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What Your Employer Really Wants

Michal Eisikowitz

Do you have what it takes to land that dream job? Knowing what bosses look for will help you get your foot in the door.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Frum Jews are known for ingenuity, gumption, and talent. But do those traits necessarily translate into the optimal employee? To assist aspiring job hunters in landing — and keeping — solid positions, four veteran recruiters and administrators painted a vivid profile of the highly desirable employee.   

The Panelists Mrs. Sarah Eidlitz is the principal of Monsey’s Eitz Chaim elementary and its sister school for girls, Bnos Bracha. With small classes and individualized attention, the schools currently have a combined enrollment of 90 students, including a dedicated special education division. Mrs. Eidlitz’s husband, Rabbi Reuven Eidlitz, serves as executive director.   

Mr. Mark (Menachem) Berkowitz is the chief operating officer (COO) of CHEMED Health Center in Lakewood, New Jersey, which serves over 120,000 patients each year. CHEMED employs 192 staff members across multiple departments — including internal medicine, pediatrics, behavioral/mental health counseling, dental care, and pharmacy. Mr. Berkowitz is directly involved in hiring nearly all of them.   

Mrs. Sara Kranz is the owner of Sysco Consulting, an HR firm that specializes in employee recruitment for technology, real estate, and health-care companies. Formerly human resources director at Madison Title Agency, Mrs. Kranz is a national headhunter who has hired hundreds of executives for an array of diverse positions.   

Mrs. Amanda Klahr serves as head nurse at Beit Tovei Ha’ir, an assisted-living facility in Jerusalem. A native Australian and 20-year nursing veteran, Mrs. Klahr oversees the health care of the center’s 180 residents and is responsible for hiring and managing a team of nurses, physicians, physical therapists, and nutritionists.   

A Foot in the Door The first step to snagging a position: nailing the interview. What should job seekers avoid? And what are employers looking for during those nerve-racking 30 minutes? 

Mrs. Eidlitz: First, don’t be late. And make yourself available when the principal or team manager makes time for you. In our initial conversation, I’m looking for steady eye contact, measured speech, and thoughtful replies. I want calm, self-assured employees who don’t project a nervous energy. They are not scrambling to think of canned, make-her-happy responses. Once, I asked an applicant: “How would you handle a very challenging, unlovable child?” She thought hard, then said, “My goal is to love every child. If I don’t, I work on myself until I like them.” That was an honest, admirable reply. Unlike many recruiters, I have the advantage of seeing candidates in action — via a model lesson. 

It’s impressive when young women ask students their names, then call them by those names. I want to see teachers who smile easily, exude warmth, and avoid putting kids on the spot. One job-hopeful told me, “I’d rather not give the lesson just yet — is it okay if I observe the kids first?” Then she phoned the current teacher to get a better feel for the class. She showed proactiveness and resourcefulness. Some girls, by contrast, flaunt their sophistication by asking the children too-difficult questions. That is not impressive. If I can’t schedule a model lesson for a particular applicant, I’ll ask her to read to a student. Does she smile broadly, put the child at ease? Does she read with clarity, passion, and enthusiasm? Does she look often at the child to ensure he is engaged?

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