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10 common interview questions for an operations manager

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes 

Operations managers play a critical role in transportation companies. They are responsible for leading teams, handling budgets, maximizing business results, upholding safety standards and more. 

If you applied for an operations manager job, you’re probably wondering what to expect during the interview. Gain valuable insights with my top 10 interview questions for an operations manager, along with expert tips on how to answer each one. 

Communication-focused operations manager interview questions and answers 

1. How do you communicate difficult information to a team? 

A recruiter will ask this question to assess your ability to handle challenging situations. By understanding how you navigate difficult conversations, employers can get a better sense of your communication style and potential impact on a team’s dynamics.

How to answer:

  • Give an example of a time when you had a difficult conversation with a team member.
  • Talk about how you approached the conversation and adapted your communication style to align with their preferences.
  • Describe the result of your conversation.

2. What do you do if someone on your team doesn’t understand a message the way you intended it?

Effective communication is key for an operations manager. The recruiter wants to know if you’re able to find different ways to convey information to meet the needs of your team, regardless of their experience level.

How to answer:

  • Emphasize the importance of effective communication.
  • Detail how you rephrased information or provided more context to clarify your message.
  • Explain what you learned from the experience.

Behavioral-based operations manager interview questions and answers 

3. How would you respond if someone asked you to do something that went against your company’s values?

Operations managers make important decisions every day. A hiring manager may ask this question to see whether your ethical decision-making skills align with the company's values.

How to answer:

  • Express your commitment to upholding ethical standards and ensuring your actions contribute positively to the organization.
  • Explain how you would respond if you were asked to do something unethical and, if possible, give a specific example of a time you were in this type of situation.
  • Communicate how you would propose an alternative solution that aligns with the company’s standards.

4. Tell me about a poor decision you made at work: What did you learn from it?

We all make mistakes from time to time. With this question, the interviewer is more interested in what you learned from your mistake, rather than what the mistake itself was. Self-reflection is crucial in any managerial role.

How to answer:

  • Describe the circumstances around the poor decision you made.
  • Share what you learned from the situation and how you applied your learnings in future scenarios.
  • Showcase your ability to grow and find new areas of improvement.

Leadership-focused operations manager interview questions and answers 

5. Walk me through a time when you led others through a significant process change: How did you handle the transition? 

Change can be disruptive and unsettling for teams. A skilled operations manager can seamlessly guide their team members through new processes.

How to answer:

  • Give an example of a time when you successfully led others through a significant process change.
  • Break down the steps you took to prepare your team for the change.
  • Highlight how you handled questions or concerns about the change.

6. Describe a time you mentored a team member who was struggling with their performance: What was the result?

Strong coaching skills are one of the most important qualities an operations manager can have. Being able to guide and mentor your team is crucial to driving success.

How to answer:

  • Provide a specific example of a time when you helped a team member with an issue they were having.
  • Share how you mentored them through the challenge.
  • Detail how your guidance helped that team member overcome obstacles and achieve positive results.

7. How do you recognize your team for their accomplishments?

Celebrating your team’s successes is another important part of being a leader. Fostering a positive and supportive work environment encourages growth, which ultimately leads to better team performance.

How to answer:

  • Talk about what you do to continually keep your team motivated.
  • Share what you do to recognize your team for doing a great job.
  • Highlight how you encourage positive recognition among your team.

Job-specific operations manager interview questions and answers 

8. Tell me about a time when you found a cost-saving opportunity in your current role: What was your process?

This is a common question that sometimes catches interviewees off guard. Recruiters want to know you can manage a profit and loss budget, while also showing an understanding that your decisions impact a company’s bottom line.

How to answer:

  • Explain how you identified the cost-saving opportunity.
  • Go over the specific steps you took to achieve the cost-saving measure.
  • Discuss the results of your initiative, including the savings for the business.

9. Tell me about a time you worked to better understand the needs of a customer: What did you learn from that experience?

A good operations manager understands the needs of their customers. The recruiter will ask this question to assess your problem-solving skills and ability to find solutions that align with what the customer is looking for.

How to answer:

  • Describe the specific steps you took to better understand a customer’s needs.
  • List the insights you gained from that experience.
  • Showcase how you applied your learnings to enhance customer satisfaction and improve operational processes.

10. How was your performance measured in your previous role?

Understanding how your performance was measured gives the recruiter information about your work ethic, accountability and ability to meet expectations. Operations managers are expected to hold front-line leaders accountable for their goals, so you must know your own.

How to answer:

  • Walk through the key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure your performance.
  • Outline how you consistently met or exceeded those metrics.
  • Discuss the steps you took to improve your performance and achieve success if you missed your goals.

Become an operations manager at Schneider.

Looking to take the next step in your career? See what operations manager roles Schneider is currently hiring for. 

About the author
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Joe is a senior corporate recruiter focusing on the company's outside sales positions. He has been with Schneider for more than 15 years, holding roles such as a driver recruiter, divisional recruiting manager and senior outbound recruiter, before joining the Corporate Recruiting team. In his spare time Joe enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his wife and son.

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