Selecting Safety-Minded Candidates
Updated: Jul 16
Selecting and developing employees is a critical factor in maintaining a culture of occupational safety excellence. Organizations often focus on efficiently onboarding new hires, but do they consider the opportunity to introduce a safety mindset that enhances the existing safety culture? Assessing potential employees' safety attitudes and motivations during the hiring process can significantly contribute to sustained safety performance. In this article, we explore the importance of evaluating safety culture when selecting candidates and provide sample interview questions to identify safety-minded individuals.
Many organizations now recognize the significance of culture in preventing incidents. As part of their procurement processes, some companies evaluate vendor safety information and measurements, including safety rates, costs, programs, practices, and culture. This approach ensures that new vendors do not introduce additional risks to employees and processes. While not a standalone solution, having clients assess safety performance can motivate companies to improve their safety culture, especially when intrinsic motivation is lacking within the organization's leadership. Safety indicators can also serve as a measure of values and priorities beyond safety alone.
Individuals within an organization can have a significant impact on its culture. Influential individuals, or "Mavens" as Malcolm Gladwell referred to them, can shape the existing culture either positively or negatively. Hiring an influential new employee without considering their alignment with the safety culture can introduce new elements of risk. Organizations must be proactive in managing these influential forces to mitigate potential risks before they affect cultural and safety performance.
Understanding the Applicant: Over time, organizations have enhanced their pre-employment practices to ensure they select the right candidates. Background checks, competency assessments, and personality profiling have become common. Some businesses go further to gauge a candidate's thoughts on preventability and overall safety attitude. Tools such as the Locus of Control Scale and self-efficacy assessments offer insights into an individual's perception of control and belief in their ability to achieve successful outcomes. While these tools provide valuable insights, they can be costly, time-consuming, or complex to implement.
In today's resource-scarce environment, simplicity is key. Site succession planning and employment responsibilities require straightforward strategies to select candidates with safety in mind. While there is no one-size-fits-all list of questions, open-ended safety culture interview questions can provide vital insights into a candidate's safety attitude. The following sample questions demonstrate how these questions can add value to the hiring process:
How would you define safety? Look for responses that go beyond generic statements like "not getting hurt" and demonstrate a proactive mindset focused on risk control and elimination.
What role does safety play in an organization? Desirable answers should highlight safety as a guiding value that complements operational activities and adds benefits to employees' personal lives, families, site morale, community standing, customer perception, and overall market position.
How do you reach and sustain zero injuries? Observe candidates' passion and belief in the journey toward zero injuries. Those who demonstrate enthusiasm and a behavioral commitment to safety are more likely to contribute to a safety-focused culture.
What are the roles and responsibilities? Seek responses that go beyond surface-level responsibilities and outline specific actions the candidate believes are necessary to create an ideal safety environment. Look for indications of how expectations can be measured.
Selecting safety-minded candidates is crucial for sustaining occupational safety excellence. By incorporating safety culture assessment into the hiring process, organizations can ensure they are introducing individuals who align with their safety values and contribute to a positive safety culture. Through open-ended interview questions, organizations can gain insights into candidates' safety attitudes and motivations. Remember, safety starts before day one, so prioritize safety values in your hiring practices to communicate a strong message to prospective employees: risk-takers need not apply.