Hire and get hired

Whether you’re looking for a job or for new employees, hiring and getting hired is a tricky process

November 23, 2011
by Katherine Risley

Purchasingb2b October 2011 print edition

Whether you’re looking for a job or for new employees, hiring and getting hired is a tricky process. Looking for a new job is an emotional journey and when you’re hiring, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Here are some tips for both sides of the table.

To be successful in a job search, you must go beyond job boards. Network on LinkedIn, meet with former colleagues, engage recruiters familiar with your profession and—if you’re unemployed—let everyone know you’re looking. To nail the interview once you’ve received the opportunity, there are a few key areas to consider.

Prepare for success
Take the time to prepare before an interview. The keys to any interview are your enthusiasm and the confidence you instil. Do your homework and read more than the company website; look for recent articles online and see what’s affecting the organization.

Know the location and allow time to be in the area 30 minutes early. Don’t enter the office until five minutes before the interview. Any earlier can put pressure on the hiring manager to see you earlier than expected. First impressions matter, so wear a suit, avoid heavy scents and ensure your handshake is neither limp nor too firm.

In the process of getting hired, you may first interview with HR. Ensure your answers are clear enough that they’ll understand what you’ve done without using too much jargon. Also, emphasize areas that match the job description. Test your ability to explain what you do. For example, enlist a friend or family member who knows little about procurement and see if they understand your job and why you are great at it.

Once in front of the hiring manager, be prepared for a conversation covering your experience and your fit. Some areas employers ask about include:
• your involvement in a strategic sourcing process;
• building relationships with tough internal clients;
• developing supplier relationships; and
• handling difficult negotiations.

For any example, use the STAR technique (Situation/Task, Action, Result). Outline what the situation or task was, the process and the result. Towards the interview’s end, ask about the company, its culture and the position. State your interest in the job and ask if there is anything else they want to know about you. Don’t linger after the interview wraps up. Give the hiring manager a firm handshake and a polite “I look forward to hearing from you,” and be on your way. If you get a timeframe within which you should hear from them, it’s OK to follow up once that timeframe has passed.

Prepare afresh for each interview, as the employer will be looking for something different each time. It’s not always easy, but spending the time to prepare and selling yourself goes a long way.

How to hire
When looking for a new employee there are things to consider to get the most out of each meeting once you narrow down the applicants. First, set expectations. The procurement job market is hot, so determine what skills you’re looking for, not just those that are nice to have.

An interview with candidates allows you to assess not only skills but their fit with your team and organization. Build rapport with each candidate. Some employers try to intimidate candidates to see their response. A little pressure is good, but too much and you likely won’t see their true colours or leave them with a positive impression. Casual conversation at the beginning that leads to a structured interview is the best recipe for learning about a candidate.

Before an interview, determine what it is you want to learn about each candidate and what questions to ask. Often, asking situational questions is the best way to see how a candidate has handled different scenarios. It helps to get candidates to talk about the achievements they have had that demonstrate their abilities. As many of the responsibilities of procurement candidates are similar, achievements demonstrate thought process, creativity, relationship-building skills and the outcome.

You need to sell the job to the candidate; they’re interviewing you as much as vice-versa. Demonstrate why they should want the job and should want to work for you and your organization. Candidates must hear how the role will benefit their careers, the projects they’ll tackle, growth opportunities and the work environment.

Finally, let the candidate know the next steps and set a rough timeframe. Inform candidates as quickly as possible if you’ll be proceeding with them—nothing builds a poor corporate reputation like a long process with no feedback. At each stage, determine what you want from the meeting and ask the right questions. If you engage a candidate through each stage—and continue to sell your opportunity—you can be certain they’ll accept when your offer.         b2b

Katherine Risley is the Division Manager for Hays Procurement (a division of Hays Specialist Recruitment) located in the Toronto office. You can reach her at [email protected]