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Operations Manager: Interview Questions and Answers

Operations Manager: Interview Questions and Answers
As you prepare for an operations manager interview, it's important to consider the interview questions the hiring manager might ask you. Operational, situational and behavioral questions, in particular, can help them determine your fit for the role. Reviewing the potential questions you may face can help ease your nerves on the day of the interview and have a more successful interview. In this article, we determine what they might ask you, provide you with sample interview questions and answers and offer tips to help you better prepare.

Q. Tell Us Briefly About Yourself And What Inspires You To Become An Operations Manager

Tip 1: Provide information about yourself that indicate you have the required skills and experience
Tip 2: Briefly describe what motivates you to be an operations manager
Sample Answer
“I am an operations manager with over seven years of experience. I started out as an operations specialist, mandated with monitoring daily activities in the workplace before pursuing management. I hold a Bachelor of Operations Management degree and a Computer Science certification. I have an array of qualities that I can attribute my success as an operations manager to. I am a disciplined, self-motivated, and diligent employee. I am interested in self-advancement and can do everything possible to grow and learn. Lastly, I love challenges as they ensure that I don’t slip into my comfort zone.
To answer the second part of the question, my inspiration comes from my desire to ensure that all the processes involved in creating or producing goods and services are seamless.”

Q. Are You An Easy-Going Manager Or You Adopt A Firm Approach Towards Managing Operations And People?

Tip 1: Briefly describe your style of management
Tip 2: Give weight to your answer by demonstrating your approach
Sample Answer
“I employ both the easy-going and firm styles of management. I apply them in different settings and depending on the situation and persons involved. An easy-going style offers disciplined employees the freedom to thrive in their work. Besides, this approach can result in employees’ satisfaction and high productivity for individuals who enjoy the independence it offers. On the other hand, I employ a firm approach to difficult employees as well as those who require constant supervision. In addition, I utilize a firm approach in situations that demand a high level of accuracy so as to compel team members to be extra careful.”

Q. What Was Most Displeasing About The Management In Your Previous Job?

Tip 1: Ensure not to share a negative aspect that may later on work against you
Tip 2: Be honest and describe a real experience
Sample Answer
“During my last assignment, I discovered there wasn’t any more scope for career development in the organization after rising to a particular level of management. There was a ‘stagnant point’ where the top management would just retain employees. They did not consider career growth at that level as a way of moving the company forward. To avoid such a scenario, I would propose a training plan that would help to equip the staff with appropriate skills and develop their skills.”

Q. What Ways Can You Use To Measure The Success Of Your Team?

Operations managers are involved in assessing the success of their teams and that of projects and processes. Here, the interviewer wants to determine if you can accomplish that.
Tip 1: Provide two or three ways operations managers can use to assess success
Tip 2: Briefly describe each method
Sample Answer
I would utilize the following:
• Set a clear baseline
I will begin by setting a level that my team will operate at. That will form a baseline against which I will assess whether the target for every phase is met. The success attained at each level will help me to assess whether a project will be successful.
• Quantify the meaning of success to my team
This concerns determining the level of accomplishment that is regarded as successful. So I will set a measurable and quantifiable goal that will enable me to make precise analysis.
• Set metrics for each project
Before the beginning of every project, I will establish metrics that will enable team members to know what is expected at the end of a project. In the end, I will compare the set metrics versus what has been to determine the level of success attained.

Q. If We Hire You As Our Operations Manager, What Will You Do First As A Newly Appointed Manager?

Here, the interviewer is interested in knowing how you will get started as an operations manager.
Tip 1: Describe one action you would undertake after assuming your job
Tip 2: Be brief and precise with your answers
Sample Answer
“I will quickly familiarize myself with the mission and vision of the company. This will help me understand why the company exists and how I can contribute towards the achievement of its goals. Besides, that understanding will enable me to align the work plans of my role with the strategic objectives of the company. In doing so, my team and I will contribute positively toward the attainment of the company’s strategic objective.”

