Recruiting the right people in purchasing

Recruitment of the right people in the purchasing function starts with understanding the technical skills they need to do the job in question and ensuring that there is a good match. Not everyone will have the full range of skills at the level you require but training courses and on-the-job experience will add to a person's capabilities.

Assume that your job specification is complete and you are ready to search for the right person. There are two important questions to answer:

Is the candidate really competent to do the job you are recruiting for?

You have studied the CV, you have reviewed and verified the person's education, training and past experience. Recruitment of the right people starts there, but you need confidence that the candidate can really do the job.

Skills need to be converted into competencies which need to have been demonstrated. These competencies, when observed, provide the company with the tools to measure and reward performance.

One of the ways to establish competency is to get the person to tell you what they have done in specific situations. It is fair to say that past behaviour is normally an indicator of future performance.

Ask specific, open-ended questions about various tasks they have performed and situations that they have been involved in. Questions need to follow on to dig deeper into activity they are describing. This process, when repeated, will establish if the person really has done certain job tasks and experienced that activity.

What else, besides functional competencies, does a person need to have to be successful in your organization?

Recruitment of the right people depends on the skills of the interviewer as much as the quality of the candidate. There are certain behaviors that are desirable in purchasing professionals generally and there are some that will be specific to your organization.

Interviewers should develop questions that elicit answers about how the person feels about issues and how he would react in certain situations. Some of the behaviors that are indicators of success in purchasing are:

  1. Sensitivity to cultural, gender, nationality and age
  2. Positive and constructive attitude, resourcefulness
  3. Strong verbal and written communication skills need to build relationships with stakeholders
  4.  Remaining in control and calm under pressure
  5.  Open to new ideas and sharing of knowledge

Not every candidate will have all attributes combining skills, knowledge and behaviors. However, to ensure success in the recruitment of the right people, follow these guidelines and your staff turnover will drop and your cost of hiring and the related admin costs will be more manageable.