Top 10 Supervisor Interview Questions And Answers

supervisor interview questions

By Jeff Gillis

UPDATED 9/1/2022

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. You’ll be in charge of other employees, so employers want to get this hire right. Since that’s the case, it shouldn’t be a surprise that supervisor interview questions are often doozies.

But what sort of interview questions for supervisors should you prepare to face? And what does a great answer look like? If you’re asking questions like that, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a look at some common questions for a supervisor interview, along with some sample answers.

Top 10 Supervisor Interview Questions with Example Answers

Supervisor interview questions and answers are an excellent resource when you’re preparing to advance your career. They can give you outstanding insights about how to stand out, as well as ensure you’re not caught off guard by questions.

After all, there are more than 681,000 supervisors working in the United States. Plus, there are plenty of job seekers who are looking to take this first step into management. That means you will face competition, so you want to be ready.

Here’s a look at the top ten supervisor interview questions and answers, as well as some tidbits about why each question is a favorite among hiring managers.

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.


“In my last position, I had the opportunity to oversee several software development projects. My role involved coordinating the effort of cross-departmental teams, communicating change requests, monitoring the budget, and otherwise ensuring the project remained on target.

With the second-most-recent project, I also had a unique opportunity. One of the developers hit an unexpected obstacle, and they were struggling to find a viable solution. While I have programming experience and likely could have handled the issue personally, I saw this as a chance to help a colleague excel. I put on my coaching hat and worked with them, asking them probing questions that were designed to get them to examine the situation in a new light.

Using that approach and a supportive tone, I was able to guide them through a problem-solving process that resulted in a solution. Along with improving their technical capabilities, it ultimately boosted their critical thinking skills, allowing them to overcome a different challenge on their own during the subsequent project.”

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? After all, this is the kind of question that has tripped up even the best of us, particularly if you aren’t prepared.

If you throw out a figure that’s too high, you could be talking yourself right out of a job. However, if you say a number too low, you might get hired at that rate, leaving you underpaid. Because of this, you should do some research ahead of time and find out what other supervisors get paid around your area.

By doing some salary research, you have numbers to reference during the conversation. 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 that this is just the starting point. And if there wasn’t a salary range published, you aren’t at a loss if you’ve dug into the data yourself.

However, when you approach this question, it’s best to be a bit ambiguous. After all, this is a job interview, not a formal offer. Since that’s the case, it’s wise to build in a little room, allowing you to learn more about what the company has in mind and give yourself space to adjust as you learn more about the role.


“Typically, I would prefer to leave salary discussions until I have a chance to learn more about the ins and outs of the position. However, based on what’s been presented thus far in the job posting and during this meeting, I have a general ballpark in mind.

After a bit of research, it’s clear that supervisors in the area that take on similar duties typically earn $65,000 to $75,000 a year. Would you say that’s in line with the range your company is prepared to offer?”

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

This question is typically challenging for candidates to answer, mainly because it’s inherently a bit uncomfortable. In the end, the hiring manager is basically asking, “What makes you so special?”

In most cases, you need to balance tooting your own horn with humility. It’s a fine line to tread, but it’s certainly one that’s walkable if you embrace the right strategy. Ideally, you want to focus on differentiators and results, quantifying the details whenever possible. That way, you can separate yourself a bit from the competition.


“At this point, I feel confident that you have a solid grasp on my applicable experience and key supervisory skills, including delegation, time management, communication, and other capabilities that all candidates who made it to the interview likely possess.

However, I do believe I bring something unique to the table that can benefit your company. Currently, I volunteer with a program that focuses on supporting troubled youth. The benefit of that is I’ve learned not just about how to coach successfully but how to adapt my approach to the needs of individuals, many of whom were in distress.

In total, I’ve helped 22 teens go from failing in school and considering dropping out to honor roll students engaged in extracurricular activities. It’s been a test of diligence and fortitude, but it’s also taught me a lot about the power of positive reinforcement, active listening, gentle persuasion, and recognition. I believe that experience has broadly shaped my approach to leadership, likely in a way that you won’t find in other candidates.”

4. Have you ever fired an employee? If so, how did you handle it?

Many supervisory roles involve terminating employees for a variety of reasons. Here, the hiring manager wants to learn more about how you approach this potentially challenging situation.

