Here’s the Deal on Hiring

Company presidents, VPs, and directors share insider advice on how to best enter the corporate world.


Anna Grace Likes

I talked to 5 members of companies’ upper management to get their tips on hiring.

Hiring new employees is a tedious process which is difficult for both the interviewer and interviewee. Often, CEOs, presidents, and directors need to make tough decisions between one candidate and another–but what, one might ask, makes someone stand out from the rest of the potential hires that walk into their office? Five company leaders gave some advice for potential hires based on their hiring process. 

One of the most important parts of an interview is how the interviewee presents themself. Obviously, in almost every interview, it is expected that the person being interviewed dresses in professional attire and appears clean. But physical appearance is just the starting point. “I would expect someone to keep eye contact and have a professional and friendly attitude that distinguishes them from others,” said Lisa Campbell, St. Louis County Police Dept. Lab Director and Quality Assurance manager. 

This, though, is the bare minimum when it comes to getting a job in the competitive fields the world has to offer today. The most important factor to have proof of during an interview is ample amounts of experience, and depending on the career, that can be anything from working in a similar career in the field one is going into to working at McDonalds in high school. “I have hired people from legislatures to people that have worked in restaurants. It’s more important to me for someone to show a background of problem solving,” said Don Hunt, President of Lambert and Company, a marketing and communications firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Even when it comes to more specific fields, this advice holds true. The problem-solving skills that come from a more entry-level or basic job can help immensely in the professional world. But, another aspect of that is loyalty. “In previous job experience, we look to see how long they were with their previous company and talk to them about it to see if it is a match with what we do,” said Heather Blackburn, Director of Technical Writers at Lexisnexis. It is important to see if a candidate will be loyal to the job they apply for as well as gauge how well their current skill set aligns with the position. “Loyalty is big and so is upward momentum. Even if you’re right out of school, the right attitude and  mentality as well as knowledge of the company help greatly,” said Mike Saena, Recruiting Manager at Advanced Resources.

When it comes to education though, different companies and fields look for different skill sets. When it comes to STEM fields, experience in something related to the position is usually ideal. “As a small bank, we typically look for people who have previous banking experience so they come in with an understanding of what they’re doing,” said Matt Fagin, Executive Vice President of Paramount Bank. 

But this does not mean that it’s necessary in all fields to come in with experience. “I would not look at someone with an advanced degree any differently than someone with only a bachelor’s degree. They will all receive the same training, and that degree does not mean someone will do better in training,” said Campbell. This may come as a shock to some—that an advanced lab would not require any advanced degrees. But in that field, it is most important to have a deep understanding of chemistry, biology, or whatever area of science one is interested in working in. And that understanding comes from practice, not necessarily from education.

With all of this information, it can be difficult to discern what one should take away when they walk in on the day of the interview. While professionalism and appearance are important, the most vital attribute to bring to the table is one’s true personality. “It’s most important that something of YOU comes through because that’s what I’m hiring. Take a leap of faith and be yourself and leave an accurate impression of you; the best predictor of your success is showing who you really are,” said Hunt. It’s best to stay calm and stay true to who you are, because, after all, it is YOU that will end up working for the company.