4 Skills to Look for in Machine Operators

For those who don’t know the details of the job, being a machine operator seems like a self-explanatory position: it just involves the ability to manage and operate machinery. However, there are a multitude of very specific skills and qualifications needed to excel as a machine operator, and as an employer, you need to know exactly what these qualifications are.

Here are four of the most important skills to look for in machine operators, and how you can best test for these skills during the hiring process.

1. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is perhaps the most important quality to look for in machine operators. It’s necessary for them to inspect parts with precision and measure tools to exact dimensions—without this very important step, the whole operation can become dangerous and ineffective. Machinery can be fragile and finicky, so it’s important for your machine operator to possess acute observation skills to ensure the safety of those around them.

The level of attention to detail needed to succeed as a machine operator depends on the type of machinery being operated. Generally, though, it’s a good idea to test your potential candidates at some point in the hiring process to ensure that they have good observation skills and the ability to point out any problems. You may want to run through a mock-up that involves having them discover any potential safety hazards or functionality problems to get a better idea of their abilities.

2. Organizational Skills

Record keeping and staying organized  may not be the number one skill that you think of when considering machine operators, but this important skill is crucial to ensure that this job is done effectively. Maintaining activity logs, keeping records of approved and defective units, and being able to relay relevant information to supervisors in an organized fashion is important to ensure that collected data is being used in an effective manner. Not only will this information provide a better idea of performance, it can also more accurately predict any breakdowns or malfunctions that might occur.

3. Communication Skills

Machine operators depend on having their workspace run like a well-oiled machine, and that includes the people working around them. If they’re unable to communicate effectively about an issue in their department, it could result in a shortage of supplies, a broken down machine, or even a workplace related injury. Some machine operators are also expected to maintain important relationships with clients, which requires precise communication skills and an ability to relay important information in an easily understandable way.

You should get a fairly good idea about your candidate’s communication skills through a simple interview, but it might also be a good idea to check up on references and ask a few questions pertaining to their ability to convey information to others.

4. Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is an important technical skill related to the machine operator job, and must be done on a regular basis to ensure the health and longevity of your machinery. If a problem occurs during a shift, your machine operator needs to know what needs to be done to fix it—and figure out the right procedure to do so in a relatively short amount of time. If your equipment is down for too long, it could result in damaging delays and setbacks in deadlines, making quick-thinking skills and troubleshooting a priority for your future employees.

To test the troubleshooting abilities of your potential candidates, you should create a scenario that they may run into during their daily activity that tests their critical thinking skills. You’ll get a better idea of how they perform under pressure, and how they might deal with an unexpected error in their workday.