While this question requests an example, you can discuss how you’d theoretically approach the scenario if you’ve never fired an employee. Just make sure you start your answer by admitting you haven’t had to handle a termination previously, ensuring you’re honest about your lack of experience before diving into what you’d do.


“In my past role, I did have to fire one employee. Along with performance issues, there were well-documented, ongoing attendance problems. As a result, they were harming overall productivity since they were unreliable and underperforming.

I approached the situation by calling the employee into my office for a meeting, giving them a degree of privacy. Next, I used a fact-based approach to describe the performance issues, including how attempts to remedy the issue were proving ineffective. Then, I outlined the attendance problems, as well as relevant company policy relating to that matter.

Once that I was complete, I told the employee that I was sorry, but I had to let them go. I continued by stating that the termination was effective immediately and offered to walk them to their work area to allow them to collect their belongings and retrieve any company property before escorting them out of the building, per company policy.

While it was challenging, remaining calm and fact-oriented helped show precisely why the termination was occurring. As a result, it went reasonably smoothly.”

5. How do you keep employees motivated?

Motivation plays a huge role in productivity, which is why the hiring manager wants to know how you’ll keep your team focused and engaged. If possible, outline an example of steps you’ve taken, either as a supervisor in a previous role or a team member stepping up to act as a leader.


“While I haven’t had the pleasure of working as a supervisor yet, I do have experience keeping team members motivated. During a project in my last position, we faced a series of challenges, which caused everyone to get disheartened, which harmed motivation.

I chose to step up at that moment to try and keep the team engaged. During a project meeting, I mentioned an achievement for each individual relating to the project, expressing my admiration for their diligence and capabilities. Next, I discussed past projects that encountered struggles, focusing on how we overcame those issues to succeed. Then, I reminded everyone that we were in this together and that we’d assist one another as we worked through the challenges one by one, as well as expressed confidence that we could make this happen.

Ultimately, that helped improve everyone’s mood in the moment, giving the team a renewed sense of energy. It made a difference, as we were able to refocus and work collaboratively to address challenges, allowing us to complete the project and achieve the desired result.”

6. How would you settle a conflict between two employees?

When you’re overseeing a team, you’ll play a role in conflict resolution. Since this question is posed as a hypothetical, you can simply outline your preferred approach. However, you can provide an example if you have one, so keep that in mind.


“If there was a conflict between two employees, my first step would be to gather information. I’d meet with each employee individually, using active listening skills like paraphrasing and asking clarifying questions to determine the root cause of the problem.

While speaking with each employee, I’d also ask them to propose potential resolutions. That would help me understand what outcomes they were hoping to achieve, giving me more critical insights.

After that, I’d mediate a conversation between the two employees, presenting what I learned during the previous discussions. Then, I’d work with them to find a resolution that would leave everyone satisfied.

After the fact, I’d also monitor the situation and follow up with the employees individually. That would allow me to adjust the approach if the original plan proved ineffective, as well as monitor their mood and morale, ensuring I could act proactively until the situation was resolved.”

7. What is the largest number of people you have supervised at one time?

Overall, this question seems incredibly easy to answer. After all, the hiring manager is only requesting a single number.

However, it’s best to go beyond that when answering this question. By also describing the situation where you supervised those employees and similar pertinent details, your answer is more compelling.


“In my past role, I supervised a team of 12 employees. This included several front-line customer service workers, such as cashiers and customer service specialists, as well as a few working in support roles, such as stockers. As a result, I became highly familiar with each position, as well as how to motivate and coach a variety of personalities, which I believe will serve me well moving forward.”

8. How would your former team describe your leadership style?

With this question, the hiring manager is asking you to view your capabilities from the perspective of those you supervise. It gives them a clearer picture of the traits you exude, allowing them to determine how you’d likely come across in the role if hired.


“I believe my former team would describe my leadership style as a mix of servant and transformational leadership. I feel that one of my main purposes as a supervisor is to support and guide my team, so I’m diligent about removing roadblocks, providing coaching, and stepping in to help when they need a hand.

However, I’m also growth and development-oriented. Along with examining processes to see if we can do it better, I look for opportunities to help my team acquire new skills and explore new experiences. Additionally, I consistently treat failure as an opportunity, ensuring my team can find value in the learning experience, allowing them to continue to improve and, ultimately, reach new heights.”