Q. How Can An Operations Manager Monitor Team Performance?

Here, the interviewer seeks to assess if you are capable of monitoring the performance of a team.
Tip 1: Provide ways that can be used to monitor the performance of teams
Tip 2: Describe each of the ways you provide
Sample Answer
“Continuous monitoring helps to stay on track and keep delivering high-quality services and products. Operations managers can monitor teams by:
• Collecting relevant data
Data can be gathered manually or using the software. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) application can help in registering and analysing sales, correspondence, contact calls, online and offline surveys, and follow-ups. Customer feedback and employee surveys are other tools that operations managers can use to collect relevant data. This data is important in monitoring how a company is delivering its services and products.
• Engaging employees
Engaging with your workers is a good way to monitor how operations are going on. This enables the operation manager to see whether employees are doing what is expected. Certain problems that may be hindering optimal performance may be identified by checking how work is being carried out.
• Establishing a robust communication mechanism
Effective communication is very essential when working with a team. It helps to quickly convey what needs to be done to all the team members. One of the ways to ensure information is transmitted effectively is to utilize several channels of communication. Besides, having an established communication mechanism helps managers to inquire about the progress at every phase and also receive feedback. Through that, it is possible to know how employees are performing and whether improvements or changes are needed.”

Q. As An Operations Manager, What Will You Do If A Member Of Your Team Is Performing Poorly?

Here, the interviewer wants to assess if you can effectively deal with underperformance issues and in the end have a strong team.
Tip 1: State methods that operations managers can use to improve underperformance
Tip 2: Be brief and precise with your answer
Sample Answer
“An employee’s performance has an impact on the organizational performance. Thus I will begin by diagnosing the cause of underperformance. I will seek to determine whether the employee is performing poorly due to low motivation or lack of ability. A case of low ability may be associated with engaging in difficult tasks and a lack of skills. After identifying the cause of poor performance, I will come up with a way to improve it. With regard to low ability, I will come up with ways to improve it. Clarifying work details and on-job training are ways that an operations manager can use to improve performance of underperforming employees.”

Q. How Would You Delegate Tasks And Responsibilities?

Operations managers work with teams and this involves delegating tasks. Here, the interviewer wants to know if you know how to assign work to team members.
Tip 1: Describe how operations managers can delegate duties
Tip 2: Briefly describes the steps involved in delegating tasks
Sample Answer
“I will use the following steps to delegate tasks:
• Identifying tasks and responsibilities to delegate
This involves the identification of the duties and tasks that I want to assign. I will accomplish this by assessing the workload at hand and determining the tasks that can be accomplished by my team members.
• Identifying the best suited person to perform the tasks
A key strength in delegation is to know the abilities of every team member. With a list of tasks that need to be done, I will identify the best person to perform each of them. Checking the skill set of each team member will help me associate them with the tasks they can perform excellently.
• Assign tasks
This step involves the allocation of tasks and responsibilities to team members. In doing this, I will ensure to delegate tasks equitably among team members. I also make sure that everyone understands the assigned work and the timelines for completing the job.”

Q. Differentiate Leadership From Management

Here, the interviewer seeks to know your understanding of these two concepts
Tip 1: Define these two concepts
Tip 2: Give weight to your answer by describing each concept
Sample Answer
“The key distinction between management and leadership is that leaders have individuals that tail them, while managers have individuals who basically work for them. For any organization to be fruitful, it requires management that can design, organize and arrange its staff, while inspiring and propelling them to perform to their best. A person with both leadership and management skills can be more productive in an organization.”

Q. As An Operations Manager, How Can You Motivate Your Team To Attain The Strategic Objectives?

Here, the interviewer wants to know the strategies that you would use in motivating your team.
Tip 1: Show that you have both interpersonal and leadership styles
Tip 2: Demonstrate your ability to motivate others
Sample Answer
“As an operation manager, I will lead by example so that I can demonstrate to my team what they should do. I will put an effort to know and understand every worker while uncovering what each one is passionate about. I will also seek to know how each one of them prefers to be recognized. By offering them the right recognition and tasks that they enjoy doing, they will be motivated and together we will achieve the objectives of the organization.”

Q. How do you imagine a typical day in work?

This is a tricky question, and your answer will have quite an impact on their decision to hire you (or to send you home). The most important thing is to show them that you can work independently, and expect to be busy in work.
You shouldn’t refer to your overall responsibility, which consists in monitoring and analyzing the current system of production or provision to check its effectiveness, and working out a strategy for improving things in the team/department or entire production plant. You should refer to things you’ll actually do in job.
For example you can say the following (adjust your answer to the particular place of work):
Right after arriving at work I will have a brief conversation with my direct subordinates, ensuring that everything goes according to the plan, and that we do not need to address any immediate workforce issues (employees not coming to work, someone being sick, etc). Then I will oversee the operations, and do everything that’s required to ensure the smooth and effective operation of the plant. This may include talking to vendors and suppliers, resolving conflicts of staff members, doing some micro management in the workplace, creating and adjusting daily plans, interacting with other managers, taking part in interviews, and so on. I expect to be busy in work, and look forward to the variety of duties I’ll be responsible for…

Q. Imagine that one of your subordinates does not respect your orders, but we can not afford to lay them off, due to the situation on the employment market. What will you do?

This is a common situation nowadays. In the past, people paid more respect to their managers, since they were afraid of losing the job. Now, in the midst of economic expansion (which can quickly change with the new virus pandemic, however), people are not afraid anymore-since they know that companies have to think twice before sending them home…
You should suggest some creative solutions to the problem. One will be using your exceptional interpersonal skills to improve your relationship with the particular employee, on a personal level, which nearly always leads to better performance in work.
But there are other options as well, such as internal relocation within the company, introducing system of rewards that encourages loyalty and obedience, etc.

Q. Tell us about some challenges you faced in your last job while working on the plans and allocating budgets.

First and foremost you should stress the crucial role of proper planning in operations management, and that you plan to devote a reasonable part of your working time to planning.
In an ideal case, you should narrate a challenging situation from your last job, one that you eventually managed to solve. This can be dealing with a lot of variables and unpredictable future events, which made the process of planning difficult, and increased the chances of making a mistake, or of allocating insufficient resources to certain project/process.
Or you can say that you worked in a company that evolved extremely fast, the number of employees was growing almost on a weekly basis, and all of this made the planning and budgeting difficult.
Remember to talk with enthusiasm and try to include some numbers and details. This will make your answer more genuine in the ears of the interviewers.

Q. How do you feel about firing someone? What would you do if your best friend (who happens to work under you) came to work drunk?

Tell the interviewers that you are ready to dismiss anyone, even your friend, if you consider it the best course of action for the company. Tell them that job change is a part of life, and that you won’t let your emotions or personal preferences to interfere with your decisions in work.
But you can also show some empathy, and correct attitude to fellow human beings, saying that you will ensure that the leaving employee is properly compensated. Perhaps you will even give them advice on the next steps in their professional career, considering everything they learned in the job with you.

Q. Our company is very data-driven and we expect our operations manager to make decisions based on data. Tell me about your experience with data processing and statistical software.

Data might be used to make budgeting decisions or help to make key team decisions to improve profitability or efficiency. You’ll want to make sure that if these are key responsibilities listed in the job description, you have some experience to back it up.
Example Answer:
“I’m extremely familiar with Microsoft Excel as well as SPSS and can use both for data analysis. In my previous jobs, I have been fond of the build-in statistical features to help understand KPIs for teams that can help us understand places we may need to improve.”

Q. If a department or team was struggling to meet certain deadlines and asked for your assistance, how would you prioritize their need for help with your priorities?

This is the perfect question to showcase your organizational and prioritization skills. Your interviewer will be looking to understand how you determine the importance of projects and how you manage your time. In your response, articulate how you would tackle this issue.
Example Answer:
“I would begin by holding a meeting to better understand the needs of the team, as well as the specific deadlines they’re looking to hit. Based on this, I would develop a strategy based on deadlines to focus on what’s immediately important. I would also develop a plan to recruit my team members for the extra hands-on board, if necessary and depending on their workloads and deadlines.”

