A quick Google search reveals that the average salary for an Operations Manager in the UK ranges between £45,000 and £60,000. In the US, the average salary for an Operations Manager position is around $80,000.
Operations management skills are in high demand, which is reflected in the relatively high salaries offered in this field.
However, the lucrative salaries also mean that there is a significant amount of competition for each role. If you possess the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications, you should be able to attract interest from organizations looking to hire Operations Managers.
But having the skills, experience, and qualifications alone isn’t sufficient to secure the job. You also need to be able to effectively communicate these to the hiring manager.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can excel in an Operations Manager interview and secure this sought-after role. First, we’ll provide some tips for the interview itself, followed by the best approach to take when answering Operations Manager questions (and what not to do!). Lastly, we’ll explore some of the most common interview questions you can expect to encounter.
Ready? Let’s dive in…
Operations Manager Interview Advice
Draw from your experience. This applies even if you have never held an Operations Manager position before. An Operations Manager is responsible for numerous tasks, primarily overseeing the day-to-day operations and ensuring the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness. You don’t need to have held an Operations Manager title previously to have participated in similar activities. When answering questions, emphasize your relevant experiences.
Know your audience. Always research the organization you are interviewing for. Additionally, take the time to research the interviewer and the hiring manager (if they are different individuals). Your goal is to impress the person making the hiring decision, so you should research them specifically to understand their preferences and what they are looking for in a new employee.
Highlight your problem-solving skills. As an Operations Manager, you’ll be faced with numerous challenges and unexpected situations. Show the interviewer that you have the ability to think on your feet, analyze problems, and come up with effective solutions. Share examples from your past experiences where you demonstrated these skills.
Showcase your leadership and teamwork abilities. An Operations Manager must be able to lead a team and work well with others to ensure smooth operations. Emphasize your leadership qualities and your ability to collaborate and communicate effectively with team members. Provide examples of when you successfully managed a team or worked closely with colleagues to achieve a common goal.
Stay updated on industry trends and best practices. Being knowledgeable about the latest trends and best practices in operations management can give you an edge during the interview. Demonstrate your understanding of the industry and how you stay informed about new developments. Mention any conferences, webinars, or relevant articles that you’ve recently engaged with to show your dedication to professional growth.
How Best to Answer Operations Manager Interview Questions
Unless the question you are asked is a straightforward ‘yes or no’ style question, you’ll need to learn to describe, expand, and elaborate on your answers. The best way to do this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the structure below:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? As an Operations Manager, you should have your own set of philosophies and approaches to managing operations and improving efficiency that you tailor to each situation.
S – Situation – Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. Try not to spend too much time describing the situation. The bulk of your answer should focus on you and what you did, so keep the situation simple to understand and even simpler to describe.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time, it’s best to demonstrate an active rather than passive role in the encounter. As you are applying for an Operations Manager position, the situation you describe should involve you taking charge of managing the day-to-day operations within an organization.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. This should comprise the majority of your response.
R – Result – How did everything turn out? If possible, use figures to illustrate the outcome (e.g., efficiency increased by 20%, costs reduced by 15%, etc.).
Remember that the B-STAR technique is descriptive, not prescriptive. You don’t need to strictly adhere to this flow; go with what works best for your answers and allows you to effectively convey your point and showcase your experience.
What You Should Not Do When Answering Operations Manager Questions
Do not avoid the question: When answering questions related to the Operations Manager position, ensure that you address the query directly and provide a relevant response. Avoiding the question will give the impression that you lack the necessary knowledge or experience to handle the issue.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked): Focus on showcasing your successes and achievements as an Operations Manager. While it is essential to learn from failures, highlighting them during an interview might raise concerns about your ability to effectively manage operations.
Do not downplay the situation: When discussing a situation where you demonstrated your skills as an Operations Manager, be honest about the challenges you faced. Downplaying the situation might make it seem as though your achievements were not as significant as they actually were.
Do not overhype the situation: Conversely, avoid exaggerating the difficulties you encountered. Maintain a balanced approach when describing the situation and your role in resolving it, as overstating the challenges may come across as insincere.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter: If you are asked about a situation or skill you have not encountered, focus on your transferable skills and experiences that are relevant to the Operations Manager role. Emphasize your willingness to learn and adapt to new situations.
Do not reject the premise of the question: Even if you disagree with the assumptions or context of a question, answer it in a way that demonstrates your understanding and ability to handle different perspectives. Rejecting the premise outright may be perceived as inflexibility or unwillingness to consider alternative viewpoints.
Do not have a passive role in the situation: When providing examples from your experience, ensure that you present yourself as an active participant who took the initiative and made a difference in the situation. Passive roles may not effectively demonstrate your capabilities as an Operations Manager.
