Advice from the Capital Ideas community

In the spirit of today’s panel, Capital Ideas asked West Edmonton Business Association mixer attendees to share advice for making a great hire. Additionally, we asked members to share the secret to loyal employees via our weekly newsletter. We shared some of that advice in the March 20th edition of the Edmonton Journal, and now we’re giving you the complete list of answers here.

How do you make a great hire?

“A good hire has to fit into the culture of the company. They have to be loyal, honest, part of the team, work together and be open to new ideas.” — Klaus Maier, president of Bavaria BMW (

“If you haven’t sold yourself in your resume, I’m not going to look any further. You should sell yourself in it and show me you’ve got what I’m looking for.” — Diane Kereluk, executive director at Stony Plain Road and Area Business Association (

“We look for dedication, drive and passion… Many people are good on paper and not in person, so don’t rely too much on the resume but on that in-person impression to see if there’s that passion there.” — Terri Duncan, executive director of Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton (

“We try to stick to people we know and trust, and who we’ve worked with in the past. They need to be trustworthy, able to talk to people and have great customer service skills.” — Ryan Wooley, partner at Select Security (

“I’m not looking for their expertise as much as their values… Resumes often look the same, so you need to go with your gut.” — Catherine Vu, chief uptime officer of Pro-Active IT Management Inc. (

“Look at how friendly they are, whether or not they can make eye contact and what they can bring to your company. Make sure it’s something they really want to do rather than just a paycheque.” — Branddy Steinhauer, accountant at Dedicated Designated Drivers. (

“They need to be qualified… but the biggest thing is the two A’s: Attitude and aptitude.” — Jack Siemens, president of Align Tech Industries (

“Go with your gut feeling. Look at the resume, but also look at their potential as well.” — Christian Findt, general manager of Building Technologies (

“Try to ask conflict resolution questions or service issue questions so that you can determine their character. Ask them questions where emotions are involved… get to the heart of the issue to find out their emotional strength.” — Jake Steinbrenner, owner of Yip Deals (

“A lot of our great hires come from post-secondary and we like to train them from within. Our human resources department puts these individuals in different branches and we allow them to grow organically and develop a lot of the same principles you see in our organization.” — David Hardy, assistant vice-president of Canadian Western Bank (

“A great hire is heavily based on instinct… and making sure the person being hired is a natural fit for the job. Find out what the person’s passions are before giving them a job that doesn’t align with what they naturally love to do.”  — Ingrid Schifer de Dennis, chief marketing officer at Schif and the City (

“It’s always about the attitude. I’d rather hire someone with a great attitude with no experience than someone with a ton of experience and a poor attitude.” — Gerry Lorente, general sales manager of Bavaria BMW (

“My No.1 is to find someone with a positive disposition. You want to bring positive energy because positive thinking brings about progression. Secondly, [find] someone comfortable in relating with other people.” — Tony Reid, financial adviser for Investegies Wealth Management

“Look for somebody who loves to do the job… (I)f they do, they will already have the morale and it’s easier to keep them motivated in their work.”  — Carlin Dennis, vice-president of business development North America at Schifer Imports (


What’s the secret to loyal employees?

“Listening to their opinion, offering feedback and accolades.” — Jacquie Boily, creative lead and marketing coordinator at Productivity Alberta (

“Flexibility and respect. I’m focused on what they accomplish, not on face time. I praise good work (directly and in public) and encourage new ideas.” — Tema Frank, president of Frank Online Marketing (

“Ask employees for their opinion on a matter and seriously consider it. Have a scheduled evaluation (only for certain operations/business’s) and insure it’s a two way evaluation. Be flexible with time (i.e. start/finish time, coffee, lunch) and don’t keep all on same schedule. Have policies and insure all employees follow them, particularly your favourites. Talk to an employee about real issues in the community, province or just in general and make it your priority to understand that if an employee is not interested in a particular topic, drop it. In other words, you have to be well versed in what is going on around you; if an employee is only interested in movies [for example], gain a little knowledge in that area. Pay employees as well as you can and surprise them on occasions that are not an occasion… All of the above are only contingent if the business allows; however, the business will grow if allowances are made in the above areas and staff are longer term and you will prosper.” — Alf Hryciw, freelancer

“I think the best way to keep employees is to treat them with trust and respect.  Give them challenges and responsibilities that meet their interests and step back and allow them to do their jobs.  Reward them for the things they do well – monetary rewards are actually least effective.  Give them a day off or a flexible schedule instead of money.” — Brenda Kerber, owner of The Traveling Tickle Trunk (

“Treat employees like adults and give them the right to control their own time and work. If they can’t handle it, let them go. You’re left with a team [that] manages their own responsibilities, requires less HR resources and appreciates the flexibility.” — Alexis MacMillan, president of Christie Communications (

“The key is to ensure that you are hiring people who not only have “the right resume” for the job and who interview well, but also have the right behaviours, motivators, and soft skills to make them a “fit” to the position. This means that you will need to do some assessment of the position before you recruit, and have a method of matching applicants to job requirements. Once the person is hired, support, train, and encourage for top performance.” — Clare Paulson, coach and owner of Corporate Coaching and Training Services (

“Give the employee a guided autonomy. That way the employee feels he is part of the organization and team.” — Mansoor Punja, manager Fast Track Signs & Printing (

“Openness. Clear lines of communication goes a long way. Nothing is more frustrating from the employee’s perspective than not having a clear idea of what’s going on. From that honesty, over time, you can develop trust.” — Allan Taylor, IT and business development at Photo Gift World (

Where Edmonton’s entrepreneurs share what they know

Join the Capital Ideas community:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.