40 Director of Operations Interview Questions (With Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're interested in helping to drive progress, maximise efficiency and improve productivity in an organisation, you can consider applying to become a director of operations. A good director of operations ensures the smooth running of the company and manages important tasks like budgeting, allocating resources and motivating employees. When answering interview questions, it's important that you phrase your responses appropriately to convey how your skills, experiences and qualifications make you the ideal candidate for the role. In this article, we list 40 common director of operations interview questions along with some sample answers to guide you.

General director of operations interview questions

Hiring managers use general director of operations interview questions to learn more about you as a professional candidate, including your interests and the way you work with others. This allows prospective employers like CEOs or managing directors to quickly assess if you're a potential fit for their organisation and team. Here are 12 examples:

  1. Why are you looking for a new job?

  2. How did you learn about us and why did you apply for this role?

  3. What specifically about our organisation interests you?

  4. What are your professional goals?

  5. Describe your work ethic.

  6. Why do you believe you can fit in with our team and company?

  7. What competencies and skills do you currently possess that make you the ideal candidate for this role?

  8. What's your management style?

  9. How do you communicate with others?

  10. What are some desirable traits that you look for in employees?

  11. What does a director of operations do?

  12. What do you think are the important qualities required to succeed as a director of operations?

Related: What Does an Operations Director Do? (With Skills)

Questions about experience and background

Questions about your experience and background are an essential part of the job interview because they allow hiring managers to assess your professional work experience managing operations and employees. Here are 12 examples of questions they may ask:

  1. What was the largest project you've managed in your career?

  2. How many employees reported to you in your previous job?

  3. How do you handle workplace conflict?

  4. What management philosophies do you use to help employees overcome operational challenges?

  5. What effective strategies did you employ to manage multiple projects at one time?

  6. What are some of the common challenges that you encountered in business operations?

  7. Share how you helped improve operational efficiency in your past jobs?

  8. What's your experience with process improvement?

  9. How do you facilitate inter-department communication and why do you think it's important in operations?

  10. How do you handle difficult customers?

  11. How do you motivate employees and teams?

  12. What's your process for identifying areas of improvement in business operations?

Related: What Are Business Operations? (And How to Improve Them)

In-depth questions

Interviewers use in-depth questions to evaluate your management skills and test your strategy and response in certain scenarios. Here are 12 examples of questions they might ask:

  1. What are some of the cost-cutting initiatives that you started to manage the budget?

  2. How did you manage a low engagement employee who was underperforming?

  3. What's your approach to negotiation?

  4. Tell me about a time when something did not go as planned and explain how you managed the situation.

  5. What are your criteria for selecting vendors when there are multiple bids?

  6. What qualities do you look for in candidates applying to join the management team?

  7. What do you do if a major supplier or service provider suddenly goes out of business?

  8. How do you resolve a situation if two departments had conflicting operational requirements at the same time?

  9. Tell me about a time when you exceeded the operational budget and describe the steps did you take to resolve this problem.

  10. What are some of the project management and accounting software that you've used?

  11. How comfortable are you with presenting next year's fiscal budget to the CFO and CEO? What does your elevator pitch sound like?

  12. What are you most proud of accomplishing in your past work experience in operations?

Related: 30 Director Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

4 interview questions with sample answers

You can consider reviewing these four interview questions with sample answers to prepare for your meeting with the management team:

1. Share a time when you successfully introduced a new tool or procedure to employees.

A director of operations is responsible for encouraging employees to adopt new technology or techniques that can help the company achieve its business goals. Hiring managers can ask this question to understand your past experiences in handling employee resistance and managing workplace conflicts. When answering this question, explain your process, the challenges you encountered and what you learnt from this experience.

Example: 'In my previous position, I introduced a new software to better manage employees' timesheets. Through feedback from various department heads and employees, I identified three main frustrations with the existing timesheet tracking process. It was manual, time-intensive and not well integrated with our HRM software. To ensure smooth adoption, I prioritised user-friendliness over functionality. I invited employees from each department to participate in pilot sessions where they could test and compare software from three different service providers. We collated their feedback and settled on one program that met our overall requirements.

Each department was given a trial copy of the program and the participating employees helped to inform, influence and prepare their colleagues for the impending roll-out. This reduced the need for long employee training sessions and minimised disruptions to operational schedules. The HR department worked closely with the service provider to refine and simplify timesheet procedures. Once employees understood the benefits of the new system and realised how it could ensure timely salary and overtime computations, they were highly supportive of the switch.'

Related: Operations Director Resume Skills: Definition and Examples

2. Can you walk us through your process of conducting employee evaluations?

Performance reviews and employee evaluations are an important channel to address low productivity, incentivise good performance and troubleshoot any issues. Hiring managers may ask this question to gain an insight into your working style and whether it fits their company culture and team. Operation directors are responsible for overseeing many employees and their interpersonal communication skills are crucial to effective employee evaluations. Consider providing strong examples where you exhibited good communication to facilitate employee feedback.

Example: 'Before conducting employee evaluations, I consult their direct supervisor to better understand the individual's work ethic, workplace accomplishment and professional aspirations. I try to organise informal employee evaluations where I schedule an hour to sit with the employee over coffee to learn about their experience with the company. In addition, I've found it helps to allow employees to perform their own self-evaluation, before sitting down with them to review their grading. Doing so helps to promote self-ownership and empowers employees to become more proactive at work.

It's good to start with an acknowledgement of the employee's efforts and achievements, which gets the conversation going on a comfortable note. When offering feedback, I try to be specific and constructive, providing relevant examples to validate my concerns or praise. I also spend time setting goals with the employee, which helps them feel engaged and also set clear expectations going forward. Being transparent is key to a successful working relationship and I provide each employee with a copy of their evaluation after the review as a guide to motivate them.'

Related: How to Motivate Employees: 12 Effective Ways to Boost Morale

3. Tell me about the hardest challenge you managed in the workplace and what you learnt from the experience?

Operations managers often handle work conflicts between employees as part of their jobs. Prospective employers want to know how you manage workplace challenges that can affect company morale and productivity. By sharing a past event, you can demonstrate leadership skills that helped to resolve conflicts and motivate employees to work together. It's advisable to include learning points and share what you could improve on.

Example: 'As an operations manager, I frequently encounter workplace disagreements between employees. Since our operations are interconnected, departments work closely together to ensure the smooth running of processes. The biggest challenges usually occur during handoff between departments. So, I organised meetings with department heads to identify the source of the conflict, which we discovered was due to the lack of clear separation of responsibilities. We worked together with employees in the respective departments to clarify and outline the process.

I felt that communication could be improved and since that incident, I learnt to be more present in the workplace to understand issues from a practical perspective. I also encouraged department heads to assign employees to lead each daily briefing so everyone understood their role and scope of responsibility. This helped create a culture of accountability and motivated employees to be more vigilant when performing their tasks. Overall, we observed a marked increase in job satisfaction and productivity levels during the next quarterly employee feedback session.'

Related: Conflict Management Skills (With Definition and Examples)

4. What are some effective strategies you've used to manage vendor relationships?

Companies outsource certain parts of their operations to external vendors, which can help to boost productivity and growth. Hiring managers may ask this question to find out your experience working with third-party service providers.

Example: 'As operations manager, I've used management software to track vendor spend, which is important to help the organisation optimise savings. I analyse monthly reports on spend data to determine if there are duplicate vendors that we can eliminate. I also use KPIs to track vendor performance and match it with our business requirements frequently to ensure they meet production and service quality metrics."

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