Glekeria Kalathas is the talent acquisition manager at Actalent, a consulting company working to provide talent solutions for the engineering and science industries. Kalathas has over eight years of experience in recruitment. Kalathas and her team collectively hire more than 1,000 entry-level recruiters, career advisers, and direct-to-sales account managers every year.
As part of Forage’s ongoing “Hiring Diaries” series, we interviewed Kalathas to gain insight into the Actalent recruitment process for students and entry-level applicants. In this interview, she discusses:
- What values are important to Actalent?
- What do you look for on a resume?
- What do you look for during a job interview?
- What can entry-level applicants do to set themselves apart?
- What questions should these candidates ask in the interview process?
- What types of interview questions should candidates prepare for?
- What advice would you give to students who want to apply for Actalent roles?
- Do you have tips for college grads on navigating the start of their career?
- What learning and development opportunities can new hires expect at Actalent?
- What is it like to work for Actalent?
What values are important to Actalent that entry-level or internship applicants should be aware of?
Actalent has what we call acting values, but they’re essentially our core values. These values are embedded into our culture and in everything that we do. So, those values are attitude, character, trust, achievement, legacy, effort, acting now, and teamwork. We have a feedback-rich environment because we place a huge focus on development and the growth of our people. We’re very committed to our colleagues, clients, and consultants. We place a huge emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion and our corporate social responsibility partnerships.
What do you look for on a resume?
First, I look at [a candidate’s] educational accomplishments because this shows that they are committed to their goals and that they’ve achieved them as well. I would also strongly encourage [including] any extracurricular activities or organizations that they were a part of through school because it does show that they took on additional responsibility and [gained] leadership experience. And then also, I do understand that that’s a big time commitment for them. It shows the time and the commitment that they shared with that organization while they were still attending school.
I would also say work experience, but specifically, when we’re looking at resumes with work experience, we’re looking for candidates who have customer-facing experience, and that can look so many different ways. It could be from leasing, gym memberships, serving, bartending or working in retail. It’s not like you have to have [business-to-business] sales or professional sales experience. You gain so many transferable skills through those other experiences, and that’s vital when you’re transitioning into a career post-grad.
Often, I hear students who say, ‘well I didn’t think that [experience] was relevant to the job.’ No, you gained so many skills and experiences from that work to transition you into the next step in your life. I would strongly encourage including any experience that they have which shows problem-solving and building relationships as well as fostering those relationships with customers. It’s vital to include that information on resumes, even if it’s not directly tied to the role that you would be doing.
What do you look for during a job interview?
Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and that’s at any stage in your life, and interviewers know that, so don’t overthink it. And I know that’s easier said than done… We look for candidates to be authentic and honest about their strengths and also their areas of improvement. Then, in the interview, we want to make sure that they’re exemplifying the behaviors that align with our acting values as well.
What can entry-level or internship applicants do in this competitive market to set themselves apart?
I would definitely suggest doing your research on the company and on the role just to be better prepared going into an interview after applying. You want to be prompt and confident in the skills that you bring to the table. Most interviews include behavioral-based questions as well, so you want to make sure that you’re providing examples specific to your experience that sets you apart as a candidate from others that are interviewing for the position.
For example, instead of using an experience from, you know, a group project in the class that you had to lead, try using experience from a club that you were a part of or a sports team that you were a part of or even work experience when you had to lead a group in a different way, because those are experiences that other students coming out of school might not have. You want to use examples that are going to set you apart in that interview versus an example that the interviewer is hearing multiple times from different candidates as well, too. I would strongly suggest pulling from the unique experiences that you do have outside of the classroom setting.
What questions should these candidates ask in the interview process?
The best practice is to have three-to-five questions prepared at the end of the interview, but you can go on Google and look at interview questions to ask. I would strongly suggest for candidates and students coming out of school to know what values you want out of an employer or your future career and then focus on asking questions around those values and what’s important to you.
So, if it’s development or growth, you want to focus on asking questions like, do they offer a mentorship program? How often should I expect a review or a touchpoint with my manager? How does my manager deliver feedback? Asking questions about continued training or upward mobility. Focus on what is important to you, whether that’s culture, work-life balance, or growth, and then focus on asking questions because it’s a two-way street, right?
