Executive Briefings

Rethinking the Way You Interview a Candidate for a Position in Supply Chain Management

Hiring managers are wise to use the interview as a true test drive with a candidate instead of solely as an examination of a manager's past achievements. Those accomplishments are not always a reliable predictor of a candidate's success within another organization.

There are several key indicators and approaches that will illuminate the candidate's level of management expertise and likelihood of success.

1. Type of questions that a candidate asks

A candidate who asks probing and analytical questions with savvy follow-up inquiries demonstrates an ability to solve problems.

If hiring managers stay solely focused on questioning a candidate about their past history, they will miss the caliber of problem solving skills that a candidates possesses.

2.   Is the candidate quantitative in his or her approach?

A hiring manager is wise to probe how quantitative the candidate is in their approach.   Quantitative mangers are much more likely to be effective in managing complex supply chain challenges down the road.

3.   Test the candidate's problem solving skills for actual problems

Many executives are reluctant to be transparent about the current problems that exist within the organization.  If the hiring manger is somewhat transparent about the challenges, he or she can observe the candidate's approach and learn if they are the type of executive who is capable of implementing meaningful change.  The real litmus test is whether the candidate can solve actual problems and transform the organization.  An executive's history is not always indicative of whether they have the skill set for the challenges of the new job.

4.   Listening skills of the candidate

Candidates who are keen listeners are better equipped to deal with the interpersonal challenges that might arise in an organization. Smart high-powered managers can glean important details by listening for subtle details and examining important factors that might be fundamentally important to their success.

If the candidate talks incessantly, it is often indicative of weak listening skills. A weak listener is likely to miss many things beneath the surface in your organization that they can only observe through careful listening.

5.   Ability to handle criticism during the interview

Many interviewers steer clear of conflict during the interview when they fundamentally disagree with a candidate's point of view.

It is highly beneficial to see how the interviewee handles conflict and criticism in general. If a candidate gets highly defensive and is unable to handle criticism without getting rattled, that individual may be an obstructive force within the organization down the road. 

6.  Does the candidate openly admit not knowing the answer?

It is fundamentally impossible for any interviewee to know the answers to every question.  Is the candidate honest about not having an answer, or do they use a diversionary tactic to avoid admitting that they don't know the answer? Candidates who aren't "straight shooters" are likely to be a problem in the future.

7.  Does the candidate have an accurate assessment of their abilities as well their weaknesses?

An executive candidate who believes that he or she is a superstar in all arenas is less likely to assemble a team of other managers with capabilities that augment and compensate for their shortfalls.

A standard open-ended question to a candidate on what their weaknesses are is not likely to reveal anything meaningful.  A more useful approach is to ask a candidate to rank certain skills based on which they perceive to be their strongest.

8.  Avoid an overly structured question-and-answer format structure of an interview

If a hiring manager conducts the interview solely based on a fixed list of questions and their replies, the executive is likely to miss nuances that arise in the fluidity of a meaningful problem solving discussion.

Many hiring managers are concerned about verifying that the candidate has the content knowledge to the job.  In reality, the candidate's content knowledge will often surface quite organically during a series of conversations. The hiring manager shouldn't feel pressured to get all of their questions answered in one session. It is always an option for the hiring executive to phone the candidate to follow up with unanswered questions or simply cover them in a second interview.

It is more important for the hiring executive to obtain a preview of the type of problem solving, brainstorming and strategic analysis that the candidate brings to the table. It is vital to assess whether that person has a collaborative approach that works well with your managerial style.

In summary, the hiring manager should think of the interview as a simulation or test drive of the candidate's potential as a member of the team.  In addition, the executive should evaluate the analytical and problem solving skills of the candidate for the problems that currently exist in the organization.  A candidate who has stellar achievements from another company may not have the right problem solving skills for a different organization's current challenges.  The hiring manager will only learn about the candidate's compatibility by testing the candidate on real-life organizational problems.