Do not give a one-sentence answer: Elaborate on your responses to provide context and detail about your experiences and the outcomes you achieved. One-sentence answers may not fully convey your abilities and accomplishments as an Operations Manager.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action: While providing context is important, avoid spending too much time describing the situation at the expense of discussing your actions and the results you achieved. Focus on demonstrating your skills and contributions as an Operations Manager.
33 Operations Manager Interview Question and Answers
Can you briefly describe your background and experience as an Operations Manager?
Answer (Experienced Operations Manager):
In my previous role as an Operations Manager at XYZ Company, I managed a team of 30 employees and was responsible for streamlining processes and improving efficiency. My primary tasks involved overseeing daily operations, managing budgets, and leading cross-functional projects to enhance productivity. Over the course of five years, I successfully reduced operational costs by 20% and increased overall efficiency by 15%.
Answer (Aspiring Operations Manager):
Although I haven’t held the title of Operations Manager, I have spent the last four years as a Team Lead in the operations department at ABC Corporation. I supervised a team of 10 employees and was responsible for coordinating workflow, implementing process improvements, and managing schedules. During my time in this role, I consistently met or exceeded our department’s KPIs, and successfully led a project to automate certain processes, which resulted in a 10% reduction in processing time.
What motivated you to pursue a career in operations management?
Answer (Experienced Operations Manager): I have always been drawn to the dynamic nature of operations management and the opportunity to drive tangible improvements within an organization. My passion lies in analyzing processes, identifying areas for optimization, and implementing changes that have a direct impact on efficiency and productivity. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed collaborating with cross-functional teams to achieve common goals and have found great satisfaction in seeing the results of our efforts.
Answer (Aspiring Operations Manager): During my time working in the operations department, I discovered a passion for analyzing systems and processes, identifying inefficiencies, and developing solutions to improve performance. I realized that the role of an Operations Manager would allow me to leverage my skills and experiences to drive positive change across the organization. I am excited about the opportunity to lead teams, implement process improvements, and have a lasting impact on the overall success of the company.
How do you define success as an Operations Manager?
Answer (Experienced Operations Manager): For me, success as an Operations Manager is measured through the continuous improvement of business processes, increased efficiency, and the satisfaction of both employees and customers. It involves meeting or exceeding key performance indicators, ensuring seamless cross-departmental collaboration, and fostering a work environment that supports growth and development. Ultimately, success is about creating lasting value for the organization and contributing to its long-term objectives.
Answer (Aspiring Operations Manager): I believe success as an Operations Manager is achieved by effectively managing resources, optimizing processes, and continually improving the efficiency of operations. It involves setting and meeting clear KPIs, ensuring a high level of employee engagement, and maintaining open lines of communication between departments. Success also means being proactive in identifying and addressing potential bottlenecks or challenges, fostering a positive work environment, and delivering excellent customer service.
Can you provide an example of a challenging operational issue you faced and how you resolved it?
Answer (Experienced Operations Manager): In my previous role, I encountered a situation where our production line was experiencing frequent delays, negatively impacting our ability to meet customer deadlines. I analyzed the process, identified bottlenecks, and implemented a new workflow that redistributed tasks more evenly across team members. Additionally, I introduced regular progress monitoring and reporting to ensure timely interventions when necessary. As a result, we were able to reduce delays by 80% and significantly improve customer satisfaction.
Answer (Aspiring Operations Manager): While working as a Team Lead, I faced a challenge where our department was consistently falling short of meeting its monthly targets. I took the initiative to conduct a thorough analysis of our processes and discovered that a lack of standardized procedures was causing inefficiencies. I worked with my team to develop and implement clear SOPs, which streamlined our operations and improved overall productivity. Within three months, we not only met our targets but exceeded them by 15%.
How do you manage competing priorities and deadlines in a fast-paced environment?
Answer (Experienced Operations Manager): To manage competing priorities and deadlines, I rely on effective time management, delegation, and communication. I start by assessing the urgency and importance of each task, then create a prioritized action plan. I delegate tasks to appropriate team members, ensuring they have the necessary resources and support. Regular progress check-ins help me stay on top of ongoing tasks and make adjustments as needed. By maintaining open communication with my team and stakeholders, we can work together to address any unforeseen challenges and meet our deadlines.
Answer (Aspiring Operations Manager): In my current role, I frequently juggle multiple tasks and deadlines. I prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance, and create a detailed action plan that outlines the steps required to complete each task. I also delegate responsibilities to team members, making sure they have the necessary support and resources to succeed. Regular check-ins and open communication help me monitor progress, address any challenges, and make adjustments as needed. This approach has consistently allowed me to meet or exceed deadlines while maintaining high-quality work.
How do you ensure clear communication within your team and across departments?