It’s us as an employer interviewing a candidate to make sure they’re the right fit, but we also understand it’s a candidate’s opportunity to interview us to make sure it’s the right fit for them. It’s important to ask questions that are going to help you decide if it’s the right role for you.
What types of interview questions should candidates prepare for?
I can give you two questions off the top of my head that I think are vital. What’s a time that you received constructive criticism or even a time that you shared constructive criticism to help coach somebody else? Then, I would say another question that’s a commonly used behavioral-based question is a time that you had to overcome obstacles to reach a goal.
What advice would you give to students and entry-level applicants who have already applied or want to apply for roles with Actalent?
Make sure you’re doing your research. I know I said that before, just to be prepared going into the interview. Honestly, if you’re prepared, you’re going be more confident, which means you’re going to be more at ease going into the interview. Doing that research helps you prepare for the interview itself. I would also suggest making connections within the company on LinkedIn and reaching out to individuals in the role that you’re applying to and asking them, ‘Hey, would you be available to set up a time to talk, or could we communicate over email?’ Just to ask questions to learn a little bit more about what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis, about the company, and their own experience. That’s firsthand knowledge that you can gain just by reaching out to them.
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Do you have any tips for soon-to-be college grads on navigating the start of their career?
This is such an exciting time for people coming out of school, so I would strongly suggest being curious. It’s a new life adventure and a fun season of life for sure. You spend a large portion of your life working, so you want to find an opportunity that’s going to give you fulfillment but also match your non-negotiables and values as a person, right? Get to know the people that you would potentially be working with. I always tell candidates you may not love the job tasks that you do every single day, but if you don’t enjoy the people around you and you don’t feel supported, then you’re never going to stay there. I think it’s just vital to get to know people and be curious and ask questions, because it is a big step in your life and you want to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success, too.
What learning and development opportunities can new hires expect at Actalent?
Typically, we hire for either recruitment or account management sales. We do a 13-week extensive training when someone starts within the company, and our process involves really learning the industries that we support.
We do a lot of shadowing, and role-plays to teach back what you’re learning. We follow the ‘learn, shadow, do, teach’ model. We offer virtual training sessions on the art of recruitment, how to leave a voicemail, virtual interviewing, and more. We have a platform that we use internally that employees can use to search trainings as well. Over the course of the first year, you’re signed up for different training to specialize and match your skills to the job that you’re doing. There’s continuous learning to help you reach your goals throughout your career to prepare you for the next step, which is amazing. Actalent has a whole team focused on learning and development.
What is it like to work for Actalent?
I’ve been with Actalent for a little over eight years … I joined the company shortly after graduating college, and it has given me a ton to be thankful for. I started as an entry-level recruiter. I did that role for about 11 months, and then I moved into management. I was in that role for a year, and then I kind of pivoted my career toward talent acquisition. I spent a lot of time on campuses going to career fairs and doing on-campus interviews, and I loved that, and I loved talking to students. Since then, I’ve been promoted into leadership roles on a regional level and then on a national level.
For me, going through the interview process was what sold me. Talking to the individuals that work here, the impact they had, and hearing about their long-term success drove me. It felt like home in the interview process, so that’s why I chose Actalent. I’m grateful for the development and growth I’ve seen in my career. Looking back, I don’t think I would’ve had that same experience if I went with some other companies that I had spoken to through college.
I’m also grateful to have gained a working family, too. I feel supported in my role, and I feel supported over the last eight years. I know that those around me challenge me when I need it, but they help mentor me and lead me toward that growth and success as well, too. I feel like coming out of school, two of the values that I had were, ‘I want development, and I want to grow my career,’ but I also wanted to be surrounded by individuals who care. And I think that that’s something that Actalent and the people here have offered me.
Glekeria “GK” Kalathas leads Actalent’s talent acquisition and is responsible for the company’s internal and corporate hiring across the United States. Kalathas joined Actalent shortly after college herself, starting her career as an entry-level recruiter before transitioning into talent acquisition and growing into regional and national leadership roles. She is passionate about leaving a positive impact on others, even if she only interacts with them briefly. Kalathas earned her degree in Marketing from Shippensburg University and lives in Pennsylvania. Fun fact about Kalathas: She comes from a huge Greek family where it’s tradition to name kids after their grandparents — so she has four cousins who share her first and last name!
This interview was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
Image credit: Courtesy of Glekeria Kalathas