All too often, the people responsible for the DC hiring process get distracted by the task of matching key words on a job description to those on a resume: Five-plus years of supervisory experience? Check. Familiarity with OSHA rules? Knowledge of wave picks and sortation loops? Proficiency in MS Office? Check, check and check. The trouble is, that approach could land you with someone who's a whiz at Excel but turns out to be a lying double-dealer.
Rather than focusing on a candidate's experience with AS/400, they'd do better to look at his/her aptitudes in what I consider to be the five primary workplace competencies. You'll get a better idea of the person behind the resume and the type of employee this person may become. Here's what to look for:
1. Resourcefulness and problem solving skills: Whether you're hiring a vice president-supply chain or an entry-level order picker, you want someone who can solve problems - someone who shows initiative and resourcefulness. When interviewing, present a hypothetical scenario and ask the candidates how they would handle the situation.
2. Personal systems: The higher up the corporate ladder, the more critical a person's ability to multitask and manage his or her time. All companies have specifically defined sets of social, organizational and cultural systems. Regardless of the position's level, you want to hire a functional, well-fitting cog in your corporate machine, not a part that is constantly going to gum up the works.
3. Interpersonal skills: You know that guy on the third floor no one likes? The one no one even wants to talk to? You don't want to hire any more like him. Before you hire, try to assess how well a person will fit into the organization's culture. Does the candidate have a sense of personal responsibility? Is he or she disciplined and motivated to get the job done and done well? Does he or she work and play well with others? If the candidates are prospective managers, can they build a good team, keep the team working together and lead the team in the right direction? If prospective staff, can they function well as part of a team, follow the manager's directions and support their co-workers? Whether the new hire will be working on the loading dock or in the executive suite, his or her social skills, integrity and honesty are important.
4. Systems expertise: You don't have to raid Microsoft and pack your bench with techies, but you do want to make sure that the people you hire can acquire and evaluate data as needed, coordinate and preserve the data, and interpret and impart information accurately and effectively. Pickers in the warehouse need to be able to handle these informational functions just as much as their manager does.
5. Technological stamina: This is the 21st century and technical skills are mandatory for just about everyone in your company - if not now, they will be soon. Technology is intersecting with jobs at all levels - whether it's package delivery or order picking or steering a company. Though you probably routinely ask about candidates' familiarity with specific computer programs, don't stop there. Evaluate the candidates' ability to learn new software applications. Determine whether they're able to use sof tware to enhance company procedures and communications. If they do not come to you with the necessary skills, can they learn?
How do you go about assessing how a candidate stacks up in these key areas? What questions should you ask? Are there diagnostic tests that can help? Next month's LaborPool column will look at some ways to structure your questions to assess a candidate's competencies and provide an overview of available testing software. Stay tuned.