When you want to hire a team to perform your quality inspections in China, you have a wide choice of profiles.
We have done a lot of trial-and-error over the years, and here are the types of inspectors that we have come across. I have listed the profiles in my order of preference.
1. The employee with experience in a trading company
She used to be a purchaser, a salesperson, a merchandiser (as they are called in the garment industry)… in some kind of office role, but she often travelled to factories.
We’ve had great success with this profile.
Pros: she might be able to speak good English and to prepare a nice report on a computer; she knows a product category relatively well; she understands the “big picture” and can evolve later in the company.
Cons: she needs training in the QC procedure; she might have high salary expectations in the mid-to-long run.
2. The inspector with experience in a factory
If you need to set up a QC team, this is an excellent complement to the No. 1 profile.
My ideal candidate is young, she still remembers the basics of English, and is willing to learn something new.
Pros: low cost, very motivated to “make it out of the factory”, good ethics (especially girls).
Cons: long learning curve (she needs to be coached by an experienced inspector for several months until she can write a professional report).
3. The inspector with experience in a trading company
She was trained as a QC inspector by a trading company (or the buying office of an importer).
Pro: she is not used to gaming a system, and she was usually followed closely by her manager.
Cons: she might not be able to read English specifications or write a report in English; she probably never had a clear procedure to do her job.
4. The inspector coming from the QC industry
She has previous experience in a third-party QC firm.
Pros: ready to hit the ground running; good at explaining general concepts about QC.
Con: sometimes displays a “mercenary” attitude (doesn’t stay in the long run, and is not particularly trustworthy).
Once they have a good resume (after working for 5 years for a famous company like SGS, for example), they know they will find a new job easily after you fire them. So they don’t have much of an incentive to work hard and to be honest.
Remember, in China very few employers conduct reference checks on their new hires.
5. The fresh graduate
We never hired anybody with that profile, but I heard good things from other companies that tried this route.
This candidate will need heavy training, and a mentorship program at the beginning. It will work only if the senior inspectors have a good mentality, respect their work, and show a good behavior. If they are a bad example, it will be duplicated on the new hires.
The fundamental trait you must be looking for
The most important trait to look for is rigor.
If a candidate doesn’t like to follow rules and does not give attention to details, she will be a bad inspector.
For more on this subject, you can read Quality control inspector: an ideal profile?.