Source: Lutzer Global Inc.

Hiring managers are wise to use the interview as a true test drive with a candidate instead of solely as an examination of a manager's past achievements. Those accomplishments are not always a reliable predictor of a candidate's success within another organization.

There are several key indicators and approaches that will illuminate the candidate's level of management expertise and likelihood of success.

1. Type of questions that a candidate asks

A candidate who asks probing and analytical questions with savvy follow-up inquiries demonstrates an ability to solve problems.

If hiring managers stay solely focused on questioning a candidate about their past history, they will miss the caliber of problem solving skills that a candidates possesses.

2.   Is the candidate quantitative in his or her approach?

A hiring manager is wise to probe how quantitative the candidate is in their approach.   Quantitative mangers are much more likely to be effective in managing complex supply chain challenges down the road.

3.   Test the candidate's problem solving skills for actual problems

Many executives are reluctant to be transparent about the current problems that exist within the organization.  If the hiring manger is somewhat transparent about the challenges, he or she can observe the candidate's approach and learn if they are the type of executive who is capable of implementing meaningful change.  The real litmus test is whether the candidate can solve actual problems and transform the organization.  An executive's history is not always indicative of whether they have the skill set for the challenges of the new job.

4.   Listening skills of the candidate

Candidates who are keen listeners are better equipped to deal with the interpersonal challenges that might arise in an organization. Smart high-powered managers can glean important details by listening for subtle details and examining important factors that might be fundamentally important to their success.

If the candidate talks incessantly, it is often indicative of weak listening skills. A weak listener is likely to miss many things beneath the surface in your organization that they can only observe through careful listening.

5.   Ability to handle criticism during the interview

Many interviewers steer clear of conflict during the interview when they fundamentally disagree with a candidate's point of view.

It is highly beneficial to see how the interviewee handles conflict and criticism in general. If a candidate gets highly defensive and is unable to handle criticism without getting rattled, that individual may be an obstructive force within the organization down the road. 

6.  Does the candidate openly admit not knowing the answer?

It is fundamentally impossible for any interviewee to know the answers to every question.  Is the candidate honest about not having an answer, or do they use a diversionary tactic to avoid admitting that they don't know the answer? Candidates who aren't "straight shooters" are likely to be a problem in the future.

7.  Does the candidate have an accurate assessment of their abilities as well their weaknesses?

An executive candidate who believes that he or she is a superstar in all arenas is less likely to assemble a team of other managers with capabilities that augment and compensate for their shortfalls.

A standard open-ended question to a candidate on what their weaknesses are is not likely to reveal anything meaningful.  A more useful approach is to ask a candidate to rank certain skills based on which they perceive to be their strongest.

8.  Avoid an overly structured question-and-answer format structure of an interview

If a hiring manager conducts the interview solely based on a fixed list of questions and their replies, the executive is likely to miss nuances that arise in the fluidity of a meaningful problem solving discussion.

Many hiring managers are concerned about verifying that the candidate has the content knowledge to the job.  In reality, the candidate's content knowledge will often surface quite organically during a series of conversations. The hiring manager shouldn't feel pressured to get all of their questions answered in one session. It is always an option for the hiring executive to phone the candidate to follow up with unanswered questions or simply cover them in a second interview.

It is more important for the hiring executive to obtain a preview of the type of problem solving, brainstorming and strategic analysis that the candidate brings to the table. It is vital to assess whether that person has a collaborative approach that works well with your managerial style.

In summary, the hiring manager should think of the interview as a simulation or test drive of the candidate's potential as a member of the team.  In addition, the executive should evaluate the analytical and problem solving skills of the candidate for the problems that currently exist in the organization.  A candidate who has stellar achievements from another company may not have the right problem solving skills for a different organization's current challenges.  The hiring manager will only learn about the candidate's compatibility by testing the candidate on real-life organizational problems.

Source: Lutzer Global Inc.