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Why this matters:

Warehouse software proficiency and experience operating forklifts are among the most sought-after hard skills for material handlers. The use of scanners, pallet jacks, conveyors, cherry pickers, lift tables, and shrink wrap machines may be necessary for some positions. This question assesses a candidate’s comfort with technology and future training needs.

What to listen for:

  • Training and experience using relevant warehouse equipment and machinery
  • Familiarity with software programs used in shipping, receiving, and inventory control
  • Expressed willingness to learn and abide by safety regulations

Why this matters:

Material handlers undergo occupational safety and hazards training to ensure the welfare of themselves and their coworkers. Daily work requirements may involve manual labor to clean the facility, as well as the use of technology to ensure organization of inventory. This question gives candidates an opportunity to discuss previous training, experience, specializations, industry knowledge, and their commitment to safety.

What to listen for:

  • Experience adhering to workplace safety protocols and wearing protective equipment
  • Knowledge of the importance of Material Safety Data Sheets in hazardous material handling
  • Willingness to learn what is expected and perform duties related to cleaning and organizing

Why this matters:

Material handling is a very physical job that involves standing, walking, lifting, and carrying heavy loads. Applicants must possess the physical strength and stamina to perform rigorous duties. This question gauges a candidate’s knowledge of role requirements. Ideal candidates will demonstrate a proactive approach to health and safety.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of the amount of weight the candidate is able to lift without assistance
  • Experience working at a physically demanding job or leading a physically active lifestyle
  • Willingness to use the proper equipment and techniques to avoid injury

 

Why this matters:

Material handlers are involved in the recording and monitoring of inventory to ensure production has the materials they need to ship finished goods out on schedule. Candidates should demonstrate excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, time management abilities, and the desire to improve efficiency.

What to listen for:

  • A description of techniques or strategies to stay organized and manage time wisely
  • Observational skills indicating recognition of a problem that could be improved upon
  • Specific examples of improvements suggested and implemented, with tangible results

Why this matters:

Warehouses are busy with many moving parts that require material handlers to listen, follow directions, and work fairly autonomously. Busy managers or supervisors may not always explain tasks clearly enough for employees to understand precisely what they should be doing at all times. A proactive employee understands the proper chain of command and knows when to ask for clarification.

What to listen for:

  • Listening skills and experience taking direction from supervisors and managers
  • Willingness to recognize when more information is required, and the confidence to speak up
  • Ability to self-correct, problem-solve, communicate, and work independently as needed

Why this matters:

Warehouses are dynamic work environments that require flexibility and team orientation. Material handlers often experience fluctuations in workload. Shipments can be delayed or increased at a moment’s notice, resulting in scheduling changes affecting overtime. Employee turnover can prompt changes to teams or shifts, requiring workers to lend support when and where it is needed most.

What to listen for:

  • Experience working in a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment
  • Flexibility in taking on extra responsibilities, working long hours, or changing shifts
  • Openness to change, a collaborative mentality, and expressed interest in the company’s success

Why this matters:

Every warehouse will run into challenges, whether it’s a crowded loading dock, clutter that interferes with storage capacity, or trying to meet a quota when you’ve run out of product. How candidates approach challenges reveals information about their attitudes and resilience. Material handlers with realistic expectations, a pleasant attitude, and strategies to overcome obstacles give stand-out interviews.

What to listen for:

  • Communication soft skills in describing common industry challenges
  • Problem-solving soft skills in exploring strategies to overcome these challenges
  • A positive growth mindset that demonstrates resilience and a willingness to adapt

Why this matters:

Materials moving requires a number of repetitive tasks performed daily to keep the warehouse inventory moving. Handlers may be motivated by money, praise, promotions, perks, or a desire to help others. A candidate’s response can help management understand how best to keep their teams motivated and productive, especially during work ramp-ups.

What to listen for:

  • Soft skills in clear verbal communication, indicating past work experiences involving motivation
  • Results-oriented work ethic and ability to describe strategies for remaining productive
  • Description of personality traits like patience, cooperativeness, and dependability

Why this matters:

As a high-turnover industry, it’s important to seek candidates who are not only willing to work, but who find some facet of the warehouse environment compatible with their personalities, whether it’s the fast-paced, productive days or goal achievement through teamwork. This question invites candidates to demonstrate enthusiasm, while sharing traits that make them suited to the role.

What to listen for:

  • Leadership soft skills such as analytical thinking and decision-making
  • A strong work ethic demonstrated by attentiveness, dedication, and motivation
  • Resourcefulness and effort taken to research and learn about the company
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