Expert Q&A: How to Deal with the Grueling Interview Process

The biggest mistakes, what to look for in interviews, and how to keep top talent.

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From Left to Right: Donald J. Zinn, Managing Partner, Exigent Search Partners Inc.; Luba Sydor Founder and CEO, Person 2 Person LLC; Gregory J. Chartier, Principal, The Office of Gregory J. Chartier; Richard Greenwald, President, The Concorde Staffing Group; Annette McLaughlin, Program Director, Human Resource Management, Manhattanville College School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Joseph Di Carlo, Senior Vice President, WESTMED Practice Partners


Unless you’re a “solopreneur,” you’ve been through the grueling ringer that is the hiring process—getting inundated with countless resumés, interviewing, re-interviewing, and interviewing once more for good measure. Sifting through all those resumés and trying to choose the best candidate after just a few conversations can seem like a daunting task. And for good reason: it is. 

Worse yet, it’s all a bet. After all the time spent searching and, in turn, training, the hiring process is one big gamble. What if your new hire is not a good fit after all? Or what if he or she is a good fit, but only sticks around for a few short months? 

To ease those worries, and to allow you the best chance of stacking your chips before going all in, we gathered some of the County’s foremost hiring experts. We sat down together and talked about the hiring process—the biggest mistakes to look out for, what to look for in interviews, how to keep top talent, and more—to make sure that huge bet gives you even bigger returns. 

Robert Schork: What do you think is the single biggest mistake employers make when hiring new employees? 

Gregory J. Chartier: With small and mid-size companies, the biggest mistake they make is hiring people because they’re right there in front of them and not because they're the right person. 

Richard Greenwald: One of the horrible mistakes employers make is that they don’t actually understand the role they want the person to fit into in terms of the job description and the corporate culture; they might be hiring someone just to fill the void at that moment, and that’s the reason [some] people don’t work out.

Robert: So you’re saying that the employer has incorrectly defined the position? 

Gregory: Exactly. 

Donald J. Zinn: Every time you have an opening, you have a brand-new opportunity to re-define your business needs and requirements. What do you really need now? If you start with that, you end up getting a menu for the individual that you need. You also need to look at all the dimensions—you have to look at the skill side of it, which is innately where American employees tend to focus. But the other side of it is the behavioral requirements, and that ultimately becomes the bigger predictor of success. Skills we can learn; behaviors tend to be stuck with us. 

Joseph Di Carlo: That is a great point. We’ve seen an over-emphasis on hiring just for skill. What we’ve done at WESTMED is put an equal emphasis on passion and motivation in the process. So, in a way, it’s 33 percent equal—skill, passion, and motivation. If you have more passion and motivation, we will teach you the skill—we have people to do that. 

Annette McLaughlin: Candidates often surface who do not match 10 out of 10 criteria for the job. That’s where you have to reevaluate—if you can train them on the skill, and if the fit is right for the culture and the organization. And that also is in line with compensation—sometimes candidates surface during the process [who ask for more] than what you thought you needed to pay, and you have to really be open-minded. 

Luba Sydor: The largest mistake is force-fitting someone into a role just because they have the technical requirements. Companies really need to look at the functional fit and the job fit, as well as the organizational fit. And the organizational fit includes doing a lot of the interviewing, the soft skills—do they really fit the mission and the value? Do they exhibit those core values? 



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