Supervisor Interview Questions and Answers

How to answer supervisor interview questions

When you’re going for a supervisor job, you need to show hiring managers you’re more than just a good employee who knows how to perform all day-to-day processes in the department. What’s going to make you stand out is evidence that you’re a real team leader, someone responsible who can help other employees.

Before you go for the interview, spend some time reading the job description again, and then think up possible questions that the HR department is likely to ask you. This will mean that when those questions come up, you’ve got some strong examples to give them, letting you show off your best self.

Use our interview question and answer examples to help think about the kinds of questions you might get asked and the best way to respond.

Types of supervisor interview questions

Recruiters will be looking for evidence that you have team leadership potential, are ambitious, and also know the company inside out. They will ask a few different types of questions to assess whether you truly have what it takes to be a supervisor.

Let’s look at possible responses to these kinds of questions in detail below.


Questions about discipline

Example question: “Tell us about a time you had to discipline someone.”

What the interviewer is really asking: Being able to discipline staff is an important part of supervisory roles – the interviewer wants to see that you are confident about calling out poor behaviour.  

Example response: “When I was working as Shift Manager at BG Warehouse I noticed that one team member was always turning up late. I broached the topic with her informally to begin with and attempted to find out if there were any personal reasons for this behaviour. However, it continued over the course of a month and so I told her she would be put on a first warning if she carried on arriving late. This conversation had the desired effect and she did start coming in on time after that.”  


Questions about motivating employees

Example: “How have you dealt with an underperforming colleague?”

What the interviewer is really asking: They want to see if you can implement strategies that will help improve how others work.

Example response: “While working as a Shift Manager at BG Warehouse, I noticed that one employee was regularly missing his picking targets. We sat down together to discuss ways he could work more efficiently and I gave him advice on how best to order his picking. This resulted in an immediate speed increase and saw him performing at the same rate as other staff.”


Questions about your ambitions

Example: “Where do you expect to be in five years’ time?”

What the interviewer is really asking: Supervisory roles are often a path to middle management positions. Interviewers want to see that you have the hunger to progress.  

Example response: “I hope to eventually gain more experience and move into a regional supervisor role.”


Company knowledge questions

Example: “What do you think will be the most important skills needed within the team you’ll be supervising?”  

What the interviewer is really asking: This is all about showing you understand what the company does. They want to know that you understand the product offering and what your team would be doing on a day-to-day basis.

Example response: “Given the company’s focus on shipping large kitchen appliances, I know that relevant safety qualifications and knowledge will be especially important. Also, as this site is the primary distribution centre for one of the country’s biggest suppliers, it’ll be a hectic and high-pressure environment. Accordingly, I’d expect the team working under me to be able to remain calm and focused under pressure.”


Questions about your management style

Example: “How do you motivate staff?”

What the interviewer is really asking: They are looking to see what strategies you take to get the best out of people.   

Example response: I generally believe the carrot is preferable to the stick. I think it’s important to praise staff when they do well, and ‘employee of the month’ type schemes are really useful. For staff who are underperforming, I think providing positive goals or KPIs can be useful as it gives them something to work towards.”


Questions about your knowledge of the law

Example: “Imagine a person with Multiple Sclerosis applied for a new vacancy as a packer. Would you invite them in for an interview?”   

What the interviewer is really asking: They want to know whether you have an understanding of employment law and follow it to the letter.  

Example response: “Of course. If the applicant had the essential skills, I would interview them in the same way as anyone else, and if they had the right attitude and were a good fit for the job I would certainly hire them. If any adjustments were needed to the working environment, we could of course look into that.”

You should now be well prepared for your next interview and ready to wow that hiring manager! While you wait, why not line up more interviews? Find more supervisor jobs and read our expert interview tips and advice.