Are you looking at hiring a Business Operations Manager? But thinking how to go about it in these COVID-19 pandemic time? Pondering on what may be the common interview questions to ask?
Trust me. You are not alone!
According to the Economic Times, there has been a significant dip in hiring across industries. With almost 60-65%i interviews getting postponed or delayed the hiring team of every organization in every sector is gearing up, to pull out tricks from their caps and successfully manage this tricky situation!
As you all may be aware of , delayed interviews will in turn lead to delayed or no joining’s!
In companies like those in the service sectors where front line hiring is extremely dynamic, organizations are gearing up to explore alternate means of meeting these hiring demands through ‘Remote hiring‘.
One of the channels that are considered being explored is that of the Digital channels. With the aid of applications like WhatsApp, zoom, etc hiring trends will evolve into more of a ‘Virtual Interview’ than a ‘Personal one‘.
However, all said and done…. you may wonder in these trying times where most of the organizations are forced to lay off employees or put them on furlough why would anyone want to hire a Business Operations Manager!!!
Here is why…..
The go-to people in Business!
Yes, you read it right, Business operations managers are the go-to people in the business. They are essential in aiding various departments within an organization or company to coordinate efficiently and meet the end goal. They are responsible for:
- Project delivery
With increasing uncertainty of hiring and managing available resources, the focus needs to be given on increasing efficiency and productivity at minimum cost. Hence the need of a Business Operations Manager.
Before going into the nitty-gritty of interviewing, and for that matter asking those common interview questions let’s explore around a little to first understand the role in question.
What does operation management mean in Business?
Operation management generally involves the process that plans, controls, and supervises manufacturing, production, & service delivery processes. It covers sectors like banking systems, hospitals, companies, and of course the need for the hour technology.
Operations are one of the major functions in an organization along with supply chain, marketing, finance, and human resources.
Though operations management was generally more related to the manufacturing sector, it has now permeated across industries and sectors.
In the case of private-sector companies, the mission of the operations function is usually expressed in terms of profits, growth, and competitiveness; however, in public and voluntary organizations, it is often expressed in terms of providing value for money.
Nowadays organizations are increasingly using Six Sigma, and Lean Six Sigma which are popular operations management tools for improving the efficiency of the overall operational procedures.
Wherein Lean Six Sigma mainly concentrates on ways to increase workflow while Six Sigma focuses on achieving consistent results.
However, as a Six Sigma certification is not for the organization but only for individuals, It is best advised that organizations adopt Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma by training their employees on Six Sigma concepts.
Why should you hire a Business Operations manager?
Let’s take an example.
I am sure many of us love having our favorite brand of cereal with milk for breakfast. However, how many of us have gone a step further to analyze how did they reach our shelf or refrigerator from the farmer or manufacturing company?
To reach us they passed through a number of different processing steps and were handled by several different organizations.
All these different organizations have different processes that need to be coordinated amongst various departments to be able to successfully produce the final end product or service.
All this further requires proper business planning.
Here comes the role of the Business Operations manager.
In these striving times of COVID-19, it gets more essential that a proper business plan is made to be able to reach your objective.
The key objective here is to protect your employees and cash flow.
An able skilled business operations manager can help you to attain success against any crisis through their intuitive and smart operations planning.
Who is an ideal candidate for the Business operations manager?
As we saw before a Business Operations manager needs to coordinate with various departments and actually keep his or her fingers in a lot of pies together!
Hence the ideal candidate for the role will be:
# Strong leader
# With excellent people management and communication skills
# Delegating Skills
# Good negotiator.
The position also demands the Business operations manager to be self-driven, adaptable, and have the ability to learn things quickly.
Lets now get to asking the right Job interview questions to hire your Business Operations manager
The art of interviewing
Successful interviews are all about asking the right questions. Though one could argue that just by one or two rounds of interviews how can you likely ascertain on the candidate to be hired or not?
Here is where the skill of the interviewer comes into place and of course asking the apt job interview questions matters.
An interviewer is the window of the organization for the candidate. Hence its essential that you as an interviewer are effective in being able to hire the right talent for the company as well as be able to sell the organization in such a way that the same talent is eager to join you!
In addition, you as an interviewer can avoid wrong hires for your company. It will help you to save the cost of valuable resources for rehiring/replacement efforts.
By being a productive interviewer, you can:
- Determine the fitment of the candidate into your company’s culture
- Ascertain the authenticity of the experience and skills showcased by the candidate in their resume
- Use your hiring resources efficiently and get value for the time you spend on interview and meeting the prospective candidates
- Understand more on the growth path that you can offer for the candidate in your organization through further training. In short, looking at a long-time association with your company.
