Do People In Your Department Function Autonomously, Or Do They Require Supervision And Direction?

When you’re interviewing someone for a job, he may ask a question like, “Do people in your department function fairly autonomously, or do they require a lot of supervision and direction”

This question is most common when the applicant is applying for a supervisory position. He wants to get a sense of who would be working under him and if he would need to micromanage. If he needs to micromanage, it may impact what he can get done on a daily basis. Conversely, if the department functions autonomously, he may be freer to contribute more to the workplace. A balance between the two can be perfect for a potential supervisor.

Points to Emphasize

When you answer this question, you’ll want to be honest about the level of supervision that would be required of the applicant.

  • Express certain ways that employees may need to be supervised.

  • Address areas where the employees do work autonomously.

  • Let the applicant know what his job duties would mostly consist of so that he is aware of how much time would be spent supervising others.

  • Always speak positively of your staff even if they do require supervision.

  • Let the applicant know how valuable he would be in supervising others.

    You’ll want to let the applicant know what type of work environment he would be entering into, as this will help him visualize what his day-to-day responsibilities would be.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

    There are certain statements you’ll want to avoid when you answer this question. In order to prepare yourself ahead of time, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Don’t speak ill of your staff even if they do require a lot of supervision.

  • Avoid saying that the employees do require a lot of supervision without also stating that the applicant would be supported in this role.

  • If you answer that the people in the department work entirely autonomously, it may signal to the applicant that his managerial skills may not be needed.

  • Don’t state that you’re not sure without telling the applicant that you will find out and let him know.

    To answer this question effectively, you’ll want to avoid being vague, judgmental or inaccurate in your statement.

    Sample Answer

    An example of how to answer a question about supervision as the following:

    Our staff is fairly autonomous. Most have been with us for a number of years and know how to do their job well. However, sometimes staff will need supervision and direction, specifically when we are implementing a new procedure or policy.

    A potential employee will want to know what would be expected of him on the job, and the answer to this question can help give him clarity.

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