Supervisor
Interview Questions

When hiring a Supervisor, remember that while some candidates may have experience in a specific industry, like manufacturing or construction, others may have more generalized training. Overall, qualified Supervisors will be able to tackle issues ranging from leadership, recruitment, training, scheduling, and budget control.

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Look for a Supervisor who is able to maximize productivity of individuals and teams. A Supervisor should be able to manage people effectively, utilizing a high level of interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. It is essential that your candidate possess the time management tools needed to allocate the team’s time in the most efficient way possible. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills will be required to understand complex problems and evaluate a range of possible solutions.  

General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests, and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position. 

Below are Supervisor interview questions to help you get started: 

1. How would you describe your Supervisory style? How does your style make you successful in the role?

What you want to hear: Listen for a skill set that is a good fit with your company’s current team and goals. A candidate should discuss skills such as time management, leadership, problem-solving, and technology. They should further convey how their style achieves maximum productivity from individuals and teams.  

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate who fails to fully convey their management style may lack the self-awareness to be effective in the role. Probe further to understand if your candidate will require more experience and/or training to be a good fit for your company. A candidate who brings a style inconsistent with your needs may disrupt your company culture and decrease employee motivation.  

2. How do you select a qualified candidate to be a member of your team?

What you want to hear: Hiring the right workers is the difference between a high performing and low performing team. An experienced Supervisor will be able to explain their technique for evaluating a worker candidate and making the right choices. Listen for their approach to resume review, interviewing, background checks, referral checks, and assessment for culture fit. 

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate who doesn’t have sufficient experience building a qualified team is a risk for failing to maximize the company’s productivity and not meeting goals. 

3. How would you respond to an employee who consistently underperforms? 

What you want to hear: An experienced candidate will offer a useful strategy to handle an underperforming employee that includes initiating a constructive dialogue, asking questions to try and get to the root cause of the performance issue, and active listening. From there, the candidate may determine that the employee has the skills and motivation to try again, and offer ways they could help. A Supervisor with strong interpersonal skills will assist the employee in identifying the obstacles to peak performance, while also providing the resources needed for improvement. 

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A large part of improving employee efficiency comes from the relationship between the Supervisor and staff members. A Supervisor who doesn’t have the right interpersonal skills or fails to actively engage with the employee may heighten the tension level and continue to diminish individual and team performance. 

4. What do you consider to be the three most important contributions you could make as a Supervisor with our company?

What you want to hear: This question allows your candidate to demonstrate their professional experience, personal work ethic, and knowledge of your business. Listen for relevant contributions such as increasing productivity, maintaining schedules, operating within budget, and maintaining high rates of staff retention. The most valuable answers will weave in details the candidate may have learned about your specific company’s operations and goals.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate who struggles to think of meaningful contributions is likely inexperienced and a risk for being ineffective in the role. 

5. If you could change one duty you had in your previous job as Supervisor, what would it be and why? 

What you want to hear: Listen for a candidate who can objectively discuss their previous job and thoughtfully select the duty they would change. This is an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate their judgement in how the role should be performed and the obstacles to productivity. Would they change a duty related to leadership? Conflict resolution? Scheduling? Staffing? Training?  Consider their reasoning and if shows initiative to improve systems, or is simply a desire to remove an inconvenience.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Every job has duties that are less favored than others. A candidate who simply chooses to discuss a duty they want to gripe about, or hasn’t given substantive thought to their job duties on a previous job, may lack the maturity or initiative to promote change in your organization.  

6. Tell me about an experience when you developed and implemented a procedural change in your department. What was the procedural change and its outcome?

What you want to hear: A qualified Supervisor will have one or more experiences to share about procedural changes they developed and implemented. Central to success in the role is the initiative to identify areas for operational improvement, find a solution, and implement that solution. Listen for a candidate who can discuss what they focused on for change, how they obtained buy-in from management and the team, techniques for implementation, and the metrics for measuring the outcome.  

Red Flag Icon Red flag: If a candidate is unable to discuss development and implementation of a procedural change, they may lack the requisite experience or the initiative needed to be effective in the role. 

Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Supervisor position.

Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:

 

  • Have a supervisory style that fits your team and company culture
  • Display a high level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Have the requisite experience to identify and implement procedural and other changes

Bonus questions!

What are three personal qualities that you consider essential to being a successful Supervisor?

Tell me about a professional or personal situation when you displayed leadership qualities.

Describe a time when professional or personal conflict between two or more of your team members affected productivity. How did you handle it?

Your Supervisor skills may at times be criticized by team members or upper management. How do you respond to criticism?

What is an effective technique to enforce safety and sanitation regulations?

What type of work environment do you thrive in?

If we were to ask your previous direct reports to describe your supervision style what would they say?

Tell me about the biggest mistake you made in your previous roles as Supervisor. How did you handle it?

Let’s say you were faced with a problem you could not resolve on your own. What would you do?

What are three types of support from upper management that help you perform your role at the highest level?

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