Earlier this week, I caught up with an industry insider who knows a thing or two about building an organization and recruiting and keeping the right talent. We talked about how we've both changed what we look for over the years in our own interviews (in fact, in my case, the team often keeps me away from more junior recruits because they're afraid that I'll scare them away or revert back to my "case interview" DNA from a consulting life long ago).
One thing we agreed on in this conversation is the critical importance of somehow discerning how passionate a subject is about not only the job they're interviewing for, but also the industry and broader dynamics surrounding it. Passion – provided someone has the basic horsepower and background – combined with an attitude where a brick wall is merely seen as a suggested stopping point are two phenomenal indicators of success.
But how do you test for true passion? Often attitude is a bit easier to discern based on track record, references, and the like. I might suggest a few questions and areas to probe on when it comes to procurement specifically:
- Is the individual extroverted by nature and do they get excited about working with "outsiders" who they sense could bring good ideas to them and the organization? There is very little room for introverts (aside from data analysts) in a procurement organization.
- What is their comfort level bringing the world outside into the topic of procurement? Such thinking shows interest and forethought about the topic.
- Is the candidate comfortable drawing analogies between a given subject with external areas? This can show both depth of thought and true curiosity with key topics.
- Does the person have a perspective on where something specific is headed – procurement, the industry she is interviewing in, the company in question? The ability to think about potential futures can surface not only underlying intellectual curiosity and interests, but also the fire in one's belly to make a difference as part of it.
- What is their interest in things outside of the office? Do they have a hobby or collection of hobbies (less is often more) that they can speak with significant interest and enthusiasm for? It does not matter what it is – it's how they show their true passion.
Together, attitude and passion can trump a range of desired attributes in potential candidates for procurement roles. But getting at true character can be something that is harder to test for than pure analytical reason and smarts. Sometimes open-ended questioning can be the most effective means of getting a candidate to open up and show their true color.