People always want to buy new stuff, seeking happiness where they cannot really find it. New shoes, clothes, cars, or at least a nice cup of coffee and a croissant in a nice place. They feel good for a while, until the greed returns, and they want more… Goods, goods, goods. But someone has to produce them, store them, ship them, and move them around the warehouses and distribution centers. That’s where forklift operators enter the picture.

You may find in hard to believe, but in US alone, over 1.5 million people have a job of a forklift operator at the moment. In order to join their ranks, you will have to pass an interview. What will happen, and what questions will they ask you? And is there anything you should focus on in particular while preparing for the meeting with the hiring managers? We will try to find the answers on the following lines, and let me start with good news.

There is a huge demand for forklift operators. They need you, and in most places they indeed hope you will do well in the interviews. What does it mean? It means that they won’t make it excessively difficult for you. You can expect only basic questions about your motivation, experience, goals, and about your attitude to some tricky situations you may experience in the job. Let’s have a look at the questions, one by one.


Why do you want to work as a forklift operator?

Try to show some enthusiasm, and find something positive about the position. They shouldn’t get an impression that you apply for the job only because you cannot find anything better (bearing your education and working experience), or do not know what to do with your life at the moment.

You can start by saying that you enjoy operating a forklift, or believe you will enjoy it (if you just hope to get your license as a part of the recruitment process), considering your love for driving in general. Maybe you had a similar job in the past. You did well, and you enjoyed it somehow, and see no reason why you should apply for some other job now.

Then you can continue by saying that the job is a good match for your strengths. You do not mind working hard, have good orientation and time management skills, and do not doubt you will handle the workload. What’s more, with your education and experience (or lack of it), it is one of the better jobs you can realistically get. Considering everything, you decided to apply.


Tell us about your experience with operating forklift.

It is always easy with experience. Either you have it, or you don’t. If you’ve worked with a forklift before, tell them the type of the forklift you’ve work with (side loader, telehandler, pallet jack, etc), and perhaps also the brand (Jungheinrich, Komatsu, Toyota, etc).

You should also explain where you worked (warehouse, production plant, retail store, etc), and what exactly you did with the forklift. Once again, it is important to speak positively about your former experience. They shouldn’t get an impression that you are bored with the job already (or outright hate it).

Lacking experience, there’s no point in telling lies. Admit that you haven’t driven the forklift yet (or did it only when obtaining your license). In that case, you should show confidence in your abilities. Maybe you lack experience, but there are millions of people operating forklifts around the world, so it cannot be particularly difficult to learn the skill. You are motivated and eager to learn, and do not see your lack of experience as a big disadvantage.

* May also interest you: Warehouse worker interview questions.

How do you feel about working at night?

One of the drawbacks of a typical forklift operator job are shift patterns. As I’ve written in the beginning of this post, human greed have no boundaries. Someone wakes up Sunday morning and the first thing they want to do (after visiting the restroom) is to go to the mall and burn some dollars. Goods have to be there, and someone has to make sure the shelves are packed, ready for the shoppers.

What I try to convey here is that many forklift operators do night shifts, or even work on weekends. This should be clearly stated on the job description, but sometimes things are a bit confusing. Anyway, if they ask about this possibility in your interview, you can be 100% sure they expect you to do some night shifts.

Ensure them that you are ready to sacrifice something for the job. You’d prefer working during the day, but you also understand the demands of the customers, and how the industry works. What’s more, you do not struggle with staying focused on a night shift, and believe you will handle it well.


Job of a forklift operator is repetitive. What will motivate you to try hard, day after day?

You have a few options for a good answer. First one is saying that you actually prefer repetitive jobs, as long as you enjoy the activity. Moving the goods around on a high-quality forklift is your passion, and the time really flies at work, especially when you have your hands full, which will undoubtedly be the case in this job.

Another option is focusing on your goals, and the reason why you go to work. You have bills to pay and kids to feed, and want to provide a decent lifestyle for you (and your loved ones). Similarly to any other job, you will have your deadlines or a daily quota. If you failed to meet them repeatedly, you would lose your job. And that’s really the last thing you want to happen. This alone will motivate you to try hard, even when you have a bad day, and find the job boring and repetitive.


Tell us about a conflict you had with one of your colleagues in your last job.

Conflicts belong to every workplace. Someone may accuse you of working slowly, or, on the flip side, you work extremely hard to unload some goods, and witness your colleague from the shift (another forklift driver) hiding in a dark corner, playing with their smartphone. Of course you will say them something, unless you wanted to join them in that dark corner with your smartphone…

The key here is to show that you try to solve conflicts constructively, not burning the bridges. At the end of the day each of us is different, and you respect the individuality of every human being. Narrating a conflict from your last job, you demonstrate that you always look for a compromise, and always try to understand the feelings of another person. In some instances it may not be enough, and a manager will have to intervene, but you at least try your best…

* May also interest you: Dock worker interview questions.


5 other questions you may face in your forklift operator interview

  • Why did you leave your last job? Be honest, but avoid excessive negativity. If they fired you, admit making a mistake, and ensure the interviewers that you learned your lesson, and won’t repeat the same mistake again. Avoid saying that you left the job for something you will experience in the new one as well–for example for having to do night shifts.
  • How do you imagine a typical day in this warehouse (distribution center, retail store)? Ensure them that you expect to have your hands full, moving goods around on the forklift, cooperating with other people on the shift. You do not expect an easy ride…
  • Imagine that one of your colleagues did not come to shift. Only two forklift operators remained, and the workload is extremely heavy. How will you react? This is a question of your attitude. Ensure them that instead of complaining and delaying things further, you will start working, trying your best. Maybe you won’t manage the workload without the missing guy, but at least you will give it a shot.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years from now? Try to connect your future with their place. Maybe you’d be happy working as a forklift operator at the place, or you hope to become a supervisor or even logistics coordinator in five years. One way or another, you want to stay in the field, and ideally also in their company.
  • After everything we discussed, do you want to add something, or do you have any questions?


Final thoughts

Interview for a job of a forklift operator belongs to interviews with easy difficulty. More often than not, the company will be in a need of staff. As long as you look serious, do not have a terrible record when it comes to your former jobs, show some enthusiasm, and do not remain silent when facing their questions, they will hire you.

Make sure to read this page once again, and think for a while about each question. You should also read something about your new employer. Check their website and social media profiles (if they have any), to understand a bit about their corporate culture and working environment. I hope you will succeed, and wish you good luck in this interview!


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Matthew Chulaw
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