What is the one trait you look for when interviewing a candidate?
It is actually a complicated task to select the best candidate for a given job, whether it is a manager job or a director job. We need to look at multiple traits of a candidate. However, I always find attitude, personality and culture fit are essential for the candidate to be successful in Hilti.
Functional expertise, analytical skills and ability to execute plans are also very important and these are always core elements for interviewers. However, such skills and experience are not that difficult to evaluate during an interview.
On the contrary, attitude and personality are relatively more difficult to assess. Most candidates try to show their best side and it requires conscious questioning and strong probing skills to get valid evidence.
I would like to explain more why attitude and personality are so important. Take our sales people for example. We hire sales candidates based on their academic qualifications and work experience. The selected candidates all go through comprehensive training and work for seasoned sales managers. However, some candidates perform much better than others. Hilti Asia recently conducted an analysis on whether personality is a distinguishing factor between stronger performers and average ones. The finding was that performance in sales is strongly correlated to a few personality factors. We have further applied the use of personality questionnaires in the interviewing process.
What is one way candidates can impress you during an interview?
Key success criteria include leadership style and cultural fit to Hilti. Hilti is a company which always puts people first. I would like to illustrate this by sharing quotes from:
Executive Board member Christoph Loos: “The people in the company are our capital. As a company, we can only grow when they have a sense of well being.”
President, Hilti, Asia: “One of the tasks I never fully delegate is talent development. I spend close to 40% of my time on people related topics.”
I am impressed by candidates who have strong team work and leadership skills, which should encompass in ability to bring out the best in people, craft direction and a drive to perform.
What is one interview blunder candidates often make during the interview process?
One interview blunder candidates often make is trying too hard to guess what the interviewer is looking for, over selling and presenting themselves as someone not wholly true to themselves.
Best career advice you’ve ever received?
It was advice from my first two bosses, who remain my good friends and mentors even now. I learnt from them that:
• Stick to your principles even when you are against the tide
• Always show what you can contribute before you ask for reward
• Do what you are “best” at, leveraging your strengths
• Networking is important
What is one misconception candidates have about your company industry?
There is no generic misconception that candidates have about Hilti. For those candidates who are familiar with the construction industry, Hilti is a company known for its technologically leading products, systems and services that provide construction professionals with innovative solutions.
What’s one skill that is found lacking in candidates now?
Most companies look for candidates who are strategic and also able to go into details and execute plans at the operational level. Usually candidates who are good at the bigger picture may not be very detail-minded or enjoy doing operational work, and vice versa.
What is the biggest challenge in your role now?
The biggest challenge is winning the talent war in China. China represents a huge construction business opportunity for Hilti and we need to expand our headcount and hire strong and capable employees. Unfortunately the supply of talent is very tight. According to a few surveys, among the top 5 shortages in China are the kinds of people we are looking for, i.e. production operators, technicians, sales, managers and engineers.
Though it is challenging, Hilti’s people-focused culture does help us in attracting and retaining talent. Hilti’s voluntary turnover rate is 1% while the market stands at 17%. According to the Hilti employee satisfaction survey, 90% reported that they are proud to work at Hilti.