MISSISSAUGA, Ont.–What are the emerging trends in hiring top quality transportation management talent? Ross Reimer, president, Reimer Associates, Inc. devoted an entire session to these during Wednesday’s 2014 Surface Transportation Summit at the Mississauga Convention Centre.
Reimer said the best advice he ever received came early in his career as a recruiter.
“When you meet a job candidate, and you don’t quite have that connection at the beginning or you don’t even like the person, go very easy at that point and suspend your judgment. The flip side is the same-if you find it’s going too easy, start going harder. But be careful you don’t waltz the person right into the job,” Reimer said.
Be considerate of a candidate’s schedule when you are booking the interview timing. Fitting them in is important, so be flexible.
When it comes to location, “I would just say that sometimes going off location is best, and adjust your expectations accordingly. We may be interviewing sales people in the morning and vice presidents in the afternoon. It’s important to keep that in mind,” he added.
While there are many outgoing people who tend to be less nervous in a given situation, nervousness “doesn’t mean they are hiding something or lying. I’ve seen people sweat, cry, hyperventilate and spill coffee. You have to make allowances for this,” Reimer noted.
Questions that examine behaviour allow you to drill down into the resume and see if there is actual experience behind what is written there.
Getting someone to describe how they handled a particular situation can reveal a good deal.
Panel interviews can also be very effective, in that they can give one interviewer the chance to ask questions and one person to observe.
“I think eight people on a panel is overkill but two or three people can give the interviewers the chance to reflect on what they are hearing,” Reimer said.
When comparing skills sets of comparable candidates, an important factor to consider is whether they are a good cultural fit, which is paramount.
“Candidates can have similar skills sets but people can be great candidates for one location but not in another. It comes down to intuitive listening, record checking, and even taking the candidate off site. Taking a senior person offsite can be a good way to see what their cultural fit will be,” Reimer said.
As you’re proceeding with the interview, remember that silence can be golden.
“As an interviewer it is important to not fill in every gap of silence.
The person being interviewed will generally fill it in and you will find more out. I find this practice to be very useful with teenagers,” Reimer quipped.
When you encounter someone unusual, just keep in mind that unusual can be ok.
While it will depend on what you’re hiring for and what the candidate will be doing, it is not fair to lay the template of perfection over the interview when the people in question may be far from that, Reimer said.
And, sometimes unusual can be not ok.
“One of the legendary people we came across was in a telephone interview that he initiated, and then while talking to us, he paused to flush the toilet. That was too unusual, for us,” said Reimer.
It comes down to culture, the position being filled, and your intuitiveness on whether a candidate is just too unusual to be seriously considered.
When you are managing the hiring timeline, be aware that great candidates expect to be handled well throughout the process, even if from your perspective you only want to test the market.
“Companies who do poorly here only get mediocre people,” stressed Reimer.
Going to references can be so much more useful than standard questions. But remember it’s who you are talking to that counts.
Sometimes if a reference is too critical, you have to wonder is there a personal vendetta?
“On the flip side I’ve had people give glowing references so they can get someone out,” Reimer said.
The interview process has its limitations, so “when we think of all the hiring decisions we make we have to think of the lifelong process of building networks. Know who you can phone,” said Reimer.
While for the younger generations social media is becoming a bigger part of the hiring process, “for the more senior roles it’s still face to face, person to person. Linked In is big for us in terms of research but you still have to do the work on ‘who am I talking to’?” said Reimer.
You should also consider that not everyone is out to make hiring decisions.
“I have some clients who will not release that [responsibility] and they make poor decisions,” he said.
How do you know if you don’t have the skills or not?
“Look at your track record. If you have had quite a few misfires you should ask why,” said Reimer.
Get some outside help from an HR firm to acquire some of those skills.
Quoting a favourite expression of his father’s, Reimer said:
“Everything matters. When I say this in the interviewing selection process everything does matter. You are on an investigative journey. You are like a detective. If you made a hiring mistake ‘deal with it’.
“Sometimes it’s within a couple of hours that we recognize it. Sometimes it takes longer. The best thing is to own it and make a clean break sooner rather than later. When you release someone who truly doesn’t fit they will probably find a better place,” he said.
If you have a long gap in your resume or you’ve been unemployed long-term, Reimer had this to say:
“You better have an answer (to explain the gap) or show that you’re looking for the next job. I could show you a stack of resumes of unemployed supply chain professionals that you would be surprised at. If you get a package and it’s a year, take a week to gather your thoughts, and then get busy!”
Julia Kuzeljevich is managing editor of Motortruck magazine, as well as sister publication Canadian Transportation & Logistics and www.ctl.ca. With nearly seven years’ experience writing for the Canadian transportation industry, Julia specializes in human interest, in-depth news and business articles of interest to the trucking and logistics sectors. Julia has a degree in languages with a postgraduate specialization in journalism, and work experience in the air transportation industry. All posts by Julia Kuzeljevich