Graphic that shows three different types of interview questions you should be asking.

Use these questions to identify a candidate’s technical knowledge and abilities

Use these questions to determine how a candidate handled situations in the past

Use these questions to assess a candidate’s personal traits and cognitive skills

Why this matters

High morale and a shared sense of accomplishment are cornerstones to building strong teams. A supervisor needs to be skilled at reading their team members—and knowing when to pivot motivation strategies. Your ideal candidate will understand how to produce high engagement levels and productivity among direct reports.

What to listen for

  • Listen for a candidate’s history of driving successful teams that meet their goals.
  • A great candidate will strive to adapt when one communication method isn’t working—and may check in with their employees personally and professionally to see how they can better lead.

Why this matters:

Hiring is a responsibility of many supervisors. A supervisor candidate needs to have a firm grasp on key qualities in others, be able to anticipate hiring needs, and clearly define responsibilities and expectations.

What to listen for:

  • Look for evidence that the candidate has hired before—and has made informed, high-quality hiring decisions previously.
  • Does the candidate value soft and hard skills? A strong supervisor will be able to hire based on technical skills as well as team qualities.

Why this matters

A supervisor may be required to mediate difficult on-the-job conflicts—and their ability to do so can impact team performance. Assessing a candidate’s ability to solve interpersonal problems will help you identify a true leader.

What to listen for

  • Listen for a resolution style that matches how your company handles conflicts.
  • Strong examples that illustrate a candidate has successfully reached a lasting resolution in past employee conflicts.

Why this matters

A supervisor has a lot of responsibility—and they will be making lots of crucial decisions that impact their team. There’s typically no way to please everyone, but a strong supervisor will take steps to do the right thing.

What to listen for

  • Make sure the candidate will take the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of their team members into account.
  • Listen for ethical and moral consideration: know that the candidate can not only make a good decision for the company but the right decision overall.

Why this matters

A supervisor cannot leave members of their team behind. Are they invested in helping all employees succeed? Do they take an appropriate course of action when success isn’t possible? An answer that addresses these questions can help you find a successful leader.

What to listen for

  • Someone that takes a 360-degree approach to evaluate performance and is willing to work with employees individually to improve overall performance.
  • A response should answer how a supervisor nurtures the talent and skills of employees.

Why this matters

A supervisor should remain a leader no matter what—employees will likely look to them even more for support during a busy season, transitions, or times of adversity. This question can help you identify a candidate’s problem-solving abilities and navigational skills.

What to listen for

  • Level-headedness and professionalism can indicate that your supervisor will not buckle under pressure.
  • A candidate who is sure of themselves and confident in their abilities to manage a tough situation will make a good leader.

Why this matters

Some leaders are more empathetic and caring—others are diplomatic get-the-job-done types. There’s a place for all supervisory styles, but the important thing is to make sure a candidate’s style is in line with what your company needs.

What to listen for

  • Dedication, confidence, and independence are hallmarks of a great leader, no matter their management style.
  • Listen for signs of someone who inspires a sense of ownership in employees and models positive behaviors in the workplace.

Why this matters

Supervisors should be aware of how they are perceived by direct reports. In workplaces with high retention rates, employees may feel affinity and respect toward their supervisors — and feel comfortable raising any concerns that arise.

What to listen for

  • Personal anecdotes can show supervisors form close professional relationships with their employees.
  • A high self-awareness — this demonstrates that a supervisor is tapped in to their role in the workplace.

Why this matters

Managers and supervisors need to be success-oriented at a company level, a team level, and an employee level. And they need to understand and strive toward company goals. An answer to this question can demonstrate how they prioritize and organize goals and measure achievements.

What to listen for

  • A big-picture approach to goal setting—with an attention to detail.
  • A strong candidate may take into account their employees’ and their own continuous improvement — and acknowledge that the job is never truly done.