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Operations Manager Interview Questions

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Operations managers ensure businesses run as efficiently as possible. Operations manager duties and responsibilities typically include coordinating daily business operations, overseeing various company financial processes, managing appropriate staffing levels and establishing new hire training programs.

When hiring an operations manager, look for ​​big picture thinking, an understanding of financial and budgeting processes, strong interpersonal skills and decision-making skills. Great candidates for your operations manager role may also have leadership and project management experience, as well as the ability to adapt to new situations.

Ask 5-10 of the following interview questions to get a better sense of a candidate’s operations management skills and experience.


  1. Some employees stick to old procedures and resist change. As operations manager, how do you motivate them to adopt new processes? See answer
  2. Do you have any experience negotiating contracts with outside suppliers? See answer
  3. Operations managers need to work with large amounts of data daily. Tell me about your go-to data processing and statistical software. See answer
  4. The hiring team is behind in talent recruitment this season and asks your team to pitch in. As operations manager, you have your own deadlines to meet, so how would you approach this situation? See answer
  5. As operations manager, what is your process for identifying and overcoming bottlenecks in your projects? See answer
  6. What preparations do you make to ensure that company operations can continue seamlessly if you are unable to come into the office? See answer
  7. What are some of the challenges of automating company systems that were previously completed manually?
  8. Operations managers work closely with administrative staff to manage internal communications and track workflows. How do you ensure administrators have the appropriate training and knowledge of operations?
  9. What is the role of quality control in managing company logistics?
  10. What strategies do you use to identify and eliminate sources of waste in company workflows?
  11. Are you familiar with warehouse procedures and the amount of space necessary to optimize storage and inventory management?
  12. How do you uphold compliance with laws or industry regulations when planning operational workflows?
  13. Describe the main parts of the supply chain as they relate to our organization.
  14. If you noticed particularly high turnover in a certain department, how would you address this issue and recruit a more dedicated staff during the next round of hiring?
  15. If a long-term vendor raised their prices, how would you weigh the pros and cons of switching suppliers or renewing the current contract?
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6 Operations Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Some employees stick to old procedures and resist change. As operations manager, how do you motivate them to adopt new processes?

A:

Your operations manager will play a critical role in ensuring that your teams and projects are on track. The operations team is the bulwark that ensures that everyone feels supported in their work. However, your candidate may inherit a team with senior staff who have already become used to a certain way of solving problems and may be less receptive to changing their methods to ones that may improve efficiency. They should be able to handle these situations with grace. What to look for in an answer:

  • Compassion and ability to empathize
  • Process for motivating staff to try new procedures
  • Positive disposition
Example:

“First, I would find out why the workers prefer their method over new ones that we know will work better. Then, I would explain to them my rationale for asking them to adopt new processes and offer the necessary training so they can become comfortable and excel with the change.”

Q:

Do you have any experience negotiating contracts with outside suppliers?

A:

Your operations manager’s job is to ensure that the different teams in your organization work together like a well-oiled machine. Depending on your business’ focus and goals, your candidate may need to work with individuals representing outside interests. You should be looking for an individual who understands how to work with suppliers that might move along timelines different from timelines that are prioritized within your company and ensure that orders are received on time. What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of experience with working with suppliers
  • Strong communication skills
  • Business acumen
Example:

“I have served in an external communications role for the last three years and worked with suppliers on a weekly basis to ensure that there was enough time buffer built into each order.”

Q:

Operations managers need to work with large amounts of data daily. Tell me about your go-to data processing and statistical software.

A:

The data may be used for budgeting purposes or used to help understand how the team might be able to speed up processes within the organization. As such, your candidate should have a high level of familiarity with statistical software and be comfortable performing data analysis. What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of commonly used statistical and data processing software
  • Level of experience in using these programs
  • Love for data-driven work and business analysis
Example:

“My preferred program for data analysis is Microsoft Excel. When I previously worked as an operations analyst, I found the built-in statistical functions to be incredibly helpful in understanding each department’s performance metrics and finding ways to improve.”

Q:

The hiring team is behind in talent recruitment this season and asks your team to pitch in. As operations manager, you have your own deadlines to meet, so how would you approach this situation?

A:

Since your operations team plays a key role in helping different business departments complete their work effectively and efficiently, there may be times when other teams feel overextended and ask for support from your operations director. However, these requests may come as an addition to the work that the operations staff already needs to complete daily. The applicant’s answer to this question will allow you to understand how they function under tight time and resource constraints. What to look for in an answer:

  • Strong logical reasoning skills
  • Understanding of the interplay between different business departments
  • Clear approach to resolving the problem
Example:

“First, I would look over the talent team’s needs and gain a further understanding of tasks that we can delay until a later time. Then, I would move some operations members with extra capacity onto recruiting to support the talent team.”

Q:

As operations manager, what is your process for identifying and overcoming bottlenecks in your projects?

A:

For projects to progress smoothly, all the different inputs and outputs need to flow within allotted time frames. In some instances, there may be bottlenecks that hold up your business’ ability to produce results in a timely fashion, and it is your operations director’s job to identify what the problem is. Your candidate should have a clear strategy for finding and fixing bottlenecks to ensure maximum efficiency. What to look for in an answer:

  • Strategy for recognizing and resolving bottlenecks
  • Confident, well-through-out response
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
Example:

“I would first collect data on the times that it takes to complete each segment of our process from start to finish. Then, I would find out why we are slow in certain areas and adjust our processes to increase efficiency.”

Q:

What preparations do you make to ensure that company operations can continue seamlessly if you are unable to come into the office?

A:

Operations managers manage large-scale workflows within a company and must be able to document and record company functions. They should organize their work in such a way that other employees could step in and facilitate business if necessary. Successful operations managers apply logical reasoning to the company's overall workflow and their own personal work activities. This question addresses a candidate's accountability, planning and foresight when considering the long-term growth and stability of their company. A good answer should reference:

  • Thorough recordkeeping
  • Communication
  • Logical reasoning
Here is one example of a successful response:
Example:

"It is important for me to keep my workspace organized in such a way that anyone could look at my files and being able to intuitively find the information they are looking for. I keep separate files for tracking the main operations tasks in each department, plus a schedule book of key meeting dates, contract renewals and assessment deadlines. If I anticipate my absence I'd also prepare a report about ongoing projects."

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