35 Interview Questions for Supervisors (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working in a supervisory or managerial position typically requires a specific skill set. In an interview situation, you may want to highlight your background and experience to prove you're the best candidate for the job. Knowing common interview questions for supervisors and how to answer them can improve your chances of succeeding in the interview and help you advance on your career path. In this article, we discuss general and specific interview questions for supervisor roles and mention some interview tips for job applicants.

10 general interview questions for supervisors

Here are 10 interview questions for supervisors that hiring managers may ask you:

  1. How did you hear about this job opening?

  2. What are your main expectations for a new job?

  3. What are your best professional qualities?

  4. What are your professional weaknesses?

  5. What is your expected salary for this role?

  6. Why do you think you're an appropriate candidate for this position?

  7. What's your long-term professional objective?

  8. What motivates you to work to become a better professional?

  9. Where do you see your career in five years?

  10. When would you be available to start if we offered you the job?

Related: What Are the Responsibilities of a Supervisor?

10 questions about your experience and background as a supervisor

These questions help the hiring manager gain insight into the candidate's background and experience as a supervisor. Some common examples of this type of question are:

  1. How would you generally assess your career as a supervisor up to this point?

  2. Can you describe a major challenge you had in a previous supervisor job and how you overcame it?

  3. What are the main factors you consider when analysing a team member's performance?

  4. What's your usual process for welcoming and integrating a new member into your team?

  5. What are some of the steps you took to optimise budgets in your previous supervisory roles?

  6. What type of technology do you have experience in using to monitor your team members' performance?

  7. How do you decide if certain tasks require delegation and which team members to make responsible for their completion?

  8. Can you describe your planning process when organising your team for a new project?

  9. Do you have any experience in contract negotiations with team members and clients?

  10. What do you consider to be your top achievement as a supervisor up to this point?

Related: Manager vs. Supervisor (Differences Between Leadership Roles)

11 in-depth supervisor interview questions

These questions are usually highly specific, which means they tend to be more accurate when assessing the candidate's skills and expertise. Some in-depth interview questions for supervisor roles are:

  1. What are some of the methods you use to handle conflict between your team members?

  2. How has your supervisory style evolved over the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?

  3. Have you ever let a team member go? If so, please describe how you concluded that it was necessary and how you proceeded with dismissing them.

  4. Can you describe an instance in which you made a major mistake and how you managed to mitigate its effects?

  5. In one minute, how would you describe your supervisory and management philosophy?

  6. What is your first impression regarding the supervisory structure at our organisation, and how would you improve it?

  7. Can you discuss the factors that influence an organisation's success and how you can implement them to help your team improve its effectiveness?

  8. What are some of the methods you use to maintain effective communication with both your team members and the organisation's upper management?

  9. Can you describe a situation when you implemented a major change in how your team operates?

  10. What do you consider to be some effective ways to improve communication among your team members?

  11. Was there ever a situation when your personal life interfered with your job, and, if so, how did you handle it?

Related: 8 Code of Conduct Examples: A Workplace Guide

4 questions for supervisors with sample answers

These are some of the questions that the hiring manager may ask during an interview for a supervisor role, plus the likely motivation and a sample answer for each:

1. Have you worked in different professional environments? If so, which one do you prefer?

This question aims to assess the candidate's adaptability and potential fit within the company's culture. A supervisor who's comfortable with their working environment is generally more likely to be productive, and that can have a significant impact on the team's success. When answering, you can demonstrate your adaptability and willingness to fit into the hiring organisation's current system.

Example: 'I've worked in a wide variety of environments throughout my career as a supervisor, and each of them offered me something different. I think I can use my experience to quickly adapt to any working environment and company culture. In my opinion, having committed team members with strong work ethic is more important for productivity than the environment itself.'

2. Can you describe one of the most challenging decisions you made as a supervisor?

Being able to work independently and take responsibility for decision-making is a key attribute of a successful supervisor. Properly answering this question can show the hiring manager that you can make important decisions quickly. When constructing your answer, it usually helps to focus on a specific moment when you made a major decision, the factors that influenced your reasoning and the overall outcome following that decision.

Example: 'In my previous role, I supervised a team of real estate agents, and two of them spent a significant amount of time negotiating a major deal with a local office building developer. Although closing this deal would have brought a constant flow of income to the organisation, the terms that the developer was proposing were significantly lower than standard market rates. After careful consideration, I decided that it was best that my two team members abandon the prospective deal and continue to prospect the open market for business opportunities. Six months later, their productivity was up 25%.'

3. How do you handle team members who underperform?

Hiring managers may ask this question to assess your ability to support your team members and help them operate as close to their full potential as possible. When answering, you can emphasise how it's important to take the time to discover the real reasons behind an employee's lack of productivity and find ways to address them. You can also mention a concrete example from your experience as a supervisor.

Example: 'At a previous job, a team member was receiving an unusually high number of complaints from clients. I also noticed that they were working fewer hours than required. I had an open discussion with them in which I explained the situation, asked if they could identify the reason behind it and assured them that I was willing to find ways to resolve it. They mentioned that they had to spend more time with their mother lately due to an illness, so we worked out a plan for them to perform part of their work remotely from their mother's house.'

4. What do you usually do to keep your team members constantly motivated at work?

Making sure that team members are properly motivated to perform their work to the best of their abilities is a major component of a supervisor's job. Hiring managers ask this question to assess your experience in finding different ways to keep your team members motivated. You can answer by listing some of the techniques that worked in the past while emphasising your versatility in finding new ways to motivate your team.

Example: 'I've developed a variety of methods to keep team members motivated, and I select which method to use depending on each specific instance and the personality of the team members in question. On a day-to-day basis, I typically use inter-office competitions and weekly monetary incentives to keep everyone focused on their tasks. I also use quarterly and end-of-the-year targets and goal recaps to help everyone get a strategic view of their major objectives.'

Related: How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

Interview tips for supervisor job candidates

Consider these tips when preparing for an interview for a supervisory role:

  • Research the hiring organisation. Before attending the interview, it usually helps to thoroughly research the organisation that posts the job opening, the person who would be conducting the interview and the role itself. You can typically do that by researching the company website, news about its activity and the job advert itself.

  • Express positivity and enthusiasm. Given that one of the main tasks of a supervisor is to keep their team members upbeat and motivated, your general attitude during the interview can suggest to the hiring manager that you're the right person for the role. Try to express your enthusiasm for being there and gratitude for the given opportunity, while also finding positive angles when describing challenging experiences, like past mistakes and reasons for leaving previous roles.

  • Arrive on time and in appropriate attire. It usually helps to analyse your route to the building where the interview would take place and plan to get there 15 minutes in advance. Also, you can research the company culture and determine the appropriate clothing for the interview.

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