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Manufacturing Engineer Interview
Questions

31 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Question 1 of 31

Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure.

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Manufacturing Engineer Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure.

      The position of manufacturing engineer will probably require you to handle more than one project at once. It will also involve working in plants which can be noisy, dirty, and often are not temperature controlled. The interviewer is asking if you know how to manage being in a stressful environment. Avoid mentioning a situation when you created the stress or saying that you fold under pressure. Instead, focus on showing how you took action to manage the pressure caused by an external situation.

      Ryan's Answer

      "In my last position, I was a Quality Engineer in the automotive industry responsible for day-to-day production. At one point, I was responsible for adjusting a jig that was screwing on car doors incorrectly. I was nervous because the whole line was stopped due to this one jig, and it was up to me to get it going again. The key here was verification. After adjusting the jig, I watched a couple car doors go through to make sure the fix was working correctly. Soon after, the line was up and running again, and I was relieved."

  2. 2.

    What is your willingness to work a flexible schedule? Are you open to working odd hours, evenings, holidays, or weekends?

      This question is very likely to come up in interviews for manufacturing engineers. You should be prepared to answer honestly. Many of a manufacturing engineer's core tasks can only be completed during non-production time (i.e. installing new equipment, making changes to existing equipment, etc.). For this reason, it is very important that the manufacturing engineer be open to working at the times required. Problems can occur at odd or inconvenient hours, and they must be immediately resolved. It is likely that a manufacturing engineer will be expected to answer the phone and be available to come to work, as needed. If you are not comfortable with this, you should be honest, but know that an inability to be flexible with your schedule will likely be a deal-breaker for this position.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I am very willing to work as needed. I prefer to work mainly day-shift hours, but I make myself available, as needed, to support production issues or projects, as necessary. Most projects that I have been responsible for in the past have been completed over shut-down periods, so I am used to being flexible around holidays."

  3. 3.

    How do you measure your success as a manufacturing engineer?

      It is very important that manufacturing engineers are analytical and data-driven, thus it is important that they use their KPIs and business impact to define their level of success. It is ok if an engineer values soft metrics, but their performance should mainly be measured by hard data. Your answer to this question should show that you are driven by business performance and that you constantly remain cognizant of your performance relative to KPI targets.

      Ryan's Answer

      "While I pride myself in delivering excellent customer satisfaction and helping make peoples' jobs easier, I understand that my performance is ultimately defined by my execution of my goals and performance relative to my individual KPIs. I measure my success not only by the KPIs I am measured against in my evaluation, but also by my ability to drive positive change in business metrics for the company I work for."

  4. 4.

    When visiting a potential equipment supplier, how would you evaluate their readiness for a project?

      A manufacturing engineer's opinion of a potential supplier will most likely be an important factor in whether or not the supplier is selected for a given project. It is important that the manufacturing engineer is capable of evaluating suppliers fairly and consistently. It is also important that the engineer's opinion is not formed strictly based on cost competitiveness. As with most other aspects of a manufacturing engineer's job, it is imperative that they use a structured and analytical approach to evaluating vendors. Your answer to this question should show that when evaluating a proposed supplier, you will be considering multiple aspects that affect the ability of the supplier to adequately deliver the products and services needed by your employer.

      Ryan's Answer

      "When visiting a potential supplier, I always ask to meet with the management or owner of the business. I will ask that they show me examples of other customers and similar projects which they have completed. If they can supply examples of past work that make me confident that they can meet our needs, then I will ask to perform an audit on their shop. As part of this audit I will check on many aspects of the business that are required for proper support of our project, as well as the overall cleanliness and organization of the shop."

  5. 5.

    How does your education make you a good candidate for this position?

      Show the interviewer that you can connect academic theory to workplace practice and that you are familiar with the general academic disciplines relevant to manufacturing engineering. Strengthen your answer by telling the interviewer about an applicable course you took or a previous internship relevant to manufacturing.

      Ryan's Answer

      "As I mentioned before, I recently graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. My general coursework covered material science, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics, which I anticipate will come into play when I'm selecting equipment such as a pump or chiller, or tensioning conveyor belts or flat-rolled steel. In one of my senior electives, we discussed Lean Manufacturing and had a project where we identified a process and its value streams. A couple friends and I worked together to make the sandwich-making process at Subway more efficient. While I know general theory isn't directly applicable to this exact position, I do look forward to putting this general knowledge to more applicable use."

  6. 6.

    Why are you interested in the position of manufacturing engineer?

