25 Difficult Interview Questions and Answers for Supervisors

The supervisor is a popular job title, and whether you apply for a position as a production supervisor, IT supervisor, retail supervisor, or any other supervisory position, you will always compete with other people in your interview. It may be five, ten, or even twenty job seekers, depending on the offer and the organization where you apply. Now I’ll show you twenty-five interview questions, including difficult behavioral inquiries, as well as a guide on how to answer the first ten questions. Please see the eBook at the end of the article if you want to see good answers to all twenty-five questions.

What qualities distinguish a great manager?

A strong supervisor may motivate subordinates by leading by example, having outstanding observation skills, and utilizing the abilities of the individuals they manage in their teams.
Alternatively, a great (production) supervisor maintains the maximum potential productivity and motivation of the team (or of each team member), and assists the organization in continuously achieving its goals.

How would you rate the motivation of your subordinates?

Choosing the correct measures (or targets) and comparing everyone’s work on a daily basis is an excellent solution. You might also argue that you would communicate with your employees on a regular basis, seeking feedback and determining whether they are content with their jobs and inspired to work hard.

Alternatively, you may state that you would compare each employee’s results on a weekly and monthly basis, making charts and attempting to determine their current level of motivation using your data. In some way, you should demonstrate that you understand the value of motivation in the workplace and know how to assess and analyze it.

What are the primary objectives of a supervisor, in your opinion?

Maintaining high levels of motivation and enthusiasm in the workplace, ensuring that everyone works to their maximum ability, and dealing with any problems that develop in the workplace or between workers, such as conflict, loss of motivation, and other issues.

You can also take a different perspective, claiming that the primary goal of a supervisor is to fulfill the company’s goals with their team and that everything else is secondary and should come from the core goal…

Why do you believe you can be a good boss?

Because you have the skills and talents of a good supervisor (said in the first answer), you are driven to work hard, and you have previous experience with similar positions (if any of that is true).

Alternatively, you might provide a practical response by describing your experience supervising/managing a small staff. It may be a business team, a sports club, or simply a group of pals you led (in any kind of circumstances). The goal is to persuade us, by a realistic example, that you are capable of supervising others.

How do you handle disagreements with those you supervise?

You should state that you make every effort to prevent confrontations. However, if there is no way to prevent a confrontation, or if you are unable to avoid it, you will attempt to comprehend the other person’s point of view. You will eventually find a solution that is beneficial to the entire team, not just you.

You can also explain that you always attempt to keep your position’s authority, because if you lose it in a fight with one of your subordinates, the rest of the team may lose respect for you.

You can even elaborate on your response by saying that you try to organize small team-building events for your subordinates (bowling, going to a football game, playing some other games, or simply drinking bar-definitely works in many teams:)), to strengthen a team spirit, which should lead to fewer conflict situations at work.

Special Tip: If you’re not sure how to answer these questions in your interview, check out the Supervisor Interview Guide, an eBook I developed for you. Multiple premium responses to 25 interview questions for supervisors, including difficult behavioral (scenario-based) questions, will help you stand out from the crowd and express exactly what hiring managers want to hear from you. You’ll find some wonderful sample answers immediately on the eBook page, so it’s worth checking out even if you don’t intend to buy anything. Thank you very much!

How do you intend to set a good example for your subordinates?

Sticking to the rules, working hard, and even assisting with manual labor (if necessary, e.g. when someone fails to come to work and you do not have a replacement ready) is a good answer to this question. Another solution to this interview question is to mention that you intend to fully participate in everything the team does, even the manual labor.

Your involvement will assist you in understanding the intricacies of their work, as well as the strengths and limitations of your team members. People always admire a supervisor who isn’t scared to do manual labor (even if only for a few hours each week).

How would you encourage your team members to get the greatest results possible?

A fantastic answer to this question is to attempt to establish a competitive environment, motivate the team as a whole, organize team-building events, build excellent relationships with the workers, and ensure they feel good at work and receive a suitable return for their labor.

Demonstrate to your interviewers that you understand how to work with laborers and what pushes them to work hard every day.

Can you describe your management style?

The answer to this question is dependent on your leadership style. Do you prefer a liberal approach in the workplace, or do you like to keep strong authority? You should be able to explain why you choose one over the other in the interviews.

Ideally, you should describe a previous circumstance in which you demonstrated your supervisory (leadership) style and show how it helped you accomplish positive results with your team. Alternatively, you may state that you are prepared to use both a liberal and an authoritative approach and that your decision would be based on the working environment and the people on your team. Simply select the design that best suits the team you will be supervising.

How do you picture a typical day in the life of a supervisor at our company?

Don’t say you want to walk around and watch other people work all day:).

You should aim to demonstrate your attention to detail, proactive approach to work, and leadership. Assume that you will observe the people, looking for difficulties and possibilities to improve the work, and hence the team’s results. Assure us that you will be on-site at all times and will keep an eye on your subordinates. Of course, the specific obligations vary depending on the workplace. As you may expect, an IT supervisor will not accomplish the same tasks as a production supervisor…

You can also declare that you will spend some time each day communicating with your subordinates. When you ask about working conditions and try to gain feedback on the work they do, as well as on other team members, you are always looking for places for improvement in both working conditions and results.

What do you think of having an extramarital relationship with one of your subordinates? Do you think it’s correct?

Yes and no are the correct answers. Outside of work, good relationships can serve to improve the environment in a team, which almost always leads to improved results. On the other hand, you should not let your emotions rule your professional decisions, which is difficult to achieve if you become emotionally attached to one of your coworkers…

We are all persons in some way. You will not be the first or last supervisor to begin dating one of their subordinates. The objective is to persuade us that you can draw a clear barrier between your personal and professional lives and that your relationships outside of work will not influence the judgments you make at work.

More questions and sample responses to all 25 supervisor interview questions

  • Why did you leave your previous job? (What motivates you to leave your current position?)
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond to help someone (for the customer, for the colleague, for your subordinate).
  • Could you tell us about your employment experience?
  • What, in your opinion, distinguishes an excellent supervisor (colleague)?
  • Describe a time when you were under duress at work.
  • Describe a situation in which you had to deal with an angry (irritated) client or subordinate.
  • What are your salary objectives?
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with your superior’s opinion and knew they were wrong. How did you deal with the situation?
  • Describe a time in your own life when you confronted a particularly difficult difficulty or task. How did that affect your work?
  • Describe a time when you couldn’t tackle a problem on your own.
  • Describe a situation when you found it difficult to communicate with your employer or a subordinate.
  • How did you get your message across?
  • Describe your most egregious professional failure.

Athina Iliadis is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years’ experience in corporate environments working for companies such as Pearson, LexisNexis, Hershey, and Reckitt. In her current role as a consultant working with clients around the world, she coaches managers and employees on HR issues, supports leaders in their business, produces content about careers, interviews, and job opportunities. She is fluent in English, French and Greek, and she holds a BBA with a major in HR from Université du Québec à Montréal. Find her on LinkedIn and at athinailiadis.com

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