Thermoforming Report

October Thermoforming Report: Video Interviewing in Manufacturing

by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group.

October 2022.

It is that time again: fall is in the air, the holidays are just around the corner… and leaders are trying to make decisions to bring on that key talent before the calendar rolls over! That means interviewing – via phone, video, and in person. The topic below takes on a somewhat different perspective about investing the time and money to meet someone in a face-to-face interview prior to making the final decision. I know that I’m one voice in the crowd, but I do bring a fairly unique perspective that hopefully is helpful. The short version – just do it

October 2022

Video Interviewing in Manufacturing

Can you hear me ok?” This line has been said an indeterminate number of times over the past 2+ years!

The pandemic has fundamentally shifted the entire world’s perception and use of video conferencing.  What once had fairly limited use became the best way to stay connected to family and friends. It even generated some of the funniest viral videos of all time! Who doesn’t remember the BBC reporter who maintained his cool when his young child video-crashed the live interview?!? 

Slowly but surely the technology began to change to leverage existing platforms and ensure that teams stayed connected (think Microsoft Teams). Companies were slow to adopt but realized that, out of necessity, we all needed a robust way to talk and connect. 

Enter Video Interviewing!

No, it isn’t the first time this type of interview was utilized. However, it very quickly became the norm throughout the pandemic. With all the chaos generated, things were happening quickly and companies were trying to figure things out on the fly – the proverbial changing the wheels on the train while it is roaring down the tracks!   

As things got back into some semblance of control, the utilization of video conferencing and interviewing also stabilized, and the tool is now a very common part of the process and our everyday business lives. 

Lots of talking heads and experts out there are sharing about how the video interview is replacing – or already has replaced – the in-person, face-to-face interview. 


When It ALL Goes Wrong

I have personally experienced several scenarios where offers were extended as a result of extensive interviewing, via phone and via video.  All flags are green, very excited, everyone is on the same page, drug and background checks are done, and the start date is fast approaching. Then, an “old school” hiring manager figures out a way to carve time out of his/her schedule to meet up with his new leader at the site, overcoming flight restrictions, mask requirements, and social distancing – the works. The meet-up happens and within minutes after arriving back at the airport afterward, calls are made to corporate, to senior leadership, to HR, and then finally to the Talent Advisor/External Recruiter to “please contact the candidate; we are unfortunately going to rescind the offer.”  Painful!

How Does This Happen?

The short version: you just can’t learn the key and most critical things from behind a camera and monitor. 

  • Yes, you can ask great questions. 
  • Yes, you can prepare and do all the right things the right way. 
  • Yes, in that process, you can discern and make an informed decision. 
  • BUT… in my humble opinion, there is TOO much at stake and TOO much risk is assumed if the video interview is relied on to make the final hiring decision! 

Now, I realize that hiring decisions are never perfect, and there is always a level of uncertainty when bringing on a new person, be it an individual contributor or leader.  But, no matter what, there STILL needs to be a face-to-face interview!

Determining key hard and soft skills – technical knowledge, use of continuous improvement tools, and the method/process of coaching and mentoring, leadership style, and approach – can be readily determined via interviews of any ilk. Culture and chemistry fit can also be determined to an extent via multiple interviews (and using great assessment tools like Predictive Index).

What’s the Secret Sauce?

I submit that the secret sauce – that stuff that makes all the difference, the reality of the who, what, why, and how of a person – can only be effectively assessed by sitting across a desk talking with them face to face, taking a walk around the site to see how they react to the environment and the team members, sitting down to a meal together to talk through their perspectives, work history, and even learn a bit about their personal life, and more. 

The Final Takeaway

No matter what, the one constant is change. It is inevitable. 

New tools will be created to assist humanity in simple, complex, and amazing ways. We will endure chaos in many different forms. Organizations will grow and fade. Politics, global and local, will affect us. In all of this, we are people, and the fact is that we need each other, in person

The personal touch is critical. We work together. Some roles and functions are done independently, but the personal side is what makes synergy truly shine – when the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. 

When you are building your team, why would you rely on a tool that does not provide that critical personal connection? You are going to be working with this person, hopefully for a long time! They are going to be leading one of your key teams or plants! 

Invest the time, money, and resources to meet and interview in person! 

There is just too much to learn and too much at stake!  

“There is TOO much at stake and TOO much risk is assumed if the video interview is relied on to make the final hiring decision!

Keith Brown, President, Siena Group
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Technical Engineering Leader/Director: This Technical Leader is an Engineering Director who brings great experience in engineering and engineering leadership with a solid mix of early career product development and project management; very strong in thin gauge thermoforming packaging – high speed, highly automated manufacturing.

Senior Process/CI Engineer: This gifted Subject Matter Expert in thermoforming AND operations excellence, with significant experience in heavy-gauge forming, thin-gauge forming, and extrusion. This combination of skills really packs a punch relative to driving sustainable results!

Regional Technical Leader/Operations Plant Manager: This gifted leader brings strengths and experience in both Maintenance Reliability AND Operations Plant Management. It is not often that a Technical Leader makes a shift into Operations Leadership – but that’s what you get with this leader! 

Multi-Site Technical Leader/Operations Director: This gifted leader brings significant strengths and experience in Operations, Engineering, and  Maintenance Leadership at the Director level; extensive experience in food manufacturing and packaging, bringing military experience, a Masters-level education, and a practical application of continuous improvement tools that drive sustainable results.

Click for more All-Stars.

At Siena Group, we are your Thermoforming Talent Partner. With more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, hiring & recruiting talent, we bring a greater understanding of the companies we partner with and the candidates we pursue.

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