Tarrytown Moving Company Gentle Giant's Fitness Challenge for Job Applicants

Your heart is pounding. You’ve broken into a sweat. If you happen to be interviewing at Gentle Giant Moving Company in Tarrytown, things are right on track. There, local branch manager and Yonkers resident Noah Duarte personally escorts each of the location’s job applicants on a three-mile run—two miles of which are uphill—around Tarrytown. “Any interviewer is looking to see what the candidate has to offer the company,” he says. “I found that sitting across the table asking questions didn’t replicate our real-life work environment.”

While most job candidates are thrilled to score a call from an employer, Duarte, an avid runner (he’s currently training for a 100-mile ultra-marathon), says his unique hiring process is effective at “weeding out” those who flinch at the challenge. And while the one-on-one time gives him ample opportunity to gauge the physical capabilities of those who are game, he says he’s chiefly interested in applicants’ verbal performances. “What I’m looking for is how well a candidate maintains his or her intellectual and emotional composure through a strenuous activity.”

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Fitness is paramount to the job—especially when transporting a 900-pound piano up five flights of stairs. Duarte’s wife helped him understand why one hopeful “didn’t make it a mile up the road,” informing him that he’d tried to bum a cigarette from her while she waited for Metro-North just moments before the pair’s departure. (She doesn’t smoke.) Another aspirant thought Duarte was questioning his athleticism when he proposed the run, so he dropped to the warehouse floor performing one-arm push-ups.

On the run, Duarte says he sticks to a loose version of the standard Q&A. “I obviously don’t have a list of questions in front of me.” Promising contenders, often culled from local college sports rosters, are invited back for a sit-down, follow-up interview. Team members currently include a former varsity baseball player, a track runner, and a martial artist. In Duarte’s 14 years at Gentle Giant (four in Tarrytown), he’s worked with a former wrestler for Columbia and a female rower who went on to the Marine Corps. In Boston, where the multi-city company is headquartered, all new hires run the steps of Harvard Stadium—all 37 sections of them—with Giant’s sexagenarian founder, with an elite few clocking in under 20 minutes.

Illustration by Robert Pizzo

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