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Hiring managers in Malaysia: What’s the optimum number of interviews?

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Recruiting managers from Siemens Malaysia, Seagate Systems, F&N Beverages and Deleum set out to answer one crucial question – what’s the most effective interview process?

In a conversation with Monroe Consulting Group Malaysia, a majority noted that a two-stage process was the minimum required, while some positions suffice with just the one interview stage.

Here are some snippets from the conversation:

Q. How many interview stages would you typically use for assessing candidate suitability?

Elma Tambuwun (ET), talent acquisition at Siemens Malaysia: At least two stages. There needs to be an element of practicality in the interview process as anybody can impress in theory but fail in the practical component. Therefore, hiring managers need an idea of how individuals – particularly those being considered for managerial positions – perform under pressure.

Norzila Zarin (NZ), talent acquisition partner at Seagate Systems: No matter how well a candidate performs in the first interview, in order to fully gauge the compatibility of core competencies, at least three interviews are required.

Felicia Liew (FL), HR manager at F&N Beverages Manufacturing: This depends on how critical or technical the role is but the usual protocol will require two stages. Candidates for technical positions will be tested on their practical knowledge with trials in assessment centres.

Judy Wong (JW), senior group HR manager at Deleum: Not all positions require more than one interview. If candidates have more than one round of interviews, it is usually is due to hierarchical or structural reasons in our organisation. I also believe that total transparency is needed from the hiring managers, to share the good points as well as the challenging points. Painting too nice a view may mask the challenging areas that may be a concern for the candidate.

If candidates have more than one round of interviews, it is usually is due to hierarchical or structural reasons.

Q. What are the common difficulties in recruiting for managerial or executive-level positions?

ET: Finding an individual with the right personality traits, particularly leadership traits. At times, relevant and qualified candidates lack soft skills, which are difficult to acquire and typically come naturally. Another thing is that many candidates tend to focus on too much is the basic salary proposal and often fail to understand the wider bonus and benefits package.

NZ:  In the industrial sector, a number of job openings are located in remote or underdeveloped areas, and relocating personnel to these places is usually an issue. In these cases, we generally provide greater leeway during negotiations, so we are more open to listening to a candidate’s preferences in regards to bonuses and benefits.

FL: Within the fast-moving consumer goods industry, we have an extremely engaging and thorough retention programme, which has resulted in below average industry attrition rates.

JW: Sourcing a person with the right cultural, personality and leadership fit with good technical capabilities. Some people come with good technical capabilities but poor managerial or leadership capabilities, while some are the opposite. Securing a balanced person is ideal for a managerial role.

In the industrial sector, a number of job openings are located in remote or underdeveloped areas, and relocating personnel to these places is usually an issue.

Q. For senior-level recruitment, what’s more important – qualifications or experience?

ET: It is not necessarily true that candidates with higher qualifications will be preferred, in fact, not that much attention is paid to qualifications, particularly for senior-level positions. More importance is placed on relevant experience.

NZ: Most definitely relevant experience, particularly for managerial positions.

FL: Different jobs have differing core knowledge areas, and therefore need different assessment methodologies to measure the potential candidate. Candidates shortlisted for technical positions will be assessed based on their practical knowledge with the trials conducted in the designated assessment centres.

JW: This depends on the role – if it’s a technical position then higher qualifications would be required, for example, an engineering qualification. For managerial levels in general, experience is definitely looked upon more compared to the qualifications.

For managerial levels in general, experience is definitely looked upon more compared to the qualifications.

Q. In searching for candidates, what would you consider a red flag?

ET: An individual who talks negatively about his/her former boss, colleagues or company. This is seen as a sign of what they might say should they decide to leave the current employer or be offered better package elsewhere.

NZ: No particular red flags: It’s all relative and subjective to each individual candidate. With regards to background checks, some leeway can be given if the candidate is a right fit, if all variations of events don’t correspond 100 percent.

FL: Complications are due to the lack of communication and clarity, especially in articulating the expectations of the job’s key deliverables from the hiring manager to the candidate.

Occasionally, hiring managers may have difficulties expressing the whole picture of their expectations and the candidate who will be potentially filling it. Hence, the recruitment manager plays an extremely critical role in seeking clarity and alignment of expectations to ensure the candidate is the right fit.

JW: Usually I do not pre-judge a person although I do like people who come prepared and take the initiative with their appearance and clothing. First impressions count. Words or phrases that will disqualify a candidate? Foul language and discriminatory words. These do not portray a professional person.

An individual who talks negatively about his/her former boss, colleagues or company is a red flag.

Image: Shutterstock



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