Interview with an HR Director

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We met for lunch with Marisela Williams, the Director of HR for Freedman Seating. The company produces bus seats and frame structures for buses, motor coaches, vans and specialty vehicles. It’s a family owned company that’s being around for over 150 years and employees approximately 650 workers. She has been with the company 3 years and prior to that she worked for an organization that had 350 stores across the United States with approximately 540 total employees. Below are the series of questions that we asked her along with her responses.

1.What is your company mission and what role do you play in it?? Company mission is to produce quality seats, at reasonable prices, promoting safety, providing excellent customer service while being a profitable company. The role she plays in the company’s mission is to facilitate and provide training to employees so that they can achieve the mission of the company. 2.What are the skills and/or attributes you value most when hiring someone? Marisela values the applicants that show the desire to do a good job. There have been plenty of times when applicants have the experience and know how of the position they are applying for, but show little desire to now. At that point she would rather hire the applicant that wants to work, that wants to do a job and shows it in their attitude. That will be an example of an attribute that will take place while debating within applicants.

3.Could you describe a typical day or week in your position? In her line of work a typical day does not exist. She may plan what she “wants” to do the next day, but when tomorrow comes, she gets challenged by new issues, problems, concerns & fires to attend to. It varies from an employee not doing his/her job as instructed to a manager mistreating an employee. 4.How do you view your group/division/department? She views her group to be hard working and always willing to help and listen. At times it’s a learning lesson for one, but others learn from it to. It is a tough department to part of, but everyone pulls their weight and is genuinely concern about all employees. 5.How diverse of a team do you manage?? The team is very well diverse, consisting of male and female, older and younger, well experienced and entry level, and from different backgrounds and cultures. The diversity is what helps the team be a strong effective department for both the employees and the employer. 6.What type of diversity issues do you normally get confronted with?? Give me an example of an issue that you wished you would have handled different. One that will stick to out is the time she had to discipline an employee for not following the manager’s instructions. Basically, because he claimed he knew his job well, he figured he can do whenever and however he wanted to do it. It turns out; this was a young man, about 21 years of age and had decided he knew more than anyone else. His immaturity is what led to this type of action and perhaps because he lived with his parents with no responsibility played part in not caring. Therefore he got fired after several written warnings. 7.In your opinion, what organizational changes should be made to meet the needs of a diverse workforce as well as to maximize the potential of all workers??? Marisela believes that the company should know and familiarize themselves with the different types of diversity and to be open to work with them instead of just letting it be. 8.How do you overcome bias in the interviewing process, questions, and your response? Per Marisela, this is one of her own toughest things to deal with. It is so easy to become biased. Coming from a Mexican descent, and watching how her parents were mistreated by their managers when she was young, made this part very difficult. What helped her out the most was becoming educated and having great influential teachers that taught her that when its time for an interview, you leave bias at the door and be...
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