DENNIS SEID

Just two weeks after announcing a $170 million expansion and the need for another 400 workers, Toyota Mississippi had its first in-house job fair Thursday to begin the search for that additional help.

And for six hours, some 375 people came to the plant, got a brief tour and submitted their applications. How many will get hired remains to be seen, but officials were hopeful.

The plant will need the new “team members,” as Toyota calls employees, in a few months, as it ramps up to build the next-generation Corolla next year.

“The data has shown we have to have 1,500 applications to get 100 qualified applicants, so we have to have a lot of people come through,” said Kathryn Ragsdale, Toyota Mississippi’s external affairs manager. “So this is just the first of many steps to get to the 400 we’ll need.”

The job fair, put on by ResourceMFG, began with two online applications. After applying, an online assessment lasting up to two hours took place.

Then it’s a multi-step process before landing a job at Toyota.

Successfully completing the online assessment leads to a call back to go through an 8-hour production simulation. Complete that successfully leads to an phone interview, followed by a drug screen and a date for a more extensive tour of the plant. Then a physical and functioning screening of up to four hours is done at Toyota Mississippi. Successfully complete this screening, and the applicant is eligible to work at the plant.

The whole process can take a couple of weeks, Ragsdale said.

Applicants who make it through the entire process will start at $15.01 per hour, which includes a 65-cent premium for the rotating shift that the plant has. Bonuses, paid holidays and insurance options are available as well. The workers are actually employees of ResourceMFG but have the opportunity to convert to being team members of Toyota Mississippi.

“That conversion process is based on a couple of things,” Ragsdale said. “You need to make sure you’re doing the job right and your attendance has to be spot-on. If you’re not there, we can’t make cars. And you also have to make sure you can work as a team, follow instructions and see things through to the end.”

It’s another screening process for Toyota to see who will work out.

“If you come to work every day and work as a team, you’ll be successful,” said Mike Jenkins, the area Vice President for ResourceMFG.

Toyota team members come from all walks of life, but veterans are a really good fit at Toyota because of the teamwork environment.

“Come in, because we have a place for you,” Ragsdale said. “They find the same teamwork atmosphere and structure that they found while they were in the military, and it’s a good fit.”

Any interested applicants can go online at toyotamscareers.com .