Top 25 Chief Operating Officer (COO) Interview Questions and Answers in 2023

25 Chief Operating Officer (COO) Interview Questions and Answers

As the company’s chief operating officer, you are tasked with the day-to-day administration and overseeing the company’s operations. You will report directly to the chief executive officer, who you come second to owing to given your roles in the organization.

Since this is a high-level position, only the best are given a chance. So, you must prepare adequately for your upcoming interview by anticipating and answering the questions well. However, worry not because this article will discuss some of the questions to expect for a chief operating officer interview.

1. Why are You Interested in This Role?

After spending several years as the chief financial officer of this company and overseeing its financial operations, I believe it is time to try something different. I would love to oversee this entity’s day-to-day administrative and operational function as your new COO. I am confident in my ability to thrive in such a role, given that I worked closely with the former COO and the CEO to improve this firm’s operations. I also know the ins and outs of this company, which will save you from training costs when you outsource. I am positive that I will handle all the challenges involved in this new role if I’d given a chance.

2. What are the Roles of a Chief Operating Officer?

My main role as the chief operating officer of this organization will be to handle all the company’s daily operations and work closely with all managers and supervisors for operational management. I will also work together with the budget team in coming up with the company’s budget, prepare accurate financial performance reports, complete performance reviews, assess and implement improved processes abs technologies, coach employees through different initiatives, oversee marketing initiatives, implement better business practices and also monitor invoices and money handling procedures.

3. What are the Qualities That a Chief operating Officer Needs to Be Successful?

To thrive as a chief operating officer, one must have extensive experience in human resources, finances and operations management; a track record of outstanding performance in a known enterprise; proper written and verbal skills and experience managing staff. A chief operating officer should also be a good decision-maker, an excellent team worker and a forecaster. Other qualities include proper organizational and reporting skills, ability to handle pressure, ability to work in fast-paced environments, ability to lead ethically and proper assessment skills.

4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You manage Them?

I noticed that my former workplace operations were not efficient. Most machines and systems were not updated, resulting in increased workloads and poor task execution. However, the organization was not in a position to overhaul the entire system owing to financial constraints. Knowing how important efficiency is to the entity, I talked with the CEO, who convinced the board to secure finding. We slowly integrated and improved our systems; the results were almost instantaneous. By the time we were done improving the systems, our company was thriving.

5. Describe Your Daily Routine as a COO?

Going by how the CEO spent her days, I have to admit that this is one of the busiest roles in the organization. Cut short, my daily routine as the chief operating officer is attending to the company’s day-to-day administration and ensuring operations’ efficiency. My tasks will therefore revolve around budget management, spearheading strategies, monitoring invoices and money handling procedures, preparing accurate and timely reports, delegating responsibilities to staff members, conducting performance reviews, assessing and implementing improved processes, and overseeing marketing initiatives.

6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience

This is my fifth year in high-level management. I began as a departmental manager in charge of sales and marketing at ABC company. I got to work with and manage a team of seventy-five individuals. I left in search of new challenges and joined this company as the chief financial officer two years ago. I am happy with what we have achieved and believe we are destined for more.

7. What Kind of Strategies and Mindset is Required for This Role?

Some of the best strategies to help a COO thrive in his role are proper delegation of work, attention to detail and multitasking. This job entails many tasks that cannot be properly done if the three strategies are not employed. As for the right mindsets, a COO should be future-oriented as they are charged with promoting strategies and steering the company in the right direction.

8. What Is the Biggest Challenge That You Foresee in This Job?

Even though I have been in high-level management for ten years, I haven’t ever been in charge of such a large team before. You have over ten thousand employees spread out in different places, which as the COO, I will be directly and indirectly in charge of. However, I am confident that with the right support and dedication, I will be able to attend to thrive managing such a large team.

9. How Do You Stay Motivated in Your Work?

I love results, and therefore, I normally look forward to succeeding whenever I do my duties. I always want to meet all my targets and ensure that I succeed in everything I set out to do, which keeps me highly motivated. Also, I wouldn’t say I like letting my team members down since our successes are often intertwined in one way or another. I am glad I rarely deal with demotivation in my job and would also love to motivate others.

10. Describe a Time When You Failed in This Role and The Lesson You Learned?

During my first year as a sales manager, I was too hard on my team that they didn’t register the performance I had anticipated. When I did some reflections, I discovered that I had created an environment where they did not feel free but were instead forced to go about their duties without much assistance. I made a conscious decision to be a leader rather than the typical manager, and a year later, it registered the best performance the company had ever witnessed.

11. Why Do You Feel you are The Most Suited for This Role?

This is my seventh year in this company, working in different roles, making me one of your oldest employees. I was around at its conception seven years ago; therefore, I know many things about our operations and day-to-day administration by now. I was awarded the best employee of the year twice during my time as a CFO, which makes me confident that I will thrive if given a chance to serve as the COO.

12. Share with Us Your Greatest Achievement.

I joined my former company as the CFO at a time when it was almost going bankrupt. I was in charge of all its financial operations and therefore had to ensure that such a thing didn’t happen. I worked closely with the COO, the CEO and the budgeting team to develop cost-effective measures that would guarantee success. By the time I was leaving after a year and a half, it was one of the most successful retail companies in the region, with a revenue base of over a billion dollars. I have never been so proud in my life. 

