The Importance of You interviewing for Supply Chain Positions

Last month, a non-profit not related to my company or involved in the supply chain, was hiring in a senior position. I was privileged to watch final job interviews with for this position in that organization. Of the two finalists, one became nearly unanimous pick to be hired. I asked myself why? Both were talented people and both could have done the job. Was there anything that could be learned about this interview that might help people interviewing for supply chain jobs that would help candidates find the right job and the company to have a good hire? Spoiler alert, the winning candidate did a thorough self evaluation of herself to find out why she was successful in her career and clearly communicated that.

My career has been decades long and there were periods of unemployment. I have learned watching these interviews that in retrospect I spent too little time thinking about myself. But in part that was caused companies doing poor jobs of understanding what they needed in their future employee, so I will write about that aspect first.

In thinking about the job positions I applied in the past, I realized they were more focused on the transactions of the business, needing this skill and that skill, which yes needed to be done, but the skills alone would not lead to employee of high value to the company. I found myself focused on the words of the job description and not what was needed above and beyond that which leads to a valued employee. In those interviews, I did not distinguish myself.

Here is an example of what I mean by focusing too much on the job description and not what makes a successful employee. Many people are skilled programmers. But programming skills mean the employee has the tools to do the job, but that alone will not create a valuable employee. But the programmer value as employee goes way up if that person can understand what the business does and needs to be successful in the marketplace. They need to be able to formulate the right questions to learn what really needs to be done. The other part of this the programmer has to know the limitations of the software they worked on and be able to communicate that.

With an opening caused by a retirement, the non profit formed a committee to plan how the process for the job fulfillment process, and how it would be presented. Importantly they went out to the organization’s field to solicit what was necessary for the new employee’s job position. The result was seven major skills or attributes which were critical for success in that position. That led to questions about how could a person achieve success in these diverse seven fields. Some of the seven were skills, others were the attributes would lead to the candidates success in the job. That in turn led the committee to look for candidates who could meet this criteria.

The successful candidate needs to have more than the necessary skills for the job. They need to know why they were successful in the past. The successful candidate used her career choices to show why she would be successful for the position. As the interview went on, she used the road blocks in her career to show how she responded by the organizational challenges. These were excellent vignettes about challenges of this position and how she would fair in her position and her ability to move forward. A key points about her participatory nature were spelled out often in the interview.

This candidate almost perfectly fit the position offered. But I think just as important she would have ruled herself out from a position were her skills and performance would have clashed with the organization.

So yes, in a job interview document you have the basic skills for the job. Realize that does not set you apart from others. Look at your successes and realize that it was not the basic skill but how use this base to move forward and make the organization successful.

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