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Manufacturing EngineerInterview Questions

Manufacturing engineers focus on the operation and design of complicated integrated systems in order to produce high quality and economically competitive products. The systems a manufacturing engineer may work on can include machining tools, robots, material-handling equipment, or computer networks. 

Manufacturing engineers typically have a hand in every part of the production process. They analyze product development, identify problem areas, and make changes as needed. Manufacturing engineers must be able to think outside of the box because their job is centered on finding new ways to improve a business’s bottom line.

Responsibilities

Manufacturing engineers responsibilities may include:

  • Evaluating manufacturing processes by designing and implementing research programs
  • Calculating production, labor, and material costs
  • Coordinating maintenance and repair services as well as provide onsite consultation services
  • Ensuring all manufacturing processes are complying with federal regulations
  • Testing finished products and evaluating them according to company benchmarks

Skills

Manufacturing engineers are essential in making sure companies deliver the best quality product possible. In order to maintain company standards while remaining economically competitive, a skilled manufacturing engineer will:

  • Identify weak spots within the production process
  • Reframe problems to come up with new solutions
  • Communicate with vendors to gain a comprehensive knowledge of company equipment
  • Think in terms of productivity and waste management
  • Keep up to date on industry best practices

Qualifications

In order to obtain an entry-level position, candidates will need a bachelor’s in manufacturing engineering or a related field. For those seeking higher-level positions in management, experimental design, or computer-aided design, a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering is required.

If you’re getting ready to interview for a position as a manufacturing engineer, you can prepare by researching the company as much as possible. Learn about the 9 things you should research before an interview.

Salary

Salaries for manufacturing engineers range between $71K and $102K with the median being $85K. 

Factors impacting the salary you receive as a manufacturing engineer include:

  • Degrees (bachelor's, master's)
  • Years of experience
  • Location
  • Reporting structure (seniority of the manager you report to, number of direct reports)
  • Level of performance - exceeding expectations
 

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Manufacturing Engineer Interview Questions

Question: Can you describe a typical day at work for you as a manufacturing engineer?

Explanation: This is a general question which the interviewer will ask early in the interview. The purpose of this question is to get you talking and relaxed so they can get an accurate idea of your personality and communication style. Your answers will also give them other topics they can explore. Keep this in mind as you describe your day.

Example: “My typical day normally starts with a meeting with the production management team to discuss any issues that have occurred in the last 24 hours. I then take a walk around the plant for a brief inspection and talk with some of the employees to get their input about the processes we’re using. For the majority of my day, I’m working on new designs and improvements in our processes and the equipment we use. I also attend management meetings, interface with vendors, and handle administrative tasks.”


Question: Can you define the term BOM and describe how it is used in manufacturing?

Explanation: This is a technical question the interviewer will ask to determine your qualifications as a manufacturing engineer. It’s a relatively easy question they will use to open the discussion of your expertise and skills. Technical questions are best answered directly and with little embellishment.

Example: “BOM stands for Bill of Materials. It consists of a list of components used to manufacture a product. It may also be the supplier used in the manufacturing process. Finally, it is sometimes the tools and supplies the employees use in a manufacturing environment.”


Question: Are you familiar with Kanban, and have you used it in your previous jobs?

Explanation: This is an operational question in which the interviewer seeks to understand how you do your job. If you’re not familiar or experienced with Kanban, state this and describe the products you use to perform similar functions.

Example: “Kanban is a scheduling system which helps manufacturers decide how much to produce, what to produce, and when to produce. It also keeps track of manufacturing components and supplies and will replenish these at predetermined minimum levels of inventory. Kanban is a useful tool because it provides production managers with all the information they need in a single application.”


Question: Can you explain what MES is and how it is used?

Explanation: Yet another technical question, this one is requesting a definition of a manufacturing-related term and a description of how it applies in a manufacturing environment. You can expect a lot of technical questions during your interview. When preparing for the interview, you should review a manufacturing glossary so you can answer these types of questions.

Example: “MES stands for Manufacturing Enterprise System. It is an application that manages and controls production on the factory floor.  Its primary use is reducing the total time required to produce a part or an order. It also collects data that can be used to review each process and optimize it. For instance, it will identify bottlenecks in the process caused by employees waiting for components or not having access to the required resources.”


