By Craig Lloyd
The management interview process creates a certain amount of anxiety for participants on both sides of the desk, especially if neither has done a lot of interviewing. In absence of a highly structured process both sides can focus on the three Cs – credentials, chemistry and compensation.
C IS FOR CREDENTIALS
Credentials show up on a resume and, in “laundry speak,” credentials should enable the reader to review the facts. For example, a plant manager candidate needs to be able to answer the following types of questions – What was the mix of the plant in terms of linen, garments, etc.? What was the volume processed and the type of equipment?
What was the total workforce size? How many direct reports did you have? Was there a union shop in place?
As a candidate, if the answers to these types of questions are not reflected on your resume, invest time in a resume update. Additionally, be prepared to answer these types of questions during a telephone screening conversation. Obviously the prospective employer is looking to see how close your plant environment experience matches their needs.
Even more critical for prospective employers is gauging how successful a candidate was in their day to day responsibilities. Your resume should ideally list one or two accomplishments for each of your more recent positions. If a particular accomplishment supports a cost savings be prepared to explain what steps you took to achieve the result. These along with success stories and awards are all part of critical credentials.
Missing credentials can represent a potential need for training and closer supervision for an employer. Employers need to ask themselves if they have the time and training budget to support a less experienced new hire and bring them up to speed. Candidates, don’t embellish your credentials in an effort to receive a job offer when you might be setting yourself up for failure. Honesty on both sides of the desk creates reasonable expectations.
C IS FOR CHEMISTRY
Good chemistry can be driven by a candidate’s clear and sincere desire to work a company. The perception that a candidate’s primary goal is to work for the prospective employer above salary, 401(k), medical or vacation benefits, fosters good chemistry. Usually once an employer feels the candidate wants to commit to a long term career with their company, the rest will follow.
The risk of relying primarily on chemistry is what you see may not be what you get. Just as some candidates can hide character flaws in the interview process, some employers can hide personality defects. Employers can put systems in place – multiple interviews, reference checks and probation / termination clauses into offers that minimize ill-fated hires. However, when a new employee finds out his / her supervisor is a major micro manager or has mood swings bordering on clinical bipolar syndrome, the warm and engaging “chemistry” from the interview process begins to feel like a snow job. Many candidates have resigned from a job and even relocated, only to discover these negative traits in their new supervisor.
Candidates can create safeguards by inserting some of their own questions into the interview process. An out-of-town candidate should ask for an overnight stay so they can meet their prospective supervisor a second time, ideally away from the plant (breakfast, lunch, etc). Don’t forget to ask about the history of the position and the people who were previously held that job. Discuss management styles and ask your prospective employer what management style has served them best over the years. For example, do they have an “open door policy” for delicate issues? If their response is positive, they are probably easier to work for than an employer who exhibits a defensive response.
C IS FOR COMPENSATION
If both the credentials and the chemistry are right, the employer can elect to discuss compensation. Candidates need to be prepared with factual information, especially if part of the current or last year’s earnings included bonus incentives. Offer to provide a copy of your previous year’s W2 and / or a recent pay stub to verify compensation history. Ideally, your prospective employer has gathered some of this information prior to your interview and has thought about how to structure compensation to fit the position.
In addition to salary and bonus incentives, a compensation discussion can also include benefit topics such as medical insurance, vacation, and if appropriate, relocation assistance. As the candidate, try to wait until the employer has discussed the salary portion of the compensation as part of the job offer (defined by salary, position title and projected start date) before broaching the relocation topic.
No matter which side of the desk you are on, remembering the 3 Cs should get you through the interview process.
Craig Lloyd is owner of LaundryCareers.com, a staffing source for the laundry industry. He graduated from Rider College with an Industrial Relations degree and began his recruiting career at the Bell Oaks Company, one of the largest recruitment firms in the Southeast. Craig then worked for Premier Industrial Corporation, a Fortune 500 company where he recruited and hired sales reps for six Southeast divisions. His career in the laundry industry began when he was tapped as director of staffing and relocation for 72 National Linen Service plants in Atlanta. Craig has received the Consultant of the Year award from the Georgia Association of Personnel Consultants and he holds a Certified Personnel Consultant designation, which requires passing exams on federal and state laws, as well as ethics. His motto is “Earn trust and build credibility, the rest will take care of itself.”