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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Where are the Leaders? The Everyday Leaders! – Part 3

What’s the danger of going outside the organization to find a departmental leader? This is a tough task and one that can not be taken lightly. Usually, you have only the word of the candidate to base your decision on. Unless you just happen to have a mutual contact that will shoot straight with you on qualifications and background, you are stuck with one viewpoint – the candidate’s. It has become very hard to get references from previous organizations.

So! What are your options? Well, there aren’t many.

I was once tested using the method I am going to describe to you as a possible option for the hiring manager.

I reported to the interview on a Friday morning around 8:30 AM. The hiring manager was the Vice President of Operations. I have no real idea how many other candidates he had discussed the position with prior to my interview; but I discovered later that there were more than a few.

I sat down with the VP for about an hour discussing one thing and then another. He probed my background while I probed the organization, the reason for the vacancy, and the organization’s future. This phase of the interview went fairly well—I actually thought so at the time.

This is when he must have decided that I was worth a longer look. He told me he wanted me to stay the entire day, spend time with each department and several of the key players within the company. Well, I had to do some quick rearranging of my expected day. I had not planned on the interview lasting any longer than three hours at the most. I had lunch plans and another place to be that afternoon. I made a couple of calls and we were soon ready for the rest of the day.

The next hour I spent in the warehouse learning their procedures and asking questions on how and why they did certain things certain ways. After the hour, the warehouse supervisor ushered me on to the purchasing department. Each of these individuals reported directly to the VP of Operations currently.

On it went; spending time with each. The next stop was in production control and soon on to shipping and receiving. Right after lunch I was dropped off in the production departments. Later in the afternoon, I spent time with sales, customer support and eventually with HR. Each department picked my mind and then reported their thoughts to the VP.

Just about 4:00 PM, I was returned to the VP’s office, where we discussed the day, what I had learned and what ideas I had that could help improve the operations of each department. I was very frank with the guy and told him just what I thought in each case: where the strong points//players were and where I thought there was room for improvement.

The organization was in desire of a huge expansion but stymied as how to go about accomplishing it. I must have said the exact right things because he offered me the position before I left for home. I had basically worked the entire day off the clock often giving direction where I thought it was needed. I had met and passed the can we work together test with a wide variety of the organization’s vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors. I had made my thoughts and ability to think on my feet very evident. I passed the test; good thing I was wide awake when I had arrived or the day may have gone a completely different direction.

Having been tested this way, I saw the benefits of this procedure and used the same overall method several times in my future endeavors. This is probably one of the best methods of working out an outside candidate’s fit that I have every come across or have been put through. It works; but your interviewers have to be somewhat skilled to be able to test the candidate and must have a great deal of openness to both sides of the struggle.

Openness is of extreme importance in this interview process. You have to weight some areas greater than others unless the skills of each are just as strong as the skills of the others.

If you have the opportunity; give it a try. But always keep in mind, the decision still resides in the hiring manager. Don’t blame the subordinates if the hire goes south.

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