>> Extended website-only content on the unique Chick-fil-A hiring process:Here’s the other thing: if the process takes a long time you will probably lose a few people on the way. Some people won’t be able to wait, won’t want to wait, etc.. But, for people that see the uniqueness of your culture, it’s kind of like finding that right husband or wife. You’re willing to wait when you find the right one. What I found at Chick-fil-A is that the candidates who really love the culture and saw a fit were willing to wait for it – others will walk away. So it becomes kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy; the ones who really don’t value what you have to offer will walk away and you want them to. Let me give you another example from Zappos, who will be sending a coach to the Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship this year. One of the things they’re famous for, and which their parent company Amazon now mimics, is they offer new employees $1,000 to quit within their first few weeks. If an employee is willing to walk away for $1,000 that early on, they’re not going to stay for the long haul anyway. It’s the ones not willing to walk away for that money that see and value what you have to offer. It’s amazing! By having that kind of an offer, it forces the organization to shore up your hiring systems so they don’t bring too many people in that are willing to take you up on that offer. It means your culture has to be so strong, and your systems have to be so good, that you could offer that and nobody takes you up on it. If you’re doing a good job of screening people it means once they get in, they see something far more valuable than money that they want to be part of. Here’s another little tip for hiring in general: one of the things that that I used to do once we were getting serious about a field marketing candidate is take that candidate on a trip with me. You would be amazed what you can learn in 24 hours on a trip with somebody. It’s everything from the way they treat the rental car shuttle driver, to what their energy is like throughout the day, to when they get in a room full of Operators that they don’t know, how comfortable are they with mixing and mingling? I would literally take them to a Chick-fil-A location and ask them what they saw in order to gauge their instincts. It was amazing how well some people would assess the situation and how poorly others would. That is so much more behavioral than sitting in an office. I’m trying to answer the question, are they natural at what we’re going to ask them to do? Because I’m trying to set them up for success. And if they’re not natural and I hire them, they’re going to struggle the whole time. It’s similar to scouting athletes; I’m not expecting perfection, but I’m looking for instinct and natural ability. So, how can you incorporate something similar in to your interview process when you’re getting serious about a candidate? Here’s the other thing that I think is really unique about Chick-fil-A: interviews are never a one-way decision. It’s not me deciding about your future – it’s you deciding about your future as well. So, if I don’t take you on that trip you’re having to make a decision about something you’ve never seen. Part of it is an investment on Chick-fil-A’s part to help you make a good decision. One of the things we are always very conscious of is that the hiring process is a two-way decision much like marriage would be a two-way decision. It’s not one person deciding – it’s two people deciding. So, how do we put the candidate in a position to make a great decision? Because it’s going to impact them as much or more than us in a sense- their whole future is on the line. So, are we giving them ample opportunity to see us (warts and all) – do they really know what they’re getting into? Because the ultimate litmus test for us to know if we’ve done a good job interviewing a candidate is their answer to this question a few week into the job: “Any surprises?” The surprise you don’t want is for them to get into the job and it’s very different than what they were thinking. To avoid that, we tried to give them plenty of opportunity to make their own assessment of whether this was right for them at the same time we were making an assessment of whether they were right for us and the position.
>> Extended website-only content on Hiring for Culture fit:If you put it in athletic terms, I think about Alabama or the University of Georgia football. When they look for new players, they’re recruiting guys who could play in the NFL. They’re not saying, “I just need somebody who can play college ball.” They’re recruiting people capable of going into the NFL. And the reason that they’ve got players that are so good at college ball is because people who are going to the NFL know they need to go to Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, etc. – those top football schools. Those schools are able to attract the top talent not just because those players’ goal is to play for that school, but also because their ultimate goal is to get in the NFL. And they know that’s the best way to get there. It’s an elite group that is attracted to the best teams and they build a culture of sending players to the next level and therefore they’re able to attract the people that will be best at the college level. It’s the same thing with companies. If you build a culture of opportunity to rise up in the company and be a future leader, you start with a better set of talent.
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Founder, Spark A Revolution