Interview Question: How Many People do You Supervise?
This question is aimed at gauging one’s supervisory experience, as well as the capacity to properly perform the responsibilities of a supervisor. It is unlikely for the question ‘how many people do you supervise’ to come up when being interviewed for entry-level positions. Candidates with work experience and who are vying to head a department or any unit of a firm as first-line managers will have to convince the recruiting board with their supervisory prowess; This question affords a great opportunity for that.
A supervisor is expected to manage workers at the operative level. This entails overseeing subordinates and making sure they are up and doing at all times. So if you had led a team at your previous workplace or role, you will have the advantage of securing a supervisory role. Similarly, mid-level or senior-level roles are reversed for candidates who have worked in the same field for many years and gained extensive experience at its high echelon; Hence the length and width of the experience is also vital in landing managerial level jobs.
By this question, the recruiters are interested in the number of employees that reports directly to you. But why is it important? A First line manager responsible for 16 employees might find it challenging overseeing 100. Also, if a manager supervises more than he will for the potential role, the employer will see this supervisory experience as a bonus. Don’t forget that an interview is an assessment process, so even when numbers do not meet up the requirement your other areas of strength can make up for it and still land you the job.
What does a supervisor do?
Supervisory functions vary depending on the industry and size of the organization. Mid-level positions in a smaller organization may not be supervisory after all, but when you are performing the under listed responsibilities regardless of the job title or firm size, your role is supervisory and endeavor to explore them when responding to the question “how many people do you supervise”
- Management of workflow: it involves creating and overseeing task that requires completion. A supervisor should clearly define the task and communicate objectives to team members.
- Training of recruits: when new employees are posted to a unit, it is the responsibility of the supervisor to support them through the transition period
- Formulate and manage team schedules: for jobs that require employee shifts, it is the job of the supervisor to schedule employees on their shift and make the adjustment when the need arises.
- Evaluate performance and report to the management: a supervisor evaluates team member’s punctuality, diligence, professionalism, disciplinary issues, and more, and recommends them for reward or sanction. He equally submits team performance report to the management.
- Identify and recommend career advancement opportunities: due to their closeness to employees, supervisors are always mandated to assess employees and recommend them for promotions. In rear cases, supervisors may directly award team members promotions.
- Resolving employee issues and disputes: when employees are dissatisfied with certain things in the workplace, they often approach their supervisor before the human resource manager. Supervisors are expected to listen and understand whatever the concerns are. Perhaps it can be resolved at the departmental or team level.
How to Answer Interview Question: How Many People do You Supervise?
Points to emphasize in your answer
- State the exact number of employees you have supervised; if you can’t attach a particular figure to it, just give a verifiable range
- Highlight all the capacities or job titles in which you have and currently supervising employees, regardless of the number of organizations.
- Point out any acknowledgment award, recognition, or achievements that you have attained as a supervisor and feature mind-blowing projects you supervised your team or unit to accomplish.
- Let the interviewers know of your understanding and capacity to manage larger and smaller groups of employees guaranteeing outstanding results. You can back it up with practical examples if there are.
Samples of answers
When you have supervised in different roles or across different organizations, your response to ‘how many people do you supervise’ can be
“I currently supervise 28 employees with a total annual portfolio of 58 million naira. While working for firm ABC, I was responsible for 13 employees with a smaller portfolio of 19 million naira. Also in organization DEF, I was assistant first-line manager for a unit of 8 employees. In both my current organization and firm ABC, I have received commendations accompanied by personal and sometimes team rewards from the management. I am capable of managing a large volume of employees even as the organization grows”
If you have only supervised employees on a single organization, you can answer can be:
“At my current place of work, I managed a small group of employees, initially a team of three before expanding to eleven as at present. I have overseen numerous projects, ensuring that each team player completes their part. I also evaluate team members’ performance and push them to reach set goals timely. This has led to me being awarded the ‘employee of the month’ seven times and ‘employee of the year’ once. I have received a commendation letter from the current managing director of my current organization for accomplishing certain projects beyond the firm’s target. I am certain that my experience and accomplishments will be valuable to this organization if given the opportunity”
Lastly, if you have no prior supervisory experience, simply let the interviewers know you don’t. You can seize the opportunity and briefly highlight other qualifications that make you a good fit for the role; After all, it is all about career progression.
What not to say
It is important to avoid certain mistakes and pitfalls while answering the question:
- Be accurate about the number of employees you have supervised even when estimating.
- If you lack supervisory experience, do not try to breeze over the question
- The numbers should be verifiable and consistent with the role, firm size and, industry
- Ignore discussing the difficulties you have experienced while supervising others.
This question is critical in your assessment as a suitable supervisor. Approach it with all seriousness. Being as experienced candidates, interviewers expect you to have in-depth knowledge of industry operations, if you are operating in a specialized industry, endeavor to use technical industrial jargon while pushing your points.