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Ch.

8 Interviewing Candidates

Self-study reading

Toyota Way the hiring process


http://www.lean.org/LeanPost/Posting.cfm?LeanPostId=145
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "What did you have to go through to get
hired at Toyota?"
I went through Toyotas hiring process 28 years ago in 1986 when I applied for a
position at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky as they were constructing the plant.
Everyone knows hiring processes evolve over time due to our ever-changing world and
market. At that time (1986-1988), Toyota was building their first plant in North America,
so it took a little time to build a structure capable of a 540,000 car a year output. Today,
its not as good a time for a potential hire (Toyota may be hiring fewer people), but the
competencies Toyota looks for in people and future leaders havent changed.
I went through a battery of tests in the beginning and over the years have realized they
were looking for specific competencies in people. Assessors were present during the
hiring process who were analyzing behaviors and actions of all potential hires as we
went through various tests and exercises.
There were 5 competencies, as I learned later, that Toyota looked for in people. These
are also the competencies I recommend you look for if you want to develop a more
robust hiring process.
1.

Listening skills I think this one is deceptively simple. What I mean is: How
effective are we at really listening, and how do we know this? Have you ever tried
the simple exercise of listening to someone for two minutes and then trying to
paraphrase back to them what they said? This sounds easy, but try it. Our first
instinct is to share our opinion before someone is finished, or to come up with a
rebuttal in our minds before someone is even finished talking. This hinders us from
truly listening. I remember during my hiring process, we were doing exercises and
the assessors were watching for the folks who were truly able to listen and absorb
new
information.

2.

Problem solving skills The ability to solve problems as an organization is


crucial. This is what allows any organization to achieve long-term growth and
sustainability. Being able to see abnormality at a glance is so key. I can remember
for one portion of the tests going through a 2 day (12 hours each day) simulation of
the type of work that we would be doing on the line (this can be simulated for nonmanufacturing as well), placing us in a work cell that had various problems. We
would do the work and be asked every hour how we would improve the work,
layout, and area among any other possibilities we saw. Could we see abnormalities
and come up with our own ideas to make things better?

3.

Teamwork How well did we work with others? This competency is often downplayed as a given, but it was/is a key component rooted deeply with the Toyota
Way. Every team member at Toyota is an essential part of the team. In one hiring
exercise we were put with other people (in groups of 12) who we hadnt previously
met who were also going through the hiring process. We were given a problem
and asked to solve it as a team. Our assessors were looking for personality traits,
our responses to ideas offered up by others, and our general attitude and
demeanor throughout the exercise. They wanted to see if we could work effectively
with people who had different personalities.

4.

Initiative This one often sparks an interesting conversation, depending on the


industry. How do you define initiative exactly? In my case, Toyota was looking for
someone who would go above and beyond in terms of creating ideas for
improvement, ways to work smarter not harder, and understanding that valueadded work is essential for future job security. So it wasnt necessarily about
staying late or working up a sweat. The focus was on capability development (and
the team members desire and ability to develop oneself). And more than this, the
hiring process was about finding people who felt and could be empowered to think
without needing massive amounts of prodding or incentives.

5.

Leadership This one is hugely important if youre interested in growing


leaders internally. I was a perfect example of a home-grown leader at Toyota. I
started out on the line and through great coaching, was developed in the other
competencies above following Toyota Way values. I worked up from hourly to
salary in seven years witnessing the leadership above me walking the walk and
learning how to do this myself. This was all grounded in the idea of respecting
peoples ability to think, building this respect for learning by doing, problem solving,
and improving into our daily work. We also had to show specific
qualities/competencies before we were chosen for pre-promotion classes. Within
the hiring process we were made a mock leader in an organization and asked to
handle specific issues that arose. We were instructed to ask questions and grasp
the situation. How we did this was what we were assessed on. Our ability to see
facts and not make assumptions was noted along with our ability to see people as
the most important asset of an organization and lead from that principle.

The hiring process I went through functioned almost like a sifter. You start out a large
rock at the top and only the granules of sand make it to an interview. There were
probably seven sifters to go through to be considered a Toyota team member. If you
made it, this was something to be proud of and it helped you to be better than you were
the day before. As a trainer myself now, this is something I still hold on to today. None of
us are experts. We all should be learning and so we should look for this same quality in
our team members and new hires. Perhaps the most important two questions we should
ask is, Is this a person able to be developed? and Do they demonstrate a willingness
and ability to learn?

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of
The Lean Enterprise Institute.
Toyota Ways of Hiring & the Toyota Culture?
http://www1.tecnun.es/biblioteca/2009/ene/liborg3.pdf

