The rise of digital manufacturing has greatly transformed hiring processes across APAC, which serves as a bustling global hub of economic and trade activities.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, Malaysia’s manufacturing industry ranked second out of five key economic sectors in creating new jobs as of May 2022. However, the rate of vacancies for this sector was also the highest, compared to the other key economic sectors, such as construction and services. Despite an increase in job opportunities, there is still a critical industry talent shortage.

As key employers in this region, your organisation is an agent of change in working with digital and automated technology. To prepare a capable workforce for frequent technological disruptions, you will need an effective recruitment process to identify, attract and hire the most qualified candidates.

How you evaluate individual applicants’ capabilities and potential for growth within your organisation is tantamount to your adaptability. Skills assessment tools will help you conduct these evaluations with ease by optimising your interview process.

This article focuses on two focus points when interviewing manufacturing and logistics talent:

  • how should a talent manager prepare for an interview?
  • how do you interview experienced candidates?
factors in finding the right talent
factors in finding the right talent

Job interviews typically assess three key dimensions:

  • Job fit
  • Boss fit
  • Company fit

1. job fit

To begin, it’s essential to understand the qualities of an ideal candidate.

The term “job fit” refers to the degree in which a candidate's skills and abilities match the requirements of a specific role. You can assess an individual’s job fit by comparing the role’s requirements with their experience, credentials and personality.

You should source candidates who have the right skills, technical knowledge and experience to succeed in the role. Keep an eye out for people who have a genuine interest in the industry, and the willingness to develop their skills.

Having enthusiasm for the job and a commitment to professional growth is particularly important. Many people may possess the core competencies required to fill a role, but in order to truly thrive, workers must be engaged and motivated.

A top priority for many businesses in the manufacturing and logistics sectors is hiring employees who are digitally-savvy, familiar with operating supply-chain management systems, and able to analyse and engineer QA/QC processes. 

Therefore, it’s important to ask job applicants about their previous work experiences with operating machinery and technology, any relevant training they have received, and their approach to specific problems at work.

In terms of their past accomplishments, focus on applicants' performance and productivity in their previous jobs. For example, prompt the candidate to explain how productivity was measured at their previous company, and what they did to maintain productivity and meet deadlines. This will allow you to assess how well they respond and communicate in a given situation.

here are common interview questions to evaluate job fit talent for manufacturing and logistics:

  • What manufacturing software are you experienced with using?
  • Have you ever implemented a process change that improved product quality? Tell us more.
  • What is the most complex manufacturing process you’ve ever worked on? What were your responsibilities, and how did you deal with any problems that arose?
  • What would you do if a crucial piece of safety equipment was missing or damaged on the line, and production had to start as soon as possible?

2. boss fit

Assessing a candidate’s boss fit will provide you with a direct impression of their compatibility with their prospective manager.

Boss-employee compatibility is important for various reasons beyond the new recruit's personal happiness and productivity, such as being able to:

  • Set a positive example to other employees who see managers welcoming and supporting new staff
  • Mitigate disruption that can affect the rest of the workforce if a new employee has a difficult start to their role
  • Control turnover by reducing the risk of people leaving shortly after joining due to poor working relationships with managers

How would you maximise the likelihood of a good boss-employee fit? 

This is rooted in the employee’s morale. Ask about the candidate’s professional relationships with previous managers to get a sense of the leadership styles that are essential in keeping them motivated. You can also gain some interesting insights by taking the opposite approach - under which management style did this candidate feel unmotivated?

In manufacturing and logistics roles, it is key for employees to trust their management’s leadership and collaborate with team members on supply chain optimisation solutions. As such, a new employee’s response to their supervisor’s management style plays a crucial role in how well they integrate into the business.

here are some examples of interview questions for a boss fit interview:

  • Can you describe the kind of supervisor you work best with? 
  • Give us a specific example of how you would prefer to solve problems in collaboration with your boss.
  • What kind of leadership style or management system would demotivate you?
  • Describe any particular difficulties you encountered while working on a team with an incompetent boss. How did you handle the situation?

3. company fit

Along with job fit and boss fit, it's important to consider how any potential recruit fits into your company culture and organisation.

how to access applicants to determine company fit
how to access applicants to determine company fit

Talent in manufacturing and logistics may prefer to work with a company that invests in valuable new technologies so they have more opportunities for upskilling. Others may seek a company that promotes a good work-life balance so that they can have more time to spend with family and friends.

Employer branding impacts various elements of the company and your employees' performance that are crucial to long-term success, such as:

  • Employee engagement
  • Employee retention
  • Productivity and efficiency
  • Customer relationships
  • Your employer brand

To invite a discussion on your company, start by asking the applicant what they know about your business and what they think it would be like to work in this particular position. If they respond with an answer that reflects your own ideas and understanding of the organisation, this indicates that they are a fitting candidate who may integrate well into the company culture.

Needless to say, soft skills are necessary in a collaborative work environment. Evaluate the candidate’s willingness and ability to work in a team, by asking situational and behavioural questions related to handling work conflict, or matters that may affect not only them, but the team’s morale and work quality.

here are some interview question samples to evaluate a candidate’s company fit:

  • What aspects of working for our company do you think you would enjoy the most?
  • What personal characteristics do you have that can benefit your team members?
  • How would you manage a situation in which you are having difficulty working with a teammate?
  • A product consistently has quality problems that are costly and occasionally reach the customer. How do you fix the situation?

employees’ awareness of workplace safety 

Every company's top priority should be the health and safety of its employees. This is particularly relevant in industries like manufacturing and logistics, where employees typically spend a lot of time operating machinery, driving vehicles and doing physically demanding 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 due to COVID-19. The pandemic has made employers reconsider the measures and safeguards they put in place to help people continue working without jeopardising their health.

While employers are responsible for keeping their workers safe, it's reasonable for you to expect any new hire to be aware of and understand 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 can start by asking interviewees about the safety programmes and protocols they followed in their last job. If they're able to give a detailed and well-informed response, 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.

On the other hand, a vague or unenthusiastic response can 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 than a priority.

If you need more specific details about workplace safety, you can ask about their previous training on how to operate an equipment or what they would do if there was a machinery failure.

example of interview questions to evaluate health and safety knowledge:

  • What practical precautions 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 can help you find job seekers who are the right fit for your business. You should always adjust the questions based on your company’s operations and job requirements.

download the guide on how to interview manufacturing and logistics talent.

work with randstad

Randstad has consistently enhanced its capabilities in manufacturing and logistics recruitment. If you are a company looking to hire highly skilled and experienced candidates, reach out to us to build your recruitment strategy. Our specialised recruiters will assist you in improving your recruitment process and tailor interview questions to your company’s specific needs.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a career in logistics and manufacturing, visit our job listings and apply today.

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