Tips to be a good interviewer
- Take time to prepare for your interviews and keep your hiring data organized
- Put thought into your questions to be able to ask the right job interview questions to gauge your candidates in the minimum time that you have with them
- Know about your candidate before the interview through the resume
- Make your candidate feel comfortable
- Device a standard assessment system for your candidates to evaluate
- Practice active listening skills
- Try to understand the cultural fit of the candidate to your company
- End the interview on a professional note
- Allow the interviewee to ask questions/queries
- Post each interview, reflect, review and assess where you can improve
Types of job interview questions
Now let us look at some of the types of common interview questions for a Business Operations Manager.
These questions can be broadly bucketed into four categories:
I )Skill Based job interview questions
These common interview questions probe on the existing skills of the candidates as well as on those that they are self-aware to develop further.
A Business Operations manager should possess skills like good communication, motivational skill, organizational skills, awareness of internal and external customer needs, and off course be an overall self-confident leader.
II ) Operational job interview questions
Operational job interview questions are targeted around gauging the general skills that are required to perform an ‘operational role’.
III)Situational Job Interview Questions
Situational job interview questions can also be termed as hypothetical interview questions.
These common interview questions give a speculative situation to the candidates and ask them to imagine themselves being in one and share what will be the action that they would take and the reasons behind their decision.
IV)Behavioral Job Interview questions
Behavioral job interview questions are aimed to get an understanding of the candidate’s problem-solving abilities, their overall personality, and their working style.
It also helps you as an interviewer to assess how they have handled different work situations in the past or how they may react to any given circumstance in the future.
Now that we have explored the role lets look at which are the 25 most common interview questions that turned up in my research that are generally asked for a Business Operations Manager.
Are you ready? so let’s get started!
Asking the right job interview questions matters
1. Tell me something about yourself and why do you want to be an Operations Manager?
This question can be used as an ice breaker question. It will put the candidates at ease as they will surely be prepared for this one!!!
However, it’s a clever camaflouge to help you to set a baseline for assessment and to get a brief overview on the candidate’s ability to communicate as well as a snapshot of his/her past experience.
It’s also essential to understand the reason/ drive within them to take up the role of Business Operations Manager.
2. How can you relate this particular Business Operations Manager position with your past experience? If yes what are the similarities that you find?
A Business Operations Manager may overall have similar roles, however the responsibilities may differ from Industry to Industry and sector to sector.
Hence it’s essential that you are able to understand from the candidate what skill sets they have to offer that will aid the Business Operations manager role in your particular company.
Domain or Industry knowledge mapping as per your company is essential.
3. Why should we hire you?
This maybe one of the commonest interview question. This is asked not that you want any assistance from your candidate on deciding their hiring fate….!!…but instead its to allow the candidate to sell their abilities and understanding of the role that you have to offer.
4. If you had to position our company to a customer/client what will you tell about us?
Tricky question alert!!!
This job interview question is one that only a well prepared candidate will be able to answer successfully. This will help you as an interviewer to ascertain how sincere the candidate is towards obtaining the role offered by your company.
If the candidate has researched enough then you will get answers that may not be readily available on the web so you will know how much homework has the candidate done! Obviously the more the better!
5. What is the reason behind deciding to leave your previous job?
The above question can act as a trigger for candidates to start to provide a series of complaints or things that they did not like in their previous job. Some may be honest with the standard response of renumeration being the reason.
However, you can decide on the general personality or character of the candidate with the way he or she handles this question.
6. What are your strengths?
Another common question through which you allow the candidate to express what they feel they are best at.
7. What are your weaknesses?
Its good to have strength but its more important to be self-aware of what is your weakness.
With this job interview question you can ascertain how clear the candidate is to understand their weakness or what they need to work on. At times certain weaknesses may be non-negotiable with regards to the role in question.
For example for a Business Operations Manager people management skills is extremely essential. If the weakness is that of inability to communicate/collaborate with people, then the candidate will be a no-go for you.
8. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
You should score high those candidates who have a clear attainable goal of where they want to be in the next five years.
9. What are your salary expectations?
It’s good for you to understand the expectation of your candidate in terms of remuneration. It also helps you to decide whether the hiring budget allocated is aligned as per the pool of available candidates for the role.
10. Can you share an experience and the learning from managing a difficult team or situation in your previous experience?
This interview question will represent the candidates team management and Problem-solving abilities.
11. Can you describe a difficult and time-bound task which you completed while under pressure?
As you know the ability to work under pressure is an extremely valuable quality to have. This single quality of being able to perform well under pressure, at a professional level can demarcate an average candidate from an excellent one.!
