Top 30 Supervisor Interview Questions For 2020 (+ Sample Answers)

By Jeff Gillis

When interviewing for a supervisory position with a company, the stakes are raised. This isn’t just an ordinary job the company is looking to fill. Becoming a supervisor obviously places you in charge of others at the company or organization and sometimes you can find yourself overseeing some employees who have been working there for a lot longer than you (sometimes for decades longer!). That’s why interpersonal skills and leadership skills are usually critically important for his job.

Having said that, there are probably others too! As we always preach, the job description is your best friend. There are probably other skills and qualities that the company has highlighted as desirable in the job description and you need to highlight that you possess these skills in your interview!

A lot of job seekers view a supervisor position as a stepping stone to a higher management position. While it’s true, becoming a supervisor and exhibiting great leadership, communication and other skills can certainly lead to a higher positions within the company including management, be careful not to diminish the position during your interview. Supervisors are critical components within the company that ensure their employees are working efficiently and productively.

Now let’s get you ready for the supervisor interview questions you should be ready for. These are the most common questions you’ll be likely to face specific to becoming a supervisor. Keep in mind however that these are in addition to common traditional interview questions and behavioral questions.

Top 3 Supervisor Interview Questions With Example Answers

1. What prior supervisory experience do you have?

This question is going to be one of the very first ones asked, so be ready with a great answer. When considering how you are going to respond, make eye contact and relate how your previous supervisor experience relates to what they are looking for. Remember the interview is not about you, it’s about them. Try and show you can fulfill their needs and solve their problems.

As an example, if you are going to be possibly placed in charge of the third shift in a factory, you could tell them about your experience as a factory worker and how you communicate effectively with others. (Note: communication being a quality you discovered they were looking for from the job description.)

Example Answer

“I have led several teams in the past. As an example, at my last job as supervisor at Loews I was in charge of overseeing multiple groups of employees who all worked in different departments and with different schedules. As you can imagine, being able to communicate effectively in this environment was critical. I worked hard to be clear and organized with my staff and made sure that everyone was on the same page. I’ve noticed in the past that often some employees can get confused but be too shy or scared to say anything. This can lead to problems, so I always make sure that after any group meeting I check in individually with any employee I may feel may be in the dark in a certain area.”

2. What kind of salary are you looking for in relation to this supervisor position?

This is the nitty-gritty time. Just how good are you at negotiating? If you usually go to flea markets and accept the price listed on the tag, then you probably need some work. When you go to the supermarket and find things to buy that are on sale, do you speak up when they charge you full price at the checkout? This question has tripped up even the best of us. 

After all, if you throw out a figure too high, you could be placing yourself right out of the job. However, if you say a number too low, you might just get hired and be underpaid for the rest of your life. Because of this, you should do some research ahead of time. Find out what other supervisors get paid around your area.

You can reference these numbers during negotiations. Hopefully, when the position is posted online or in the paper, there is an expected salary that is listed with it. But keep in mind, this is just the starting point. For an example, when you walk on to the car lot and the salesman asks what your budget is, you start with a low figure so they don’t rob you blind. Negotiating a salary is much the same thing!

Example Answer

“Through my research, I have noticed supervisors around this area seem to be earning about $55,000 a year. I am seeking a position that offers more than I currently do for the sake of my family. What is the approximate salary being offered for this job and is there potential for promotion?”

3. Why should we hire you above all other applicants?

This question pushes all other BS aside. They are basically asking, “What makes you so special?” Rather than hem and haw and giggle a bit, you should answer this question with humility and humor, but also let them know that you have the qualities they are looking for. 

Example Answer

“Being a supervisor requires being able to communicate well with all types of people. I have been doing that my whole life. One look at my family tree would make you think you were looking at the cast from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I can relate to others no matter what the circumstance. And I care. If an employee is struggling and can’t seem to find their way, then this relates directly to me as their supervisor. I am failing to put them in the best situation where they can succeed. I may not be the smartest person you are interviewing. I may not be the best-looking either. But I can get the most out of the people working for me. In fact, I don’t even see them as working for me, but with me. We are all part of the team. We all will succeed as a team. While individual accolades are great, it comes down to teamwork. And I believe I am the person that can bring this team together.” 

27 More Common Supervisor Interview Questions

    1. Have you ever had to discipline an employee and how did you handle it?
    2. With that said, have you ever fired an employee?
    3. Our supervisors are up to date on the latest technology. Do you view your tech skills as one of your strengths?
    4. How do you keep employees motivated?
    5. How would you settle a conflict between two employees?
    6. If you were falling behind on production goals, how would you remedy the situation?
    7. What is the largest number of people you have supervised at one time?
    8. Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
    9. Can you see yourself staying with the company for a long time if you are hired for the supervisor position? 
    10. Would you live in the community around here or do you see yourself commuting?
    11. As a supervisor, what is your greatest strength?
    12. As a supervisor, what is your greatest weakness?
    13. If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    14. Have you ever had a good supervisor and what made them stand out to you?
    15. Do you lead by example as a supervisor?
    16. Why would you want to leave your current job?
    17. What is your managing style like?
    18. How would you create a team atmosphere with the employees?
    19. How would people describe you?
    20. How do you think people that don’t know you would describe you?
    21. If needed, would you be able to work overtime?
    22. Are you open to suggestions from others?
    23. Can you keep an open mind or are you set on making all the decisions?
    24. We sometimes hire people with disabilities. Would you be able to work with others effectively that are quite a bit different than you?
    25. Being the new guy, would you have a hard time speaking up during meetings?
    26. What has been your greatest accomplishment in life?
    27. Do you have any questions for me?

This question is asked at the end of most interviews. Do not just shrug your shoulders, say not really, and then stand up to leave. The interviewer may think you are just in a hurry to get out of there and are not really interested in the supervisor position. Take advantage of this moment. Turn the tables on them with these five questions. 

    1. Have you always worked for this company and did you work your way up?
    2. How many other applicants are being interviewed for this position?
    3. Do you know when a decision will be made?
    4. What would an ordinary day look like for me if you chose to hire me?
    5. What is your favorite part of working for this company?

NOTE: For more great questions to ask in an interview check out our article!

Putting It All Together

The only way to get better at interviews is to practice. This may mean staring at yourself in the mirror as you go over your answers to these questions or going to real interviews and get better that way. Just remember that if the company is going through enough trouble to interview you, then you at least have a chance to nail down this supervisor job. Your foot is already in the door. It is up to you to open it the rest of the way.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Jeff Gillis

Co-founder and CTO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Jeff is a featured contributor delivering advice on job search, job interviews and career advancement, having published more than 50 pieces of unique content on the site, with his work being featured in top publications such as INC, ZDnet, MSN and more. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.