blue-collar interview tips and tricks you need to know

“Interview? I have to interview? It’s an industrial job. What, like a suit and everything?” This could well be a thought that goes through your head after you apply for a manufacturing job. If it is, you’re not alone! There’s a lot of information and advice out there for folks looking for office work at every level. But chances are a lot of that advice doesn’t apply to you.

blue collar job interview tips

make your first impression count

Regardless of the job you’re applying for, the adage that you only get one chance to make a good first impression is consistent across the board. And you do want to make a good first impression. That means presenting yourself professionally. Dress appropriately and mind your hygiene. Offer a handshake and be friendly and personable when you meet your interviewer. Also, just in case it needs to be said, lay off swearing or slang language. Though you might be working in an informal setting, you’re still presenting yourself as a potential employee. Employers are looking for someone who’s respectful and reliable, and your language and attitude matter.

what to wear to an industrial job interview

In your line of work, steel-toed boots and a hard hat may be appropriate in the workplace, but they’re not in an interview. Don’t worry; we’re not suggesting you wear a three-piece suit and tie, either. Professional in the industrial sector usually falls somewhere in the middle. Though you might take a more casual approach to your wardrobe, it should always be clean, neat, and in good repair, head to toe (that includes your shoes!) Do not wear sneakers or work boots to an interview. Clean khakis or slacks, a button down and dress shoes are usually an appropriate middle ground, though it can depend on the employer. If you’re really unsure, it’s fine to ask the interviewer about their dress code. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, err on the side of overdressed. A simple suit in a neutral colour such as black, grey or navy will always be safe.

prepare ahead

Whether your interview takes place in an office or on the factory floor, we always advise candidates to be prepared. Though you might think you know your stuff and all the questions will be a breeze, it’s always best to gather your thoughts ahead of time. Don’t think you’ll be able to wing it and emerge with a job offer. You’d be amazed at how little it takes to throw you off your game when you’re under the hot lights in an interview setting. Being unprepared tells your interviewer you’re not taking the interview seriously, have little respect for their time, and indicates how you’d approach the job should you get it.

study the job description

It sounds obvious, but reading the job description is important. If you know exactly what your interviewer is looking for, you can speak to key points in the requirements and apply them to your own experience. Talk about your qualifications, projects you completed on (or ahead of) time and that demonstrate your initiative, recognition or awards you’ve received, promotions – anything that shows your value to the organization.

there’s no shame in bringing notes

Don’t be afraid to bring a list of points you want to talk about to the interview. An interviewer wants to know about your training, education and experience. It’s easy to forget one of these things when you’re in the hot seat. Writing a bulleted list of things to talk about can be helpful to ensure you remember everything. Your interviewer wants to know you’d be a good fit for the role, that you’re capable of performing it, and that you’d be a good fit for the team you’d be working with. What can you tell them about yourself that will reassure them that you are indeed the ideal candidate?

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prepare answers to common interview questions

To help you out, here are some questions you might hear in your interview. Make sure you have an idea of how you’d answer all of them. You don’t have to prepare an answer word for word, but you should have a point or two in mind that you want to mention for each.

tell me about yourself.

You might think that this is the easiest question ever, and in your car on the way to the interview, it could be. But add in a little stress and an interviewer who’s looking to be impressed, and your great response might just fly right out of your head. Think about your answer beforehand. Check out our blog on how to answer ‘tell me about yourself’ for more advice.

why do you want this job?

This question can also crop up as “why should we hire you?” or “why are you the right person for this job?” Don’t make the mistake of talking solely about how much you love the company or how great this job would be because the pay and hours are great. It’s awesome that you’re excited about the job, but employers want to know why they should hire you over the other guy. Your answer needs to convey not only that you’re very interested in the job and organization, but also that you’re the right fit and have all the skills they are looking for.

how do you handle stress?

Manufacturing and logistics jobs often require someone who thrives under pressure, especially if the role requires managing strict deadlines or quotas. So questions about stress are common in the sector. This is another way of asking how well you work under pressure or how successful are you at meeting tight deadlines. Other similar questions that could emerge that require short, clear, honest answers are: ‘how well do you work with others?’ Or ‘how are your time-management skills?’ 

why did you leave your last position?

This is one of the more tricky to navigate questions. Though it’s generally a good policy to be as honest as possible in job interviews, this question is one exception. If your last (or current, if you’re actively employed) job was awful, this is not the place to share. Always speak highly of any previous employers. If you’re not sure what to say, it’s always safe to say you were looking for something different and a chance to try something new.

do you have any questions for me?

You may not always be asked this, but if you are, it’s your golden opportunity to clinch the deal. Make sure you’ve prepared some questions; they might include asking about the work environment, opportunities for advancement, or next steps in the hiring process. A great closing question is: ‘Is there anything I can add to this interview that would assure you I'm the right person for this role?’ 

close on a strong note

As the interview draws to a close, take a moment to confirm your interest in the job and briefly review your qualifications. Don’t forget to thank the interviewer for their time and let them know you hope to hear from them soon (if, in fact, you do). Send a thank-you email when you get home; it’s another opportunity to remind them that your skills align with the job and to add anything vital you may have forgotten in the interview. More importantly, it’s the other bookend to your good first impression.

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