7 Supervisor Interview Questions and Answers

Whether you are preparing to interview a candidate or applying for a job, review our list of top Supervisor interview questions and answers.

Have you hired an employee? Describe the factors you think are important when hiring someone.

Some supervisors are responsible for hiring, while other companies leave those decisions to department heads and HR. This question will reveal if the candidate has had the responsibility of hiring, and how they would handle it even if they've yet to do it.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence they know what to look for in a good hire
  • Awareness about the steps required to build a solid team
  • Indications they are motivated to take part in the hiring process
Example: "Yes, at my last job I was responsible for helping to interview and hire two account managers. I like to vet people first over the phone, where I can explain the basics about our company culture and the job role in detail and find out if they're still interested. At a second, in-person interview, I look for things like enthusiasm about the industry and their long-term goals, in addition to learning more about their skill level."

What is one important decision you've had to make as a supervisor? Why was it critical?

Supervisors need to feel comfortable making decisions, even if they serve under a department manager. This question allows the candidate to illustrate their ability to step up and make important calls as needed.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Confirmation they feel comfortable making decisions independently
  • Evidence they have taken on more decision-making responsibility over time
  • Confidence in their thought process behind making important choices
Example: "In my current role at ACME Marketing, I recently had to make the decision to pull a big piece of content from our client's editorial calendar. It had already been produced, so we'd expended lots of resources, but ultimately it didn't fit with the client's brand. I made the decision to replace it with a new piece written on an expedited timeline so we could still meet the deadline."

How would your previous direct reports describe your supervision style?

How a supervisor is able to mesh with their team can make or break their success at your company. This probing question will reveal if they're a good culture fit for a supervisory role.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Self-awareness about how they are perceived by other employees
  • Indications they have asked their direct reports for feedback
  • An alignment with your company culture
Example: "I think my staff would say that I am supportive but not overbearing. I find that biweekly check-ins are enough to keep my finger on the pulse of any challenges they're having. Of course, I am always available to help them troubleshoot in between. This gives me the chance to remain focused on the bigger picture and empowers my staff to grow in their own decision making."

Has your supervision style changed over time? How?

Learning to adapt management styles and techniques can create an exceptional supervisor. This question helps you figure out if the candidate is able to receive feedback and adjust their style if needed.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Indications their supervision skills have grown over time
  • Proof they have received feedback well and adjusted their style as necessary
  • Confirmation they are self-aware about their need to evolve
Example: "I used to ask for daily check-ins from my employees. I didn't think I was micromanaging, but rather being supportive. I learned that my staff feel more trusted if I don't require such frequent check-ups about their work."

What are some successful ways you've been able to motivate employees?

One of the best things a supervisor can add to your team is keeping other employees excited about their work and prepared to give every day 100 percent. Learning how the candidate approaches this task will tell you a lot about how prepared they are to take on the role.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence they have been in charge of successful teams
  • Willingness to adjust their motivation techniques as needed
  • Understanding of their role as a supervisor in regards to morale
Example: "Different employees require different types of motivation. Some of my direct reports respond very well to public praise and acknowledgement for their ideas. Other employees of mine have been most motivated by contests or competitions with a small prize. I try to accommodate the employees' personalities as much as I can."

How do you resolve disputes between employees?

Supervisors are often expected to resolve issues between their direct reports to avoid escalation. This question gets to the heart of the candidate's ability to negotiate conflict on their team.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence they have handled employee disputes in the past
  • Confirmation they have had success resolving issues on their previous teams
  • A style of resolution that aligns with your company culture
Example: "In my experience, there are always two sides to every story. I always get every party's input about the conflict before I do anything. I've found it helpful to get everyone in a room together and serve as a mediator to decide how we can resolve the issue. I always get the agreed upon resolution, and each person's responsibilities to it, in writing and provide a copy to everyone."

When was the last time you had to deal with an employee who was not performing and how did you handle it?

Unfortunately, even good employees can falter sometimes and you need a supervisor to be able to identify poor performance and address it. This question gives the candidate a chance to prove they know how to manage the task.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Indication they understand the importance of setting employee goals and standards
  • Evidence they know how to cultivate talent in their staff
  • Proof they feel comfortable addressing problems on their team
Example: "I recently had an account manager with a few client complaints. He was not responding to emails in a timely fashion and failed to follow up with important documents as promised. I outlined for him the specific complaints and we came up with a game plan together. We scheduled an hour each morning for him to exclusively follow up on emails, and discussed setting up calendar reminders associated with sending important reports to clients."

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