In the second of our Logistics Interview Q&A series, we cover the role of Logistics General Managers. So read on for seven popular questions you may be asked and what employers are looking for in your answers.
Remember to keep your answers specific and follow the STAR framework – Situation, Task, Action, Result (more on that in this blog post).
1. How do you get the most out of your shift managers?
This question comes down to your own management style. If you try to second-guess what management style they are looking for, it’s never going to end well – it’s going to be obvious.
Would you prefer to be a “Schteeevve McLaren” faking the Dutch accident or a Klopp with a management style you believe in – winning the Champions League? Nobody wants a blip on their CV (and being unhappy in the process).
Some management styles will be the right fit for that organisation. Others won’t – but with the current skills gap, it pays to look for an organisation with the right fit where you can get the most out of your team.
Be honest about your management style. How do you work with them to develop their skills? What level of autonomy do you give then (and why)? And most importantly, what are the results?
2. What KPIs do you report into senior management?
Most KPIs are standard across companies ie. pick rates, stock accuracy, OTIF (On Time In Full). What the employer will really want to know is how you analysed and identified any issues within those KPIs, how you improved any issues and how involved you were i.e. did you implement them or oversee them?
If not pressed, be prepared to expand on these issues.
Most organisations will look for candidates that have implemented KPIs and seen the whole process through. They will want to know how you determined the KPIs, integrated them into the business and identified areas for improvement.
However, if you don’t have experience of implementing KPIs, it’s best to be upfront with this. If you have taken over the management of KPIs, there are likely to be roadblocks along the way. What steps did you take to overcome these challenges and what was the final result?
e.g. The KPIs were for 95% OTIF but when I took a look at it it was nearer to 75%. I identified X and Y issues any by implementing [these steps] I managed to achieve OTIF of 96% within 6 months.
3. What’s the headcount of the site?
This is a question that will likely be screened for on your CV but employers will still usually ask you about it at interview. They’re not just looking for the total headcount but also how many direct reports you had and the number of teams of shift managers/supervisors and operatives/drivers underneath you.
4. What fleet size are you responsible for?
Similar to the above, make sure you cover the number of vehicles and the types of vehicles within your fleet i.e. vans, lorries, tanks.
Follow-up questions may include how you oversee the logistics operations. Do you use manual, semi-automated or automated systems for tracking and reporting? (More on this below.)
5. What is your experience of software systems?
Most employers will insist on having used or implemented the software that they are using, such as JDA. If it’s a pre-requisite, this will have been screened out before the interview. However, at the interview, they want to know what role you had within this i.e. implementing or managing. See the KPIs question at point 2 above for the format you should use to answer and the further questions that may arise.
6. What experience do you have of managing with manual, automated or semi-automated operations?
There is an increasing move towards automated operations within logistics, so the more experience you have of implementing such systems (or at least managing them) the better.
Talk through the decisions that led to you deciding on a particular system (if applicable) and any challenges you had to overcome when managing these.
7. What size of budget were you responsible for and how was this made up?
Employers will want to know the range of budgets you have dealt with and what this consisted of i.e. “I am used to working with a variety of budgets ranging from £5-£15m, made up of agency spend, PPE, MHE, software costs and hardware costs.”
They will be looking to see that you stayed in the ‘green’ and may press further to find out how you overcame any challenges of staying within budget. If not pressed, it’s worth mentioning these challenges if they resulted in a positive outcome.
Many companies look for evidence that you identified ways of cutting labour costs (one of the largest budget allocations) by way of training and development. If you have experience of this, be sure to mention it!
Mastering competency questions is just one part of a successful interview. For more hints and tips, head over to our Candidate Tips & Advice page. Or check out our other blogs where we cover psychological tactics, CV tips, LinkedIn profile must-haves and more.