Key Operations Management Interview Questions
Updated 12 October 2023
Operations management involves business practises that help improve efficiency in a company's day-to-day operations. An operations manager is part of the upper management of a company and oversees the implementation of best practises across multiple departments. Since it is a senior role with crucial responsibilities, the interview for an operations manager can be challenging and you may benefit from understanding the nature of questions you can expect. In this article, we examine what an interviewer may ask you in an interview for an operations manager position, and discuss a few operations management interview questions with examples.
What Are The Common Operations Management Interview Questions?
Interviewers typically frame operations management interview questions based on real-time operations or hypothetical situations. Companies may look to hire operations managers with extensive experience, leadership qualities, decision-making abilities and problem-solving skills. They may directly report to an administrative team, the chief operations officer (COO) or the chief executive officer (CEO) of a company. These professionals may oversee one or more financial processes, discuss and plan budget allocations with the leadership team, hire staff when necessary, plan employee training programmes and use tools to track the overall efficiency of operations.
A CEO or COO may prefer to assess a candidate's experience in handling both routine operations and complex business situations. They may also assess a candidate's behavioural traits like leadership qualities, time management skills, problem-solving abilities, decision-making prowess, communication skills and competence in crisis management. Hence, an operations manager interview questions may focus more on evaluating core competencies, behavioural traits and a candidate's ability to work through tough business situations.
Related: How To Crack A Job Interview
Common Situational Questions
Situational and operational questions allow interviewers to assess candidates' knowledge of the role and its responsibilities. Through these questions, an interviewer can gauge how you respond to real-life scenarios as an operations manager. As they present you with hypothetical circumstances, you can highlight your qualifications and experience in your response. You can share examples of how you would overcome challenges or meet organisational goals. If you are preparing for an operations manager interview, you can prepare for the following situational questions:
How would you describe successful communication between different organisational departments?
If we asked you to assist the hiring team with talent recruitment, how would you handle their deadlines along with your own?
How would you motivate employees who resist changes in company procedures?
How would you cooperate with our information technology team to ensure the safety of our confidential data?
Walk us through how you handle budget planning.
How would you create a report about our company's production costs? Explain your method.
What management information systems do you have experience with?
Would you recommend a particular operations management process for our company? If so, why?
How would you address a situation where your team is struggling to meet company or business goals?
Explain how you would maintain quality of work as productivity of a department increases due to increase in the scale of its operations.
How would you describe an operation manager's daily responsibilities?
What do you consider the best approach for negotiating vendor contracts?
Common Behavioural Questions
Interviewers might ask you behavioural questions to understand how you can perform in an operations manager role. Rather than presenting you with hypothetical situations, these questions help them determine how you may have used your skills during real-life situations in the past. These questions present an opportunity for you to share information about your expertise. These are some typical behavioural interview questions that interviewers may ask an operations manager:
Describe a project you supervised involving multiple teams. How did you manage and contribute to the situation?
How have you created presentations in the past and what was the result?
Provide an example of how you adjusted to industry changes in the past.
How have your ideas improved a company's overall operations? What would you do differently?
What problems did you and your team face in the past and how did you overcome them?
What would you do to resume operations if management informs you of an impending crisis?
Operations Management Interview Questions With Sample Answers
If you have progressed from an entry-level role to a manager's role in the field of operations management, interviewers may frame questions to understand how you can transfer your experience and knowledge to benefit their business operation. If you are preparing for an operations manager interview, research the company, its products and services and the leadership team that may interview you. Go through your resume and the job description thoroughly to answer questions that may revolve around your competencies and the company's requirements. These are some operations manager interview questions with sample answers, to help you prepare for an upcoming interview:
1. Why did you choose operations as your career path?
A CEO or a COO may have already studied your resume in great detail. Their aim in asking this question is to hear the finer details and specifics of your interest in operations management and evaluate whether you are a good fit for the role. Link your interests to your formal academic qualifications and certifications. Align your skills and experience to the current job description and requirements. Your answer can reveal your experience, passion and suitability for an operations management role.
Example: "It was during my bachelor's degree in business management that I learned about operations through a project. My fascination with operations has been unabated ever since. My specialisation was operations in my master's degree in business management. All three roles I have held in my nine years of work experience have been in operations. My experience and success have convinced me that I was right in choosing operations management as a career field.
I have carefully honed my skills in decision-making and crisis management to excel in my role for the organisation's benefit. Without proper operations management, a business may face frequent delays, disruptions, conflicts and miscommunication that may hinder productivity and efficiency. Since my role is crucial for preventing these impacts, I am keen to continue in roles with more responsibility."
2. Would you recommend a particular operations management process for our company? If so, why?
The interviewer may ask this question to evaluate your level of proficiency in using operations management tools and software, and to understand how you leverage technology to improve operations. Read the job description carefully before attending the interview. A company may be looking to revamp their processes and this could be the reason why an interviewer wants to know your opinion of and experience in certain processes.
Example: "Companies can streamline their operations using operations management tools and techniques. The requirements of such interventions may vary depending on the size of the company, the industry and the volume of operations. I have looked at various operational aspects of your company before submitting my application and I understand that you use multiple tools and processes to streamline operations. I strongly believe making use of new tools and technologies is inevitable. For a large organisation like yours, upgrading to the latest tools can improve operations and smoothly coordinate processes that involve multiple departments.
I have completed advanced certification courses in operations management techniques and tools like Six Sigma and DMAIC. I have considerable experience working with shipping status, warehousing and demand forecast tools. I would be glad to help the company pick the right tools and techniques to strengthen its operations further."
3. How would you handle a crisis?
Since an operations manager directly reports to upper management or the CEO, it is important that they understand each other's work ethic and culture. This question tests your leadership and conflict resolution skills and your ability to withstand pressure. Answer this question confidently with a tone that assures that you can handle complex situations calmly. This is an essential skill for an operations manager.
Example: "My first step towards diffusing a crisis is to understand the management's perspective. I would use my active listening and communication skills to initiate a fruitful discussion with them. I would then objectively list the impact of the crisis in measurable terms, for example, loss of effective working hours, delay in production or disruption in the supply chain. I can use tools to estimate the impact of potential losses or disruptions. I may reiterate to the management that my commitment is to work towards organisational goals. I can brainstorm with them to diffuse the crisis and continue working with them until the team finds a solution. I firmly believe that collaboration and negotiation can help solve a business crisis."
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