This week’s question to the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: What qualities do you look for from an applicant during a job interview? What qualities are deal breakers?
We are a high growth company that is constantly evolving, so we look for individuals who have intellectual curiosity and who thrive in a fast paced, agile environment. A company filled with these types of people can move mountains. We also look for cultural fit and alignment with our core values (e.g., integrity, responsiveness). We developed specific interview questions to assess whether an applicant exhibits our core values. An employee who does not exhibit the core values of e-Builder, regardless of their skills or experience, would never be hired.
Ron Antevy, president and CEO, e-Builder
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I am a mother of two small children, and this gives me a unique perspective as the owner of a company that works with children and families. Every time I meet an applicant — and I personally interview everyone — I simply ask myself, “Is this a person I would want to work with my children and family?” It is the highest of standards, but one that has made our company South Florida’s most respected provider of Applied Behavioral Analysis.
Maria Arizmendi, behavior analyst and president, Progressive Behavioral Science
Companies work hard to produce goods and services. Companies also work hard to build and cultivate a lasting culture… a set of core values that exemplifies its team. BTI’s hiring process searches for four key traits that define the core values of our team: Passion, Professionalism, Purpose and Progress.
Noah Breakstone, founder and managing partner, BTI Partners
I recently attended a college commencement at which the speaker suggested this formula for success in any occupation: If the floor needs sweeping and someone asks you to sweep the floor — sweep the floor, willingly. If the floor needs sweeping and no one asks you to sweep the floor, sweep the floor anyway. Good credentials indicating that a potential employee can handle the job are an essential starting point, but attitude is also an important factor. Is the potential employee eager to do what is helpful, whether glamorous or not, or does the potential employee expect to work only on projects in which the employee has an interest?
Bowman Brown, partner and chairman of the Executive Committee and the Financial Services Practice Group of Shutts & Bowen
I look for applicants are who are professional, well-spoken, and polite. I start getting an impression of the possible candidates when I first receive their résumé and an intro email. The email should be short, to the point, and well-written. The résumé should be formatted and have no grammatical errors. A deal breaker is when an applicant comes to an interview late!
Patricia Elizee, managing partner, Elizee Law Firm
Passion. I like someone who’s incessant. Some of our best innovations became a reality because of people who just wouldn’t give up on an idea.
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
I look for people with a positive attitude, empathy and a focus on the heart of our business. Skills can always be enhanced and trained, so a positive attitude that manifests itself in customer service, team play and productivity impresses me in an interview. At Miami Jewish Health, we value the core principles of success and seek individuals who are focused on the organization’s achievements. A deal breaker would be someone who is not a team player and appears to be focused on themselves, rather than the organization.
Jeffrey Freimark, president and CEO, Miami Jewish Health
During job interviews I look for people who bring skill, experience, enthusiasm and motivation to the table. I am interested in people who want to be part of a talented team. Applicants who want to reinvent a department or organization in their own image, or who are rigid or inflexible, are not likely to fit into the culture of The Children’s Trust.
James Haj, president and CEO, The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County
The first thing I look for in a future team member is whether they have the ability to work with people, to collaborate, and bring people together. If I can find someone who brings skills to the table that I don’t have, or from whom I can learn, that’s a home run. At the end of the day, once the direction of the university is set, I have to get out of the way and let the professionals excel in their jobs and lead themselves to success, always putting our students first. An instant deal breaker would be anyone who continuously uses “I” to refer to their career and accomplishments. “I this, I that” — a true leader uses teamwork and consensus-building to accomplish great things. Another important thing to look for are multiple types of personalities so that the team is well-rounded. You wouldn’t choose four pitchers to fill an infield, why would you do the same to your leadership team?
George Hanbury, president and CEO, Nova Southeastern University
Job candidates should answer questions in an articulate, straightforward and succinct manner. Also, they should be able to directly express how their talents, career history and intellect will enhance the organization’s ability to meet its goals and objectives. A deal breaker is the candidate who focuses on what the company is going to do for them.
Bob Hohenstein, president and CEO, Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition
Confidence and interpersonal skills are key in our industry. We look for candidates who have a problem-solving mentality, are service-oriented and have an entrepreneurial mindset. We also look for passion and strong communication skills.
Arden Karson, senior managing director, CBRE
Candidates have to possess the hospitality gene. People who naturally feel good about taking great care of others by paying attention to the finer details in life and truly exhibit the hospitality gene as though it's in his or her DNA. Another important quality is that they are striving to be the best they can be in whatever they are striving to do in life, whether it is related to my industry or not. These two particular characteristics are the common denominator for anyone who is successful in the hospitality industry, which most definitely translates to multiple other industries as well.
Juan Carlos Marchan, COO, Centurion Restaurant Group
I look for applicants who are passionate, disciplined, intelligent and have a strong work ethic. Deal breakers are not doing your homework in advance and being unprepared.
David Martin, president and co-founder, Terra
The first thing I look for, even before an interview, is a candidate’s employment history — how long they kept their previous job and their track record of holding positions with other companies. Once we’re in the room together, it’s all about striking a personal connection. We’re in the hospitality business, so eye contact, body language and politeness are all critical. I look for employees who project confidence. Smiling is also key.
Aabad Melwani, president, Rickenbacker Marina and managing principal, Marina PARC
I look for expertise, desire for professional and personal growth, and evidence of integrity in working with others. When an individual falsely portrays himself or herself as having a certain credential or experience that's required for the role, I consider that a deal-breaker.
Avis Proctor, vice president of academic affairs and president, North Campus at Broward College
I look for competitiveness and compatibility: do they set a goal and do whatever it takes to reach that goal? It is also important to me that candidates fit in well with the Housing Trust Group’s family-oriented culture. Finally, good written communication skills are key. We have to submit very detailed applications for development financing, where even a single typographical error can put an entire project at risk. Accordingly, typos on a résumé are a deal breaker for me. A résumé is supposed to be your best effort to market yourself, and if you can’t represent yourself flawlessly, then you probably wouldn’t be able to represent us flawlessly.
Matthew Rieger, president and CEO, Housing Trust Group
I look for excitement and energy, someone who has done his/her research and asks questions. A major deal breaker for me is a résumé typo — sorry, but I’m old school and that speaks volumes about how detailed and thorough someone is.
Ivannia Van Arman, executive director, Lincoln Road Business Improvement District
The Miami Herald CEO Roundtable is a weekly feature that appears in Business Monday of the Miami Herald. Recent questions have included: