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Plant Manager Interview Questions

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  1. Describe one thing that you did to increase efficiency at a plant that you have managed. See answer
  2. How do you handle it when you have to cut back on certain resources or even employees? How do you maintain the morale when this happens? See answer
  3. Describe an example where you oversaw a technological innovation at your plant. What technology did it involve and how did you implement it? See answer
  4. How do you incorporate the opinion of your plant employees into your daily management decisions? See answer
  5. Describe one time when you had a production bottleneck at your plant. How did you handle it? See answer
  6. Describe your leadership philosophy. See answer
  7. How do you build relationships with your employees?
  8. Do you prefer to delegate tasks or handle most situations and tasks yourself?
  9. What’s your experience with the equipment your employees would use?
  10. How do you motivate your employees to meet quotas?
  11. Can you speak any other languages?
  12. Describe your process for evaluating processes and procedures for efficiency.
  13. Are you comfortable using KPIs?
  14. Name one long-term objective you would set for your team in this plant.
  15. How do you keep your expenses under budget?
  16. Describe your process for setting a production schedule. What do you account for?
  17. Are you comfortable with conflict resolution? Provide an example of a time you resolved a conflict between employees.
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6 Plant Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Describe one thing that you did to increase efficiency at a plant that you have managed.

A:

The plant manager’s job is all about getting the most out of existing resources. You want to know that they can maximize the staff and budget on hand with production and will not drive cost increases. A plant manager who can continuously evaluate production processes and introduce improvements that save both time and money will more than justify their salary. The candidate should be an innovative thinker and always evaluating.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Initiatives that increased production at previous jobs
  • An understanding of effectively utilizing resources
  • A commitment to continuous evaluation

Example:

“I found a way to change and reorganize work shifts to eliminate some inefficiency and raise production by seven percent.”

Q:

How do you handle it when you have to cut back on certain resources or even employees? How do you maintain the morale when this happens?

A:

This is one of the most difficult aspects of the plant manager’s job. Every operation has employees who have a long tenure or a history of doing things a certain way. It is when the plant manager must make a change that turmoil can be stirred up and morale affected. This question is meant to gauge the diplomacy and sensitivity of the candidate when they have to alter the normal business.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Flexible thinking to amend plans and operations
  • The ability to handle change with tact
  • Fortitude to cut employees when necessary

Example:

“It was excruciating to do, but I had to oversee a round of layoffs when it became clear that labor costs were too high.”

Q:

Describe an example where you oversaw a technological innovation at your plant. What technology did it involve and how did you implement it?

A:

More and more, manufacturing operations are technologically advanced. You want a plant manager who is not only familiar with all of the innovation affecting the factory, but who is well-versed in this area. Technological savvy is a key element of running a profitable plant and the individual should always be looking for ways to upgrade the operation within the budget.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of various technological processes and improvements
  • Skills to implement the new applications
  • Working within a budget to improve operations

Example:

“In my last position, I increased the use of 3D printing after thoroughly investigating its cost and effectiveness. It increased production and cut costs.”

Q:

How do you incorporate the opinion of your plant employees into your daily management decisions?

A:

Morale is the highest when employees are empowered to play a role in plant operations. The plant manager should be inclusive to a point and be a listener. While the employees should not necessarily run the plant, the candidate should give them an effective voice. The plant manager should be able to find a way to achieve a consensus in the workplace in a manner that leaves all feeling respected.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Skills as a listener who seeks employee input
  • Desire to incorporate workers’ opinions
  • Experience running a plant with high morale

Example:

“I instituted a suggestion program and offered rewards to the employee who had the best idea along with a bonus if it increased profits.”

Q:

Describe one time when you had a production bottleneck at your plant. How did you handle it?

A:

Every plant experiences issues that can slow production, costing the owner both time and money. The mark of a good plant manager is that they can get to the bottom of these bottlenecks quickly and take decisive action in order to resolve them. Every candidate can say that they can deal with backups easily, but you really need to see an example to gain a true understanding of their methods.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience running plants without significant disruption
  • Knowledge of how to resolve bottlenecks
  • Resilient thinking to try different methods

Example:

“There was a slowdown at the plant and I figured out that it was being caused by a specific machine which I removed.”

Q:

Describe your leadership philosophy.

A:

Plant managers often supervise large groups of employees with very specific production deadlines and quotas. A clear and consistent leadership philosophy can be very helpful to ensure employees feel seen, heard and capable of performing their jobs. Ask candidates this question to see how they manage their leadership role and relate to the employees they oversee.

A great candidate answer should include:

  • A description of the leadership philosophy they use
  • How they apply it on the job
  • Specific examples of the leadership philosophy in practice

An excellent candidate answer might mirror this example:

Example:

"As a democratic leader, I do my best to listen to the ideas, input and suggestions of my team. Since they're the ones actually performing the work, they usually have valuable solutions to efficiency or productivity challenges. Democratic leadership also helps me build positive relationships with my employees. For example, in my last position, I took the time to hold a meeting about a proposed process change and ended up finding an outstanding assistant manager candidate from my employee group just because I took the time to listen to their suggestions."

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