Graphic that shows three different types of interview questions you should be asking.

Use these questions to identify a candidate’s technical knowledge and abilities

Use these questions to determine how a candidate handled situations in the past

Use these questions to assess a candidate’s personal traits and cognitive skills

Why this matters

There are many types of forklifts, and the best candidates will be able to talk fluently about how they work and where they’re used. Ideally they’ll target their answers to your company—proving they’ve researched your operations and understand which machines they’re likely to work on. This question therefore gets to the heart of a candidate’s experience, and if they’re likely to adapt well to working with you.

What to listen for

  • Listen for descriptions of particular types of forklift, such as industrial counterbalance trucks and industrial sideloaders.
  • Look for signs that the candidate is honest about any gaps in their knowledge, and that they’re eager to learn.

Why this matters

Employers should always hire workers who can prove that they’ll keep themselves and their colleagues safe. Forklift operators who come to an interview with certifications or special safety training are already invested in their future, especially if they can explain specific safety procedures. These pursuits also indicate that they’ll be consistently motivated and safety-conscious team members.

What to listen for

  • Specific explanations of how to operate a forklift safely. That might include securing loads before setting off, or keeping a lookout for colleagues before reversing.
  • Reference to relevant training qualifications, especially from the OSHA.

Why this matters

All applicants should be familiar with RF scanners. When collecting and delivering orders, accuracy is vital—so candidates should prove they’re comfortable with RF scanners, and how they link up to a wider Warehouse Management System (WMS). This question is designed to demonstrate workers’ comfort across the industry, and their commitment to helping broader operations thrive.

What to listen for

  • Candidates should go beyond the basics of using an RF scanner and explain how inventory management is important generally.
  • Answers should demonstrate an organized mindset, able to check that shipments are in order even when busy with other tasks. 

Why this matters

This question forces candidates to demonstrate their initiative and flexibility. Though there is no correct answer, thoughtful workers might ask their manager for an extension on the first task, or try and delegate the second to a trusted colleague. The point is that the best workers will do something to get both projects finished, and have the presence of mind to act decisively under pressure.

What to listen for

  • An understanding that neither option is definitely correct, and that this is more an opportunity to show how a candidate would act under stress.
  • Experienced candidates will be able to refer back to real situations in their own career.

Why this matters

Forklift operations can be hard—and mistakes can be expensive. Stack a forklift unevenly, for example, and an operator risks dropping their load and damaging product. Honesty is therefore crucial here, as are the practical steps candidates took to sharpen their conduct. This question helps you understand an employee’s willingness to face up to their mistakes, and if they’re likely to be a conscientious worker.

What to listen for

  • An explanation of how a mistake helped the candidate grow as an employee demonstrates their resilience.
  • Listen out for examples of regulations. All warehouses have strict safety rules, and candidates should also be aware of how they might diverge in different industries.

 

Why this matters

Because forklift operators are on the factory floor all day, they often have a better understanding of a workplace than their superiors. A willingness to speak up if they notice hazards can therefore have a huge impact on the success of their employers as a whole. This question tests candidates on their willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ and not just work for themselves.

What to listen for

  • The best answers outline the situation, what their role was in it, what action they took, and the result of their actions.
  • The ability to sharpen practices might show that candidates can lead a team or take on more responsibilities.

Why this matters

Outsiders might not imagine that forklift operators need good conversation skills—but in truth the opposite is true. From loading pallets to checking shipments, this is far from solitary work, and good candidates will be able to explain how, where, and when they plan on driving their forklift. Apart from improving company logistics, this is fundamentally a safety issue, as any confusion can quickly cause accidents.

What to listen for

  • A desire to work collaboratively and solve problems together, even if that means taking the initiative.
  • An understanding of technical language around forklift operations, as well as an ability to simplify it for colleagues.

Why this matters

Punctuality is important in all work, of course, but especially so for forklift operators. Arrive late and candidates risk damaging the entire supply chain—and ultimately your reputation. Interviewers should therefore ensure that potential workers are driven and serious enough to get to work promptly, and won’t let the team down when it matters.

What to listen for

  • Good organizational skills, and an appreciation of how candidates are just one part of a longer supply chain.
  • A willingness to work late if necessary. Bonus points if they can give examples of when that’s mattered.

Why this matters

Though this is a general question, it actually gives candidates a great chance to show that they’ve researched your company. If they don’t mention specifics about the projects they’re excited to work on, they may not be interested in building their skills at your firm. After all, you should be looking for the right fit for the long term.

What to listen for

  • Look for proof they’ve analyzed the job requirements and can give detailed examples of why working with you would fit them well.
  • Specific examples of how their own achievements can support your business.