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Insurer prefers sales rookies

For people working in an international insurance firm, energy and dynamism, not age, are key attributes, says Marcela Slimáková, HR Coordinator for Nationale Nederlanden Slovak Republic. Explaining to The Slovak Spectator exactly what qualities a successful job candidate needs, she cited loyalty, and noted that is was a two way street.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What qualities and qualifications do you expect from your potential employees?


Nederlanden's Slimáková.
photo: Courtesy Marcela Slimáková

For people working in an international insurance firm, energy and dynamism, not age, are key attributes, says Marcela Slimáková, HR Coordinator for Nationale Nederlanden Slovak Republic. Explaining to The Slovak Spectator exactly what qualities a successful job candidate needs, she cited loyalty, and noted that is was a two way street.


The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What qualities and qualifications do you expect from your potential employees?

Marcela Slimáková (MS): We usually look for candidates outside the insurance business. Not only should these people be educated in their respective field, but they should also speak English, which is a basic requirement. The third is the character of a person, and how that would affect their ability to work on and strengthen a team.


TSS: Could you explain in more detail?

MS: The candidate should be someone who is able to work independently, a dynamic person, but on the other hand is easily adaptable to working in a team on common projects contributing to the final product.


TSS: What people are best suited for working at your company - the younger or older generation?

MS: Age is not important, rather energy. We have both older and younger people working for us.


TSS: When looking for people for particular positions in your company, what is the most problematic part of your job?

MS: Sometimes, combining all our required skills in one person can be a problem. But we care about quality, and we are willing to look for the right person for a long time until we find the best one. One important quality an employee should bring with him or her is loyalty.


TSS: Why are you particularly interested in having loyal employees?

MS: Because we are trying to give our employees a certain standard of working conditions, and give them the opportunity to grow professionally with the company by sending them on training courses to increase their qualifications. In return for this we expect loyalty.


TSS: Is there a big risk in Slovakia that people just use foreign firms to increase their qualifications, work for them for a couple of years, and then leave and employ the work experience in a different company?

MS: It doesn't happen often, but there is that threat all the time.


TSS: In general it is believed that younger people are easier to train. On the other hand, employers sometimes complain about a lack of realism and experience in younger employees. The older generation may have the experience, but may also bring bad work habits from their past jobs. What do you think of these arguments?

MS: I think all groups have their pros and cons. Young people are the tabula rasa, but on the other hand the older generation has the experience. When we do job interviews we always try to meet more than once with a candidate and then choose the best person for a given position.


TSS: What is the job interview process in your firm? Some companies have psychological tests, written tests, personal meetings.

MS: We prefer individual contact with every candidate. First of all, the HR manager and the relevant department decision-maker talk to the candidates. After the second selection phase, the best candidates meet the head of a given department, and in the case of key positions, they also meet the general director.


TSS: You also have over 1,000 external employees who sell insurance products for your company. How do you find good salespeople in Slovakia?

MS: We select them ourselves. And although we have many insurance advisors who have never worked as salesmen, they sell our products very well. They need to be communicative people with strong personal skills. All of them work full time on mandate contract for our company. But they don't necessarily need to speak English.

When looking for positions as insurance agents, we prefer people who haven't worked in the insurance business before.


TSS: Why? Wouldn't insurance experience be an advantage?

MS: The personality is more important and we can provide them with our own training to get into insurance business.

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