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Material Handling Engineer Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Imagine you are in a situation where you are an onsite field representative expecting the delivery of some warehouse racking. The delivery is late and the project is in danger of falling off schedule. What do you do?

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Material Handling Engineer Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Imagine you are in a situation where you are an onsite field representative expecting the delivery of some warehouse racking. The delivery is late and the project is in danger of falling off schedule. What do you do?

      This is a common situation which you may encounter if your position requires some field work. Show that you can take initiative, solve the problem on your own, and that you are cognizant of how this piece of the project affects the overall schedule.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "If for some reason we can't track the shipment, I would call the supplier to confirm that they shipped the racking. If they shipped it on time, then there really isn't anything we can do to make it arrive more quickly. Then, I would call the project manager and let him know the situation and that the overall project schedule might be delayed. I would ask him if there are other stages of the installation that we could move around in order to keep the project moving, even if this stage is delayed."

  2. 2.

    Are you more comfortable with verbal or written communication?

      Both written (email, text message, or chat) and verbal (phone or face-to-face) communication will be necessary in the position of Material Handling Engineer. Be honest about your preference, but also show the interviewer that you are flexible. There will be situations where an email is more appropriate than a phone call and vice versa.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I prefer written communication because I like to have the opportunity to think and I like having a paper trail. Taking the time to write out my thoughts helps me slow down and make sure I am actually communicating what I mean to say. However, I know there are situations where verbal communication is more effective, such as when a question needs to be answered quickly so I can meet a deadline or if I have a design question that has a complicated answer. In those situations, it's possible to more efficiently share information in a conversation than by trying to figure it all out over email."

  3. 3.

    What do you know about material handling, warehousing equipment, and logistics?

      The interviewer is asking this question to find out how familiar you already are with the industry. In your answer, use terminology you learned from researching the company and the job before the interview. Additionally, if applicable, this is also your chance to say that while you don't know much, you are willing to learn and to ask a relevant question.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Honestly, not much right now, but I'm willing to learn. I spent some time on your website and from there I learned about storage systems, conveyor systems, and automated systems. In the most general sense, it looks like pallets and containers are stored on racks and materials are moved through warehouses with a combination of automated systems and systems where workers actually pick up each item. Many operations seem to be controlled by computers and robotics. Speaking of which, can you tell me more about AS/RS cranes?"

  4. 4.

    How would you describe the movement of products through a facility that contains our equipment?

      As a Material Handling Engineer, your job will be to design systems which move products throughout a facility. If you have been inside a manufacturing plant, warehouse, or distribution center before, tell your interviewer what you observed. Additionally, researching this topic before the interview can help you answer this question. Asking a question at the end of your answer shows your interest in the industry.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I haven't been inside a facility before, but I did some research before this interview. It looks like there are two main types of systems - First In First Out, or FIFO systems and Last In First Out, or LIFO systems. FIFO systems tend to be used for perishable items, such as food, whereas LIFO systems are used when the items won't go bad. From my research I saw that different types of storage rack are used in different systems, such as Push-Back rack is typically used in FIFO systems. What kind of system do most of your customers use?"

  5. 5.

    How do you solve problems beyond your capabilities?

      Show the interviewer that you are willing to learn and that you have a method to figure things out which you don't already know. Show that you are willing to figure something out on your own and ask your supervisor questions after you've already thought about possible answers. Avoid giving the impression that you can't think for yourself.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "While it depends on what the problem is, I try to figure it out on my own before asking my supervisor. If I'm working on a design problem, I can ask a coworker or my supervisor if there is an older, similar project which I could compare my project to and see if there are any similarities. If I'm having trouble with AutoCAD or Solidworks, oftentimes there are tricks on YouTube or AutoCAD help that I can use to figure something out. Once I feel like I've got a handle on the problem, I usually talk to another coworker or my supervisor to see what they think."

  6. 6.

    How do you delegate tasks?

      Depending on your experience level and the company you work for, you may have to delegate drafting tasks to AutoCAD technicians or drafting and field work to younger engineers. Show the interviewer that you are respectful of others' time and that you are interested in helping others' perform well. Avoid giving the impression that you like to dump your work on others.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "When delegating tasks, it's important to me to make sure my coworker and I are on the same page. Before handing off a task, I explain the task to the best of my ability and give my coworker the opportunity to ask any questions. I want to make sure we both understand what needs to be done by when and what I can do to help my coworker complete the task in time."

  7. 7.

    Do you have any previous safety training?

      As a Material Handling Engineer, regardless of whether you are in the field or in the office, 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 committment to safety.

      Rachelle'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. I want to make sure my coworkers and I go home at the end of the day."

  8. 8.

    What drafting software have you used?

      Most material handling companies draw systems using AutoDesk AutoCAD 2D or 3D or SolidWorks. For a strong answer, tell the interviewer how familiar you are with both programs and provide an example of when you used one.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In school I took a class on drafting. We had to use SolidWorks to draw a small object of our choosing, first in 3D, and then we had to break it down into multiple 2D drawings. I chose to draw my guitar and I ended up with a set of five drawings: 1) an overall 3D view, 2) a front view, 3) a profile view, 4) a top view, and 5) a detail view showing the frets. I know that in this position I'll probably be working with much larger drawing sets, but this project gave me the chance to use SolidWorks and to help me understand how to create different views of the same object."

  9. 9.

    What do you think is the most important part of communication?

      When asking this question, your interviewer is trying to see if you can think critically and if you recognize the importance of good communication. 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.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "While I believe it is critical to explain information you are giving someone else in a way that is clear and concise, I think the most important part of communication is listening. It is difficult to have a productive conversation if you aren't sure of the message the other person is trying to convey. Especially in this position, where my job will include designing and modifying material handling systems, it's important to practice active listening and make sure we can identify what the customer actually wants and what designs we can actually provide."

