When Volkswagen opens up hiring Monday for its 1,200 production jobs at its Chattanooga plant, the effort will be watched closely both inside and outside the company.
"The role of Chattanooga in the whole company is a special one," said VW spokesman Guenther Scherelis, noting the importance of the American market as the automaker aims to triple sales to 800,000 cars a year by 2018.
Mr. Scherelis said there's a lot of interest in the company as it plans to open its first U.S. plant in three decades.
"It's a real encouraging period," he said. "We really feel welcome. It's a great time to be here."
VW expects several tens of thousands of people to apply for the production posts, drawing lots of attention from job seekers as the economy navigates its way out of a severe recession with historically high unemployment.
For three weeks, Monday through Nov. 15, people may apply online at www.VWJobsChattanooga for body, paint and assembly shop jobs as well as quality assurance slots.
Hans-Herbert Jagla, executive vice president for human resources for VW's Chattanooga operation, said potential employees have to be customer focused.
"Would I buy the car if I worked at the plant?" Mr. Jagla said workers need to keep asking themselves. "They should be always thinking about this -- quality conscious."
Also, workers will need the right technical knowledge and skills, he said.
In addition, Mr. Jagla said VW officials believe deeply in team work.
"One and one is more than two if two people are thinking. We want people who are innovative ... creative," he said. "They should be performance driven and they should want to help us be successful in the U.S."
Ryan Rose, the carmaker's general manager for human resources in the city, said that is VW's overall image for its ideal employee. But, the assessment process each candidate goes through will be tailored to individual jobs, he said.
"The process we use to assess those things for production will be unique to the production positions," Mr. Rose said.
Production employees at the plant will need the ability to switch shifts every two weeks, according to VW officials. In addition, they'll need to be able to work overtime regularly, including weekends.
Volkswagen has set a goal of becoming the world's No. 1 automaker by sales by 2018. To do so, the company will need to capture more of the U.S. auto market and the plant is seen as a key linchpin in that strategy.
The plant is slated to open in early 2011 and employ more than 2,000 people making a midsize sedan.