CT Staffing and Recruiting News

The latest advice and best practices in hiring and careers.

In Skilled Trades Positions, Better Interviews=Better Hires

In decades past, anybody with a strong back and a healthy work ethic could succeed in a manufacturing or production environment. How times have changed. Today’s light industrial jobs, particularly in skilled trades positions, demand more math and science than most Americans possess.

The skills gap has been widening for years, but several trends are converging to create a perfect storm:

  • Technology on the shop floor is evolving rapidly. Today’s manufacturers need more skilled tool makers, millwrights, welders, CNC operators and electronics technicians than our country is producing.
  • Manufacturers aren’t developing their own workforces as they used to. The process of properly training unskilled workers is time-consuming, expensive, and the payoff is uncertain – workers don’t stay with one employer like they used to.
  • Our workforce is graying. Many of today’s skilled technicians are in their fifties and are already contemplating retirement.

The result? U.S. factories are facing a serious lack of manpower – making hiring the best-skilled trades candidates more challenging than ever.

Not surprisingly, hiring better starts with asking the right questions. Today, we’d like to offer you a little help! Here is a list of our recruiters’ favorite questions for identifying exceptional manufacturing, production and skilled trades candidates:

Computer/Technical Skills.

Ask targeted questions that reveal an understanding of/proficiency levels in software programs, programming codes for machinery and other technology you use:

  • What are the two types of technology that are indispensable in your job? Why?
  • We use [insert machinery type] at our facility. What do you know about programming this machine, and how have you used it?
  • Note: Always back up the interviewee’s claims with valid skills assessments.

Attention to detail.

Look for evidence that a candidate can spot mistakes and produce consistently high-quality work.

  • Tell me about a job you performed that had little room for error. What did you do to ensure it was completed correctly?
  • How do you detect errors in your own, or others’, work?
  • Note: When appropriate, refer to the candidate’s resume or cover letter to assess attention to detail (examine the formatting and spelling).

Communication Skills.

Identify individuals who are both articulate and good listeners.

  • How do you handle challenging co-workers?
  • In what areas are you truly an expert?  (This has less to do with experience, and more with the candidate’s ability to clearly explain how and why they’re an expert at something.)


Look for evidence that a candidate is a self-starter.

  • Describe a time when you did something without being told to. What was the situation and what was the result?
  • When job duties become monotonous, what do you do about it?

Decision-Making Skills.

Determine whether or not the interviewee can think on his feet and make intelligent decisions independently when needed.

  • Describe the process or methodology you use when making decisions.
  • Alternate: Create a scenario-based question, specific to your available position, which requires the candidate to make a choice from several options and explain his decision.

As you know, the right light industrial workers can be invaluable assets to your busy team.  So take care when hiring!  Use these questions to identify skilled individuals who can help you get more done, every day.

A.R. Mazzotta has the resources, experience, and processes, including skills assessments to verify candidates’ abilities, to help you hire the best-skilled trades candidates in Connecticut. Contact us today to learn more about our direct hire services for manufacturing staff.

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