35+ Best Supervisor Interview Questions & Sample Answers [2020]

A supervisor is sometimes referred to as a manager, boss, foreman, area coordinator, or sometimes “gaffer”. The primary job responsibilities of a supervisor are to oversee employees and the workplace. This includes seeing performance goals, deadlines, and other company visions for the employees to follow. The supervisor spends their time organizing workflow, ensuring that employees understand their duties, and delegating tasks in order to accomplish business objectives.

Portland Community College defines great managers and supervisors as having “effective communication, leadership skills, empathy, compassion, ability to handle conflict and practice conflict resolution, the ability to delegate, and ability to problem-solve.” They go on to say that time management, priority management, and having confidence are key characteristics in great supervisors. Some refer to these characteristics as “soft skills” and imply core competencies that help managers predict future “on the job” performance.

The ability to manage a team while being a great team leader is what makes a good supervisor. This includes having interpersonal skills, being able to deliver constructive feedback, and generally having a management style (or “supervisory style”) that the employee is familiar with.

If Hiring a Supervisor

If hiring for the supervisor position as a hiring manager, look for competencies and characteristics that speak to skills that supervisors and managers should have. This includes strong verbal communication skills, the ability to tell stories, influence others, and generally have a positive demeanor about work.

Previous supervisory experience will always be beneficial to review in the job interview. This can help to better predict what a future work environment might look like under the supervisor’s supervision. It may be beneficial to ask questions that uncover the importance of upholding company culture through management.

If Interviewing as a Supervisor

When interviewing as a supervisor, it’s important to prepare answers to behavioral questions that may be asked by the interviewer. These questions test “on the job” performance and competencies that illuminate the skills and abilities of a supervisor or manager. A behavioral interview question normally begins with “Tell me about a time..” and then proceeds to present an opportunity for the interviewer to tell a short story.

A great method of telling these stories in 90-seconds or less is using the STAR Method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This means to describe a work situation or predicament, a task that was needing to be accomplished, the action the supervisor took, and the end result for the business. This method of storytelling frames work situations appropriately and helps a hiring manager to comprehend the entire situation more effectively.

Supervisor Interview Questions & Answers

Below are sample supervisor interview questions and answers.

How would you handle an upset team member?

Answer: The first thing is to really investigate what is driving the unhappiness. There’s some level of trust that the employee is going to tell you the truth. And sometimes, their passions are simply not there. But if they are passionate but feeling discouraged, it’s best to figure out what’s really going on and then try to correct the situation.

How do you handle coordinating work?

Answer: It’s best to describe the objectives of the team as a whole, then try to delegate tasks after that. This way, every employee or team member can see how their work is going to play a part.

How would you motivate employees?

Answer: Everyone is motivated in different ways. It’s best to learn how they want to be motivated. Either by learning a new task or by being congratulated in front of a group. It will take time to learn what drives everyone and then try to provide ample opportunities to get them closer to those career goals or situations they appreciate.

Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision without the proper information?

Answer: It was an evening when we were closing a store. We were unable to figure out how a certain process should be handled for the crew in the morning. What we did is provide two solutions that the store opener could do in order to facilitate their needs. We also left a note explaining the situation. The outcome was that the employee was able to do their jobs in the morning without much problem.

Note: This is a behavioral interview question and describes a stressful situation through a STAR response. As a job seeker, it’s best to practice behavioral interview answers with a friend, engaging in a “mock interview”.

How do you measure success?

Answer: In two ways, the happiness of our team and the ability to meet business objectives.

Are you a problem-solver?

Answer: Absolutely. I love challenges and figuring out new solutions to new problems is what drives me.

Do you consider yourself a leader?

Answer: Yes. But I like to lead by example rather than “boss” people around.

What’s your management style?

Answer: Leading by example and learning what motivates others. This takes time and the ability to practice active-listening skills, patience, and responsibility.

How would you handle conflict between two team members?

Answer: It’s best to address the situation head-on. Ask the two team members what’s driving the conflict and then ask them to engage in conflict resolution. This act is making sure both employees understand what’s driving the conflict, hoping that they see both sides of the story, and then deciding on a path forward.

What’s your biggest management weakness?

Answer: The ability to be too focused on objectives. This forces me to sometimes forget about the emotions of our team.

How do you delegate tasks to your team?

Answer: By first showing the team our wider company objectives and then through the delegation of tasks, showing how those tasks play a significant role.

What is your greatest management strength?

Answer: The ability to practice active-listening skills.

What size of a team have you managed in the past?

Answer: I’ve been able to manage up to 20 people.

How do you understand employee aspirations?

Answer: By asking questions. This is really important. It’s not about assuming.

What would you do if you’re falling behind on production goals?

Answer: The first thing is to figure out where and why it’s failing. This is certainly due to an issue on my part as a supervisor. In this situation, it’s never best to blame anyone but myself. And figure out how I can better do the job my employees are looking for.

If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Answer: The ability to articulate complicated matters in a shorter amount of time.

Do you lead by example or train employees?

Answer: I love leading by example. I’m a visual learner and appreciate others who are, as well.

Tell me about a good supervisor that you trained with.

Answer: At my last job, I really learned the importance of the supervisory role through Jeff Holden. He taught me about compassion and patience and how that drives everyone around us.

How do you provide constructive feedback?

Answer: By being blunt but also explaining the greater picture. Putting the customer first.

How do you take constructive criticism?

Answer: In positive ways. I want everyone to be telling me how I can be doing a better job for them.

How would you introduce yourself to new employees?

Answer: By telling short stories about what defines me and how I describe myself in the workplace through my work. Telling everyone what motivates me. And then using that as a platform to connect others.

How would you introduce yourself to the team?

Answer: Very similar to the interview answer before this, I would love to show everyone what motivates me in the workplace.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

Answer: There started to lack upward mobility in the workplace.

What is the objective of management or being a supervisor?

Answer: To oversee efficiency, employee happiness, customer satisfaction, and ensure business objectives are being met.

What would you say your technology hard skills are?

Answer: The ability to use all Microsoft Office programs, using Point of Sale systems, and scanners.

Have you ever had to discipline an employee?

Answer: Yes. It was difficult. But the best thing to do is describe the situation and then describe how it let their teammates or the customers down.

How would you report progress to your supervisor?

Answer: I like to provide bi-weekly updates and reports by email. Describing what’s going well, what’s not going so well, what can be improved, and what steps I’m taking to improve those things.

How do you like to be motivated?

Answer: By being challenged with new goals.

What drives you to be a better supervisor?

Answer: Seeing others progress and meet new career goals.

Who inspires you?

Answer: Steve Jobs was inspirational to me, mostly because he led by innovation. Though, at times this wasn’t always healthy for him.

What do you value most about our culture here?

Answer: The ability to collaborate, listen, and respect others.

What’s part of your mission statement you appreciate?

Answer: Our drive to meet customer satisfaction and being willing at all costs to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Tell me about a time you failed as a manager?

Answer: When I focused too heavily on our goals and not enough on our employee’s happiness.

What’s one skill you value most as a supervisor?

Answer: The ability to empathize.

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Below are great questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview:

  • Can you tell me more about the interview process?
  • What’s one piece of advice you would give yourself if you were interviewing?
  • What makes a candidate a “good fit” for the company culture?
  • What’s one skill that you believe is most important to have at this company?

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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