Your Supply Chain Staff Could Be a Critical Step in Risk Mitigation

Published : May 13, 2015

person-on-interviewRisk mitigation, omni-channel approaches, the Internet of Things—supply chains are very different animals than their predecessors of only a decade ago. This shift in focus means that scanning a candidate’s past work experience and salary expectations aren't enough. Every successful supply chain management professional brings an interesting, and unique, set of skills to the table. He or she must not only be proficient in the day-to-day operations of an existing supply chain, but also innovative and flexible enough to take business growth-related challenges head on.

And a good interview can break out into the different dimensions you need to find those candidates with the skills you want. Do it right the first time, and your company will enjoy the work of a dedicated individual with your best interests in mind.

Here's how to find the winners in a pack of potential candidates:

Tune In To The Echoes Of Success

Forego the trick questions about personal weaknesses in favor of tapping into strong, happy memories of a cherished or first job, says LinkedIn's Jennifer Scott. Listen carefully as the candidate describes his or her duties at that first or favorite job and elaborates on why the job was pleasant to work in or why it initially attracted their interest. Did they like the other staff members? The locale? Flexible scheduling?

If your company doesn't offer that culture, if not those benefits specifically, your candidate may not be a good fit for your team.

Feel Out Teamwork Potential

Shake things up by asking about a candidate’s experience in working as part of a team or with new co-workers, rather than just focusing on their experiences as an individual for the entire interview. Craig Cincotta offers a very succinct interview question in Entrepreneur, intended to uncover the positive or negative of this scenario: "How do you rely on others to make you better?" Note the cautious wording: you want a candidate to explain not how working with a team makes them feel, but how they have incorporated lessons and experiences from others in their own professional development.

Depending on your candidate's answer to this question, you may be able to determine if he or she should have minimal or maximum contact with the daily operations of their subordinate team. 

Present A Real-Life Problem

Few companies are completely free of past supply chain issues breakdowns in communication with a vendors an unforeseen circumstances that disrupt a supply chain's flow are just part and parcel of doing business. Present a problem—whether a hypothetical or real problem your team has faced—to your candidate and ask how they would have solved it, had it happened on their watch. Armed with the benefit of knowing your company's actual past responses, you'll be able to draw correlations to help single out the strongest candidate in the available pool. Additionally, the candidate will be able to peek at the types of responsibilities and "hiccups" they should expect if they're chosen for the position.

 Forbes' Jacquelyn Smith notes that major companies like Google, Bain, Mckinsey and more make use of these "case interviews" in their notoriously difficult application and interview processes.

Following good risk mitigation procedures is a step that is as vital for minimizing turnover as it is for managing a company's non-human assets. Interviews shouldn't be about getting a warm body behind a desk, but about infusing your culture with fresh ideas, bold moves and intelligent planning that will eventually pan out as supply chain gold. While it takes far more than a single interview to really get to know a candidate, these questions and strategies will help separate the wheat from the chaff. Choose wisely and you'll watch your supply chain revolutionize your business from the inside out.

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Topics: Supply Chain Workforce Management

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