10 Interview Questions for Supervisors

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 14, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

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.

When preparing for an interview, you need to consider possible questions and answers to impress the hiring manager or employer. Supervisors are in charge of a team and are responsible for keeping employees motivated and on track to reach goals. In this article, we list common questions hiring managers ask in an interview for a supervisor's role. We also provide sample answers to help you prepare your own responses to impress the interviewer.

What do employers look for in a successful supervisor?

Interview questions for supervisory positions primarily aim to test your leadership and teamwork skills. Employers want organized candidates who know how to take responsibility and solve problems independently. Here are 10 questions you can expect an interviewer to ask:

1. Do you have previous supervisory experience?

This question seeks to establish if you've held a similar or relevant position in your work history. Supervisors are crucial employees in an organization as they're the link between the senior management team and their employees. They ensure the team completes work quickly and accurately. To answer this question, outline the supervisory or leadership roles you've held in the past, and any significant achievements.

Example: I've held several supervisory positions. In the most recent role, I was in charge of the food packaging department at XYZ Ltd., supervising nine full-time and five part-time employees. I've been in the role for two years now, and during this period, my team exceeded targets consistently. We also transitioned from plastic packaging while maintaining the highest standards of food hygiene.”

Related: What Is Management? The Definition, Functions and Levels

2. Why should the company hire you above other qualified candidates?

Interviewers want to know your key strengths and what makes you unique as a supervisor. This question is an opportunity to highlight your key skills and qualifications that make you a good fit for the role. Keep the keyword from the job description in mind, and provide an answer that includes those. If possible, think of something unique you can offer that other candidates can't.

Example: ”I believe my interpersonal and communication skills make me a strong supervisor. I build trusting relationships quickly and always treat my team with respect. I'm good at motivating those to meet and exceed company goals and reward people for outstanding work. However, my greatest strength is my ability to lead by example. I don't simply tell people what to do, I always act as an example they can follow and look up to.”

3. This supervisory role involves interviewing potential candidates. What factors do you look for in prospective employees?

Some organizations give supervisors hiring responsibilities or involve them as part of an interview panel. This question seeks to establish whether you have prior experience in hiring and the qualities you look for in an employee. Include an outline of your hiring experience or how you would choose successful candidates.

Example: “Yes, I have been an interview panellist on several occasions in my previous roles. In one such interview, the company was looking for a machine operator for my team. I crafted the job description, selected the best applications, and short-listed candidates. I also conducted phone interviews before inviting the top candidates for a face-to-face interview with the management team. The most important quality I look for in a potential new hire is their honesty, skills, and desire to learn.”

4. How would you describe your leadership style?

Strong leadership skills are among the most important attributes of a supervisor. Leadership qualities prepare successful supervisors with the tools they need to motivate their team and meet goals. This question seeks to establish how you relate to the employees under you and how you lead them. Highlight your ability to motivate your team and communicate your expectations.

Example: ”My leadership style is democratic. I consult my team members to listen to their ideas and understand their concerns. I strive to resolve issues in a participatory method, but I am always aligned with the organization's objectives. There are different methods I use to motivate my teams, such as pinning the outstanding employee's photo in the boardroom. I also delegate some duties to give employees a taste of responsibility.”

Read more: 10 Common Leadership Styles

5. How do you resolve employee conflicts?

Supervisors are key to resolving workplace conflict among their team members. This question tests your problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. In your answer, discuss some strategies for mediating and solving conflicts. You can also provide an example of how you successfully resolved a workplace conflict in a previous position.

Example: “I always strive to identify workplace conflicts early so we can find a solution before it affects the team's productivity or job satisfaction. My approach to workplace conflicts is to listen to both sides and act as a mediator. I encourage respectful discussions and collaborate with my team members to find a solution that everyone can agree on.”

Read more: How to Handle Microaggressions in the Workplace

6. Have you ever had to deal with poor employee performance?

Supervisors are responsible for monitoring and being accountable for their team members' performance. This question seeks to establish how you motivate your employees and approach poor performance. In your answer, discuss the importance of setting achievable goals, supporting employees, and finding solutions that improve performance.

Example: ”I have certainly encountered some employees over my three years of supervisory experience who were underperforming. In these cases, I speak to the employee to identify what we can do to improve their skills and abilities. I set individual targets that contribute to the team goal and monitor their progress. I always offer my support and act as a mentor to help them succeed.”

7. Has your supervision style remained constant throughout your career?

A strong supervisor's management style changes over time as they gain experience and adapt to different team needs and working environments. This question seeks to establish whether you can adjust your approach to new circumstances for the good of the team.

Example: “When I started my first supervisor job, I felt a lot of pressure and was too demanding of my employees, which led to a high turnover. In the exit interviews, employees cited my autocratic tendencies as something I needed to improve. I took their advice and have worked hard to develop excellent active listening skills. I'm now an expert communicator and give my team room to perform well on their own, instead of micromanaging.”

8. How would you describe your approach to mentorship?

Interviewers are interested in your mentorship abilities and to establish whether you can inspire your team. To answer this question, show how you build professional relationships that encourage those under you to work hard and improve their skills. You may also provide an example of a mentorship success story.

Example: ”A significant part of my success is having received good mentorship from my supervisors. Now, as a supervisor, I've adopted the strategy of mentoring others by identifying potential leaders and delegating responsibilities. I use my communication and leadership skills to guide employees and offer my assistance wherever they need it. I'm confident my team knows they can come to me with challenges and when they need advice. One of my proudest moments was when someone I mentored earned a promotion as the quality assurance supervisor at XYZ Company.”

Read more: Guidelines on How to Network

9. Have you ever needed to terminate an employee? How did you handle it?

Supervisors are required to help a business achieve its goals. In certain circumstances, some employees might derail the goal achievement agenda and a decision need to be made regarding such employees. This question tests your commitment to the business and whether you can make difficult decisions, such as firing an employee. Your answer should show that you place business goals over friendships. An example of an answer to this question might be as below:

Example: “I once had to let go of a worker who consistently neglected machine maintenance leading to frequent downtime. Prior to the dismissal, I had issued two written and one verbal warning but saw no improvements. I discussed their performance with the head of the department and agreed that their treatment of company property was too much of a risk. I never like letting go of staff, but I have to keep the company's best interest at the forefront of my actions. The decision to terminate an employee should be a last resort and must comply with relevant laws and company policy.”

10. If hired for this position, how would you measure your achievements as a supervisor?

This question aims at finding out how you would measure success in the position. In your answer, mention how you would define success and the key success factors required of the role. When providing your answer, consider using keywords outlined in the job description.

Example: ”I'd consider myself a successful supervisor If I built a cohesive and reliable team. To be successful, I would also need to reduce product defects which have been costing the company substantial losses and market traction. I would be successful If I achieved at least 80% of the targets set by the management year-on-year.”

Related: How to Highlight Supervisory Experience in Your Resume

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