Top Interview Questions for Manufacturing Jobs

Updated March 10, 2023

If you're seeking a job in the manufacturing industry, employers may ask you to explain your work experience through specific interview questions about production terms, equipment, and job standards.

Knowing which questions you may be asked and reviewing example answers can help you better craft effective responses in your own interview. In this article, we explore many of manufacturing interview questions employers and go over some example responses to these industry-specific questions.

Related: What Is Manufacturing?

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General questions

Beyond special training or capabilities, who you are in the workplace will also be assessed through more generalized questions. These questions allow an interviewer to get to know you as a professional, including your personality and goals:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • Why do you want to work in this area of manufacturing?

  • What makes you want to work hard?

  • What did you enjoy most in your last position?

  • How do you approach time management?

Related: The Different Types of Manufacturing Environments and Jobs

Questions about experience and background

Further questioning will likely lead the discussion toward what you've learned and done leading up to now. You may be asked to describe your skills and knowledge with questions like these:

  • What is your experience in manufacturing?

  • What are computer skills do you have?

  • What manufacturing software have you worked with?

  • Are you able to operate a forklift or other heavy machinery? Have you had training or earned certification?

  • What responsibilities have you had in previous manufacturing jobs?

  • Have you ever worked with a Kanban system?

  • What is a product report? Why is it important?

  • Describe the machines you've worked with in previous jobs.

In-depth questions

Going even further, at some point you may be expected to speak on topics that are much more specific to the job or the skills required to do it. These questions allow you to discuss how you've solved problems in the workplace at previous companies or how you would solve potential problems:

  • Describe a time when you stepped in to help without being asked while at work.

  • What are some factors that cause factory overhead?

  • Describe a time when you solved a problem on the job.

  • How did handle conflict in your last position?

  • If your workload suddenly increased, how would you react?

  • What material do you find most challenging to work with?

  • What is the most difficult equipment you've had to fix or operate?

Questions for potential leadership roles

When interviewing for a leadership role, you not only have to demonstrate prowess in your field, but also the personality and work style of someone who can step into the role of a leader. If you are interviewing for a supervisor or management role in manufacturing, consider how you would answer these questions as you prepare:

  • How would you supervise a manufacturing unit?

  • Have you ever handled a document change request?

  • How do you avoid injuries on the job?

  • How have you implemented a change that was unpopular with coworkers?

  • How would you reward successful employees?

  • How would you handle a situation where someone wasn't following standard operating procedures on the job?

  • Can you describe a mechanical fixture you helped design or create?

Related: Manufacturing Jobs: Definition and Examples

Sample manufacturing interview questions and answers

Seeing sample questions juxtaposed against potential answers will provide you useful insight for formulating your own responses. Here are some questions with example answers to help guide your interview for a manufacturing job:

1. What are some factors that can impact the process of manufacturing?

When potential employers ask this question, they want to learn about your understanding of the manufacturing process. Use this question as a chance to share your knowledge of the factors that affect the business, including the people on the job as well as the equipment and the supplies necessary to manufacture items.

Example: "People, equipment and supplies all impact the manufacturing process. First of all, you have to find people who are motivated and have the work ethic to perform their job well. They need to be on time, manage conflicts within the manufacturing process and follow all safety protocols. The equipment used in manufacturing is the most important part of completing the job.

Machines need to be checked and maintained regularly so production can continue smoothly. The supplies needed to manufacture need to be inventoried and managed so that production is efficient. Plus, they should be high-quality so that the products we make are also high-quality."

2. Can you explain the importance of a quality management system (QMS)?

A QMS is used to control the information about how the company creates a product, including safety checks and quality control. The interviewer may ask this question to determine how much you know about safety procedures and documentation. Answer this question by describing how a QMS would impact your work and addressing how it affects the business as a whole.

Example: "Since managing and maintaining the quality of a product is important to both the business and the customer, we use a QMS to make sure the manufacturing process is safe and consistent, providing the same product every time. A QMS can be used to report issues and help train new employees on company standards.

In fact, quality control was an important part of my previous job, and as part of the company's QMS, I was expected to take regular online tests to show that I understood company guidelines for products and safety. I usually scored 90% or above."

3. Can you explain the acronym "BOM?"

A BOM refers to the "bill of materials," which a manufacturer uses to list the items necessary for production. Employers may ask this question to make sure you know common terminology used in the manufacturing industry. When you answer, show that you know what a BOM is and how it's used. Explain any personal experience you have using a BOM in previous manufacturing jobs.

Example: "A BOM, or bill of materials, a list of everything needed to make a product. Every item a manufacturer produces should have a BOM so that they can keep an inventory of necessary materials and check quality standards. In my last position, I used our BOM to order parts for production and assist with inventory management."

4. What would you do if a part of the safety equipment was missing or damaged on the line?

Since safety is a main concern in the manufacturing industry, the interviewer may want to gauge how you would handle a situation involving a possible incident. Your response should demonstrate that you put safety first and can solve or report the problem according to the company's policies and industry standards. If you are interviewing for a leadership position, explain how you would handle the situation as a supervisor or shift manager.

Example: "If I noticed part of the safety equipment was missing or damaged on the production line, I would make sure to delay or halt production immediately. If we were just starting a shift, I would let my supervisor know about the problem so we could have it inspected before we start production.

If we were in the middle of production, I would also alert my supervisor right away so we can stop the line until we can fix the safety equipment. I would make sure to tell my coworkers, too, so no one got hurt. If necessary, I would also fill out any paperwork or file a report of the incident for quality assurance and safety standard purposes."

5. Explain the difference between lean and just-in-time manufacturing

An employer may ask this question to assess your understanding of this complex manufacturing idea and your ability to summarize complex ideas so they're easier to understand. When you answer, be sure to define both terms and highlight the differences between them.

Try to explain these concepts in the simplest terms to showcase your communication abilities. You can also share more about how these types of manufacturing impact business practices to demonstrate your familiarity with their importance.

Example: "Just-in-time manufacturing is part of the day-to-day process of reducing time within the production system, including between suppliers and manufacturers and manufacturers and distributors. Lean manufacturing is how a business can reduce waste while still improving the production line's efficiency.

Using both of these ideas, a business can improve production times, getting products to consumers even faster. Businesses can also make better use of resources, including money, materials and labor, which can improve their bottom line."

Related: Just-in-Time Inventory (With Examples)

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Jobs for manufacturers

If you're seeking a job related to manufacturing, there are multiple options you can consider. Here's a list of 10 jobs that involve manufacturing in some capacity:

1. Robotics technician

2. Plant manager

3. Production line operations supervisor

4. Quality control inspector

5. Welder

6. Machinist

7. Production manager

8. Manufacturing engineer

9. Assembler

10. Computer programmer

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