Question: Are you Six Sigma certified? Can you describe what this means and how you use it?

Explanation: Six Sigma has become integral to just about any manufacturer or organization.  As a manufacturing engineer, you should already be Six Sigma certified. If not, this is something you should consider achieving.

Example: “Yes, I am Six-Sigma certified as a Black Belt. Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology for eliminating defects in any process from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. The components of Six Sigma include Scrum, Agile, and Lean. These methodologies help identify defects early in a process so that products are produced free of defects. It also provides me the information I need to improve processes.”


Question: What is the difference between lean and just-in-time manufacturing?

Explanation: This is an example of a follow-up question. Note that the interviewer is asking about something you mentioned in your previous answer. When discussing specific manufacturing processes or techniques, anticipate that the interviewer will want to explore these in more depth and will ask you a follow-up question similar to this one.

Example: “Just-in-time (JIT) is a methodology designed to ensure that a component or part will arrive at a production station just in time to be used. This technique saves inventory costs and reduces waste from damaged or surplus parts. Lean manufacturing expands on the concept of JIT and integrates the customer perspective. It ensures each step in the production process adds something of value to address the customer’s requirements.”


Question: What challenges in the manufacturing process do you focus on for improvements you can design?

Explanation: This is another operational question. The interviewer is looking to understand your opinion on which part of a process their company performs is most important and where you can make the largest impact. Keep in mind that you’re being hired to save the company either time or money. When interviewing, try to address how you will accomplish this in each of your answers.

Example: “Areas of the manufacturing process I focus on are developing more efficient production processes, specifying the right material and supplies at the lowest cost, decreasing the time required to produce the products, eliminating waste, and maintaining the quality of the final product. Each of these can contribute to reducing the cost of manufacturing.”


Question: In your last answer, you mentioned developing a more efficient production process. Can you describe the factors that can impact the process?

Explanation: Here is another follow-up question to your previous answer. As you will note, the interviewer is seeking more details about how you can accomplish something that will help them save money. You can direct the course of the interview toward topics you are most comfortable talking about or which demonstrate your qualifications by providing this information in your answers.

Example: “There are several factors that affect the manufacturing process. The first of these is a well-managed supply and inventory system which is very crucial to running a smooth manufacturing process. Next is the equipment which is critical for any manufacturing plant. I’m constantly trying to improve the efficiency of every part of the equipment. Human resources are very important and play a major role in an efficient manufacturing process. Finally, I keep an eye on the factory’s overhead, making sure it is maintained to enable production at a reasonable cost.” 


Question: Can you explain how you can calculate the cost of manufacturing work still in progress?

Explanation: This is another technical question which addresses not only your engineering skills but also your ability to understand the cost of a manufacturing process and how it is accounted for by the company. Again, as an experienced manufacturing engineer, you should know this and be able to explain the concept. It also illustrates that you should be prepared for questions outside of your core capabilities.

Example: "The term 'Manufacturing Work in Progress' describes when manufacturing accounts for the costs of the work in progress. Components of this include raw material and labor which are direct costs. It also includes factory overhead and general and administrative costs which are indirect costs. You can use each of these to calculate the cost of the manufacturing work still in progress.”


Question: You mentioned overhead in both of your previous answers. Can you provide some examples of factory overhead?

Explanation: Here is another example of a follow-up question. If you use a term repeatedly in the answers you provide to the interviewer, you are likely to get a follow-up question about it. This is an example of leading the interviewer to an area you are comfortable with and about which you can talk in-depth.

Example: "The following are some but not all of the components of factory overhead a manufacturing engineer has to consider: factory rent, utilities, equipment costs (including acquisition and maintenance), insurance, general and administrative costs, depreciation, and taxes.”


Additional MAnufacturing Engineer Interview Questions

  • A safety guard is missing on a conveyor, but your supervisor wants to start production - what would you do?

  • Tell me about an experience where you oversaw the assembly, construction, maintenance, or modification of equipment. 

  • How do you handle conflict within the workplace?

  • This position can be stressful at times. How do you deal with stress?

  • Tell me about a time you thought outside of the box. What were the benefits?

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