The manufacturing sector is a land of opportunity. Filled with a wide assortment of roles—from quality assurance and packaging to machine operation and assembly—the industry empowers workers of every skill level to find the right fit. But before you can start your ideal manufacturing career, you need to prove you can thrive in the position.
So, how can you impress employers once you score your first interview? It starts with preparing standout responses to common interview questions that show off your relevant skills, experience, and technical knowledge. Here’s how you can do so.
Common Interview Questions for Manufacturing Jobs
Due to the diversity of jobs in manufacturing, few interviews look exactly the same. However, there are some questions you should anticipate, no matter your experience level. Put your best foot forward by practicing your responses to these common interview questions for manufacturing jobs.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Recruiters and hiring managers often ask this question at the start of the interview to get an overview of your skills and experience. Take some time to explain your current and past roles, and how your experiences in each will help you excel in the job you’re applying for. Be sure to highlight relevant technical skills—like your ability to operate specialized machinery—as well as soft skills, like communication and time management, as you tell your story.
At the end of your answer, clearly state why you’re interested in and a good fit for the position.
2. What experience do you have in manufacturing?
Interviewers may ask you to dive deeper into your manufacturing-specific experience as you get further into your conversation. Tailoring your answer to the job description is key here. List out manufacturing projects you’ve been involved in, prioritizing the ones that directly align with the requirements of the role.
Be as specific as possible about the processes and tools you used and explain what isn’t obvious from your resume and job title. For example, if you were a warehouse associate, you could mention your forklift driving experience or describe your responsibilities as a lead machine operator on your shift.
If you don’t have manufacturing experience, give clear explanations of why you’re confident you can perform the responsibilities of the role. For instance, if you’re applying to be an assembler, you could mention your professional experience or training involving hand tools or crafting.
3. Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
Interviewers want to reduce turnover by ensuring their candidates see a long-term future with the company. While it’s important to be honest about your career goals, you’ll want to find ways to connect your goals back to the position you’re applying for to ensure your aspirations sound realistic to the company. For example, if you’re applying for an entry-level manufacturing role, you could mention your interest in growing into a management position and gaining new machine operation certifications. In a more senior role, you could discuss your desire to shape long-term business strategy and contribute to team development.
4. What is the biggest challenge in manufacturing products?
Questions like this often serve to uncover your familiarity with manufacturing processes and assess your abilities. You can choose any major challenge in manufacturing—from developing better production processes to eliminating wastage and minimizing costs—but it’s important to mention how you, in the position, would overcome that challenge. This shows interviewers how you’ll contribute to the greater good of the manufacturing process.
5. Give an example of a time when you gave a solution to an unforeseen problem.
When answering this question, you’ll want to show off your problem-solving skills. Once you think of a time when you faced an unexpected issue—ideally, manufacturing-related—describe the process you took to identify a solution. For example, you can mention any collaboration, customer support, and independent research you completed to find the best route.
Manufacturing Industry Terms You Need to Know
Even if you only anticipate entry-level manufacturing interview questions, understanding jargon can pay off. If your hiring manager uses industry-specific terms, you can prove your expertise by answering without requesting clarification. Or, you can impress your interviewer by bringing up jargon (and using it correctly) on your own. Here are some common manufacturing industry terms and their definitions.
Bill of Materials (BOM)
A BOM is an inventory of all the items used to manufacture a product, along with instructions for assembly.
Document Change Request (DCR)
A DCR is the documentation used to initiate a change to an existing document, like an instruction manual or standard operating procedure.
Just in Time (JIT) Manufacturing
JIT manufacturing is an inventory management method that involves minimizing the amount of raw materials and products kept on hand. Stock is only ordered or created as needed based on consumer demand.
Kanban is a system used by JIT and lean manufacturers to identify how much to produce and when to refill. The Kanban board—which is split into several columns that represent different stages of the production process—is filled with Kanban cards, which represent a product or part, that move forward as they enter a new stage.
Lean manufacturing involves reducing waste in the production process while boosting productivity across an entire manufacturing operation. Lean manufacturers look for ways to ensure every process adds value for customers.
Manufacturing Execution System (MES)
This type of software helps manufacturers track the production cycle, including specific machines in the factory, and increase efficiency.
Quality Management System (QMS)
A QMS is a documentation of all the manufacturing policies and procedures that help maintain the quality of products and meet customer needs.
This is a data-driven methodology that helps manufacturers increase efficiency by eliminating defects in any process.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
An SOP is a set of clear instructions that tells workers how to complete a process.
Excel in Your Next Interview
Now that you have many of the answers at your fingertips, you can feel confident ahead of your next manufacturing interview and ready for your next chapter. Take the time to practice your responses, and you can impress your interviewer to land your dream job.