We live in a culture of consume. People want stuff, they have never enough. Buying an illusion of happiness in a form of a new car, piece of furniture, or jewelry, they soon need to get another one, because they do not feel happy anymore… All these goods have to be stored somewhere, typically in warehouses, in big distribution centers, and also in retail stores. And each such place needs a manager, someone who oversees the receipt, storage and dispatching of goods, and manages both people and resources in the warehouse. Let’s have a look at what will happen in an interview for this interesting job.

Hiring managers will primarily inquire about your experience in the field. Now it doesn’t mean that you cannot get the job unless you had the same one somewhere else. That wouldn’t make sense anyway, because everyone (including the most experienced managers) has had their first job in warehouse management one day. But they will ask about your experience in logistics, management, and any other related roles you had. You will also have to answer questions about your motivation, and questions about some tricky situations you may face while managing the warehouse. For example problems with staff, delays in shipment, conflict with an employee, and so on. Let’s have a look at the questions, one by one.

 

Why do you want to work as a Warehouse Manager?

In a perfect answer you should cover two things. First and the more important one is what you can bring onboard. Perhaps you’ve worked in logistics and distribution for years, on a variety of positions. You’ve learned the ins and outs of running a warehouse, and experienced a variety of challenges at work. You know how to manage people, and have excellent organizational skills. Everything considered, you feel you’d do a really good job as a warehouse manager, and hence you decided to apply. The time is just about right after everything you’ve been through in your career so far.

Second area to cover are your expectations on the job. Of course you will earn a nice salary (average for warehouse managers is above $80,000 annually), but it isn’t only about money. You can grow in the role, both as a manager and as a person, and you will also have a big impact on the overall results of the business. It motivates you to see the fruits of your work, and you cannot wait to start… Do not forget to speak with enthusiasm while explaining your decision to apply–your words must correspond with your overall demeanor, and the feeling they have from meeting you in the interviews.

 

Can you tell us more about your experience in logistics, distribution, and other related areas?

Experience matters. In some cases, your entire interview may consist in a lengthy discussion of your working experience. They will inquire about different roles you had, operations you managed or supervised, challenges you faced in them, and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Regardless of how you approach this question, be ready for follow-up questions, including one about the reasons why you left that job.

Anyway, I suggest you to do the following: Briefly go over the roles you had, one after another. Define your position in the company, principal responsibilities, and size of the operation you managed or supervised (number of people working under you, amount of goods your team had to handle on an average day, etc). If you achieved some exceptional results with your team, such as helping to reduce expenses, or the expedition time, or you implemented some interesting innovation, you should definitely mention it.

This is probably the most important part of the entire interview. If you manage to convince them of your capabilities (while narrating what you did and achieved in the past), you will be just a small step away from the coveted employment contract.

Are you familiar with ISO requirements and health regulations?

Any serious company involved in goods production and distribution will be ISO 9001 certified. To be honest, the standards are quite complicated on paper, but once applied in real processes in production and logistics it is not difficult to follow them. Then there are some other standards common in companies dealing with logistics, such as 14001 (environment), which is gaining attention nowadays, with climate crisis taking the world by storm (sometimes even literally).

You can explain how you adhered to the standards in your last job, you can also tell the interviewers about the training you received to perform the various processes according to the documentation, or how you participated in auditing and reviewing the processes, before the company applied for registration. Most important thing is to assure them that you understand the importance of ISO requirements and health regulations, and will do your best to abide to them.

 

What’s your experience with automated warehouse systems?

This is an easy question as long as you have already worked in a warehouse (on any position), and used some warehouse management system in your work. In such a case, all you have to do is naming the software and the functionality you used. You can elaborate on it though, explaining how it made your work more efficient.

If you have no experience, however, you should at least stress that you understand the importance of automation, and that you believe to have the ability to learn to work with their systems quickly. You can even take it one step further, saying that if the knowledge is required for the job, you are willing to spend time in the company (before officially starting), learning to work with the software in your free time. They likely won’t agree with such a suggestion, since it isn’t the standard procedure and you will be compensated during the training process, but they will be impressed with your attitude

 

How do you schedule shifts for your team members?

Many warehouses run around the clock. Morning shift, afternoon shift, and a night shift–including Saturdays and sometimes even Sundays, is not something unheard of in the vast majority of warehouses and distribution centers in the US and around the world. Of course, almost everyone prefers morning shift or afternoon shift. Working during the night messes up with our natural biorhythm, and sooner or later it will have a negative impact on our health.

Nevertheless, you’ll have to allocate someone to each shift, and you should be fair in your distribution. You can start by saying that you prefer to create teams for each shift, ideally from people who get along each other well, because it helps with effectiveness when people know each other and work as a team. Of course, you will include some leader in each team, because as a manager you won’t be there in the evening or in the night to supervise the people…

You can also say that you will have a one on one with each employee, trying to understand their preferences and limitations, and–if possible–will implement it to your planning. Because if someone really struggles to stay awake after 10pm, or is completely wasted after a single night shift, it doesn’t make much sense pressing them to take such shifts. On the contrary, some workers may prefer night shifts only, for one reasons or another (for example they will earn extra money for working in the night), there’s no reason why you’d not allow them to do so, especially when most people hate night shifts. One way or another, ensure the hiring managers that you approach your shift planning responsibly, and won’t just distribute people to shifts at random.

 

How do you feel about firing someone? What would you do if your best friend (who happens to work under you) came to the work drunk?

Show the interviewers that you are ready to dismiss anyone, even your friend, if you consider it right for the business, or if they commit a strong violation of the rules (such as being drunk at work).
You can say that job change is a part of life, and that you won’t let your emotions or personal preferences to interfere with your decisions in work.

But you can also show some empathy, and correct attitude to fellow human beings, saying that you will ensure that the leaving employee is properly compensated (if they didn’t violate the rules and you have to dismiss them for another reason), and that you will give them advice on the next steps they can take in their professional career, considering everything they learned in the job with you…

 

Other questions you may face in your warehouse manager job interview

  • In your opinion, what are the main challenges one faces while managing a warehouse like this one?
  • Let’s walk around our warehouse together. Do you see any areas for improvement?
  • Describe a situation when you had to meet a tight deadline.
  • One of the forklift drivers does not come to the shift, and the workload is extremely heavy on the day. How will you react?
  • Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed with work?
  • How would you lead an interview with a candidate for a stock clerk job?
  • Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants for this job?

 

Final thoughts

Your experience matters the most in this interview. Even more important what you did, however, is whether you can demonstrate how has your experience prepared you for the job, and for the challenges you may face while managing the warehouse. Practice it before the interview, and do not forget to get ready for the rest of the questions. I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck in this tricky job interview!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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