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’s no denying that accidents will happen in the workplace. One of the greatest challenges facing plant managers is reducing them so that fewer injuries occur, less money is spent on covering damages caused by accidents, and less downtime is experienced due to accidents.

What to listen for

  • Discussion of specific strategies like proper training on the safe operation of your equipment.
  • Experienced candidates may mention implementation of incentives to employees for going "accident free," such as a bonus system.

Why this matters

From keying errors to compliance issues, employee errors can come at a high cost to an organization. The best plant managers implement effective performance support measures to add a safety net around possible pitfalls. Building on these systems, companies can easily add custom validations and further quality assurance to problematic processes.

What to listen for

  • Tactics to prevent quality issues including the use of the latest technology.
  • Evidence the candidate sees the value of boosting company morale and investing in your people to improve performance.

Why this matters

Another one of the challenges facing plant managers today is keeping important information safe from cyber theft or hacking. Every industry relies on computers to some extent and smart plant managers ensure security measures are in place to protect your sensitive, and often confidential data.

What to listen for

  • Installing firewalls, using complex passwords, having reliable antivirus software, or using encryption.
  • Note emphasis on importance of training staff on safe computing practices.

Why this matters

A challenge for many plant managers is to get their staff to buy into the plant objectives and work together as a team. Often, plant floor workers will decide to do things their own way, focusing on their own needs and objectives. Candidates should know and demonstrate the value of open communication and accountability.

What to listen for

  • Past experience making decisions as a management team, and being consistent with carrying out those decisions.
  • Suggestions like team building workshops or regular training to bring the workforce together.

Why this matters

Having the right safety equipment will not only keep your employees safe and healthy, but it can also increase your productivity. Using equipment that isn't ergonomically designed will increase the chances of worker injuries and downtime due to having to train replacement staff.

What to listen for

  • Strong candidates will discuss preventative equipment such as lift tables, forklift spotter lights, bollard and guard rails.
  • Note references tracking data and decreasing the number and severity of any accidents.

Why this matters

Often plant managers become “firefighters,” constantly solving the same problems over and over again. Strong leaders will take the time to take a closer look—and dig deeper to identify the root cause of the problem. Then, they’ll try to put in place a system, procedure, or practice that will eliminate that triggering problem so it doesn't come up again.

What to listen for

  • Candidates who naturally grasp the importance of constant checks, process analysis, and streamlining.
  • Specific examples of post-fix assessments used in the past to prevent recurrences and ensure teams perform at an optimal level.

Why this matters

This question is designed to gauge collaboration skills. Plant managers need to be team players—and since team members won’t always agree, tough decisions will routinely have to be navigated and resolved. Top candidates for the job know how to put the needs of the overall business first, while still making everyone feel heard.

What to listen for

  • Specific strategies—such as leading discussion toward compromise or making executive decisions—exhibit strong leadership.
  • Look for signs that they weighed several variables before taking action.

Why this matters

Investigating customer satisfaction and reporting issues often falls on the shoulders of operations. Plant managers need to be detail-oriented multitaskers in order to provide customer-facing employees with the relevant information they need, at the right time, in order to provide exemplary service to the customer.

What to listen for

  • Top answers will indicate that the candidate is always seeking new ways to retain customers.
  • Listen for references to experiences that taught them new tactics.
  • Great answers will elaborate on customer satisfaction improves their work.

Why this matters

This is not the job for people-pleasers: it takes a strong person to successfully manage and prioritize work items and requests. Managing the day-to-day operations on the plant floor requires leadership and strategic planning to ultimately increase production and revenue.

What to listen for

  • Candidates should stress that while diplomacy is the goal, moving projects forward often means making stakeholders unhappy.
  • Great answers will focus on the importance of keeping schedules and compromising.