Top 5 Tips for Hiring Quality Team Members from a 38-Year HR Veteran


Companies of all sizes struggle to hire quality candidates. While it isn’t always easy, Merchants has continued to bring in difference-makers to grow and improve our organization. Chief Human Resource Officer, Alberta Rosburg, retired at the beginning of 2019, but not before sharing her top tips for evaluating candidates. Alberta was with Merchants Bank for 21 years, and her career totals more than 35 years of Human Resources experience. Over the years her team has used this list to focus on our company values to find the candidates who best fit our culture.


To effectively evaluate whether a candidate shares your organization’s values, you need those values to be firmly established. What does your organization stand for? What do you hold most important above all else? A worthy candidate will share those same views. Here are a couple questions that will help reveal a candidate’s values:

  • Describe your ideal company culture.
  • Describe your working style and your work ethic.

Past Behavior

“It’s well known that the best predictor of the future is what has happened in the past,” Alberta shares. “Ask your candidates behavioral questions – ask how they’ve reacted to certain situations. That is what is most likely to happen while they are at work with you.” For example:

  • Tell us about a time that you gave excellent customer service.
  • Tell us about a time you had to work with a difficult person or situation – how did you handle it and what was the result?

Soft Skills Matter

People remember how visiting your business made them feel. Did your customers feel they were listened to? Did they feel welcomed and important?

“The skills it takes to make others feel good are often part of who someone is – it’s ingrained in their personality. Those skills are hard to teach,” Alberta explains. “The immediate smile and warm welcome your customers receive is best when it’s a natural reaction, rather than a practiced one.”

Consider this: how did you feel after that candidate walked out of the room? How do you think a customer would feel after talking to them?

Take Time to Make Sure

Don’t be afraid to bring someone in for more than one interview. If you think of more questions you’d like to ask them, bring them in again. If that’s not possible, a phone call works too. If they are enthusiastic about the prospect of working with your company, they will be more than happy to help answer any more questions you may have.

Don’t Settle

While this might feel like the hardest thing to do, it is the most important. Sometimes the pressure is on to fill a position quickly, but in the long run it is worth it to be picky. When you find the right candidate, their addition to your organization will be a natural fit: your customers will feel taken care of, and your coworkers will have an easier transition into working with a new teammate.

“Here is a good way to sum up all of these ideas,” concludes Alberta, “Find someone who is as dedicated to taking care of your customers and company as you are.”

There are many good resources for businesses on hiring strategy. For instance, this article* also discusses the benefits of hiring for your culture, rather than solely on applicant credentials. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)* has an extensive resource library as well.



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