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6 questions to ask when hiring your eCommerce warehouse manager

How To

WRITTEN BY Jonathan Bellwood /

02 June 2015

Your warehouse manager is going to oversee the running of your entire eCommerce warehouse operations, so it stands to reason that hiring the best candidate is important. But what questions should you ask during the interview to make sure you pick the right person for the job?

1) Why are you interested in this role?

This is a simple question but the candidate’s answer will say a lot about them as a person. In this economy, a vast number of people are simply looking for a way out of unemployment so to them a job is a job. This kind of attitude is not really what you want heading up your operations, though. So how do you weed out the good eggs?

An uninterested person may be entirely honest with you and say that they just need the work. The next level up would be the candidate expressing a wish to either grow within the company, or to help the company expand. This is very easy to say, however, and most interview guides will encourage you to use phrases like this.

The real candidates, however, will show you how keen they are. Instead of telling you that they want to grow within the company they will prove that they have done research around how they believe this to be possible.

‘I’ve noticed that you recently took an investment, suggesting that you have the means to expand the business now. I would like to be a part of this by improving the efficiency of the warehouse and reducing the number of extra staff required at peak.’

This kind of response shows they have researched the company and are setting themselves goals to achieve within the role that benefit both the employer and employee.

2) What management experience do you have?

This is a given really, no? It will depend on the size of your warehouse team and business. If you’re a growing retailer with a team of less than 10, you may find that it’s difficult to locate an experienced warehouse manager who is willing to take on your role. If you’re running a £10M+ operation or planning to soon, this may be the time to ditch the generalists and seek out a career warehouse and logistics manager who has the skillset you need to define and then deliver your warehouse KPIs. Not only should they be competent in overseeing everyone’s efforts, they should also be capable of designing efficient work schedules with foresight for peaks and troughs in sales.

It is entirely dependent on how your operations work but you may wish to hire a candidate with proven experience in the same industry, or you may be content with more general warehousing experience. For example, a food supplier operates very differently to a fast-fashion retailer but the managerial skills learned will overlap.

3) How well do you know this market?

This question is more of a follow-on from the previous question and it is more important if the candidate has experience in another industry. For instance, if Mike previously worked in the food distribution industry, it’s important to identify whether he understands the different challenges faced in fast-fashion.

If he has done the research and can show that he understands these differences, push the question further to ask how he plans to accommodate for this change in operations if he were hired. He may have a detailed 3-month plan or he may not, but what is important is identifying whether he is committed to learning these new methods and then improving on them.

4) What level of technical experience do you have?

This question is important on a number of levels as there are several scenarios that could exist. It may be that your company currently uses a paper system but is looking to upgrade to an automated warehouse management system. As such, you might wish to hire a warehouse manager who has worked with an automated system before so they can bring that knowledge over.

Alternatively, you may already have warehouse management software installed and a candidate who has previously only used manual systems. In this case, gauging where the candidate lies on the matter is key. They could either be open to learning a new system, or they could be stuck in their ways and adamant that manual has always worked out well. First and foremost, you should look out for any signs that a candidate’s attitude could hold your company back at all and this area is quite often a hot topic.

[Related: Do you need a warehouse management system upgrade?]

5) Tell me about a time when you responded well under pressure.

Another obvious interview question but one that reveals so much about the candidate. The good thing about asking this is that you will either hear about a problem you are familiar with and learn how the candidate handled it, or you will hear about a problem not encountered in your day-to-day operations that requires a different kind of thinking to solve.

Ultimately what you’re looking to gain from this question is a response that shows the candidate can adapt to stressful situations and handle them in a calm and efficient manner. During a crisis, if your warehouse manager can keep their cool then the operators will have more confidence in them, too.

6) What are your expectations for this role?

This question is a bit of a rogue one because it’s asking the candidate to think beyond what the job description tells them. It is asking them to talk about their ambitions in line with the company. What you should hope to get from this question is a response that shows the candidate has thought long-term with regards to the position.

‘I hope to progress to a stage where the operations within the warehouse become efficient enough to reduce the required headcount by 20%.’

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