13. Walk Us Through How You Prioritize Your Tasks

I understand the importance of task prioritization for such a high-level job. I expect to attend to many calls and tasks in my daily work, which cannot be successful without knowing what to deal with quickly. When prioritizing work, I normally start with the business’s most urgent or important tasks. I have also learned that dealing with the simple tasks first gives me more time to focus on the other tedious ones. I always have a planner where I list out all the tasks in terms of urgency and set my deadlines.

14. How Do You Intend to Deal with Disagreements With the CEO?

As the COO, I come second to the CEO, which means that I have to be tactical and respectful in dealing with issues concerning us. No one in the workplace should know that I had a disagreement with the CEO, and therefore, in such instances, I will ensure that everything is dealt with silently. I will also ensure we find ways of dealing with such issues quickly, so they do not weigh us down. Lastly, I will try as much as possible to avoid triggers and issues that may lead to a disagreement between us.

15.Have You Ever Implement a Time-Saving Plan in Your Workplace?

Yes. I am normally interested in making operations more efficient to save time. Therefore, when I noticed that my former company’s operations were relatively slow, I decided to work on a plan. Together with the ICT team and after talks with the CEO, we identified different software and tools that would help us handle the growing workload faster. We came up with amazing recommendations, trained our employees on them and finally made implementations. We managed to improve our operation speed and efficiency by 20%.

16. How Do You Normally Manage an Entity’s Budget?

Budget management starts right from the start. I normally look at the entire budget and make corrections after forecasting future needs to avoid being caught off-guard. Once all the future needs have been forecasted, I immediately allocate resources. I also work closely with different departments during budget management to ensure that none is affected at any point.

17. Do You Consider Yourself a Fast Decision Maker?

One of the strongest attributes that any COO can have is proper or quality decision-making. I always strive to ensure that I have come up with the best decisions for the organization. On whether I am a fast decision-maker or not, I usually take time to go through my options whenever I have an important decision to make. Such include those that impact the organization or a given important department whose success is crucial to the whole business. I then decide after weighing all the options and their chances of success. However, I don’t also shy away from fast decision-making. I normally have different details about the business at my fingertips, which helps me make fast decisions.

18. What Relationship Would You Prefer Having with Our CEO If You Were to Choose?

I understand that we must maintain a professional relationship with the CEO for the success of this company. However, I would prefer if we also had a level of friendship aside from professional engagement. I would love to know if the CEO is doing well in other aspects and, if possible, offer some help. In dealing with business-related issues, I prefer openness and trust since such relationships are always good for the entity. I will put my best foot forward in encouraging such a relationship.

19. What’s Your Mission?

I always have one mission in all my places of engagement- to make the company better than I found it and encourage employee loyalty. In my fifteen years as a high-level executive in different companies, I have always measured my success based on how I left the company. I love to positively impact my former workplaces by improving their operations or increasing their profitability. I also normally strive to inspire and encourage employee loyalty since a huge percentage of an organization’s success lies in its employees.

20. What Do You Notice the Moment You Walked in?

I noticed a number of things right from the gate. I love how your security guards at the entrance respectfully handle those coming in. They are also thorough when inspecting vehicles and those coming in, which shows just how committed you are to ensuring that your employees and those coming in are safe. I noticed how professional and happy everyone seemed when I entered your premises. You are dedicated to employee wellness, making you one of the best places I can ever work in.

21. Do You Think You Would Be a Good Fit for This Company?

Yes. Everything in this company is just as I thought it would be. First, you have a dedicated team of employees, owing to how I saw people going about their work the moment I stepped into the organization. Secondly, you have put great value on your workplace culture going by your notice board. Therefore, I believe I will be a good fit in this organization, given my dwelling on workplace culture and love for a dedicated team.

22. How Will You Make Employees Feel they are in Control but Still Working Hard to Meet their Goals and Targets?

It’s important that employees feel autonomous. However, they should not forget about hard work and achieving their goals; knowing when to intervene and back off is the best way to achieve this. I normally lead by example but let the employees take center stage after some time. I don’t believe in unnecessary interruptions or inventions that may make them feel belittled. I also normally choose to inspire and rally employees towards a common goal instead of bossing them around, which has proven to be highly effective over and over again.

23. In Your Opinion, What is the Best Way to Motivate a Team?

The best way to motivate any team is to give them all the resources and assistance they need to perform their roles. I normally ensure that employees have the right tools and get all the help they need when going about their duties. I also discovered that employees are always willing to give their best when they are made to feel more autonomous instead of being bossed around. Lastly, motivation can also come from leading by example, which I constantly do.

24. Can You Sacrifice Cost for Efficiency?

Yes. I normally do everything possible to ensure that all the company’s operations are efficient since efficiency means better handling workload and a more motivated and satisfied workforce. In liaison with the CEO, I ensured that some of the companies I have worked in did an overhaul on their systems when I noticed that they were slow and inefficient. However, I am also clever enough not to leave the company bankrupt in search of efficiency.

25. What’s Your Preferred Management Style?

Even though I am a CEO, I am still a manager. I prefer having teams and properly delegating duties based on skillset and experience. I always know when to intervene and back off to give employees the autonomy they deserve. I also prefer leading by example instead of barking orders and instilling fear. I am glad that I have never doubted my management and general leadership style in the years I have been in high-level management.


These are some questions you will likely be asked in your upcoming COO Interview. You need to come off as a strong leader given the magnitude of this position and assure the interviewer that you will positively impact the company given a chance. Remember to look at your job description and know what to expect. We wish you luck in your upcoming interview.