      Your answer to this question should reveal your interest in manufacturing. A manufacturing environment can be very stressful and demanding, so employers want to know they are getting someone with a genuine interest in the field, not someone just looking for a job. There are a lot of good answers to this question; the candidate just needs to be honest and give reasons why they are a great choice for the job.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "My name is ____, and as you can see from my resume I recently graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from University. I'm seeking a dynamic and challenging position where I can work on my mechanical design and project management skills. I'm excited to learn more about the manufacturing industry."

      Jon's Answer #2

      "I have always been interested in manufacturing. I genuinely enjoy watching the transformation of raw materials into finished products right before my eyes. I like to operate in a fast paced environment where I get to solve problems and see the effects of my work immediately."

  7. 7.

    What is the importance of communication?

      In addition to communication skills, this question asks you to address your reliability and critical thinking skills. Show your interviewer that if they hire you, they can rely on you to transfer important information between team members or between the design team and the customer.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I believe that explaining information clearly and concisely and using active listening skills are important for good communication. In this position, I'll be required to modify and improve existing equipment, and it's important to communicate well to ensure I can create a solution that actually improves the process and meets the project budget and installation schedule."

  8. 8.

    How do you go about identifying potential projects that you should be working on?

      As with most engineers, the bulk of a manufacturing engineers workload will often be assigned by their management. However, it is desirable for an engineer to be able to identify the highest impact areas for them to dedicate their time to. Ideally, a manufacturing engineer will present their leadership with an idea for a project along with the project's expected result. As with other areas, it is important to demonstrate that you are analytical, and your selection of what to work on will be based on quantitative figures that have a direct impact on company KPIs.

      Ryan's Answer

      "Since I maintain a close relationship with the operations team, I am usually in tune with their pain points. I use their feedback to compile a running list of problems on my laptop. I will try to assign a rough cost or KPI impact of each problem. Then, based on the cost and difficulty of implementation, I will try to pick projects that can be implemented relatively easily and have a large impact on the company's KPIs. Those are the projects I take to my management and ask to work on."

  9. 9.

    If you are asked to troubleshoot a problem and are having trouble establishing the root cause, what would be your next step?

      Manufacturing engineers are usually treated as subject matter experts in the areas they support. Oftentimes, they will be called to help when the production and maintenance teams cannot resolve an issue with equipment. There will be a time in every engineers' career when they are presented with a difficult problem that they cannot solve on their own. It is important to show that you will do the best you can to troubleshoot problems, but that you will quickly and effectively call on help when you cannot seem to reach a solution.

      Ryan's Answer

      "This has happened to me numerous times. Normally when presented with a problem regarding my processes, I am able to find the root cause fairly quickly. However, sometimes there are problems that are very difficult to diagnose. When asked to solve a difficult problem, I will always engage the team members and maintenance team who work in the area to see if we can work together to establish the cause. If that is not successful, I will escalate to my management and other more experienced engineers in the organization. If we cannot come to a resolution with those steps, I will engage the equipment vendor or other outside experts for help. "

  10. 10.

    How does your previous work experience make you a good candidate for this position?

      Show the interviewer your progressive career development by explaining how your previous experience has prepared you for this position. If you've been exposed to manufacturing or related industries or have worked in these industries before, discuss it here. Additionally, tell your interviewer if you have experience creating schedules, enforcing safety protocols, or conducting safety audits, as these tasks are often part of a manufacturing engineer's job.

      Ryan's Answer

      "Last summer, I had an internship at a melt shop. One of my projects was to source a new baghouse filter. I first checked to see what kind we were already using and confirmed with the plant's environmental manager that the filter was allowing the shop to meet the air quality requirements. The filter was working well, so I solicited a couple quotes from recommended suppliers. We ended up going with the supplier who was available on a day the melt shop was already scheduled to be shut down. I anticipate doing similar projects in this position."

  11. 11.

    As a Manufacturing Engineer, how do you see yourself fitting in to the day-to-day operations of the business?

      The involvement of a manufacturing engineer in day-to-day operations can be quite varied, depending on the organization. Sometimes, different manufacturing engineers within an organization may have vastly different levels of involvement in day-to-day operations. Some manufacturing engineers will be directly responsible for managing maintenance staff and troubleshooting punctual problems, while others may support in more of an indirect role. In almost all organizations, manufacturing engineers will be expected to be subject matter experts around equipment and processes which they are responsible for. It is important that the candidate let the employer know that they understand the importance of the day-to-day operations and that they will go to necessary lengths to support the operations when needed. An engineer who thinks that they should not be expected to support the shop floor or help troubleshoot problems is not desirable for most companies.

      Ryan's Answer

      "While my primary responsibility has usually been related to quoting new equipment and working in more of an advanced manufacturing role, I certainly understand the importance of supporting the floor. Any time there has been a problem with my lines that the maintenance team could not troubleshoot, they knew that I was just a phone call away. If I can't walk them through a solution on the phone, I will come in and join them to see how I can help get to the bottom of the problem."

