How to Successfully Interview During the Site Tour

During a follow-up interview with a company, you will likely receive a tour.  This is almost always the case for manufacturing or distribution opportunities where you will be given the chance to see the production line or warehouse/distribution center operations.  I have also known companies to give candidates tours of the office complex, oil and gas drilling sites, stores and call centers.  Although these tours are designed to show you the opportunity and the place you may work, they are also an occasion for the company to evaluate you.  To be successful, you must prove your interest and excitement about the site through your verbal and non-verbal communication.

Here are the keys to continuing to prove your interest and fit during a tour.

1.  Approach the tour with a curious attitude.  When you see equipment, people or processes, be curious, and ask questions to learn more.  When you see something that interests you, do not just take it at face value, ask the person giving the tour to provide more information.  A mistake some candidates make is going through a tour only listening the entire time.  Asking questions communicates interest.

2.  Take notes.  Taking notes also demonstrates interest and a desire to learn.  Additionally, at the end of the tour, you can refer to your notes to ask questions.  It is also possible that during one of your subsequent interviews, someone may ask you about the tour and what you learned.  They will be impressed when you whip out your notebook and refer to specific notes.

3.  Interact with those you meet.  Your tour guide will introduce you to people.  Ask them questions.  Find out what each person does, how long he/she has been with the company, what they like about working in the role, etc. 

4.  Understand how equipment, people and processes relate.  This is really for manufacturing, distribution and call centers.  You will see a “flow” on the tour.  Identify how things fit together and write it in your notebook.  Ask questions about the flow demonstrating that you see how things relate.  I remember one time a candidate took a tour of a new biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility. Outside the filling operation stood a big white board covered with equations and statistics.  He never asked about the board.  A simple question could have been, “Do the calculations on the board pertain to some of the filling operation?”  If the candidate had studied Six Sigma, a better question would have been, “Are those filling operation statistics to drive some sort of process improvement or Six Sigma initiative?”  I assure you the tour guide would have been impressed.

5.  At the end of the tour, be ready for the question, “Did you notice anything that we could do to improve or change?”  Recruiters want to know you took an active part in the tour and did not merely observe.  They also want to hire JMO candidates who focus on continuous process improvement.  When you answer this question, it is best not to be ultra direct in suggesting what could be improved.  Rather, you could phrase it, “Yes, I saw in the glass cutting line that the person stacked glass on the far wall.  It seems to me the near wall would be a shorter route and cut down on time.”  Notice how I did not tell but rather noticed and suggested.

The bottom line of the 5 points. Be an active participant not a passive one, ask questions, be “interested” and not “interesting.”

Joel Junker