Interview questions for Operations Supervisor

We analyzed 824 interview reviews for Operations Supervisor from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions for Operations Supervisor:

Tell me about yourself
Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Are you willing to relocate?
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about a time you had to raise an uncomfortable issue with your manager
Why did you leave your last job?
What did you like or dislike about your last job?
What are your strengths? Give an example

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Operations Supervisor role ask soft skills interview questions 54% more frequently than for other roles:

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1. Tell me about yourselftop question

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

2. Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it

How to answer

Nowadays, professional life is stressful everywhere and always. However, there are levels of stress that are so common that we consider them normal, and there are times when they really skyrocket.

Your future employer wants to know how you will behave in such times, whether you will be a helping hand or a burden.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a time when you had to hit a tight timeline and to work long hours, hard and overtime; or when you found yourself in the middle of a conflict with someone, or with a group of people.

    If you had more than one such occasion, choose one that ended positively and successfully, and ideally, that can demonstrate some of your key skills - your Key Selling Points.

    Most likely, the situation was highly emotional.

    • What helped you persevere?
    • Was there an element that you enjoyed?

    For example, in one of our projects, my team and I had to hit a really tough timeline for a customer, which seemed almost impossible in the beginning.

    However, we knew that we owned the results and that a major decision by the customer depended on the outcome. This sense of ownership, meaning, and impact gave us energy and excitement.

    Those were the challenges that we loved and could deal with for a sustained period of time. Also, the pleasure of working with a highly qualified top manager on the customer’s side added to the enjoyment.

    Now, after a few years, we remember those times as some of the most exciting for our team.

  2. About The Company

    • What do you know about the company, where you may encounter a stressful situation?
    • Are they working on a major project which is approaching a due date?
    • Are they going through a difficult time when cost-saving is a top priority, company culture is full of negativity and mistrust, they have gone through massive layoffs, customers are neglected, and everyone wears a long face?

    These are always stressful times, and you should try to know more about expectations in the company, and how realistic they are.

    Or, are they just a dynamic, highly agile company run by smart and creative folks, which may work excellently for some people and be confusing and mind-blowing for others?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of your ideal workplace environment.

    • Does this company feel like it?
    • Do you feel excited and enthusiastic about the kinds of stress you may encounter here?

    If you feel compatible with this company culture and enthusiastic about the challenges you expect here, this is a good chance to mention it and to show your excitement.

    Explain your approach or rationale and give your example from the past.

Pro Tip

If you cannot remember any stressful situation with a positive outcome, you can use one with a negative outcome accompanied by your lessons learned.

However, this option should not be your first choice, as the failure to give an example of a successful outcome may portray you as an emotionally immature person.

3. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around.

    • Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people?
    • Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution?
    • Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?
  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace.

    If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

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4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

5. Are you willing to relocate?

How to answer

This question could be a major factor in determining if you are hired. If the hiring manager wants someone who can work in a particular location full time, he/she needs to identify up front, anyone who can’t or won’t relocate.

But sometimes companies will ask if you are willing to relocate only to get a sense of your degree of interest and flexibility, especially when this detail is not even included in the job description of the position you applied for.

  1. About Yourself

    There are many questions that could cause you to consider whether you are willing to move for a position.

    These are of course, both personal and professional.

    • How long will you be there?
    • Is this a company you want to have a long career with?
    • Will you be able to advance your career with other positions available to you at the new location?
    • Will the company be helping you financially with the relocation?
    • Are you ready to move your entire life in this direction?
    • Will you take your family with you or will they stay here?
    • Are you ready to change not only the place of work, but also the house, environment, habits for the sake of the job?
  2. About The Company

    If relocation is required for a position, this should be mentioned in the job description. But even if it’s not, you must have a response ready in case it comes up during your interview.

    You can also use this question as an opportunity to demonstrate what you know about the company, as well as remind the interviewer about the qualities that make you a strong candidate for the position.

  3. About The Fit

    Theoretically your answer can be YES, N0 or Maybe, but of course things aren’t always that simple.

    • If the new position is an opportunity you may not want to refuse but you still need some time, you can formulate your answer in such a way: "I am interested in advancing my career and if relocation is necessary, I will certainly consider this possibility." This answer does not oblige you to move immediately, but also shows that you have serious intentions.

    • If you have no issue with relocating for this position, you should say so. It would also be a good time to ask the interviewer questions about the move as well. It will reassure them that you are able to move for the position.

    • If you are categorical one way or the other about relocation, remember - life often presents extremely unexpected surprises, and what looks like "never" today, may be "quite likely" tomorrow. And if you want to get this job, you can say that you are not ready to move immediately, but in the future you may consider this option.

    • You can also say: "The place where I live is not the most important thing for me. It is more important to develop myself, my skills and acquire new ones. Promotion and pursuit of my interests is important to me and if the company can offer this, I will consider moving."

Pro Tip

None of these answers is binding on you. But using any of them you will show you as a sincere, flexible and tactful candidate. Such answers will help to leave positive lasting impression of you and increase your chances for success.

6. What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

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7. Tell me about a time you had to raise an uncomfortable issue with your manager

How to answer

Even though you may have a great relationship with your manager, there may have been times where you did not see eye to eye.

By describing how you managed to deal with an uncomfortable issue in the past, you give the interviewer insight into how you’d handle one in the future.