  12. 12.

    Once you have received multiple quotes for a project, how do you go about making a final supplier selection?

      There will usually be nuanced differences in quotes when working with multiple suppliers, even though they are responding to the same RFQ and specification. Most likely the final supplier selection will be made by a sourcing board or company management, but they will often request the manufacturing engineer's input to make a decision. Ultimately, there has to be a cost justification for the decision, but it is the manufacturing engineer's job to spell out the differences in each quote and provide a professional opinion as to which option is the best. It is important that you show an ability to consider all aspects of the project. You must show that the decision should not be made solely on the price, but that you will be cognizant of the cost at all times.

      Ryan's Answer

      "After receiving quotes from suppliers, I usually prepare a summary for all quotes received. I present this summary, along with my recommendation, to my management to make a final supplier selection. When summarizing this information, I try my best to clearly spell out the differences in each quote and an estimated cost impact of each difference. Ultimately, I understand that the lowest cost option should be chosen, but sometimes there are hidden costs that are not immediately apparent. I always make sure that these costs are accounted for before a final decision is made."

  13. 13.

    What do you believe is an individual's role when working with a team?

      Manufacturing Engineers typically work on projects with people in different roles and with different priorities. These members may include the plant manager concerned about scheduled down-time, an engineering manager concerned about budgeting and responsible for reporting to corporate, a mechanic who will be responsible for keeping the equipment working on a daily basis, and an outside contractor. Understanding your role within the larger team is critical to ensuring the project moves smoothly. Show the interviewer that you know different team members have different roles and that you are reliable.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I believe that an individual's role within a team is first and foremost one of accountability. If I do my job well and others can count on me, then I know that I am contributing to the project's success. I am committed to remaining available to contribute in the ways I am needed."

  14. 14.

    How will you plan to work with the operational management to be successful at your job?

      Manufacturing engineers will need to work closely with production and operations managers during the course of their career. Many times, manufacturing engineers operate in support roles to these types of managers. Operational managers will assign tasks to manufacturing engineers, but are not usually their direct supervisors. It is important that you show you will take direction from and work well with the staff you are supporting. Also, it is important to show that you understand your project schedules (and often your personal work schedule) will be determined by production needs, which can be quite dynamic.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I have always operated in a support role for the operations group. Usually, the production manager will identify areas where they need help to meet their KPIs and then ask for support. Once they have requested support in a given area, I will investigate the root cause and work to implement countermeasures to solve whatever problem is leading to the KPI gap. I have always had a very good relationship with the production managers in my areas; they know I will support them whenever and however I possibly can."

  15. 15.

    Do you have any previous safety training?

      As a Manufacturing Engineer you will probably have to go through safety training. This may include OSHA 40-hour HAZWOPER training, OSHA 10-hour training, or facility-specific training. In your answer to this question, tell the interviewer if you have completed this training before and affirm your commitment to safety.

      Ryan's Answer

      "Last summer I worked for a construction company and I had to get my OSHA 40-hour certification. I know that I'll have to renew this certification when I get started here. Safety is important to me and I always wear the appropriate PPE. I want to make sure my coworkers and I go home at the end of the day. What facility specific training do you provide?"

  16. 16.

    If a customer requests that you share data that you feel may be damaging to your company, how do you react?

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  17. 17.

    Do you have any applicable certifications? Are there any certifications which you would like to pursue while you work here?

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  18. 18.

    You identify that a key aspect of a process is that a piece of expendable tooling be changed every 500 cycles. How do you ensure that the maintenance team is adhering to the required frequency of this change?

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  19. 19.

    What has been your involvement with new product launch?

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  20. 20.

    Please describe the benefits to using a structured problem-solving methodology to solve a problem.

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  21. 21.

    What is your experience with solid modeling/CAD?

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  22. 22.

    What is your experience with Work Instructions/ SOPs/Standardized Work?

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  23. 23.

    What is your experience with APQP?

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  24. 24.

    How do you work with operators on the floor to be successful at your job?

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  25. 25.

    What are your greatest strengths?

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  26. 26.

    A team member approaches you and advises you that a piece of equipment you have installed is not functioning correctly. How do you proceed?

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  27. 27.

    In an area you are responsible for, you observe a production team member who is not completing their job as it is specified in the work instructions. How do you handle this situation?

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  28. 28.

    What is your experience leading cost reduction activities?

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  29. 29.

    What is your experience with TPS/Lean manufacturing?

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  30. 30.

    What is your experience regarding the reduction of scrap?

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  31. 31.

    Please explain why it is important to have a detailed specification when quoting equipment?

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