Okay, so, time for the update on BMW's interview process for production associate jobs in Greer (or Greenville or Spartanburg) through MAU.
This morning I went in for the second assessment. Show time was 7:15, although I know some folks from our group Friday ended up in a later sitting. The individual who conducted this assessment was very ex-military--and perfect for the job. He is a very nice guy--but he's also scary serious through the entire process. He cracked a smile about 10:45, three hours and change into the assessment, and then only because he was talking to the remaining people who'd passed the assessment. So don't be frightened of him; just echo his personality and take it all as seriously as he does. BMW is taking it seriously. And if I remember right, seems I said to take yourself seriously in each of the last two posts...
What to wear: jeans. Shorts if you must (below the knee, per the dress code). Comfortable shoes. I wore a polo; lots of people wore T-shirts. Worth pointing out a lot of the production jobs the uniform is a T-shirt, so at this point in the process if you're more comfy in a T go ahead. I wore tennis shoes. You could get away with anything comfortable but I wouldn't go in work boots; even though you'll ultimately have to get some, why not wear lightweight tennies for this? They recommend it. Worth noting, the first assessment, one girl wore glittery pink ballet shoes. She wore serious shoes today, though. And she passed this assessment.
There are two exercises in this assessment. Used to just be a single one, called the "rim mount," at least to judge by old commentary on the internets. In any event, now half the group will do a "bolting" exercise first, half will do a "mounting" exercise. Then you'll switch.
There is no bathroom break. Let me stress that. There is no bathroom break. If you can get by without your morning coffee or tea, this would be the morning. As it was three of the 12 of us snuck off (with permission of course) after the demonstration video for the second exercise, but the trainer did not (could not, given the tight scheduling) wait for us to do the actual demonstration, meaning we missed that.
Each exercise consists of thirty minutes of doing the same actions multiple times--just like factory work. Each includes multiple variations of "customer orders," so you're doing slightly different things each time, or maybe the same thing in a different order. Without getting into extreme detail (which I don't think they'd appreciate, although there's no commentary on not sharing information), the two exercises are as follows:
Bolting: you have to pick up bolts and washers, do a quality check, then assemble the bolts into a receptacle according to the customer order you're given. You hand-tighten the bolts for a couple turns, then use a battery-powered electric drill. After you finish the assembly, you disassemble the whole thing, then call up a new order and start again. You need to make sure you're putting bolts into holes in the correct order. Meanwhile you have to watch a display screen that contains temperature and pressure information, and if any indicator goes out of limits you have to press a button to fix it.
Sounds very complex, and in a way it is. That said, you don't need to know anything about how to do the job; it's all explained in the video you'll watch, and then the demo the trainer will go through. Additionally, you get a ten-minute practice session, during which you'll get error messages if you do something wrong. Make note of these: it's not necessarily immediately obvious what you've done wrong, and it's worth taking the time to figure it out instead of plowing ahead; it's called a practice session.
For this exercise the main thing you need is a good cross check--you need to be able to watch the gauges, check the bolts, check the order, all at the same time--oh, and there's a (virtual) forklift running around, and if you step into the forklift's path, you're dead. One forklift accident won't get you thrown out (I got smooshed twice at the end of the second exercise), but the trainer specifically said before the first exercise that getting nailed by the forklift multiple times was one of the most common reasons people failed the assessment overall.
Mounting: you have a bin of "spacers," two "wheels" (actually 10- and 25-pound barbell weights), and assorted other components, and a "mount." You have to mount three spacers and one wheel in the order specified in the customer order. Then you insert a locking pin, which must go into one of three positions again based on the customer order. Then you take the whole shebang apart and start over with a new customer order. You must scan each part before you mount it using a basic barcode scanner, and scan each part again as you disassemble. You have a little clock going the whole time telling you whether you moving too slow. And of course there's the forklift.
This one is less about having a good crosscheck and more about doing things in the proper order each time (the only thing you're really checking for is the forklift; this makes it a less mental job than the bolting, but it's easier to lose track of the forklift). During the practice session it seems I put a lot of things on in the wrong order, probably because I was reading the wrong line on the customer order chart.
I don't think either exercise is necessarily easier than the other. And, worth noting, you can't exactly practice for either one. Your best preparation would be to get a good night's sleep, wake up with plenty of time, and have a good breakfast. If you're hungry, sleepy, or you have to pee, you probably aren't concentrating on what you're doing (this is true in all areas of life), and you're probably going to fail.
Three-fourths of the people who were in the assessment this morning with me passed. Not all of us who did thought we were going to; the girl sitting behind me's heart stopped when the trainer told those of who were left that we'd all passed. I wasn't too confident myself (those two forklift accidents). Which is not to say it's easy; only that you shouldn't write yourself off mentally. Or maybe you should; maybe the surprise of having passed when you thought you didn't is better than the shock of failing when you didn't think you would. (For the record, at least two of the people who failed weren't surprised.)
Having passed, we were all given a "conditional offer of employment," contigent on our passing a physical and drug screening. They take the drug screening seriously: both urinalysis and a hair sample. If you wouldn't pass a hair sample test you may want to just skip the entire process and find another job.
So far this process has been very quick. I can't say how long that will continue; I've been led to understand that the physical and drug test results can take some time to come back. So we shall see. I'll update on the physical after I've done that.