They are curious about the respect you show to a higher authority while having the courage to stand up for what you believe in.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a conflict or disagreement you had with your manager where you responded well, either by suggesting a compromise or taking a calm, relaxed stance when you could have answered in a heated tone.

    Getting along well with your manager shows your desire to work together and highlights your creative problem-solving abilities.

    • What was the resolution of an issue?
    • Did you and your manager come to an agreement?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture.

    • What do they value?
    • Is there anything that you can find about how they deal with conflict resolution?
    • What problems and obstacles might employees face in the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Your story should ideally show how competent you are at your work, which will give the hiring manager confidence in hiring you. This answer can also display other great skills such as negotiating, selling an idea and inspiring others.

    Your answer can sound like this:

    I usually avoid conflict because I’ve been building trust with my colleagues from the start. I understand that the final decision is up to my boss, and I have to help him find the best option. I was lucky to have a very good relationship with my superiors. At my last job, I had a disagreement with the manager about the launch date of the product. But he listened to my opinion and we came up with a solution that we both liked.”

    You should respond with an example using the STAR method to make your story concise and logical.

Pro Tip

Say that it is better to raise uncomfortable questions and ask them directly. Emphasize that you always initiate communication by setting the tone of the conversation in a format of frankness on both sides.

A sincere and respectful conversation builds trust between people, even when the subject of your discussion may be difficult for each part.

8. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

9. What did you like or dislike about your last job?

How to answer

Your answer to this question will show the interviewer your overall perspective (positive or negative) of your prior role and your approach to what you liked (or didn’t like) about that aspect of your work. While answering such a question remember that diplomacy is the key to corporate success.

The answer you give to this question can say a lot about you, for example:

  • Can you handle situations professionally when you deal with pressure?
  • What strong qualities (your Key Selling Points) can you emphasize answering the question?
  • Are you a positive person, and not someone who complains, holds grudges or badmouths their co-workers or boss?
  • Do you exhibit loyalty, enthusiasm, dedication, and energy?
  • Are you easy to work with?
  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on yourself; stick to the facts and don’t go into emotions.

    List the things you were responsible for in your last job.

    • Which of them did you like most? Why?
    • What were the responsibilities you liked less? Why?
    • Was there anything you consider completely unacceptable?

    If you feel that your answer will not be complete without a nod toward the negative aspects, then keep it focused on tasks, situations, or company structure, and not on people. The overall tone must be positive and friendly.

  2. About The Company

    • What does your research tell you about the company you are applying to?
    • Will there be situations like those in your former job you don't want to get into again?
    • What are the requirements for the position?
    • What challenges will you face there?
    • What responsibilities will you be tasked with?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of the responsibilities you liked will also be part of your future responsibilities in your new role? Don’t forget to show your excitement while telling about these.

    If there were responsibilities you disliked that are not part of the job description, don’t bring them up.

    By asking about your feelings toward a previous job the interviewers often aren’t that interested in the list of actual likes or dislikes you can provide. Rather, they’re trying to judge your character by listening to the tone and attitude with which you respond to a tricky question.

    However, details of your likes and dislikes can also reveal whether you'll be a good fit culturally at the company at hand. Showing excitement about responsibilities that will most likely be included in the role you are applying for can help strengthen your position as a fit.

    Mentioning that you are ready for more challenges and opportunities, that the position you are applying for is a great match for your skillset and that you feel you would be an asset to the company or department is often a safe way to show your excitement.

Pro Tip

Telling your stories, use the “sandwich method”: start off by mentioning a positive, then mention the negative, and try to pivot back around to something positive.

You can do that by talking about how you managed the aspect you disliked, or by making a connection to the job you're interviewing for.

10. What are your strengths? Give an example

How to answer

Many people think they know their personal strengths and consider this question simple. However, to impress your interviewer you must be ready to turn your response into a meaningful and insightful answer.

It’s an open invitation to talk about your Key Selling Points, your accomplishments and to show how you match the employer’s values and requirements.

You must be ready to stand out and demonstrate your unique value as a candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on your best professional qualities. What are they? Are you dependable, flexible, friendly, hardworking, a strong leader, formal, punctual, good team player?

    Pick at least three personal strengths that will help you at your new workplace, and make sure you can give specific examples to demonstrate why you say these are your strengths.

    If no key strengths spring to mind, ask your friends or colleagues what they think your greatest strengths are. What examples can demonstrate your success due to these qualities?

  2. About The Company

    Make sure to research the company and read the job description thoroughly in order to identify the key strengths required for the role.

  3. About The Fit

    Recruiters and hiring managers want to know how your strength relates to the job you’re applying for.

    Match the skills required by the position with your list of strengths. Choose up to 5 top skills. These are your Key Selling Points! Prove your point by providing examples.

    Craft your stories using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Tip 1: Aim to strike a balance between over-confidence and underselling yourself. If you list too many strengths, you risk sounding arrogant. Listing too few implies a lack of confidence or even a lack of skills.

Tip 2: One of the most in-demand skills nowadays is being adaptive. In order to emphasize your adaptiveness, try to think of an example when you had to quickly learn something new, or quickly become a team member with a completely new group of people, or started contributing quickly in a new environment or project.


This page has been updated on September 7, 2020.

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