  10. 10.

    Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.

      Be honest about your mistake, but avoid dwelling on the mistake's severity. Focus on what you learned from the mistake and how you have taken steps to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Try using the STAR - Situation, Task, Action, Result method of answering to keep your answer concise and positive.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "During a group project in my Design for Manufacturing class, I was given the task of drawing our roller on SolidWorks. I spent too much time trying to learn everything about SolidWorks and not actually drawing the roller, and we ended up missing the project's deadline and asking for an extension. Little did I realize that one of my project team members was an expert in SolidWorks and if I would have asked for help, I could have finished the drawing much more quickly. Now I make sure I gather my resources before burying myself in a task."

  11. 11.

    How do you approach learning about a new industry?

      Material Handling, Warehousing, and Logistics is a niche field which you may not have been exposed to during your education and your previous work experience. Show the interviewer that you are interested in the industry and that you can quickly get up to speed and be a contributing member of the team. Ask the interviewer if they have any specific recommendations on where to begin.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I know that learning a new industry is more than just learning how to do my specific job. For that reason, I plan to approach learning about warehousing and logistics from a couple different perspectives. When I'm working on my job, I can learn by reviewing older project files. Supplier brochures, websites, and trade magazines can help me understand the equipment we put in our systems. When I'm in the field, I can ask the customer questions to learn exactly how they use our equipment. Do you have any recommendations for .general reading that can help me get a feel for the field?"

  12. 12.

    Imagine you are onsite and a piece of equipment our company recently installed isn't working right. How would you troubleshoot the problem?

      This situation could occur if your position requires field work. If your position is wholly in the office, you may have to put together Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manuals that explain how the equipment of the system your company designed and installed work. Use your answer to this question to show the interviewer your resourcefulness, critical thinking skills, and attention to the customer's needs.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In a situation like this, it is important to get the equipment up and running again. That way, the customer can move product and will be satisfied with our work. First, in order to understand the situation, I would ask the person working with the equipment if they've had this problem before and what they've done. It may be an easy fix. Then, I would check our O&M manual. There should be a copy at the facility, but if it isn't available, I would call the office and ask them to send me one. Finally, I would call the manufacturer of the equipment and ask them to troubleshoot the equipment. I would do that step last because it is the most likely to cost money and affect the project budget. However, ultimately I would do what it took to get the equipment up and running again."

  13. 13.

    Tell me about a time when you were part of a group project that didn't go well.

      In this question, your interviewer is looking to see how you handle interpersonal conflict. Avoid making accusations towards other group members. Instead, show how you tried to get the group members to work well with one another and share how you and your team eventually solved the problem.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In one of my classes we had a group project with four members. One of the members wasn't doing his share of the work and we weren't sure what was going on, since he was normally a responsible person. Instead of ignoring him and just doing his work for him, we decided to ask why he wasn't holding up his part of the team. Turns out, he was really struggling with another class and that was taking all his time. As a team, we were able to help him study and then he had more time to contribute to the project."

  14. 14.

    Imagine we are at the beginning stages of a project. The customer has defined their needs and we are starting to come up with solutions. What is one way we could quickly come up with several solutions?

      Many material handling companies use simulation software to figure out the most efficient ways to move materials through a facility. Before the interview, research the company you are interviewing at and see how they incorporate simulation into their business.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "After some initial brainstorming, I think that simulation is the key here. If we are able to build a model of their warehouse and simulate how products move through the facility, we can see multiple possible solutions in a short amount of time. After we've ran several simulations, we can take the ones we think will best meet the customer's needs and create a presentation which highlights each potential solution. This will help the customer envision the solution already installed, hopefully preventing changes later on, and allow us to really optimize our solution."

  15. 15.

    Imagine you are using AutoCAD and you are given the task of creating a plan to fit as many warehouse racks into a given floor area as possible. How do you proceed?

      Here is your chance to show the interviewer your thought process and show off any specific knowledge you have of design software. Show the interviewer that you can think on your feet and don't be afraid to bring out a pen and paper to sketch your solution.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "First, I have a couple follow up questions. What size are the racks? What size is the warehouse? What is the required spacing between the racks? Are there any obstructions or is the floor totally open? After taking those dimensional restrictions into account, I would use AutoCAD to create a block representing a warehouse rack of the proper size. Then, I would use the Array command to fill the warehouse area with racking. Finally, I would go back through and delete any individual racks that interfered with columns or were in areas needed for other things, such as drive aisles or bathrooms. This method probably wouldn't be exact enough for a permanent solution, but it would give us a general idea of what the customer could expect."

  16. 16.

    How familiar are you with Programmable Logic Controls (PLC)?

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  17. 17.

    What do you know about how a plan set is put together?

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  18. 18.

    What do you think are the greatest rewards of working with a team?

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  19. 19.

    Have you ever worked for a manager with whom you disagreed?

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  20. 20.

    What do you feel is the individual's role when working as part of a team?

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  21. 21.

    Tell me about yourself.

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  22. 22.

    How do you set goals for yourself?

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  23. 23.

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

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  24. 24.

    Do you prefer office work or field work?

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  25. 25.

    How would you describe your leadership style?

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  26. 26.

    How would you approach a situation where a project team member disagreed with your idea?

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  27. 27.

    What is your greatest weakness?

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  28. 28.

    How do you see your previous work experience benefitting you in this position?

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  29. 29.

    How do you see your education benefitting you in this position?

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  30. 30.

    What are your greatest strengths?

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