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How to hire an operations manager


The way a business operates has a huge impact on its financial success and longevity. As a result, operations managers have one of the most important jobs on the roster. It's essential you know how to hire a good manager

Operations management requires a unique combination of hard and soft skills. Understanding what these are and which are most important for your company will help you to make the right hire. You’ll also need to know where to find the best candidates, how to attract them, what kind of compensation to offer, and how to assess applicants. 

Mishires at this level can be costly and disruptive.  Fortunately, this guide will provide you with the most important information you need to hire an operations manager, including skills and qualifications, where to find them, and how to select the best candidate.

We’ll also highlight common mistakes to avoid so you can secure the right candidate for operational success.

Keep reading to learn how to hire a top-notch operations manager.

What you need to know before hiring an operations manager

Your operations manager ensures that the day-to-day functions of your organization run smoothly. They manage and enhance work processes, increase productivity and profits, and help teams work together.

Here are some things to bear in mind:

When to hire an operations manager

An operations manager helps a growing business run smoothly. Think about hiring one if:

  • Your business is growing, and workflows are becoming more complicated.

  • Your current workflows and processes are slowing down growth.

  • You have big projects coming up that need expert leadership in operations.

  • Customers are experiencing inconsistent service levels, product quality, or other operational-related issues.

  • Employees are coming to you with concerns about operational issues or there's a lack of clear operational procedures and guidelines.

  • Your costs are steadily rising without a corresponding increase in revenue or value.

  • You’re struggling to become more data-driven and need somebody to devise, measure, and interpret metrics such as KPIs.

How to build a compensation package

You can use sites like Payscale to check the average salary for the role in your area and field. For example, according to Glassdoor, an Operations Manager makes $62,000 to $102,000 annually in the United States. Where a manager falls in this pay range typically relates to:

  • Your industry, company size and revenue; and

  • Their skillset and the scope of their responsibilities.

You can also consult with professional organizations or HR networks dedicated to operations and management roles, such as:

For more information on how to build an attractive and fair comprehension package, check out our guide on Compensation and Benefits and Competitive Compensation. Be sure to consider salary, bonuses, benefits, and other perks likely to appeal to your pool of candidates. 

Speak to stakeholders and team members

Whether hiring an operations manager for the first time or replacing an existing one, involving the current team in the hiring process can offer invaluable insights. Team members can provide feedback on how a candidate might fit into the company culture, complement existing skill sets, and address operational gaps. Their involvement can also foster a sense of collective ownership over the hiring decision.

Industry-specific knowledge

Different industries have unique operational challenges and requirements. In addition to the basic operational skills in the section below, consider any additional skills they may need to navigate your industry.

Key skills to look for in an operations manager graphic

Here are some key industries and the skillsets you may want to look for: 

  • Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals: Health services management; regulatory compliance; patient safety protocols; medical supply chain management; healthcare quality assurance; bioethics and confidentiality.

  • Manufacturing & Production: Machine operation knowledge; preventive maintenance scheduling; lean manufacturing techniques; product lifecycle management; raw material sourcing.

  • Software & Technology: Software development lifecycle; agile/scrum methodologies; tech stack familiarity; cloud infrastructure management; cybersecurity protocols; SaaS management.

  • Hospitality & Tourism: Guest experience optimization; food and beverage operations; hotel reservation systems; event and banquet coordination; safety and hygiene standards; local tourism partnerships.

  • Finance & Banking: Financial regulatory compliance; risk management protocols; securities trading systems; anti-money laundering procedures; digital banking operations.

  • Retail & E-commerce: Inventory turnover optimization; e-commerce platform expertise; customer relationship management; omni-channel operations; loss prevention strategies; vendor relationship management.

  • Logistics & Transportation: Fleet management; route optimization; customs and duty regulations; warehousing best practices; transportation safety standards; freight brokerage.

Skills and qualifications to look for in an operations manager

The core management skills and qualifications of an ideal operations manager candidates include:

  • Process management and improvement: Understanding of operational workflows and familiarity with various operational methodologies, such as Waterfall, Agile, Lean, and Six Sigma.

  • Supply chain and logistics management: Logistics planning, inventory management, and process optimization to maintain operational efficiency.

  • Quality control and assurance: Knowledge of quality control methods and standards, such as ISO 9000. This ensures they can maintain and enhance the quality of your products or services.

  • Production management: Ability to plan, schedule, and manage production-related efforts efficiently and cost-effectively.  

  • Resource management: Efficiently manage resources, including human, financial, and material resources, to meet organizational objectives.

  • Technology & Automation: Proficiency in using tools and technologies that support operations management, such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs), Material Requirements Planning systems (MRPs), and other operations-specific software. They should also be familiar with the basics of automation: how to automate workflows and the associated risks and benefits. 

  • Project management: Specialized skills in overseeing operational projects, ensuring alignment with timelines, scopes, and resources.

  • Compliance and regulatory knowledge: Includes understanding and ability to maintain compliance with industry-specific regulations, standards, and laws.

  • Equipment and Maintenance Management: In manufacturing positions, they must be familiar with the relevant equipment, understand maintenance requirements, and possibly even implement preventative maintenance programs.

  • Data Analysis and Metrics: Able to collect, analyze, and interpret operational data to inform decision-making and measure performance against key operational metrics.