Answer (Experienced Operations Manager): To ensure clear communication, I establish a culture of openness and transparency within my team. I encourage team members to share their ideas, concerns, and updates on ongoing projects. I also hold regular team meetings and one-on-one check-ins to keep everyone informed and aligned with our objectives. To facilitate cross-departmental communication, I build strong relationships with other managers and stakeholders, create channels for information-sharing, and involve relevant parties in decision-making processes. This approach has helped me maintain a well-informed and collaborative work environment.
Answer (Aspiring Operations Manager): Clear communication is essential for effective teamwork and collaboration. In my current role, I strive to create an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns. I hold regular team meetings, provide updates on ongoing projects, and schedule one-on-one check-ins with team members to address individual concerns. To foster cross-departmental communication, I actively engage with colleagues from other departments, participate in interdepartmental meetings, and share relevant information to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Can you describe your experience in managing budgets and controlling costs?View answer in our full guide
How do you monitor and evaluate the performance of your team members?View answer in our full guide
What strategies do you use to improve operational efficiency and productivity?View answer in our full guide
How do you handle conflicts or disagreements within your team?View answer in our full guide
Can you provide an example of a time when you had to implement a major organizational change? How did you manage the transition?View answer in our full guide
How do you stay informed about industry trends and best practices in operations management?View answer in our full guide
How do you approach capacity planning and resource allocation?View answer in our full guide
What experience do you have in developing and implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs)?View answer in our full guide
How do you manage risks and ensure business continuity in your operations?View answer in our full guide
Can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision with limited information? What was the outcome?View answer in our full guide
What methods do you use to track and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) in your operations?View answer in our full guide
How do you balance the need for innovation with maintaining stability in your operations?View answer in our full guide
How do you approach vendor selection and management?View answer in our full guide
Can you provide an example of a successful process improvement initiative you led?View answer in our full guide
How do you ensure compliance with industry regulations and internal policies?View answer in our full guide
What strategies do you use to motivate and engage your team members?View answer in our full guide
Can you describe a time when you had to manage a significant increase or decrease in operational demand?View answer in our full guide
How do you handle performance issues within your team? Can you provide an example?View answer in our full guide
What experience do you have in managing cross-functional projects or initiatives?View answer in our full guide
How do you approach quality assurance and quality control in your operations?View answer in our full guide
How do you prioritize safety in your operations management practices?View answer in our full guide
Generic Job Interview Questions You May Be Asked In An Ops Manager Interview
“I believe that it’s incredibly difficult to overcome a bad first impression. Because of this I always strive to never make one. That’s why for important meetings, or interviews like this, I make a clear plan of what I want to get from the meeting and outline the steps I need to take to achieve that goal.
So when I received the call about scheduling this interview the first thing I did was research your offices. As you are based in an area of town I am not familiar with I drove by here after work one evening just to make sure I knew the way. I also checked Google Maps to see what the traffic would be like at this time. Nothing worse than being late sitting in traffic after all.
I actually have a contact who works in your finance department, Claire, we were colleagues in the place I am currently working. I reached out to her to see if there was anything she could tell me about the interview process. We had spoken before about the company as a whole and how she talks about the company is one of the reasons I applied.
Following our chat I went through all of my work achievements and made sure they fully encompassed everything I have accomplished in my career.
I’m glad I took the time to prepare as I did because there was a lot of traffic so it was good I knew to expect that. Also talking with Claire helped jog my memory on a project we both worked on a few years back delivering a piece of financial software that I believe your company is in the process of deploying.”
“I believe that bad news is best delivered in person and discretely, where it is responsible to do so. I don’t particularly relish giving bad news (I suppose not many do) so I often try to resolve the situation in advance so the bad news never needs to be given.
Obviously though that isn’t possible all of the time. For example in a previous role I managed a team of complaint handlers when word came down from senior management that we were offshoring a large part of our process and this meant layoffs of nearly 40% of the department.
I tried to go to bat for my team and show how our quality and production scores were the highest around and unlikely to be replicated using our offshore colleagues, but the decision had been made and was purely cost driven.
It was my job to determine which members of my team would be let go and which would stay.
We had all joined the department together on the same contract so there was no element of seniority that needed to be accounted for. Instead I devised a balanced scorecard type of approach, ranking each team member against the department’s relevant KPIs (quality, production, skills).
Once I had my list I booked one-on-ones with all of my team members as close together as possible, starting with the colleagues who would be staying. With the colleagues who were being let go I got straight to the point and told them the company would be terminating their contract. I allowed them to ask any questions they wanted and informed them that I would be around for any help they needed in looking for a new role.
During the meetings 2 of the colleagues I wanted to keep informed me that they were planning to leave soon anyway and suggested that they would leave now instead freeing up room for other colleagues to stay.
