Whether you are interviewed as an internal or external applicant, supervisor positions are extremely competitive.
In essence, a team of 10 people may all be gunning for the promotion. Or, you may be up against a plethora of external applicants, all looking for their next stepping stone to upper management.
How you answer Supervisor Interview Questions will be a huge determining factor. Supervisors need to be prepared, know the business well, and be able to think quickly on their feet.
Here are some examples of the questions you can expect and how to answer them:
Supervisor Interview Questions Examples
1 – What makes you qualified to be a supervisor?
If you have experience or a management qualification, you should definitely lead with that. List all the hard skill aspects you can confidently handle.
These could be skills such as employee scheduling, cash-ups, and balancing books after shifts. Your knowledge of company policies and safety protocols, and your understanding of each team member who may work under you.
Include your hard and soft skills…
Then move over to the soft skills you will need for the job. These could be conflict resolution, team motivation, communication skills, and your ability to react calmly during an emergency.
Problem-solving and crisis management skills are a combination of hard and soft skills as you will need the know-how along with critical thinking abilities. You can finish your answer with a few examples of leadership roles you have had in the past and how you have handled a crisis.
2 – How would you handle a problem employee?
As a supervisor, you have to take charge of disciplinary action and keep employees in line. However, this is not the place to become power-hungry. You can start by saying that you would study company policy to be prepared and refer back to it if need be.
Your actions in enforcing discipline will always reflect the standard as set forth by the company. If a situation is complex, you will consult your own superior or HR for guidance. If it is a small, first, or second-time offense, it could easily be remedied to not be repeated. Try offering a counseling session to the employee to address any issues that they may have that may have resulted in the offense.
Every situation is different…
An example of this could be that an employee was tardy because their babysitter called in sick at the last minute, or something else happened that was beyond their control. To remedy the situation, the employee is reminded that they should call in and let you know that they will be late, and they will be expected to make up the time.
With bigger incidents such as insubordination or repeated offenses, a company policy with clear instructions on consequences such as a disciplinary hearing can be followed; however, everything should always be done by the book. This not only protects employee rights but will protect the company against legal action for unfair dismissal as well.
Feeling safe in your work environment…
Employees who know that they will not be inappropriately disciplined or harassed will likely feel better working under you as well because it will not be a hostile work environment. In the same breath, they will also know that there are indeed consequences to not following the rules.
3 – How would you fire an employee?
This is usually the follow-up to handling a problem employee. Once it comes to the point where an employee is supposed to be fired, it can be dreadful, but it has to be done. Being tactful and considerate is key, as in some cases, an employee may need to be let go for a variety of possible reasons, other than being a bad employee or doing something wrong.
In any event, it is best to treat all employees the same. Explain that you will take them to a private area and explain to them why they are being let go. Follow up the explanation by clarifying everything that is expected of them.
Make it crystal clear…
Whether or not they can leave straight away, when they would have to return a uniform, possible handover of things like employee ID, things only they would have access to for work purposes like a work cellphone or laptop.
Also, note that if the situation allows for it and you feel comfortable leaving the employee alone for a few minutes, you would give them a few minutes to process the information by themselves. It may be an emotionally stressful moment for them, and they could use the time to self-regulate before having to return to their work station and face their coworkers with the news.
You don’t want a messy dismissal…
The last step would be to have paperwork and everything ready by the time they collect their last paycheck, so they may be able to file for unemployment if applicable. If you can give them a neutral or positive reference letter or certificate of service, this may help you as the supervisor, the company itself, and the employee to part on better terms.
It is understandable that not every situation will go this way; some employees will be upset and may cause a fuss. If you suspect this might be the case, you can have security nearby to intervene should the employee react aggressively.
4 – How do you keep employees motivated to go the extra mile?
This is one of the easiest answers, although most managers and supervisors get it wrong. The go-to answer is usually something along the lines of “team-building.” However, many people dread the idea of giving up their time off to spend with co-workers, to build a river-raft or something.
Instead, answer how you will advocate for performance incentives. For example, office treats like spoiling everyone with pizza on the last Friday of the month, a company-sponsored fun day instead of work.
Incentives are always effective!
Something as simple as getting a cake for the office when it is someone’s birthday is usually a great bonding moment for a team, to spend 10 minutes eating and celebrating together before resuming work.
