Some essays, some thoughts

The Interview Process of YKH

There is a Chinese saying: Rotten wood can not be carved. But then someone says that it may be good for growing mushrooms! Well, we at Yung Kong are looking for good wood that we can carve into a beautiful piece of art, not a rotten piece for growing fungus. This essay explains our way of finding people to join us as new members to our team the Yung Kong Team.

Traditionally we look for a new member of our staff when there is a need for it. For instance, when the office is overloaded with works, we start looking for someone, and the first one that fits into our hours and pay is hired. This way of recruiting may not guarantee good wood, neither will we land on dead wood every time we add a new member to our company, but surely there is a better, more systematic way of finding the most suitable person for the post opened.

My own experience of joining Yung Kong more that 15 years ago was not a question of choice, no body interviewed me and told me that I was hired! I suppose being an existing shareholder and after 5 years of studies in New Zealand and graduated with a Master of Engineering Degree was good enough for the job of Project Engineer/Manager at Yung Kong Construction. It was a tough job for me, as I was totally unprepared for what was in stored a broad spectrum job that included the function of an office boy, typist, clerk, accountant, debt collector, interviewer, site supervisor, engineer, director, secretary, in fact anything that made a company move, hopefully with profit. After 10 years on-the-job training, a promotion to be the Managing Director of Yung Kong Holdings (YKH) added even more pressure to a Civil Engineer, by then turned Finance Engineer.

What is a Holdings company looking for in its people? Well, first of all what is the function of the company? YKH was set up to be the secretariat of the Group, with some of the smaller companies coming under its care. So we are looking for people with secretarial and accounting skills. There you are, we have positions opened and we know what we are looking for.

The inherent weakness of the traditional method of recruiting is that we fail to describe the works involved clearly and that the basic skills and characters of the applicant are not clear to us at the point of hiring. Even though there is a fair period of probation, normally 3 months, should we employ an unsuitable staff, there are a lot of hassles (such as EPF, SOCSO, IRD documentation and procedures) to ask a new recruit to leave at the expiry of the probation. We are therefore very serious while hiring new staff.

Our hiring process has evolved from a very simple NAME-AND-PAY format to a fairly comprehensive set of written questions and face-to-face interviews by experienced managers. In the written stage of the interview, we ask simple, logical questions that require thinking; we make known our requirements of the kind of person we are looking for and describe the nature of the job, and give an opportunity for the applicants to express and show their strength. During the oral interview, relevant questions will be posed to get an on-line impression. We are told by some who have been through our interview that the questions set are too tough, very difficult. But it is by design that we ask some above average questions so as those who are really good will show up! We fully understand that our interview process is not meant to be an agonizing test for the would be YungKong People, but a chance for the person interviewed to convince us that he or she is the best candidate for the job available. We are therefore not examiners trying to find faults, but to identify strength and potentials. As we are genuinely looking for the right person and believing that the applicants are truly looking for a place in Yung Kong, the painstaking process of interview is therefore warranted. The reward are more compatible team members who understand their job and their working environment before they accept the job.

At YKH, our experience has shown that our interview process for hiring has proved that we can find good wood people with good potentials. Our team members are honest, competent, eager to learn and are happy with their work. They are proud to be called YungKong People. The success of the process are further evidenced by requests from other member companies of the Group for recruitment of new staff. Thus by avoiding the rotten wood, we will be able to carve our people to fit in our strategic human resources planning to create a great Yung Kong Team. A real necessity for the immense challenges of today and tomorrow.

The first step to good people is people.

- Ir Michael Hii, 1996


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