9. Tell me about your least favorite manager or supervisor. How did that experience shape your approach to leadership?

Many candidates view this question as a bit dastardly, mainly because it’s setting you up to potentially badmouth a past manager. However, with the right approach, you can answer it well without coming across as insulting or judgmental.


“In one of my earlier jobs, I encountered a manager whose style didn’t align with my needs. Their primary approach was most akin to micromanaging. They liked things done their way, even if it wasn’t the most efficient. Additionally, they had a tendency to get overinvolved, requesting updates far more often than necessary, and generally found reasons to speak poorly of everyone’s performance, even if the task was handled in the desired way and the quality was high.

Ultimately, that experience showed me how that sort of leadership could harm morale. As a result, I work diligently to avoid the trappings of micromanaging a team. Instead, I provide a degree of autonomy, show trust by giving my employees space while getting updates at reasonable intervals to stay apprised, and embrace the power of recognition. I believe that makes me more effective, allowing me to support and guide a team without crossing into micromanaging territory.”

10. How would you begin overseeing a new team? Is there a change you’d make right away?

Here’s a question that helps the hiring manager figure out how your initial time on the job may go. If you have an example of when you started overseeing a new team based on your past work experience, you can reference it. However, it’s also fine to speak hypothetically.


“Generally, when I begin working with a new team, I avoid making any immediate changes. Instead, I spend my initial time getting to know each employee and exploring the overall team dynamic. Additionally, I focus on learning about struggles, obstacles, and roadblocks they regularly encounter that I could possibly solve, as well as what’s working well, ensuring I don’t disrupt a functional process.

Only after that assessment do I consider making changes. That way, I can focus on areas that would genuinely benefit from improvement, ensuring I’m not pushing for change for the sake of change.”

30 More Common Supervisor Interview Questions

    1. Have you ever had to discipline an employee, and how did you handle it?
    2. Our supervisors are up to date on the latest technology. Do you view your tech skills as one of your strengths?
    3. If you were falling behind on production goals, how would you remedy the situation?
    4. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
    5. Can you see yourself staying with the company for a long time if you are hired for the supervisor position? 
    6. Would you live in the community around here, or do you see yourself commuting?
    7. As a supervisor, what is your greatest strength?
    8. As a supervisor, what is your greatest weakness?
    9. If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    10. Have you ever had a good supervisor, and what made them stand out to you?
    11. Do you lead by example as a supervisor?
    12. Why would you want to leave your current job?
    13. What is your managing style like?
    14. How would you create a team atmosphere with the employees?
    15. How would people describe you?
    16. How do you think people that don’t know you would describe you?
    17. If needed, would you be able to work overtime?
    18. Are you open to suggestions from others?
    19. Can you keep an open mind, or are you set on making all the decisions?
    20. We sometimes hire people with disabilities. Would you be able to work with others effectively that are quite a bit different than you?
    21. Being the new hire, would you have a hard time speaking up during meetings?
    22. What has been your greatest accomplishment in life?
    23. What steps do you take to create a positive culture?
    24. How do you approach positive feedback? What about constructive criticism?
    25. Tell me about the most challenging person you’ve ever supervised. Why was it difficult, and what did you do to ensure success?
    26. What skill do you think all great leaders have in common?
    27. Can you tell me about your favorite manager or supervisor? What did you like about them? Did your experience with them shape your management style?
    28. In your own words, what’s the difference between being a manager and a leader?
    29. Tell me about a time when you were held accountable for a subordinate’s actions. What occurred, and how did you handle the situation?
    30. 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. What’s the biggest challenge this team currently faces that you’d like the new supervisor to solve?
    2. Can you describe the current team dynamic?
    3. What management style did the last supervisor who held this position use? Do you feel it was effective?
    4. Are there any upcoming changes the new hire in this role will have to lead the team through?
    5. How will you measure success for this position?

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

Putting It All Together

While answering supervisor interview questions is a bit intimidating, you can use the tips above to your advantage. Review the question and example answers. Then, start creating your own responses.

The only way to get better at interviews is to practice. Just make sure you do some research along the way, making it easier to create standout answers. After all, your foot is 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 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.