Performance incentives may be a bit harder to guarantee but are often hugely successful. Employees will not only be motivated to work but actively compete for it if the prize is big enough and limited to one winner. Bonuses and paid time off are also a great way to ensure that employees give their best to meet deadlines and go the extra mile.
5 – How would you get a project back on track if your team falls behind?
The last thing anyone wants is to have someone looking over their shoulder to monitor their progress. The best answer here is to explain how you will help your team get back on track instead of just telling them to work faster.
You can assist your team by asking everyone for a quick status report on what they have finished, what they are still busy with, how long it will take them, and how they can be assisted. This will give you an overview of where to prioritize your attention and figure out the best course of action.
Using your position as the solution…
For example, your team is struggling to get supplies needed for their project because the suppliers can not be bothered to respond to calls or emails. You can call a supplier on behalf of your team while they are busy with other work.
Your position as supervisor and decisionmaker will carry more weight and authority during the call, because you could possibly recommend a switch or authorize the use of another supplier altogether. This may motivate the supplier to find a way to accommodate your team and deliver the supplies sooner.
It’s all about chipping in…
Your experience in your department may even allow you to take on other tasks. This can help lighten the load on your team to meet the deadlines. Of course, once a project is over and done with, a post mortem can be done to evaluate if the deadlines were reasonable to start with, if there were truly unforeseen circumstances, or if some members on your team are due for a performance review, in accordance with company policy.
This is because, of course, you, as their supervisor, may have helped to steer them back on track, but it is also your responsibility to see to it that all the work does not fall to a select few, while others on the team are slacking off.
6 – How committed are you to staying with the company long term?
This may feel like a trick question in an interview and as though you are expected to swear allegiance to the company. However, it is becoming more and more common for people not to stay with the same companies for very long, as they are seeking better opportunities.
You can answer this by stating your wishes to grow in the position through continuous learning, growth opportunities, and being rewarded for hard work and dedication. Because surely, any company that values its employees will not lose its employees easily. It is a give-and-take professional relationship.
7 – What are your weaknesses?
Under no circumstances mention a weakness that you can not play down as a positive. Pick something you can make light of in a way that comes naturally.
“I have an intense fear of heights, and this may cause me to become nervous when I have to look down from the 31st floor of this building. However, this has also made me extremely diligent in following and enforcing health and safety protocols.”
“It may sometimes come off as though I am ignoring people when spoken to. However, I often hyper-focus on important tasks I am busy with, and therefore you may need to say my name twice before I respond.”
8 – What type of salary are you looking for?
Hopefully, you will have searched your market-related standard before the interview. Factored in your experience and qualifications to give you an idea of what you are worth. However, if you feel confident enough to do this, you should answer that you would rather like to know what range they are offering for the position.
The reason for this is that you and ten other people may all answer differently, and they might settle for the one asking for the smallest salary.
Be reasonable, but sure…
You would rather tell them if your range falls within their offering, or be open to negotiation than shoot yourself in the foot by lowballing yourself because you think they may not pay you what you are worth.
Alternatively, simply be honest about what you want. If you do lowball yourself, you will likely be stuck on that income level until you find another job or get promoted. Because it will be hard to renegotiate your salary for the same position later.
Be Fully Prepared For Your Interview!
That all-important interview can be daunting, so why not take a look at my advice on answering What Are Your Career Goals, How Would You Describe Yourself, or perhaps How Do You Handle Stress, or What Are You Most Proud Of, and How To Answer What Are You Passionate About to start you off with.
Next, you might want to know how to Answer Why Best Candidate Position, what are my Strengths And Weaknesses For Job Interviews, as well as Why We Should Hire, How Do You Handle Conflict, and Why Do You Want To Work Here, or my favorite, What Makes You Unique for the more creative positions.
Still feeling nervous? Not to worry with these excellent guides such as the Knock ’em Dead Job Interview: How to Turn Job Interviews Into Job Offers, or how to answer the High-Impact Interview Questions, along with 60 Seconds and You’re Hired!, and How to Answer Interview Questions all available online in 2022.
Supervisor Interview Questions – Final Thoughts
Confidence is everything. Even if you have to fake your confidence at the moment, as many are nervous during interviews. Keep a smile on your face, speak clearly, and keep your body language open.
This confidence will help drive your points across with each question. Prove that you will be confident and assertive as a supervisor as well. Now that you know how to answer the most common Supervisor Interview Questions, go get that dream job!
Good luck and all the best in your next Job Interview!