisely alike, but there are many common questions that interviewees hear. Often, job candidates start preparing for interviews by practicing their answers to basic prompts such as “Tell me about yourself” and “Why are you interested in this job?” Different types of questions are more common in different career fields. While a computer programmer might be asked to write a small piece of code and a candidate for an analytical career field might have to answer questions that test their logic and reasoning skills, there are also specific questions asked in interviews of candidates with a business management degree. For example, you may be asked to describe your leadership approach and elaborate on your management experience. Even if you don’t have a lot of professional managerial experience yet, you can draw from any leadership experience you have gained in other capacities. If you led a group project in school, started a volunteer group or project or took part in an internship experience, talk about these experiences in your answers.
Other questions that are common in interviews for business jobs include questions about working style and work environments.
Know What Management Skills Are in High Demand
Ideally, the answers you give to interview questions, in addition to being honest and accurate, also show that you have the management skills your prospective employer is looking for, even if the role you are applying for now is not managerial. However, to emphasize those skills, you must first know what those in-demand skills are.
Surveys of real employers show that the business management skills employers most want to see include budget management, project management, conflict management, delegation of tasks and administration. Further, companies like to see that you have learned the skills to make improvements to work processes, interpret business laws and financial data and understand financial reports and how to create them. General skills like communication, planning, organizational, relationship-building and problem-solving skills are also valued in business professionals, especially those with a desire to ultimately advance to a management role.
How do you showcase your skills during an interview? Look for relevant opportunities to discuss the experiences you have had as a student, intern, volunteer or worker that have required you to develop and use these skills.
Understand the Management Career Path
Even though you went to school for business management, recent college graduates usually don’t have enough work experience to begin in a management role. Instead, they start in entry-level roles that are appropriate to their level of education. If you just completed your associate’s degree in business management, you might have to start at the bottom, in roles such as customer service associate, relationship banker or bookkeeping clerk. A bachelor’s degree can put you in a better starting position, though still not a managerial role. Most graduates of a bachelor’s degree program in business management find entry-level opportunities such as business analyst and financial analyst.
With experience, you can begin moving up toward the leadership roles you aspire to hold. A marketing assistant or associate might eventually become a marketing manager. A sales associate can rise to a sales manager position. As you begin to work toward career advancement, using the management theory and strategies you learned as a college student can help you demonstrate your leadership skills.
With advancement comes a more impressive title, prestige and a salary increase. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a $67,710 median wage for business and finance occupations but a $102,590 median wage for management occupations.