What has been your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
This can tie in nicely to the last question, and that’s because every Operations Director will have had to face significant challenges to achieve their company goals, and if they haven’t you’ll probably have to question if their goals were ambitious enough in the first place.
We know that there’s nothing wrong with admitting to struggling or feeling challenged with something and showing how you overcame such a challenge can be very impressive.
Asking this is important to ensure that the person you’re interviewing is aware of and open about what they found to be challenging, and how they are able to tackle such issues in a way that will instil confidence in you should they face similar challenges in your role.
How important is company culture to you and what measures do you take to maintain your desired culture?
Every workplace leader should have a good awareness of their company culture and environment.
By structuring some questions around this, you can find out if they view culture as important and what their ideal culture is.
You can also find out about their adaptability, for example if they like their workplace to be a very specific environment, and how this attitude will transfer and adapt to your company.
This is a good way of determining whether the candidate will thrive in your company or whether they will struggle to adapt or create influence in an unfamiliar work culture.
What are your values as a company leader? How do you ensure these values are upheld by employees?
lie at the core of a well-functioning business, but attitudes to core values vary massively from company to company. Especially in customer or client facing businesses, many leaders like to build their business around such values, often highlighting them on their website, publications, around the offices etc.
Ask the interviewee what, if any, values they have outlined either for themselves, or for their business, and what measures they take to uphold them
You can start to piece together your interviewee’s priorities as a leader by inquiring into why their specific values are important over any others, and how this benefits their company.
You can then find out more about their leadership skills and priorities by asking what actions they take to uphold these values with their employees across the business.
If you want to go one step further, try and lead into a discussion about the values of your own company and how they would adjust to these, or what influence they would like to have.
What features make a good leader? Would you describe yourself as a good leader and why?
Think of this as a variation of the age-old ‘Name someone that inspires you’ prompt.
Though you should feel free to utilise this, it may be more useful to focus on what qualities the candidate finds to be inspirational, as these qualities are what they are likely to try and emulate.
Anyone can name someone who they think is a good leader, but it shows true insight for the candidate to be able to state why someone is a good leader.
You can then inquire into how the interviewee views themselves, which of these qualities they share, or what other features they have that make them a good leader to get an idea of their perception of themselves.
Would you describe yourself as a risk taker? Describe some of the risks you have taken and the results.
This question usually garners divisive answers, but it can be an important factor to consider. When hiring for a senior management or director level role, you’re probably going to want an individual who is not afraid to take risks, but at the same time one who isn’t careless or brash.
How the interviewee answers this question will be interesting, as depending on the individual and the opportunity at hand, risk-taking can be perceived as a positive or negative quality.
Asking them to describe risks they have taken to you also shows what actions they consider to be risks and for what reason.
How do you build rapport with your workers? Why do you think this is effective?
We know that, as operations director, the way you interact and build relationships with employees, other directors, and board members is crucial to your success. But relationships obviously aren’t just built overnight.
Ask the interviewee what conscious efforts they made to build a rapport with workers in their business and why they think this method is effective.
Find out if they like to be friendly, engaging, professional, distant, etc., and measure this against your company to see if their leadership style will fit with your current employees
Other factors include whether they conduct rapport building in the office, or if they organise special team building activities out of office. Of course, if the candidate can fully justify the way they build rapport, they may still be a good fit for your business. It all revolves around solid, convincing justification.
What is your current and ideal work/life balance? What measures do you take to control the work/life balance of you and your employees?
It’s no secret that being an Operations Director takes a lot of work. It’s a busy job that offers very little downtime, and it’s easy for anyone to get burned out from overwork, no matter what your role is.
To be successful in a senior role such as managing director it’s essential that you can balance your own work and personal life, as well as understand how other members of your business do this.
Find out how your candidate manages their time, how much free time they afford themselves and for what reason it is or isn’t ideal. It’s also important to find out how they do this for their workers, for example if they expect employees to sacrifice all personal life, or if they value the importance of free time. Make sure to find out how they do this, via rules, incentives, or holidays for example.
Do you think you will be a good fit for this role? Why do you think so?
A good question to ask towards the end of the meeting to gain the candidates understanding of the role, the business as a whole and the culture.
Additionally, it will highlight whether they see themselves in the role and why they would be a good fit.
Was there ever an issue in your previous career that you couldn’t resolve?
This is another question that gauges emotional security. There isn't always a solution for every issue, and it is important to understand this to make better use of your time and move ahead with other things. Explain how you were able to come to such a conclusion.
Example: "There have been several such instances. After I tried and failed to resolve the matter, I sought advice and help from more experienced colleagues. When that didn't amount to anything, we decided to change our strategy and find another solution. Well, that didn't work either, so we assessed the situation and reached the conclusion that continuing with the matter wasn't feasible."
What do you find most difficult about being a director?
By asking this question, the interviewer wants to find out if the applicant understands the pitfalls and challenges that come with the position of a director and ability to manage issues in stride. if you have it in you to take things in your stride.
Example: "Sometimes, it's a challenge to make sure everyone on the team has the same understanding when it comes to implementing crucial project plans."
Other questions you should understand the answers to if not covered during the main conversation:
- Tell us how you delegate tasks and make sure they are completed on time.
- What traits do you value most in yourself and your team?
- If you need to convince your team about the viability of a new concept, how will you go about doing it?
- What method have you found useful in interacting with displeased clients?
- What was the most challenging task that you faced in your career so far, and what did you learn from it?
- What do you do to help an underperforming team member to level up with the rest of the group?
- Describe your process for preparing financial reports.
- What was your role in increasing the revenues of your last company?
- Describe a situation in which you had to manage a company-wide emergency in your last role. How did you handle it?
- How do you close a deal with a client?
When it comes to interviews, it’s good to ‘be prepared.’ Just like candidates spend time to research the company, interviewers should be ready to evaluate candidates properly and promote their employer brand. Good preparation takes time but it pays off: you’ll evaluate candidate skills more effectively and create a positive candidate experience. In addition, you’re more likely to win over the candidate you’ll eventually want to hire.