Manufacturing Leaders’ Top 6 Tips to Hire Your Best Workers in Times of Scarcity

Dr. Kevin Gazzara
5 min readNov 11, 2023

Special thanks to the expert Manufacturing Plant and Operations Managers, Rob McBroom (@Rob-McBroom) Carlos Garcia (@Carlos-Garcia), Tip Harris (@Tip-Harris) and James Schuler (@James-Schuler) for their practical insights.


In today’s highly competitive job market, finding and hiring top talent is crucial for the success and stability of any organization. Plant managers and operations managers play a pivotal role in understanding and ensuring the success and efficiency of their operations. To achieve this, they must assemble a talented workforce that can meet the demands of modern manufacturing. This article explores valuable insights and tips from experienced plant and operations managers on how to identify and hire the best workers to drive productivity, stability, and success in manufacturing plants.

In this article we will share our best tips to help you hire your best workers. Although focused on manufacturing, you will find many of the recommendations valuable for other industries.

Hiring Tips

“Finding and onboarding are actually the most difficult parts of hiring, it’s almost a hit or miss proposition, particularly at the entry level. Spend your focused time there for the best results.” Rob McBroom — Vice President of Operations — Rosen Aviation

1. Define Clear Job Requirements

The first step in hiring the best workers begins with a well-defined job description. According to Smith (2019), “A precise job description serves as a roadmap for identifying candidates who possess the necessary qualifications and skills to excel in the role.” Plant managers emphasize the importance of clearly outlining the responsibilities, skills, and qualifications required for the position. This not only attracts candidates who are a good fit but also helps in evaluating their suitability during the interview process.

Make sure the job requirements are clear. Don’t just hire for title or position. Start by looking at what the hiring organization is struggling with and what is needed to fill the gaps in the team. James Schuler — Factory Operations Manager — Paragon Space Development Corporation

2. Leverage Employee Referrals

Employee referrals are a valuable source of high-quality candidates. Experienced plant managers often rely on their existing workforce to refer potential candidates who may fit the company culture and possess the skills required for the job. Studies show that employee-referred candidates tend to stay longer and perform better in their roles (Breaugh, 2013).

“Tap into the people that are referred by other employees that are already in the organization. If people won’t put their name on somebody else as a referral, that is a red flag.” Tip Harris — Operations Supervisor — MPLX

3. Utilize Pre-Employment Assessments

Pre-employment assessments, such as personality and skills assessments, can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s suitability for a specific role. These assessments can help plant managers identify candidates with the right skills, temperament, and personality traits necessary for success in manufacturing environments. Remember that most employees that leave the job voluntarily or involuntarily do so due to temperament, and personality traits, not due to lack of skill fit. Johnson (2018) notes, “Pre-employment assessments can significantly reduce the risk of hiring mistakes and improve the chances of selecting the best candidates.”

4. Conduct Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews are an effective way to evaluate a candidate’s past behavior and performance, which can predict future success. Plant managers recommend asking candidates to share specific examples of how they have managed situations relevant to the job. This approach provides insights into a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, teamwork, and adaptability.

5. Assess Cultural Fit

Ensuring that a candidate aligns with the company’s culture is crucial for long-term success. Plant managers emphasize the importance of evaluating a candidate’s values, work ethic, and compatibility with the organization’s culture during the interview process. This can help prevent conflicts and enhance team cohesion. Hiring, firing and rehiring are more expensive than most organizations realize. Want to know what your cost of turnover is? Find out here in less than 30 seconds:

Make sure that you convey to the candidate that Micromanagement toxicity, and lack of trust are not part of the company culture. These are key drivers for turnover. Carlos Garcia — Senior Operations Specialist

6. Prioritize Soft Skills

While technical skills are essential, soft skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving are equally crucial in manufacturing environments. Hire for talent, and train for skill. Plant managers often prioritize candidates who possess a combination of technical expertise and strong soft skills, as these attributes contribute to a productive and harmonious workplace (Kochan et al., 2020).


Hiring the best workers for manufacturing plants is essential for achieving operational excellence and long-term success. By following these tips and insights from experienced plant and operations managers, organizations can significantly increase their chances of hiring and keeping their top talent. Ultimately, adopting a proactive strategic approach to hiring your most important assets will keep your facilities resourced and your customers happy.


Breaugh, J. A. (2013). Employee Referrals: A Primer for Organizational Managers. Organizational Dynamics, 42(1), 24–33.

Johnson, T. (2018). The Role of Pre-Employment Assessments in Hiring. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 11(2), 290–293.

Kochan, T. A., et al. (2020). The Effects of Skills, Working Conditions, and Interpersonal Relations on Manufacturing Performance. Industrial Relations, 59(3), 392–422.

About the Author

Dr. Kevin Gazzara — is a senior partner and founder of Magna Leadership Solutions, based in Phoenix, Arizona. Kevin is an international speaker and recognized as a Management & Leadership Expert and an Executive Coach. He is the coauthor of “The Leader of OZ” Kevin has been a professor at 6 Universities, developing and teaching programs to help others achieve their full potential. You can follow Kevin and Magna Leadership Solutions on:

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Thank you,
Dr. Kevin Gazzara
Senior Partner and Certified Positive Intelligence & ICF Coach
Magna Leadership Solutions LLC



Dr. Kevin Gazzara

CEO of Magna Leadership Solutions, Certified ICF &Positive Intelligence Coach, Management Expert, Professor, Speaker, Author. Contact: