Supervisor Interview Questions and Examples of the Best Answers
Today’s manager has a tough job. In addition to setting the tone for their direct reports and making sure that their team hits its goals, they must navigate an ever-changing business landscape.
It’s no wonder that management interviews often involve tricky questions and multiple rounds. Employers know that a good hire in this important role will help their business succeed, while a bad hire might prove to be a disaster.
When you’re interviewing for a position as a manager or supervisor, it's important to show the interviewer that you are an effective leader and problem solver. Prepare to answer questions about what makes a good manager, your own management style, solving conflicts between employees, dealing with poor employee fit/performance, and more.
What Makes a Good Supervisor?
The interviewer may ask you a question like, “What makes a good supervisor or manager?” Your answer gives the interviewer a sneak peek into your management style. Draw on experiences that demonstrate your leadership skills and use an anecdote to illustrate your response.
- In my previous role managing retail employees, I saw that if you show that you respect the staff, they will work harder for you. This instills them with a sense of ownership and a desire to produce excellent results.
- I’ve also found that your team will model the behavior they see in you. So, I learn about my direct reports’ lives and what their interests are. They, in turn, do the same with their peers, creating a pleasant and productive work environment. While I do draw the line between supervisor and friend, having an open-door policy door clarifies that we are on the same team, trying to achieve the same goal.
Solving Conflicts Among Employees
Employees from various backgrounds and with different personalities are sure to experience some level of conflict. Your attempts at resolution demonstrate the type of supervisor you are.
- I've certainly encountered people on a team who clash. And because disagreements are inevitable, I will give the sparring employees a chance to resolve them on their own. Giving autonomy allows them to develop their own conflict management skills and grow as a team. However, when the problem starts disrupting their work or other people’s work, I step in. If it's due to a miscommunication, I will act as mediator, and we will work through it together in my office.
- At my last job, two employees were butting heads due to a power struggle. I met with them together and after calmly discussing their qualms, had each of them identify two suggestions to the other party that would resolve the conflict. Within 30 minutes, we sorted everything out, and the two of them walked out on excellent terms. If it's a larger drama on a personal level, I tend to approach each person individually and ask that they leave their baggage at home.
Dealing With Poor Employee Performance
Supervisors need to understand that not every employee is an ideal fit. Further, sometimes employees who were once a good fit fail to evolve with the company. A strong supervisor won’t give up easily. They will encourage the employee and offer to mentor them.
- When an employee's work is questionable, I assume we saw something in him when we hired them that isn’t manifesting now. I begin by arranging a meeting with them to ask how work is going and if there are any problems they wish to discuss. I've always found it more useful to go in with no assumptions and just listen. I then share with them specific areas where they can improve. It helps to present hard data, which could be their sales revenue this month compared to previous months.
- If it’s a personal issue, I let them know that I sympathize with them and that I’m on their side. We then move on to a plan of action that we both agree will help them separate their personal and work life. If the issue is work-related, I ask them what they think is causing the problem and how we can work together to overcome their struggles. Depending on their potential and desire to grow, I may invest in training them or temporarily lighten their workload. In some instances, I’ve had to suggest the job is no longer a fit for their skills.
Additional Questions About Supervising Employees
- How long have you worked as a manager?
- Tell me about your management style. How has it evolved?
- What makes someone a good manager?
- What would you say is the single most important quality for an effective supervisor?
- How do you motivate and encourage your team?
- How would your former employees describe you as a leader?
- What are your three core values? How have you integrated them into your leadership style?
- In what work environment did you achieve the most success?
- What factors within an organization must exist for you to work most effectively?
- Have you ever fired someone? Please explain the steps you took to carry out the dismissal.
- What's your strategy for welcoming and acclimating new employees?
- When you begin a new managerial position, describe how you meet and form relationships with your new colleagues, supervisors, and direct reports.
- How do you measure your success as a manager?
- How do you delegate work?
How to Make the Best Impression
Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions: For supervisors, these include questions about management style, solving conflicts between employees, and dealing with poor employee performance.
Demonstrate Your Skills With Anecdotes: It won’t be enough to say that you can manage conflict in the workplace, for example—you’ll need to relate a story about a time when you did so successfully.
Keep It Positive: Focus on your success and skillset, not on specific difficult employees or prior job roles.