Q. How do you manage 1:1 employee meetings?

This is more of a behavioral question than a skill or experience question. Your potential employer is looking to see how you would manage a team.
Depending on your management style, you’ll want to articulate how passionate you are about seeing your team succeed and how you recognize the importance of their growth as well as your own.
Example Answer:
“I ask all of my direct reports to come to our 1:1 meetings with a shortlist of topics prepared to discuss. This can range from work projects to personal growth goals. I try to maintain an open-door policy so that questions and topics for discussion aren’t only saved for a manager and direct report meeting, so we can handle our workload in the most efficient way possible.”

Q. How do you handle an individual or process that acts as a bottleneck for a project?

Bottlenecks are a company’s worst enemy and operations managers should be able to identify them and eliminate them.
These are anything that holds up your company’s ability to produce its results efficiently. You’ll want to make sure you can answer this question appropriately, in that you aren’t looking to cause waves, just be a problem solver.
Example Answer:
“First, I would poll the team in question to understand where they feel the problem lies. Then, I’d look at the data to see how long it’s taking each individual to complete a specific piece of the project. We would then come together as a team to understand how to adjust the process in those problem areas to help the project run more smoothly.”

Q. What Are The Duties Of Operations Manager?

Answer :
Duties and tasks of operations manager:
o Direct and coordinate activities of businesses or departments concerned with the production, pricing, sales, and/or distribution of products.
o Manage staff, preparing work schedules and assigning specific duties.
o Review financial statements, sales and activity reports, and other performance data to measure productivity and goal achievement and to determine areas needing cost reduction and program improvement.
o Establish and implement departmental policies, goals, objectives, and procedures, conferring with board members, organization officials, and staff members as necessary.
o Determine staffing requirements, and interview, hire and train new employees, or oversee those personnel processes.
o Monitor businesses and agencies to ensure that they efficiently and effectively provide needed services while staying within budgetary limits.

Q. What Are The Skills Of An Operations Manager?

Answer :
Here are the skills needed to be operations manager:
o Active Listening
o Management of Personnel Resources
o Time Management
o Monitoring
o Judgment and Decision Making
o Reading Comprehension
o Speaking
o Management of Financial Resources
o Active Learning
o Persuasion
o Coordination
o Negotiation
o Critical Thinking
o Writing
o Instructing
o Management of Material Resources
o Learning Strategies
o Service Orientation
o Social Perceptiveness
o Mathematics
o Quality Control Analysis

Q. What Do You Know About Managing Budgets?

Answer :
Operations managers are typically involved in budget planning. Their goal is to learn how much has already been spent, how much will be spent, and how to spend the remaining budget so as to acquire necessary resources within budget limits. Operations managers may be even involved in financial issues such as loans for the company.

Q. What Steps You Took To Establish Rapport With A New Staff Member?

Answer :
Show how you communicate information effectively to an individual or group, adjusting your approach according to the situation. Include your ability to see the other person's perspective and establish a constructive relationship.

Q. Describe A Time You Had To Provide Training Or Coaching To Different Staff Members On The Same Tasks?

Answer :
Show how you have facilitated the development of knowledge and skills, how you adjust your approach according to the individual and provide support where needed. Discuss how you are able to assess the needs of your staff, establish a plan for improvement considering available resources and the individual requirements and gain agreement to this plan.

Q. When Delegating A Recent Assignment, How You Showed Your Confidence In The Person's Ability To Do The Job?

Answer :
Show how you assign tasks and responsibility to the appropriate people, how you clarify exactly what is expected, communicate confidence and ensure adequate resources are available for successful completion of the task. Include followup procedures and setting deadlines.

Q. How Would Your Subordinates Describe Your Management Style?

Answer :
The ideal answer would incorporate an example of how you have worked with a team you have managed to solve a problem.
I believe my team would say I respect their talents and provide open communication and clear direction, while also allowing them enough space to get their work done without constant check-ins. I have a vested interest in understanding what motivates each person to do his or her best work. For example, my company was working on revising a marketing campaign for a big client who was unhappy with the initial pitch meeting

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