4 Common Production Manager Interview Questions & Answers

Kellie Hanna, CPRW By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: May 25, 2023

You’ve come a long way. You’ve accumulated a significant amount of experience, and now you have a new opportunity within reach. Your cover letter and resume were well-received, and you were invited to interview for a production manager position. These opportunities don’t come around very often, so you’ll want to do your best. One way to increase your chances of success is acknowledging that production manager interview questions tend to be different from the more general questions hiring managers ask when interviewing for other jobs.

man pointing to board as workers look on

Being prepared is the key if you really want to knock some socks off. It’s time to dig deep into your mental reservoir of information. Think about your education and how your experience complements it. Be ready to convince the board that you’re the right one for the job because working in an industrial environment is your calling. To get specific on some of the most common production manager interview questions, following are a few Q&A samples to get you started.

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4 Production Manager Interview Questions & Answers

What experience do you have in the hiring and dismissal of staff?

While managing a line I started to sit in on interviews. Once while the production manager was on vacation I screened some candidates from a temp agency when we were scrambling to replace two workers who suddenly left. While working as a supervisor, our plant had to let someone go and I was asked to provide evidence for the dismissal. Some of my coursework in business administration also helped me to handle turnover from an operational and managerial standpoint.

Have you ever lead a team that missed a production deadline? What did you learn from it?

Yes. We were doing an early run of a custom product and we missed our deadline by about a day and a half. Thankfully, our schedule had some wiggle room, and our product arrived at the purchaser exactly on the day it was promised. Although we were technically off the hook, I took it as an opportunity to learn. One issue was that during training sessions, some assemblers didn’t speak up and ask questions. Therefore, assumptions were made on the line, and these led to mistakes that we had to correct. I realized that the pride of some of them kept them quiet, and in future training sessions for unique short-run products, I vowed to engage everyone. I learned that it doesn’t matter how much experience your assemblers have – cooperation, listening and teamwork are still key to turning out products correctly and on-time.

How do you ensure quality across all phases of production?

Production managers need to understand various aspects of the business to lead the manufacturing of a quality product. I spent time in purchasing after working on the line, then started supervising assembly workers. My experience in purchasing helped me see just how many procurement options we had, and how both price and quality varied. While working as a supervisor, I started to notice things about the small components that I hadn’t been aware of earlier, and felt proud that our purchasing department worked so hard to research and select only the best quality components. My goal is to understand the assembly line so well that I can almost jump in and handle anyone’s job. This helps me to make the right recommendations and changes where necessary.

Our assemblers belong to a labor union. How would you juggle the demands of the union against the demands of our plant's business?

I have worked in union shops before, and understand how strong that influence is on the business. Some production managers take the “us versus them” stance when referring to non-union versus union workers, but I don’t think that’s the best way to handle things. I prefer not to roll up my sleeves until I’m sure I need to. In other words, I’m not the type to make threats or ultimatums that only make the relationship worse. The business needs must come first, but not at the expense of employee rights and benefits. I strive to keep up with what other companies in the industry are doing, so if there’s a problem, I can point to how our employees receive similar, if not better, benefits, compensation and working conditions.