A business Operations role is very dynamic. It may throw unexpected situations and expect a quick decision.
From the above interview question response, you can gauge in the candidate qualities like staying calm under pressure, logical thinking, quick decision-making, time management skills as well as problem solving.
12. Have you ever got a chance to implement a cost-cutting strategy?
During these testing times where, various industries are in financial distress its imperative that your candidate comes back with sustainable and achievable cost cutting strategies so as to save your companies expenses.
13. What has been the maximum team size you worked with and what challenges did you face?
This ‘Teamwork’ based job interview question helps you to know how many team members has the candidate managed.
It will also reflect whether the candidate is good at working with a team, communicating well with them, delegating, and completing tasks in less turnaround time. It will get you an outlook on their attitude and approach towards problem-solving.
14. What is your approach towards motivating and growing your team?
Candidates answer to this job interview question will give you an idea of their vision and belief in empowering their team members.
15. If you notice that a team member is underperforming what would you do?
Being an empathetic leader goes a long way in motivating and creating a comfortable work environment. Hence through this interview question, you can understand how the candidate will try to understand the underlying issues of their team members and in turn help and guide them to perform better.
16. Can you share an experience in having to deal with a difficult person and how you handled the situation?
Again, this interview question will aid in probing further the people management skills, negotiating abilities, and diplomatic qualities of the candidate.
17. Have you ever made a suggestion to management towards the improvement of the quality/quantity of work in your previous organization?
This interview question will give you an insight into the proactiveness of the candidates or if they are open to take initiative in improving the overall efficiency of a process.
18. What do you understand by budget planning and what is your strategy and steps towards managing it?
Budget control is another essential responsibility of a Business operations manager and through this question you can probe further how much experience and working knowledge the candidate has on the same.
19. Which Management Information Systems have you previously used?
Through this interview question you can gain insight in the candidate’s exposure and understanding of the technical aspects of the role.
20. Can you give your thoughts on the need for successful communication between different organizational functions/departments?
Business operations manager needs to coordinate with various departments and hence this question will allow the candidates to showcase their experience in Interpersonal skills.
21. How was the culture in your previous organization?
Many a times a hire can go terribly wrong if there is no cultural fitment. Hence you need to understand from the candidate the different type of work cultures they have been exposed to as well as their ability to adapt and embrace new ones as in case of your organization.
22. Have you got an opportunity to mentor anyone? How did you contribute to improving their knowledge/skills?
It is extremely important for a manager to always be aware of the pulse of their team. As well as who is in need of mentoring or coaching so as to guide them in performing better and increasing the overall productivity and efficiency of the team.
23. What are your thoughts on work delegation? How do you delegate work to your team?
It is imperative that your Business Operations Manager appreciates delegation of work and has the ability to prioritize their work and concentrate on things that need their attention rather than trying to do everything on their own!
Self-sufficiency is good but not to an extent that it hampers the overall success of the project due to insufficient sharing of workload amongst the team.
It also projects the trust and faith that the manager has on his team.
Look out for more of ‘we’ than ‘I’ in the answers!
24. How do you measure your own performance?
Though it is very convenient as a manger to measure their team’s performance its often rather difficult to measure their own in an impartial way.
For a leader to be able to grow and nurture others who look up to them, its imperative that they are able to measure their own performance and work on areas that they feel needs improvement.
-They should be open to receive ideas from their team as well.
25. Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? and why?
Another common interview question which I consider a rather leading question.
It’s very rare for a candidate to muster up the courage and accept that they rather not work with a team even if they know it’s a prerequisite for the role, they are interested in.
However, when you club the above question with other team-related questions you will be able to gather information and thoughts on the candidate’s people skills.
As we have seen hiring the right Business Operations Manager is a make or break for your establishment.
I think the words of Peter Schutz(was the president and CEO of Porsche between 1981 -1987 and also a motivational speaker) remarkable captures the essence of what we read so far: “Hire Character, Train Skill”
It’s very difficult to build or change a person’s innate character, however, you can easily train them in certain skills that they may lack.
Hence while hiring for a Business Operations manager for your company look at their soft skills along with the hard skills needs as per the role.
One of the ways is to start by deciding on the must-have skills vs. nice-to-haves. If you are able to find a great fit for the role but lack’s in some of the skills, even then I strongly recommend them to be considered for hire.
As long as they have the underlying qualities you are looking for and are quick to learn and adaptable, they can very well be trained for the other lacking skills.
A business operations manager serves as a pillar to your organization and is instrumental in supporting and coordinating between the various departments for smooth and efficient working.
Needless to say, it’s worth your time and effort!
So Happy Recruiting!
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