Safety professionals use their skills and knowledge to create safe work environments. They must know federal, state and local safety regulations to do their jobs successfully. When interviewing any job candidate, focus questions on specific job characteristics and skills, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology recommends. Consider the competencies needed for the job and develop questions around major duties and responsibilities. Safety professionals need technical expertise, problem-solving abilities, interpersonal intelligence, leadership qualities and a high degree of initiative.
Zero in on the depth of safety knowledge by asking candidates about the safety rules and regulations that might apply to your company. Qualified safety professionals have more than just awareness of safety regulations. They should be able to discuss many of the general industry standards they might apply to your company and why. Safety professionals must be technically sound in their judgments and abilities, since the work they do impacts employee welfare. Ask candidates how they would go about determining the most pressing safety issues on a job site.
Managing safety performance involves problem-solving. Asking about problem-solving skills reveals how safety professionals overcome obstacles to improve workplace safety. Ask candidates to provide specific examples of how they solved a problem relating to control or elimination of a workplace hazard. Require them to describe a specific safety issue, the strategy they used to come up with a solution, how they implemented the solution and how they measured the solution's effectiveness.
The Power of Influence
Safety professionals need the ability to relate to employees across all levels of an organization. They need the interpersonal skills to gain support for programs and to get employees involved in safety. Ask questions to gauge their ability to gain support from peers, managers and other employees. For example, ask candidates to describe how they would implement an unpopular but necessary safety procedure. Find out how they would plan and manage the change to gain acceptance and compliance.
Leader or Follower
Safety professionals need leadership skills if they want to progress in their careers and move into positions of responsibility, according to the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. They must set the example when it comes to safety expectations. Ask safety professionals about their leadership experience or skills they have that make them an effective leader. Alternatively, ask for an example of a safety initiative they led from start to finish. You want to determine whether they have a grasp of essential leadership principles.
Because of the sense of urgency that comes with control and elimination of workplace hazards, safety professionals need drive, motivation and initiative to get things done. They can’t wait to be told to do something that needs immediate attention. Assess initiative by asking what they would do if they observed an unsafe action by an employee or an unsafe condition in a work area. Unsafe actions and conditions deserve a prompt response.
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