Employers know it’s important for new hires to have leadership potential. You want people who can learn and then use their knowledge to teach and supervise others, whether this will be an immediate management position or an individual contributor growing into a management role over time.
To find out how to assess leadership potential in an industrial job interview, we spoke with Terri Beregi, human resources director for MasterVac Industrial Services, an industrial cleaning and vacuuming service with headquarters in Geismar, Louisiana.
Here’s what she had to say.
When hiring for a management position in an industrial setting, Beregi says she searches for qualities that would make a good hire in any company: leadership, initiative and integrity. She says anyone with any supervisory responsibilities should actively maintain these qualities.
She also looks for candidates who can inspire and motivate others, be transparent with supervisors and subordinates, and take action to help the company accomplish its goals.
For proof of these qualities, she says, she often asks management candidates about turnover ratios at their prior jobs. “A candidate with ample turnover may have a leadership style that many cannot handle,” she says. “A manager that must constantly refill positions should learn the reasons why their employees continually leave and then evaluate and adjust where appropriate. If the ratio was high, were they able to do this?”
Another important factor Beregi cites for management positions is the candidate’s decision-making process. She says she often asks about a time when the candidate was unable to make one side or the other, supervisors or subordinates, happy with a decision. Or she’ll ask how former employees would describe the candidate’s management style.
Many times, Beregi says, those in industrial supervision worked at lower levels before moving up, so they know the daily struggles of those working in this field. But are they able to move beyond that and work effectively as a supervisor as well?
Beregi says she really likes candidates with agile decision-making abilities. She wants to hear about situations where they overcame obstacles to complete tasks. “Every executive/manager in any company will be faced with seemingly impossible tasks; it’s what they do at that point that will make all the difference,” she says.
In an interview, she asks how these tasks were accomplished or what could have been done differently. Did they maximize all resources? Did they reach out to other departments or contacts? How did they achieve their result?
“Questions like these should lead a candidate to explain in depth their decision-making style and what they have struggled with over the years,” she says. “It also helps the interviewer to determine if their company would benefit from this style of decision-making.”
Executives of tomorrow are being hired today in entry-level positions. One doesn’t have to have years of résumé experience to be a leader, Beregi says. For these industrial beginners, you can look at other activities where the candidate developed or demonstrated initiative. Civic involvement and volunteer programs are a good indicator. “A candidate who has willingly given of themselves in these ways typically proves strong in character and willingness to pitch in,” she says.
In an interview, she’s looking for a good attitude and excellent communication skills, she says. “If an individual is able to speak confidently and communicate well with an interviewer it can indicate that they will also be able to communicate effectively with their team and supervision. Equally as important is someone’s attitude. This can be conveyed by how they present themselves and interact with the interviewer,” Beregi says.
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