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Episode 15: ReVive – The Marketing Podcast for Manufacturers

Hiring for Character and Training for Skill in the Manufacturing Field


In this episode of ReVive, host Jared Falkner is joined by Kylee Varga, the head of Human Resources at Westminster Tool. The two of them discuss how employment continues to be a hot topic in the manufacturing field, and Kylee shares what it means to hire for character and training for skill in this type of industry.

Give me the high-level: ReVive in 5

What does is mean for you to hire for character and train for skill? (0:46)

“’Hire for character, train for skill’ – it means that you find the right person for the organization who really aligns with the business, and then you train them for whatever position it may be that you’re looking to hire for. So, typically, we’re hiring people that are entry-level with minimal manufacturing experience.”

What exactly are your core values, and, in your opinion, should these align with the core values of all businesses, and not just in manufacturing alone? (1:15)

“So, our core values at Westminster Tool are Dynamic, Curious, Motivated, and Integrity. I would be very surprised if there was another organization in the world that has these same core values because the core values should be unique to the business. But I think that every business, regardless if you’re a manufacturer, retail, whatever, should have core values that you’re kind of looking to hire from. I can share that, with Westminster, what we did when we created our core values was we looked at the employees that had been successful, and then the employees who hadn’t been successful, and we kind of said ‘Okay, what were those common attributes?’. And it became very clear.”

With the alignment of those core values and identifying that true purpose known as that WHY, how has your interview process changed over the years? (4:40)

“I think it’s drastically changed. Even within the last six months – I’m on this initiative right now: ‘how can we improve our hiring process?’. But when I talk about how it’s changed, we’ve always kind of focused on getting to know that person better. But I think where it’s changed in the recruiting process, in the sense that probably 90+% of the people that we hire are entry-level. So we’re not really talking about the skill set that they have – we understand that they don’t have really any manufacturing experience, and we understand that they’re going to gain that experience and that knowledge on the job.”


“We’ve really focused on bringing in people who have no skills We have an internal training program called Westminster Academy so that we can train people. I don’t think an organization could just say ‘Oh, we’re going to hire for character and train for skill, and we’re going to bring on all these entry-level people with no experience’. We really have taken the ‘training’ mindset, we’ve really taken that to heart and integrated it into our business.”

“Something else that we do that’s a little bit unique, I think, is that we recently made it a requirement for a potential candidate to do a half-day job shadow at Westminster Tool. Because we’ve come to the understanding that Westminster Tool is not the right employer for everybody. Any business should be able to come to that realization as well… by giving the person that opportunity to come in, do a job shadow, learn a little bit more, see what the day-to-day looks like, it helps them to make a better choice as well.”

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