In the end I had to tell 6 members of my team that they were being let go. They were all understanding of the situation and were grateful that I offered to help them look for new roles.
Going forward if I were to be in the same position I would have gone to the meetings with some open positions that I would recommend the colleagues apply for”
Have You Ever Had To Manage A Difficult Employee? – Example answer
“Yes on a number of occasions. My style of management is such that I believe that if you ensure your employees have all of the required training and all the necessary resources at their disposal that you can take a step back and they will flourish on their own. I do not believe in overly micromanaging my team. I have an open door policy and I have regular catchups with my team members and I trust that they will get the job done.
By and large this works pretty well in my current role. However you do sometimes get the occasional team member who requires more supervision than others.
One such person was new to my team and soon after their training and introductory period finished their productivity dropped week by week. At the start the colleague seemed to be at the same level as some of the more experienced members of the team but over time his output dropped until he was comfortably the worst performer all around.
I spent the next week or so monitoring this colleague more closely to understand where any issues were arising. I noticed that he was spending large amounts of time being unproductive and not completing tasks.
I raised this with him during our weekly one-on-one and he admitted how he didn’t feel much motivation to complete more work and found it difficult stay focused when there seemed to just be more work to come.
I took a few actions on the back of this meeting, all of which I cleared with my management team ahead of time.
I put the colleague on an action plan that monitored his output on a daily and weekly basis. This would be reviewed by myself along with the colleague and with our director. It was stressed to the colleague that if there were no changes after a month that we would be terminating his position with the company.
Also as a show of transparency and in an attempt at motivation by target setting we started releasing productivity reports for the whole team so they know how each team member is performing.
The action plan proved to be the motivator that was required for the ‘difficult employee’ as soon after we started the action plans his output was nearing the top of the team charts. The team productivity reports also became a big success and saw improvements across the whole team. Senior management were pleased and have taken the action to talk about a bonus structure to go along with the performance reports which is still in the pipeline.”
“As Product Manager at X company it was my responsibility to prioritise the backlog of tasks. The way things worked in our organisation was that any stakeholder could raise an item to add to the backlog, then as a team we would discuss in which order it would be best that they were worked and deployed.
Ultimately however the final decision on priority lay with myself.
As you can imagine with so many different areas of the business raises items, each with their own agendas and goals the backlog meetings would often end with a lot of disagreement
One such occasion we had two business areas both asking us to deploy a change to our product and both were asking for the change to be deployed in the next sprint. Unfortunately we only had the dev resource to implement the one change in this cycle.
The backlog call became heated between the two representing colleagues and I was forced to cut the meeting short to let cooler heads prevail.
After the meeting I sat with both colleagues to further understand the urgency behind both changes. Asking them to describe the benefits of the change and also the drawbacks of waiting until the next cycle.
Once I had this information in hand it was clear to me which change would be most beneficial to the business. I invited both colleagues into a meeting where I had compiled the information into a presentation deck with a few charts showing the resources available within the product team and the relative benefits of each change.
Explaining it this way allowed both colleagues to fully appreciate the restrictions that were on my team and also the comparative benefits of each change.
Both colleagues left the meeting happy with the outcome and both changes were pushed into production in the next 2 sprints”
Tell me about a time when you had to convince others to put in ‘the hard work’
“I always feel that when you have a good team working for you that often you don’t need to convince anyone to get the job done, that’s why I believe in a strong recruitment policy of only employing the best and maintaining high standards within the organisation.
Of course there will always be times when a little more motivation is needed. One such occasion happened recently. One of our most valued customers asked if we could provide delivery on one of our products a month earlier than originally scoped.
The organisation agreed to ‘try our best’ when it came to this request but made the customer aware of the challenges of this new date.
The challenge was given to me and my team to try and achieve this new date. Ensuring open communication with the team is important to me so the first thing I did was meet with my team to ensure that they all knew of the new challenge.
We looked at the obstacles that lay in the team’s way and I removed them where practical.
To show the team that we really appreciated the effort they were putting in we made each Friday pizza day paid for by the organisation and told each team member that they would each receive a paid day off once the product was delivered (regardless of whether the new deadline was met or not).
The team were extremely motivated by this and with nothing stopping them we managed to deliver the customer their product within the new timeframes. The customer was thrilled with the service we provided and actually sent across a week’s supply of office fruit as thanks for helping them turn things around under short notice.”
What is your biggest weakness?
“My memory is my biggest weakness. Quite frankly it sucks. I will be told something in the morning and will have completely forgotten having had the conversation by the afternoon. It held me back a lot in school were it seemed like a lot of exam preparation was just cramming as much info into your head as possible prior to an exam. I have found a good system though that works for me. I write lots of notes and set myself lots of reminders. I am not sure if you can see since we’re on video but I have been taking notes throughout this meeting as well!”