Manufacturing jobs provide millions with job security and decent wages, but not every employee is a quality hire. Before your interview, you want to pre-screen candidates for skill sets, experience, and competency.
You’ll also want a detailed list of manufacturing interview questions to ask applicants. These questions will help production managers and human resource departments explore a candidate’s work ethic, communication skills, previous job experience, and problem-solving abilities.
Below, we explore must-ask manufacturing interview questions to help you discover your next new employee.
13 Must-Ask Manufacturing Interview Questions
Heavy equipment and piles of raw materials are constant reminders of the daily challenges of manufacturing employees. New employees don’t have to add to that stress. With these must-ask manufacturing interview questions, you’ll find candidates you can trust on the production line.
1. What are some of your own personal and professional goals?
This question is another way of asking, “where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s an excellent way of gauging a candidate’s professional drive and career ambition. A candidate who can speak to the goals they are trying to achieve shows hiring managers that they actively engage with their career.
An applicant who mentions they’re looking for career advancement is another good indicator of a quality candidate. Career advancement signifies that a candidate is looking for long-term growth in exchange for loyalty.
2. Why are you interested in this role?
Asking why a candidate is interested in a manufacturing role is a great ice breaker and one of the easiest ways to get to know someone. This question will help understand what the job seeker is looking for in an employer and is one of the most common interview questions that any worthwhile candidate should be able to answer.
Why a candidate is interested in a manufacturing plant position will help hiring managers get a sense of culture fit. How the candidate answers goes beyond skill set and taps into work ethic and personality traits.
3. What is your background in manufacturing?
Questioning a candidate’s background in manufacturing is critical in hiring the best talent. This question helps hiring managers explore a candidate’s experience, education, and certifications.
Manufacturing plants generally hire general laborers with little to no experience, but it is helpful to know if the candidate does have manufacturing experience or has worked in other labor-intensive roles. You don’t need specific job descriptions of previous jobs, but understanding quality control, teamwork, and the general production process are a plus.
The important thing is understanding if they’re cut out for the hard work included in a manufacturing job.
4. What kind of responsibilities did you have in previous jobs?
While no previous experience in manufacturing is usually required for factory jobs, probing the level of responsibility a candidate previously had can provide insight into potential leadership qualities, production process knowledge, and quality management skills.
The level of responsibility a candidate had also illuminates the level of engagement in their career. Did they seek out opportunities? Follow-up with behavior-based questions to gauge further how the candidate handles the pressure of responsibility.
5. What major challenges did you face in your last role, and how did you manage them?
Manufacturing plants are challenging work environments. These questions help human resources departments gain a sense of how a candidate handles difficulties and stressful situations. Plus, these manufacturing interview questions allow you to see if the candidate is comfortable asking for help.
These types of manufacturing interview questions help hiring managers see if the candidate takes control of their circumstances or if they lack initiative. Aside from workplace stress, these interview questions can tell hiring managers if a candidate is a team player or if they are prone to conflict with co-workers.
6. What is the most difficult equipment you have had to fix or operate?
Asking a manufacturing candidate about the most challenging equipment they have worked with is another measure of their skill set and experience. It allows the candidate an opportunity to discuss their problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn.
Learning a new piece of equipment comes with a set of challenges unique to that machine, and overcoming those obstacles shows determination. This question also measures what level of mechanical ability the candidate has.
7. Can you work legally in the US?
Work authorization is a tricky question but a necessary one nonetheless. It ensures the candidate has the legal right to work in the United States. Asking this question alerts you to a potential need for sponsorship and helps avoid any nasty audits from the government.
It’s a great idea to explain why you’re asking the question. If your company cannot provide sponsorship, a potential candidate has a right to know if sponsorship is something they require.
8. What distance do you have to travel to get to the job? Are you willing to commute?
As of 2019, the average person commuted 27.6 minutes to work daily one way. While the pandemic changed that landscape somewhat, manufacturers still make that average commute. Any commute longer than a half hour causes workers to become less dependable.
The other side to this coin is the willingness to commute. If your manufacturing plant is the only employment around, skilled employees might be more willing to commute. Likewise, having competitive benefits, pay structure, and healthy company culture makes commutes more bearable.
9. What keeps you motivated as you work?
Motivation keeps people working when the days are long and arduous. A bad attitude will sink morale faster than demanding work environments. A motivated employee is an effective employee. Understanding what motivates a candidate can help determine if they will be a solid culture fit.
Production managers should ask this manufacturing interview question to gain insight into a candidate’s priorities. A candidate with concrete motivators will carry that motivation during tough times.
10. Which qualities make you the most suitable candidate for this role?
Another common interview question is what qualities a candidate has that make them ideal over other potential candidates. Skilled manufacturing employees will be able to speak to their abilities with clarity, identify bottlenecks in their processes, and constantly seek continuous improvement within themselves and co-workers. This interview question also allows the candidate to express their strengths and weaknesses.
11. Do you have the willingness to learn?
A willingness to learn is another interview question that may seem obvious on the surface, but a deeper dive will reveal if a candidate will be a good culture fit or a troublesome co-worker. A candidate may have experience with various equipment, but your production process and policies may differ. How will they resolve that—by learning and adapting to your process, or by continuing to do it the way they always have?
Candidates willing to learn are strong team players, excellent additions to workplace culture, and often exhibit a desire to work—an increasing rarity in the manufacturing industry.
12. Think of a time when you had to meet a tight deadline. What steps did you take to meet the deadline?
Deadlines, quotas, and performance metrics are all standard practices in the manufacturing industry. Gauging how a potential new employee handles deadline pressure will determine if they will be successful.
A skilled candidate will share detailed examples of how they deal with deadline stress. The very best candidates will have samples of when they didn’t meet expectations and what they did to change their performance.
13. Do you have the physical ability and availability to work?
You have a great company with amazing people, but it’s hard work. Don’t oversell the job, and be honest about the actual physical nature of what it means to work in manufacturing. Explain that you expect new employees to stand long periods on their feet, work with raw materials, and in environments that can be very hot or cold.
Being clear about performing well in these conditions helps candidates determine if the role is a good fit.
Get More Qualified Manufacturing Job Applicants with Team Engine
Finding the best candidates for your manufacturing plant is crucial. A new employee with experience, know-how, and a great attitude will bring a lot of value to the team—hopefully for many years to come.
Of course, it’s all easier said than done. With Team Engine’s manufacturing HR software, you can source excellent manufacturing talent, communicate with candidates via text message in-app, and streamline the onboarding process. Don’t take our word for it; sign up for a risk-free trial to see the improvement in your productivity!