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Meet Heather Zaherniak, MA, Senior Talent Solutions Expert

Heather works with clients to improve their talent selection and employee development. For example, she helps clients find scalable, reliable ways to match the right people with the right roles, identify the best promotion opportunities, improve leadership, and more.

Where did you grow up?

Prescott, Michigan—a town of about 300 people! I lived on a farm with cattle, pigs, etc.

Married? Children? Pets?

I’ve been married for two years. I’m pregnant with our first child and we have a five-year old Boxer.

What led you into this field?

During my senior year of college, I took a psychology class. The professor asked the class what types of fields we were considering going into. Most answers were clinical-based. No one mentioned I/O psychology. No one seemed to know what it was. As soon as I learned about it, I was hooked. I found the only class offered in I/O psychology, and when I went to graduate school, I discovered SIOP—the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. A search on a job board led me to OutMatch.

What or who has influenced your career the most?

My college professor who introduced me to the field. And my mom. She influenced my decision because she too had a great interest in psychology. She was always giving me books to read on the subject and seemed fascinated by it. There are also several people here at OutMatch who have been terrific mentors—specifically, Carol Jenkins and Olivia Salas.

What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you find most challenging?

I enjoy the variety of work and learning about people. On the flip side, each client has a unique need and you often have to think outside the box.

What do you think it takes to be successful in your role?

The ability to think outside the box. It’s also important to take initiative to find new solutions, work independently, and be confident.

Tell me about an interesting problem you’ve faced in your role and how you dealt with it.

A client was looking for a way to select the right people for a rather unique role where they made about 20 hires per year. They requested an interview guide. However, when I began my research, I learned that interviews weren’t typically done for this type of role. Instead, decision makers uses field observations, called “calibration meetings,” to determine skill level. As a result, I suggested that the client create an observation guide. Most of these jobs were filled internally, but we also developed an interview guide for external hires.

What are some of the industry-specific challenges you see for the future?

People always want faster and better. We have to figure out how to be user friendly, while still delivering data that’s valid and reliable. Accurate data remains key, but we also don’t want to scare away candidates with lengthy assessments. Our goal is to make the process more engaging and appealing.

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

Work will always be work. Enjoy what you do and make the best of it.

What’s your most valuable professional tool?

My analytical skills. I’m good at interpreting data.

Passions? Hobbies? Interests outside of work?

I enjoy taking walks with my dog, and I love to read. I’d like to travel more one day.

What is something no one knows about you?

I have seven siblings. I’m the fifth child.

What’s your favorite TV show?

I don’t watch much TV, but I like “Sherlock.”

What’s your favorite lunch?

Macaroni and cheese.

You work hard, but personal time is important too. What’s been your best vacation spot? Do you have a dream destination?

My husband and I spent out honeymoon in Ireland. It was fantastic. One day I’d like us to visit Scotland. We both have Scottish backgrounds and it would be fun to explore our heritage a bit more.

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