Toyota way of recruitment


As at 31st March 2011, Toyotas total workforce is 317,716 (www.toyota-globle.com, accessed
April 2012). Thus, recruitment activities are vital. The best human resources strategies and best
technology are to be used for the recruitment activities to compete with other major competitors
like General Motors and Volkswagen. The Toyotas human resources policy is in-house
grooming (www.toyota.co.za, accessed April 2012). The essence of this policy is that
employees should grow with the company. According to that Toyota recruit many trainees to
their company and allow them to grow with the company. Learning and development
opportunities are provided for their development. Because of this policy, Toyotas graduate
recruitment programme is very important. Thus, the Toyota graduate recruitment programme will
take as an example to identify the recruitment procedure of Toyota. The main fields of
recruitments are engineering, HR, marketing and IT. As explained above, at the theoretical
background they use the recruitment method of educational institutions for this programme. In
this method Toyota invite students of various universities to make applications for this
programme and it is coordinated by local career centers. The below activities are carried out to
attract students for this programme (www.toyota.co.za, accessed April 2012).
Career exhibitions The main purpose of career exhibitions is to facilitate for students of
universities. In these career exhibitions facilities have been given for students to inquire about
the graduate recruitment programme.
Toyota representative A representative from Toyota has been appointed to discuss the
programme with interested students.
Interested student can apply for this programme at the career exhibition itself.
Apart from the above Toyota recruit many employees from director level to conservancy labour.
For these recruitments Toyota is using many recruitment methods for these recruitments. (Kelly,
2008: p39-40). These recruitment methods can be summarized as advertisements, unsolicited
applications and resumes, internet recruiting, executive search firms, public employment
agencies. The most common method among these are advertisements and internet recruiting
(Kelly, 2008: p39-40). Toyota uses many advertisement methods to attract employees to their
company. News papers, magazine and social media are very popular among them. Also internet
recruiting is widely use as a recruitment method. Candidates can log to the Toyota web site and
submit their resumes. This is a very effective and widely used method at Toyota. Apart from
above Toyota received thousands of thousand unsolicited applications and resumes. These
applications are carefully reviewed and maintained in a job bank for future requirements
(www.toyotauk.com, accessed April 2012). Further executive search firms are playing major role
for the recruitment of Toyota. Especially key positions are recruited through executive search

firms. Because of the extensive competition of the job market, this method is very important for
Toyota. Public employment agencies are also important for the recruitment process of Toyota. In
this method candidate can register at a public employment agency and when a vacancy arise
Toyota can recruit employees through these public employment agencies.
Further, Toyota has an equal opportunity policy and it is described that at the recruitment stage
no candidate will be unfairly treated according to their gender, age, marital status, disability,
sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, ethnic or national origin, or nationality
(www.toyotauk.com, accessed April 2012).

Toyota way of selection


The selecting process of Toyota is comprehensive since it determines the future talent pool of
Toyota (Burgess-Wilkerson, 2008: p100-102). Also Toyota has two major competitors in the
world market and to compete with them in an effective manner, it is essential a good selection
process. Further, the future of Toyota will be depended on its selection process. The process is
started with the source of information about job candidates. At this stage source of information of
the candidate will be checked. This process is called screening process. The most common tool at
Toyota for source of information is background checks (Burgess-Wilkerson, 2008: p100-102). At
this stage reference check is very important. Toyota checks all references regarding the pervious
employers of candidates. At the next stage candidate test is conducted. For this purpose both
aptitude and achievement test are used. Some jobs at Toyota are highly technical. Thus, these
tests are very important at the selection stage. At the aptitude test persons capacity to learn or
acquire skills are tested. The Toyota Way describes continuous improvement. This continuous
improvement is not only for the production but also for the continuous improvement of the
human resources. Thus, company expects continuous learning and acquired skills of its
employees. On the other hand, achievement test will measure what a person knows. Skills and
knowledge are important to perform at Toyota. The next step is interviews. The interview process
of Toyota is so comprehensive. It involves many steps. Also, interview method is totally
depended on the nature of the job. Almost all interview methods, which include nondirective
interviews, structured interviews, situational interviews, behavioural description interviews,
personal interviews, computer and virtual interviews, are used as per the nature of job. Some
candidates are gone through many interviews according to the nature to job. For an example
some managers will go through structured interviews, situational interviews and behavioural
description interviews before they arrive to a final decision. The final step is reaching the
selecting decision. The Toyota human resources policies will not allow to select any candidate
who does not match with the Toyota culture (Burgess-Wilkerson, 2008: p100-102). Thus,
selecting decision is taken after many considerations. But once they reach to the selecting
decision it communicated to the candidate very fast. By that method they build first impression
about the company.

Link to Performance management is important?


The main purpose of performance management is to maintain and enhance the productivity of
employees. It will finally pave the way for superior productivity. In the todays turbulent world,

superior productivity is essential to gain competitive advantage. Many of organizations have


same kind of human resources to lead their business. But some organizations perform while
others fail to perform up to standards. Further, some organizations make high profit while others
making losses with same human resources. The main reason behind this superior performance of
employees is effective performance management systems.
The performance management can be defined as the process of creating a work environment in
which people can perform to the best of their abilities (Snell, 2010: p362). According to this
definition there are two main areas of performance management. Those are creating a work
environment which helps employees to perform and this work environment should help
employees to perform to the best of their abilities.
Many scholars have argued about the elements of performance management. After reviewing of
these arguments, the elements of performance management can be identified as performance
measurement, target-setting, competency frameworks, 3600appraisal, personal development
plans, performance-related pay and techniques for dealing with problem staff (Leopold, 2009:
p221). These all areas can be summarized to the cycle of performance management (Leopold,
2009: p222). At the cycle of performance management, planning is very important. At this stage
objective setting is conducted. The organizational strategies should be included employee
objectives. The second stage of performance management cycle is regular discussion of
objectives. The set objectives should be discussed throughout the year. If necessary, they should
be corrected. The final and most important stage of performance management cycle is
assessment stage. At the assessment stage, performance appraisals take place. Further, it is a tool
to identify employee strength and weakness. Also, by this assessment, training and development
needs can be identified. Further, it will help to develop succession plans and personal
development plans of organizations.

The Toyota way of performance management


Toyota since a large employer, who has employed 317,716 employees, has effective performance
management system. The Toyota way of performance management is unique to Toyota Motor
Corporation (Mcphaul, 2005: p32).
The performance management process of Toyota is started with planning process. At this stage,
the chairperson of Toyota gives his objective for the financial year. It is clearly indicated what he
wants to achieve during the year. Also these objectives may include long term plans of the
organization. Further, these objectives are selected from the corporate strategies of the
company. These objectives are followed by the next level of hierarchy. Accordingly top
management to operational level these objectives are followed. These all objectives are properly
documented. Hence, at the beginning of the year all employees are well aware about their
objectives for the next financial year.