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How to Best Answer Interview Questions for a Supervisor Position

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Being interviewed for a supervisory position is an opportunity for you to impress your prospective employer with your credentials and the way you answer his questions. A supervisory job interview typically includes questions about how you manage, how you discipline when the need arises and how you motivate employees. Successfully answering each type of question, while also providing clear examples that illustrate your approach, increase your chance of being hired.

Career History

Expect to receive a number of questions about your experience with supervising a team at previous positions you've held. Detail your work history in a supervisory role by explaining how many years you worked as a supervisor and the size of the team you managed. Provide clear, specific examples. For example, state that you worked for a mid-sized bank for seven years and managed a team of five tellers if you're interviewing for the position of a bank teller supervisor.

Management Style

It's common for an interviewer to ask about your management style. One approach is to answer that you believe in giving clear instruction and communicating openly, but also trusting your team to do the work without you having to micromanage. For the position of a bank teller supervisor, for example, you could explain that you believe in teaching tellers how to deal with difficult bank clients, monitoring difficult situations from a distance, but not rushing in to take over unless necessary.

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Experience With Discipline

Part of being a supervisor is disciplining those who report to you when the need arises. You might be asked about a time in which you saw positive results from disciplining an employee or a challenging time from which you learned an important lesson or changed your style. Answer the former question by providing an example of an area in which an employee needed to improve, the advice you gave and how the employee changed his behavior. For the latter question, answer by thinking of how your management style evolved; perhaps you learned from another supervisor and began implementing her approach with your team.

Motivation Questions

Often, the difference between a successful supervisor and one who struggles is the ability to motivate her team. It's common to receive questions about how you plan to motivate the team in the prospective new position -- and how you've had success in the past. To answer successfully in a retail setting, you could discuss instituting a plan that rewards employees who have the fewest customer complaints. In an office setting, you could talk about your experience with a program that gives movie or restaurant gift cards to employees who routinely complete their projects before deadline.

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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