Big Banks vs. Small Banks

Mercer Online

Summer Work

Corporate Angels

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 31, 2000. All rights



Let’s Talk About Me

All too often employers waste a job interview talking

about themselves and not quizzing the candidate, says Jesse


director of the New Jersey Department of Labor’s Division of Business

Services. "Recent surveys have shown that the job interview is

the least effective way to choose from job candidates, and that’s

usually because it’s done improperly," says Behrens, a 16-year

veteran of the Department of Labor.

Its Division of Business Services offers several employer human


support services programs, including one on "Selection


and the Selection Process," on Thursday, June 8, at 9 a.m. at

the Labor Building in Trenton. The seminar is sponsored by the


Association of New Jersey. Call 609-984-3518. Cost: $10.

Behrens is an advocate for a technique called the "structured

behavior-based interview," wherein questions posed to job


are specifically job-related, such that the interviewer elicits


about what the candidate has done in the past that correlates with

the job to be filled. If the job demands problem-solving skills, for

example, the interviewer asks a candidate to explain situations in

which he or she has resolved problems in the past. "Structured,

behavior-based interviews involve good, open-ended questions where

the candidate does most of the talking," says Behrens.

In addition to the resume, results of skill and personality tests,

and references, the interview is an essential component of the hiring

process. But it’s here that employers are most clumsy, says Behrens,

who says DON’T do the following:

Get caught unprepared. Rather, know the job description

and prepare good open-ended questions so that the interviewee is doing

80 percent of the talking (Behrens calls this the "Eighty-Twenty


Give away too much about the job. This may shape a


answers. "If you tell them the job is stressful and you ask `how

do you handle stress,’ they’re going to tell you what you want to

hear," says Behrens.

Ask inappropriate questions. Civil Rights laws prohibit

making employment decisions based on race, religion, gender, age,

disability, or family status. "All too often that information

is directly or indirectly elicited," says Behrens, "and while

that, in and of itself, may not be a violation of Civil Rights law,

it provides the company with information that they should not have

and it may come back to haunt them when they try to justify who they


Rely too much on credentials or, conversely, intuition.

Accept general or vague responses . Probe instead. "A

lot of interviewers have a fear of doing this," says Behrens.

Succumb to "pressure to hire." "In today’s

tight labor market, there’s certainly a lack of people that have the

skills that many jobs require, so there’s a tendency to settle for

less than what would be a good job match," says Behrens.

Fail to check references. One excuse employers cite is

that companies only give name, rank, and serial number of the employee

in question, but if you don’t make the effort, you could put yourself

in danger, says Behrens. "There’s a legal concept called negligent

hiring that applies when the employer should have known that a person

was either violent, a thief, or incompetent," says Behrens. When

possible, try to reach the person closest to the ex-employee.


you get the information anyway because they don’t know any


he says.

Reference checking is critical, says Behrens, because "past


is the best predictor of future behavior."

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Big Banks vs. Small Banks

Taking information about customers and translating that

into new products is an opportunity community banks need to snap up,

says George Scharpf, CEO of Amboy National Bank since 1981.

"We have been able to analyze our client base and start to promote

those who we believe are more likely to be interested in certain


he says.

Where are big bank "Goliaths" most susceptible? Are Goliath’s

one-stop financial services what customers really want? How does


work with technology to create powerful customer relations?

Scharpf and CEOs from two other community banks, Charles Hamm

of Independence Community Bank and Stephen Laine, CEO of First

BankAmericano, will answer those questions on Thursday, June 8, at

8:30 a.m. at the New Jersey Bankers Association meeting on "Davids

versus Goliaths" at the Woodbridge Hilton. Call 609-924-5550.

Cost: $55.

With over $1.4 billion in assets, 15 offices and 250 employees in

New Jersey, Amboy is a Goliath in New Jersey, says Scharpf, but it

functions more like a David in that it is actively involved in the

community — particularly in the area of housing — in Monmouth

and Middlesex counties. "We feel homeowners are a very large


of New Jersey so we redirected the company to target homeowners and

homebuyers," he says. "We will be able to serve a larger


of the community than the big banks in terms of service loans. Since

we’re heavily oriented towards housing, we believe we have improved

our capabilities in dealing with customers who either are homeowners

or want to be, so we develop products."

In the 1980s, Scharpf, who worked for Citibank in New York after


from Notre Dame in 1962, introduced the half-pay mortgage at Amboy,

which allowed homeowner to make a payment every two weeks. Also, as

a result of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act, banks are now able to offer

financially-related services for the first time, and Amboy is starting

with Title Insurance for homebuyers and Homeowners Insurance,

Integrating technology, particularly Internet technology, is still

an uncomfortable area for community banks, however. "We’re


to see a steady flow of deposits and home equity loans come through

the Web," says Scharpf, "but we don’t haven’t anything to

differentiate in terms of pricing. Technology in and of itself doesn’t

do a lot. It’s only if you can increase the quality of the experience

you have with clients. It also helps if it increases the volume and

keep the same number of people."

Above all, small banks have the capacity for relationship-banking

that large banks just don’t have, so they need to capitalize on this,

says Scharpf.

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Mercer Online

You have pop quiz from your professor — it arrives

by E-mail.

This is how Mercer County College intends to give its pop quizzes

this summer. In a paradigm shift marking the onset of the electronic

age, MCCC is offering nine summer courses online for those who can’t

make it to campus or want to upgrade their skills for a new career.

"Students responded so favorably to our first online courses that

we have expanded," says Yvonne Chang, Mercer’s director of



Appropriately, of the courses offered online many cover Internet


There’s a course on creating Web pages, Javascript, Java, and CGI

programming, Microsoft Windows, Quickbooks, PhotoShop and QuattroPro.

Two certificate programs, Project Management Principles and Paralegal

Certificate, will also be taught online.

Courses are delivered to students via E-mail twice a week for six

weeks and are supplemented by interactive quizzes, assignments,


and online discussions. Sessions run from June 14 through July 21,

July 12 through August 18, and August 9 through September 15. Most

courses cost $99. Call 609-586-9446, or to get your feet wet, try

registering online:

Top Of Page
Summer Work

Snelling Personnel Services at 350 Alexander Road is

offering local college students scholarship money totaling $1,500

for working with the agency on a temporary basis this summer. Each

week that student works on an assignment for a Snelling clients their

name is entered into a pool. At the end of the summer there is a


for the scholarships. The more weeks students works, the more times

their name is added to the pool. Call 609-683-4040.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

Volunteers from Goldman Sachs on Mount Lucas Road spent two

days painting rooms in the Eden Family of Services’ newest group home

— Noonan House. Located in Rocky Hill, Noonan House is scheduled

to open this summer and will house six adults with autism. It is


ninth group home, named in honor of the chairman of the board of


William Noonan. Call 609-987-0099.

The Princeton Family YMCA’s Seventh Annual Family Festival and Bike

Tour, held on May 21, was sponsored by Church & Dwight, Dow Jones,

Fleet Bank, Johnson & Johnson, Kepner Tregoe, Mason, Griffin &


Merrill Lynch, Princeton Capital Management, Princeton Nassau Conover,

RCN, Charles Schwab, and Saphire Associates.

Rider University received a grant of $150,000 from the New Jersey

State Library to support the wrappings and preservation of the

Louis A. Leslie shorthand collection housed in the university’s


Last year the state library provided $14,204 for preservation work.

Call 609-895-5440.

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