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To succeed in competitive industries like manufacturing and logistics, you must have the right skills, knowledge and experience in your workforce. But research has suggested that acquiring talent is a major challenge for businesses in these sectors, with the global manufacturing industry facing a potential shortage of 7.9 million skilled workers by 2030.
If this is a concern for you, it's important to be proactive and think about the measures you can put in place to identify, attract and hire the right people.
One of the most important aspects of the recruitment process to focus on is the interview stage. This is the point where you start to build a clearer picture of individual applicants, their existing capabilities and their potential for growth within your organisation.
Interviews are your best opportunity to assess a jobseeker's compatibility with your business and the role in question, by focusing on three key dimensions:
- Job fit
- Boss fit
- Company fit
Let's take a closer look at each of these dimensions, as well as how you can emphasise safety when you're looking to fill manufacturing and logistics roles.
First and foremost, you need to have confidence that anyone you hire has the necessary qualities to do the job in question to the standard you expect. That means finding people who have the right skills, technical knowledge and experience to succeed in the role, but also have a genuine interest in the work and a willingness to continue learning and developing.
Having this enthusiasm for the job and a commitment to professional growth is particularly important. There could be many people out there who possess the raw competencies required to fill a role, but to really thrive and achieve the best results for themselves and their employer, workers need to be engaged and motivated.
When you reach the interview stage of the recruitment process, it's vital to plan ahead and devise targeted questions that will help you gauge individual applicants' suitability for the job.
A top priority for many businesses in the manufacturing and logistics sectors is finding staff who are able to use particular systems and equipment. It could therefore be important to ask jobseekers about the tools they have used in past roles, any relevant training they have received and qualifications or certifications they earned as a result.
You might also want to focus on individual applicants' performance and productivity in their previous jobs. That could involve asking questions about how their productivity was measured and methods they have used to maintain efficiency and hit deadlines.
Example questions to evaluate job fit:
- What did a typical workday look like in your last job?
- How was your productivity measured?
- What equipment were you responsible for maintaining or repairing?
- Why did you leave your last job?
As well as looking for assurances that potential hires are a good fit for specific roles, you can use the interview phase of the recruitment process to determine people's compatibility with their prospective manager.
How well a new employee gels with their boss and responds to their supervisor's management style will have a big impact on how smoothly they integrate into the business and whether or not they make a positive start to their job.
This is important for various reasons beyond the new recruit's personal happiness and productivity, such as:
- Setting a positive example to other employees who see managers welcoming and supporting new staff
- Mitigating disruption that can affect the rest of the workforce if a new employee has a difficult start to their role
- Controlling turnover by reducing the risk of people leaving shortly after joining due to bad relationships with managers
So what can you do to maximise the likelihood of a good boss-employee fit? Once again the questions you ask in interviews will prove crucial.
One subject you might want to focus on is motivation. You could ask the interviewee about past managers who have been particularly successful in motivating them and the methods that person used that proved so effective.
You can also gain some interesting insights by taking the opposite approach and asking about a time the applicant felt demotivated. By asking them to give a specific example of this and then talk about how they handled the situation, you can learn more about them as an individual, and also about the management styles that work best for them.
Example questions to evaluate boss fit:
- Can you describe the best supervisor you've ever had and tell me what you appreciated most about them?
- What methods have your past supervisors used that you have found inspiring or motivational?
- Can you tell me about a supervisor you didn't enjoy working with?
- What, specifically, did you find difficult about their approach and how did you handle the situation?
Broadening your scope even further than job fit and boss fit, it's important to consider how any potential recruit would fit into your organization as a whole.
Corporate culture is an important aspect of your business and the sort of experience you're able to offer employees. It can impact various elements of the company and your employees' performance that are crucial to long-term success, such as:
- Employee engagement
- Staff retention
- Productivity and efficiency
- Customer relationships
- Your employer brand
So it's crucial to ask what steps you can take to assess whether an interviewee is a good fit for your company, the work environment and your current employees.
You could start by asking the applicant what they already know about your business and what they think it would be like to work for you. If they give a strong answer that reflects your own ideas and understanding of the company, you could take that as a sign that they're a good fit. Furthermore, it will show they have taken the time to research the organisation and prepare for the interview.
It's also important to delve deeper into the candidate's work history. You can learn more about their experience and expectations by asking about the types of companies they have worked for in the past, the experiences they have enjoyed the most and any difficulties they have had to overcome.
If the role you're hiring for involves a lot of teamwork and collaboration, you might want to ask about how the interviewee works with others. Some particularly interesting insights can be gained from asking them to give an example of a time they found it difficult to work with a colleague and how they handled the situation.
Example questions to evaluate company fit:
- What aspects of working for our company do you think you would enjoy the most?
- Which of your past employers have you enjoyed working for the most and why?
- How would you manage a situation where you're finding it difficult to work with a fellow team member?
- Do you prefer working with others or independently?
don't forget safety
The health and safety of the workforce should be every company's ultimate priority. This is particularly relevant in industries like manufacturing and logistics, where employees typically spend a lot of time using machinery, operating vehicles and doing physically intensive work. Without the proper checks, knowledge and supervision, your employees could face some serious health and safety risks.
Ensuring people can work safely has also become a bigger priority in all sectors as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic forced every employer to think more carefully about the measures and safeguards they put in place to help people get on with their jobs without putting their health at risk.
While much of the responsibility for keeping workers safe lies with the employer, it's reasonable for you to expect any new hire to have a level of awareness and understanding of key health and safety issues. Finding the right approach to skills assessment and interviewing will help you gauge applicants' understanding of this subject, as well as their willingness to learn and take safety seriously.
You could start by asking interviewees about the safety programs and protocols they followed in their last job. If they're able to give a detailed and well-informed answer, you can feel fairly confident they were committed to safe working practices in their previous role and already have a good foundation of knowledge that you can build on. A vague or unenthusiastic answer, on the other hand, could be an indication that this applicant hasn't paid much attention to health and safety. You should also be on the lookout for signs that candidates view safe working practices as more of a hindrance or an irritation than a priority.
When you want to get more specific about staying safe in the workplace, you could ask questions about how an applicant would lift heavy objects without risking injury, or the proper procedure for turning off and exiting a forklift truck.
Example questions to evaluate health and safety knowledge:
- What practical steps did you take in your last job to work safely?
- How would you respond if you witnessed an accident or injury in the workplace?
- What machine operation training have you received in previous jobs?
- What would you do if you witnessed unsafe practices in the workplace?
These are just a few examples of methods and questions that could help you find jobseekers who are the right fit for your business.
If you would like to learn more, we've produced an in-depth guide to interviewing manufacturing and logistics candidates. Download the guide to see many more questions you can ask to evaluate applicants' skills, personality traits and compatibility with your company, so you can be sure you're hiring the right talent.