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Interview with Iveta Košťálová, HR Manager at GUARANT International, spol. s r. o.

Iveta Košťálová completed a Secondary Vocational School of Tourism in Karlovy Vary. Her career began at the Department for Congress Tourism at Čedok. She joined GI after her maternity leave in 1993.  Iveta is one of the employees who have been with GI International almost from the beginning. First, she served as a project manager, later she was transferred to the position of the HR manager. During the interviews, she meets various types of people – she has dealt with geniuses, broken personalities and psychopaths. She enjoys her job which is quite evident after her first sentence. Iveta is a pleasant and empathetic person who always cares about the needs of employees and their satisfaction while having a very positive influence on the general atmosphere in the company.

Iveta, how did your career in GI evolve?

For a long time, I worked as a project manager and later on as a senior PM. Later, because of my family, I accepted the position of office manager. Work could be better combined with my family life. My next position was Events Management Director. Since 2016, I have worked as a HR manager. It is another challenge since I had to learn a lot of new things. However, I do not regret this challenge, my previous experience helps and I really like working with people. Changing positions and broadening my horizons probably explains how I managed to stay with the company for almost my entire professional life.

How would you describe work in GI in general?

The work in our company is very interesting but also very demanding. We have a number of top-quality employees who have been working here for a long time. This shows, inter alia, that they like it here, they have been honing their skills for years and they have the opportunity for further improvement. I hold them in high esteem because they faced and overcame various obstacles and difficult times. However, I am also pleased about the fact that we have attracted college graduates or that experienced employees come from other companies and we have something to offer to them.

What candidates do you meet daily during your interviews? How do you uncover their hidden sides? I have held hundreds of interviews already and met very different types of personalities. I met candidates who were burnt out and it came to light progressively, although it was not entirely clear from their CV. Fortunately, during our hiring process, we collaborate with psychologists which have proved very useful to us. Sometimes the candidate impressed us, he had the necessary experience but for some reason, we were not quite sure about him and subsequently, the psychologist confirmed our feeling and did not recommend the candidate.

On the other hand, at first glance, some candidates seem very shy and unsure of themselves but when they relax and feel support, I find out that they have things to offer and become excellent colleagues. They just need to be given a chance.

Cooperation with psychologists is a very interesting part of HR, which I enjoy and which enriches me.

Do the candidates change? Are they different today compared to several years ago?

Yes, the candidates change, they are more confident, many people are more experienced also thanks to technology. Individuals who have just come out of school often have many good skills. On the other hand, during interviews, we also meet individuals who are rude, conceited, thinking how they can do everything but finally, it is often a bubble that always bursts in the end. It is very important to invite candidates and interview them. I prefer a meeting in real life to an online meeting. Of course, during the COVID crisis, we were also grateful for this form as well.

How do you rate CV and motivation letters? How would you compare the quality of the submitted documents with the past?

Overall, I have to admit that CVs are more sophisticated and that the standard of motivation letters is also constantly improving. As for the motivation letters, I would like to emphasize that it is not important to go into too many details. Today everything goes fast and it is necessary to choose and list important points related to the position in question properly. These I my quick observations and first impressions. To me, the structure of the CV, a suitable photograph and basic points are of key importance. There is no need for the candidates to go into too many details; a personal meeting shall provide the details. When a CV is accompanied by a motivation letter, it makes a good impression on me. When it is missing, it makes the impression that the candidate is not interested in the job that much.  If references are added, that brings him to yet to another level and it also works very well.

The pandemic period was very challenging for all HR professionals. How did the GI HR department deal with this situation?

From my point of view, it is a good thing that we did not made anybody redundant and managed to keep up. The situation was very difficult, we did not know if we would get support from the state, we were really on the verge. I think we managed to survive the situation to the extent possible. Unfortunately, several skilled employees whom we did not want to lose left us which could not be prevented. Some simply left because of better opportunities because at that time there were also areas that were in full swing.  Luckily, we are currently recruiting new candidates and we need to fill a number of interesting positions which we have advertised on our website.

What should every candidate know before contacting GI?

In general, a candidate for a position in GI should be a team player, pro-client oriented, communicative and stress-resistant. He or she should have language skills. It is true that in some positions the English language is needed more, in some others less but, as a rule, it is usually needed.

How do you rate GI from the perspective of a HR specialist?

I think that GI is a good company that treats employees well and I can see it in people who have been here for a really long time and there are not a few of them. Some people who leave want to come back after a while because they realise that they had better conditions, relations and treatment in GI. These findings persuade me that GI is simply a good employer, although there is still room for improvement.

What are team building activities used in GI?

Before the pandemic, we had a number of activities outside the office. We went to exercise together. For the employees, we organized cultural events, sports competitions, events to share travelling experiences, “away days” within the country and abroad and more. We intend to resume these activities as soon as possible. We use a large number of team building formats.

What do you consider to be the greatest success of GI?

The great achievements of the GI were many: IMF, major medical conferences, etc. but the greatest success is overcoming the COVID period and shifting to virtual events.

I believe that we will overcome everything successfully and I personally wish to continue to be a part of this company which I still enjoy to work for.