By Dianna Brodine, managing editor
The American Mold Builder

Recruiting and retaining employees are the critical issues facing the mold building industry. To assist with employee retention, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) created the AMBA-certified Skills Certification Program to assess and certify the skills of front-line mold manufacturing workers. By investing in training, from entry-level through the first level of supervision within all sectors of the industry, the AMBA program adds value and enhances training once an employee has been hired. However, how do mold builders ensure they are getting the right people in the door?

Industrial Molds Group, located in Rockford, Illinois, has committed to aptitude testing for prospective employees. Aptitude testing allows the company to make an informed decision about whether or not the job applicant has the ability to succeed in the role by assessing the skills that need to be performed prior to making a hiring decision.

Aptitude testing provides baseline for success

Industrial Molds Group specializes in all facets of injection mold manufacturing, whether developing new tools, optimizing design or reworking existing tools. The company was established in 1968 and focuses on thermoplastics, thermoset, die cast and insert precision applications for markets that include automotive, appliance, industrial, electronics, packaging and others.

“We started using aptitude testing five years ago,” said Andy Peterson, production supervisor, Industrial Molds Group. “At first, we tested all apprentices. We noticed that those who scored higher did better, and vice versa for lower scores.”

At this time, Industrial Molds is using an aptitude test available through the National Tool & Machine Association (NTMA), but there are a multitude of aptitude testing options available through a quick web search that can be used to screen potential employees.

“The NTMA test is timed, with four sections testing mechanical aptitude, mechanical reasoning, math and reading comprehension,” said Andy Peterson. The test allows a maximum of three hours for all four sections of the test.

Tim Peterson, vice president of Industrial Molds Group, continued: “Applicants score from one to 100, and we use 70 as our internal benchmark. We use it to tell us if applicants have what it takes to do the job.”

“NTMA recommends a score of 68 or higher,” said Andy Peterson. “We went with 70 internally for new hires. We do use the testing consistently with new hires who have little to no experience, and it has worked really well. The only change I would make is potentially raising our minimum score to 75.”

Andy Peterson said the company has a “sweet spot” that it has identified – a number above the minimum that generally indicates not only an ability to do the job, but also a likelihood that the new hire will stay for the long term. That number, said Tim Peterson, could vary for other companies. “You’ve got to benchmark what works for you and not for others. We’ve learned that an interview might not go well, but if an applicant scores well on the test, that person might be someone we would to take a chance on.”

Andy Peterson continued, “We started testing to eliminate – or at least reduce – bad hires. We have seen less turnover as a result, and the aptitude tests have removed some of the emotion out of the hiring process.”