The mold for an effective Procurement professional has evolved alongside the function itself. That means traditional methods for assessing candidates won't cut it much longer.
In the old days, supply chain experience was enough to sell a candidate. In Procurement's strategic era, however, tenure isn't nearly enough. While the value of industry exposure can't be totally discounted, discerning organizations know they need to look for much more. Truly exemplary candidates - the kind that can drive the Procurement function forward - need to distinguish themselves as innovators, change managers, and born collaborators. Bringing such candidates in-house is the only way for Procurement to continue in its strategic evolution. These folks will help the function secure a seat at the table and accept its rightful leadership role.
To identify these out-of-the-box thinkers, hiring managers need to introduce out-of-the-box questions to their interview process. Even if two candidates look identical on paper, the right behavioral question could make it easy to confidently make the right decision. In addition to questions focused on change management, stakeholder engagement, and strategic sourcing, consider asking some of these next time you meet with a candidate.
What steps do you take to make a decision?
Procurement departments only function effectively when they're staffed with strategic, decisive thinkers. Driving a sourcing initiative is all about gathering information, assessing it, and prescribing an effective go-forward strategy. An applicant's answer to this question will speak volumes about their ability to do just that.
Ask the candidate to walk you through their decision making process step-by-step. The best should provide evidence of a clear, consistent methodology. Consider presenting the candidate with a hypothetical situation that would make it difficult to apply their usual approach. If they answer effectively, they've identified themselves as flexible, quick thinking, and cool under pressure. Be wary of any candidate who waffles on this question. After all, the key word here is decisive.
How do you deal with conflicts at work?
Supply Chain Management is all about building and nurturing relationships. This isn't always easy. Despite everyone's best intentions, the occasional disagreement is inevitable. The result of these disagreements, on the other hand, is anything but certain. Truly excellent Procurement professionals know how to turn conflict into a constructive learning opportunity.
The ideal candidate will speak to specific experiences. They'll detail instances where their respectful, thoughtful approach to conflict mediation helped make for a stronger Procurement unit. You'll never manage to completely eliminate internal and external friction. With the right hire, however, you can rest assured that contentious relationships won't stay that way for long.
What do you do when you're behind on a project?
Even top-performing organizations sometimes run into roadblocks. While run-of-the-mill teams let such situations discourage them, the best use setbacks as fuel to continue down the path to success. This question will help your hiring team differentiate between those candidates who are unflappable and those that'll fold when things get tough.
Once again, the best candidates will have real-life examples to illustrate their methods. Listen up closely to how they articulate frustrating situations. Are they willing to accept accountability when a project falls behind schedule? A leading candidate certainly will be. As a result, they'll describe the ways in which they took an active role in getting things back on track. This is also the perfect opportunity for candidates to describe the particulars of their leadership style. A world-class candidate will describe their strategies for delegating tasks, communicating expectations, and guaranteeing follow-through.
Whether you're building a Procurement team from the ground up or just looking for that last missing piece, introducing these questions could be the answer you need. Want to hear more from Source One's supply chain staffing and recruiting team? Subscribe to the Source One Podcast today.