Interview with CEO Konrad Kopyra

Sandra Bichl: Konrad, thank you very much for your time to meet me and answer my questions.

Konrad Kopyra: The pleasure is all mine.

Sandra Bichl: How do you look for candidates on executive positions? How often do the recruitments happen and how are they conducted?

Konrad Kopyra: If we need to find an executive, we start with our own contacts and rely on word of mouth. If that does not work, we choose one of 4 executive search companies that we work with. Our expectation towards the candidates is: they need to have experience within the B2B sector in providing laboratory equipment supported by successes on posts like Sales Director or Business Development Manager. Education is not so crucial. If the candidate does not have experience in our industry, they will not be able cope with problems they will encounter. They have to understand and know the specifics of our branch. We have about 400 suppliers and over 20 000 products which rotate rather quickly.

Sandra Bichl: How long does the recruitment process last?

Konrad Kopyra: In an ideal world, such a process lasts up to 6 months. However, it happens – but really rarely – that it lasts only 2 months.

Sandra Bichl: How do you react to receiving a CV without an open recruitment process?

Konrad Kopyra: It does not bother me, although I try to protect my „company privacy”. If a person who sends me a CV has something to offer, I will remember them. We have already employed 3 people that way.

Sandra Bichl: How important is the quality of sent documents for you?

Konrad Kopyra: I distinguish two kinds of qualities. The first concerns the appearance and layout; in other words: aesthetics. The second aspect is the quality of the content: projects and achievements have to be presented in a professional way and supported by concrete numbers. If somebody decides to send their CV with a photo, it should be of good quality and appropriate to the position they are applying for. The chronology is also important for me. The profile summary should be placed at the top of the page. Why? Because this is where I’d like to read about information that is relevant to me. It should include key points. As you can usually find more or less useful information in a CV, I want to know immediately if reading the whole is not a waste of my time. I should be able to see at one glance if the person fulfills our expectations, so I do not have to search for that in the text. I am not interested in all the trainings. If I want to know something more, I will simply ask. Furthermore, having completed a training is not equivalent to being competent in that area. People confuse that often. Another important element is the style of writing. The whole should be organized reasonably.

Sandra Bichl: How can a person demonstrate that they have something to offer?

Konrad Kopyra: If it is a CV related to the ongoing recruitment process, I want to see that the candidate fulfills our requirements in the profile summary. I do not have the time to look for the information that somebody holds an MBA. If it is a CV sent without an open recruitment process, the person has to know who they are writing to, the company structure and product portfolio. They should also emphasize how they can be useful to the company.

Sandra Bichl: People often talk about „transferable competences”. How does it look like when a candidate wants to change their branch? Let’s suppose that there is a Sales Director who has never worked in your industry, but since they were a child they had been interested in microscopes, pipettes, etc. What kind of approach should such a person has to convince you that meeting them is not a waste of your time although you are looking for employees only from within your sector?

Konrad Kopyra: That is a good question. The most important thing is for such a person to emphasize how they are related to my industry and what their motivation is. Before I open the CV, I want to also know something about their previous work experience and competences. Giving me this kind of information in a reasonable way is a reason for me to meet somebody like that.

Sandra Bichl: What should executives especially pay attention to during the job interview? 3 tips?

Konrad Kopyra: Preparation is the most important, the most difficult and at the same time the weakest element before the interview. It is worth spending 15 PLN to check the company at Companies House. Inquire about your interviewer if that information has not been shared with you. Secondly, I pay attention to the candidate’s dress code. They will not have a second chance to make a good first impression. I expect professionalism in every aspect including: the way of speaking, mimics and the quality of answers. Sometimes, we pick up on a subject that the candidate boasted about. If someone cannot reveal the details because they are confidential, the person should say so, so that I do not have to wonder if they are being honest. Otherwise, I’ll be pondering whether they are being straight with me or not. Each interview is an Assessment Center to some level. We observe and assess the candidate all the time. Sometimes it happens that we change the style of the meeting on purpose. Don’t let anybody throw you off balance, especially if you are an executive. It happens that people do not know where to sit. Sometimes that decides whether a candidate will be taken into consideration or not. Do not allow others to take you by surprise!

Sandra Bichl: Do you google people before interviews?

Konrad Kopyra: Sometimes yes. But I do not do detailed research because of the lack of time. However, we often run background checks on candidates via our network.

Sandra Bichl: Do the Google results influence your opinion?

Konrad Kopyra: Not really, although it depends on the candidate.

Sandra Bichl: How do you go about reference checks?

Konrad Kopyra: References are valuable, but it is difficult to check current references, because when somebody wants to quit their job there is nobody who we can ask – their boss usually does not know about their plans. I am cautious with reference from LinkedIn.com or GoldenLine.pl. But they are easily verifiable. However, I appreciate that it is possible to find certain information there. Nevertheless, I think that the best references are those that are obtained through our own contacts.

Sandra Bichl: How do you evaluate the competences of your high level candidates?

Konrad Kopyra: We use mainly Assessment Centers which test soft sills more easily than hard competences. We try to surprise candidates with questions about their opinions on subjects which are totally abstract and not related to the recruitment process, so as to observe their reaction and ability to manage their emotions.

Sandra Bichl: How do executives assess themselves?

Konrad Kopyra: Always higher than I would. Generally, those looking for a job boast whenever they can. But in my opinion, there is no point in lying about one’s competences because the truth will sooner or later come to the light. I have yet to meet a professional who understates their competences.

Sandra Bichl: What should executives especially pay attention to when looking for a job?

Konrad Kopyra: Because it is a long process, they should be patient above all else. Insisting and pressing from any of the sides are not well perceived. They should not get discouraged. One of the traits of a good boss is being able to control their emotions. It often happens that people are stressed during the interviews and they should not be. Prepare diligently before the interview including potential questions about the company. But don’t ask questions about e.g. the company’s structure if you could have found that information beforehand. Not knowing the basics is a huge faux pas. Summarizing, I expect professionalism in every aspect.

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