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How To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent with Janine Zangrilli & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Republic Bank Human Resources Hiring Strategies

Lately, I’ve seen a growing trend towards AI and predictive indexing where technology is doing more of the candidate evaluation. However, I haven’t yet come to embrace this and feel strongly in keeping the human in human resources.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Janine Zangrilli.

Janine Zangrilli is the Senior VP and HR Director of Republic Bank. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, she holds a B.A. in English and Psychology from Duquesne University and a J.D. from Duquesne Law School.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree, I was going to law school and working as a paralegal. During that time, I was supporting employment labor attorneys on large class action lawsuits, while also studying labor and employment in my coursework. The theme that continued to resonate throughout was the feeling that there was time and money being spent litigating matters that should have been easily avoided. This made me come to the realization that I would be better suited for a role where there could be more positive influences, in addition to reacting when things don’t go well. I decided a corporate path was the way to go and landed in human resources!

Wonderful! Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

First, it’s critical to understand the type of talent that is best suited for the organization. Understanding and embracing the corporate culture, and being the brand ambassador is an important responsibility that I own, as the HR director. When introduced to a candidate, I articulate the corporate culture and from there, identify if he or she is a good fit.

Then, I need to truly understand the role and its impact on our brand, their department or division, and the customer. For that, we need to have a good quality job description that helps to explain what the expectations are and will attract the appropriate candidates.

Once the culture fit and job fit are identified, the hiring manager needs to have a firm grasp on these two concepts. It’s easy for he or she to be focused only on the job or the department, and not necessarily thinking about the impact that one individual can have on intradepartmental relationships and the bank. We’ve developed guidelines, questions and a questionnaire that help keep managers on track throughout the interview.

During the interview process, the interviewer needs to really understand the person they are speaking with. We train our employees on these techniques within the Talent Scout module of our Visionary Leadership program, stressing the importance of being human, polite and professional, and giving the candidate the opportunity to answer all questions asked. To ensure you are getting a true response, we recommend to the hiring manager not to be too quick to fill an awkward silence.

Finally, evaluating the candidate and having an opinion about the interview experience is key, but something many hesitate to do. Complete the evaluation checklist honestly to understand if the candidate truly meets all of the criteria for the position.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

We’ve found great success in hosting our own job events through an internet platform that announces the event and lets job seekers know that it is happening. Attracting candidates in person allows for us to really tell our story.

We use social media as a way to attract and engage talent, not just by posting open job positions, but also by demonstrating our fantastic corporate culture.

Our employee referral program allows us to reach qualified candidates through friends and family, which is great because they already have a sense of who we are as an employer.

Also, a more unique way we go about attracting talent is by empowering our employees to provide an “Amazing Service Card” to individuals delivering great customer service that our employees interact with in real life.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends?

I think it depends on the trend. For example, social media recruiting started out as a trend but is now par for the course so embracing that trend was important. Lately, I’ve seen a growing trend towards AI and predictive indexing where technology is doing more of the candidate evaluation. However, I haven’t yet come to embrace this and feel strongly in keeping the human in human resources. All in all, if HR is going to jump on a trend, it’s important to fully understand what it is and how to use it correctly.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would inspire a movement that encouraged engaging in the world around you with empathy. In our society, many people are getting more and more self-involved and I think it would be beneficial to engage with others in the community more closely.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” — Ben Franklin

This serves as a reminder to always look at things with a clear and reasonable perspective and not with too much emotion. Playing out what/if scenarios for an issue is not helpful, so I try to focus on what is.

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: At the first gate, ask yourself “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?” — Rumi

In human resources, I handle a lot of questions and phone calls. This quote serves as a reminder not to react too quickly to an issue, and when feeling short on patience, to take a mental deep breath and remember the best way to approach the conversation is with kindness.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

I would love to have a private lunch with Kate Atkinson, an English author. She covers a wide range of genres and subject matters and I would be interested to hear how she takes all of her thoughts and boils them down into engaging novels.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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