Where to find skilled operations managers

You can locate skilled Operations Managers using a multi-faceted approach. By using multiple strategies, you increase your chances of finding top talent. Here’s where you can start your search:

  • Industry-specific forums and websites: Platforms dedicated to management and operations, like APICS or Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), are excellent places to find candidates with specialized knowledge.

  • Recruitment agencies: Agencies specializing in management and executive-level recruitment can connect you with experienced candidates. You can find these agencies by publishing a request for proposals (RFP) so agencies can bid for your business or research these agencies online. Alternatively, you can search online using keywords like “executive recruitment agency [your location]” or “management recruitment agency [your industry].”

  • Social media networking: Engage with potential candidates on platforms like LinkedIn, where professionals often showcase their expertise and accomplishments. You can use LinkedIn's paid solutions, such as LinkedIn Recruiter, post job openings directly on the platform, or use the 'Search' feature to find potential candidates.

Three creative ways to find operations manager candidates

  1. Industry events and conferences: Attend or sponsor events related to operations and management, such as the International Conference on Business Management and Operations (ICBMO). These venues are ideal for meeting potential candidates and observing their interaction within the professional community.

  2. Employee referral programs: Use programs that encourage your employees to recommend skilled professionals they know. This way, you can find candidates who are a good cultural fit for the company. For example, you can Introduce the "Refer a friend" initiative, where employees can easily recommend someone they believe would be an asset to the company.

  3. Develop in-house talent: Invest in training and development programs for existing employees that will help prepare them for the role of operations manager, such as  the Harvard Business Publishing's Leadership Direct. This is especially helpful in niches where suitable candidates are scarce.

3 creative ways to find operations manager candidates graphic

How to select the best operations manager candidates

Skills-based hiring is the most effective way to assess candidates and ensure a good fit. Use the following screening methods to help find your next operations manager. 

Start with a good job description

An attractive job description is essential to bringing in the right candidates for your operations manager role. Check out our full guide on how to write a business operations manager job description to get started.

Structured Interviews

Conduct interviews that explore candidates' ability to analyze and improve existing processes. Include questions that allow them to display proactive problem-solving, adaptability skills, and leadership styles using behavioral interview questions

Additionally, ask questions requiring them to showcase how much they know about essential operations management tools such as ERP and data analytics

To reduce recruitment costs and time, you can use video interview software. Use set questions for your organization and have candidates give short video answers.

You can send out mass interview invites, review your candidates’ responses more quickly than individual scheduled interviews, and reduce your recruitment timeline. This is also helpful when hiring for remote roles. Check out our selection of the best operations manager interview questions for specific suggestions and sample answers.

Compared to reading resumés and LinkedIn profiles, Pre-employment testing is a more effective way to identify skilled candidates.

We recommend the following tests for assessing operations managers:

  • Business Operations Management test to assess how well your candidates organize, plan, and control operations provides you with a more realistic idea of their skills.

  • Operations managers use data to determine the operational changes they need to make.  You can assess your candidate’s ability to analyze large amounts of data with the appropriate data analytics test.

  • You’ll also need a communication test to ensure they can explain the complex data insights they use to make these changes.  

Culture add assessment

A successful operations manager must understand and share your organization’s vision, work culture, and values.

Your operation manager is responsible for translating your company’s vision into actionable workflows. This means they need to understand and share your organization’s vision, work culture, and values, and be able to communicate them effectively. 

Otherwise, this can lead to friction between your employees and their manager, resulting in lost productivity and revenue.

Ensure your candidates will work well within your team with a culture add test.

With these additional personality tests, you can better understand candidates' personalities. 

Common mistakes when hiring an operations manager

Selecting the right Operations Manager requires careful consideration and planning. Here are common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Inadequately testing problem-solving skills: Failing to test your candidate’s ability to troubleshoot real-time operational challenges can cause significant losses. An Operations Manager who's stumped when a key piece of equipment malfunctions or a supplier defaults can lead to lower productivity and revenue loss.

  • Hands-on experience & technological proficiency: A theoretical knowledge of operations management isn’t sufficient. Your operations manager must be familiar and comfortable with the tools and platforms at their disposal, or they will struggle to maintain order and optimize workflows among an increasingly digital workforce.

  • Neglecting industry-specific knowledge: There’s a lot to be said for experience learned outside your industry. An ops manager coming from a healthcare background will have been exposed to different challenges and solutions, which can be a boon. But consider carefully how steep the learning curve will be if they lack industry-specific knowledge and what resources must be invested to bring them up to skill.

  • Under-valuing soft skills. Skills like conflict resolution, leadership, and communication are crucial for operations managers, who often work cross-departmentally.

  • Failing to offer attractive compensation: Failing to create competitive compensation packages that match industry standards or the candidate’s experience and skills can lead to losing out on top talent to competitors.

Use TestGorilla to hire your ideal operations manager

As your company scales and your operations become more complex, you’ll need to hire an operations manager with strong leadership, communication, and technical skills, who is also a good culture add for your organization and can lead your operations team to success.

To find top candidates, consider scouting industry events, using employee referrals, remote work platforms, and developing in-house talent for niche industries. Pair your talent pool with TestGorilla's library of 300+ pre-employment assessments and easily screen your candidates with structured video interviews, skills-based assessments, and personality tests to make an objective hiring decision.

Take our quick product tour or speak with one of our product tour guides, sign up for our free plan, and start screening top operations manager candidates today. 


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