Hiring Employees Who Reinforce Your Brand

CA18B933-E5BD-451F-AA6F-A713F8DBD080 (1)Call me crazy. I traded in my sand chair for skis last week. Instead of heading south to Sanibel Island, Florida, I headed north to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire – in a snowstorm! While I must admit to second-guessing myself as frequent white-out conditions persisted, I hadn’t been in that neck of the woods for a long, long time. I had forgotten that the White Mountains sure are beautiful.

The skiing was typical New Hampshire, icy with a few inches of fresh snow that fell every night. I ate in good restaurants, had a wonderful spa experience and stayed in a beautiful, corner suite with a working fireplace at one of New England’s most historic hotels – The Mt. Washington, built in 1904, lovingly restored, enhanced, and now owned by Omni Hotels.

I was impressed that every single one of the staff was smiling and friendly-and I mean every one! Certainly over a week’s stay someone must have been a little cross, cranky, frowning, fretting or off-putting? Nope! To a person, all were warm in their demeanor and very helpful.

Now, that’s hard to do. I commented and complimented on this when asked about my stay during checkout. “Well,” replied the woman when she handed me the receipt, “We only hire friendly people. If you don’t come across friendly during the interview, you are not hired.” It’s part of the Omni brand – friendly staff. They actually “vet” for friendliness when they hire.

DO YOUR EMPLOYEES REFLECT YOUR BRAND?

So many companies spend millions of dollars and precious time building their “brand,” only to have employees who become the antithesis of their brand. Have you noticed it, too?

  • the “friendly skies” airline with the cranky attendants
  • the newspaper boasting journalistic excellence only to be brought down by a plagiarizing reporter
  • the local health clinic where the employees don’t look healthy
  • the cleaning service people driving a dirty van

HIRING THAT BUILDS YOUR BRAND

There’s a giant new outdoor “adventure” store at a mall near me. The salesclerks all look like models for Outside Magazine. Besides their outdoorsy garb, they are all pretty fit. When they give you advice on ski gear, you take it because they look like skiers themselves. The salesforce in this store actually reinforces the “brand” of their employer.

LOOK FOR BRAND BUILDERS

Why is there such a dichotomy between what companies profess (their values and brand) and who they actually choose to represent those values? I think it’s because managers are not proactively looking for candidates who reflect those values when they’re interviewing. They’re not asking themselves, “Does this potential employee build or take away from my brand?”

Instead, we’re taught to look for what the candidate has achieved, how the candidate can do the job, the candidate’s educational background, knowledge of the market, etc. Certainly these are all things we MUST consider. But, how do you determine if the candidate is a person who would actually build your brand?

For some companies (like our outdoor adventure store) it’s pretty clear. But for most, it’s a challenge. How does a manager whose company is selling a technology solution or consultative service effectively identify if a potential employee would reinforce the brand? Considering there are certain questions you CAN’T ask in an interview, it makes it doubly hard. But, take heart, it can be done.

Here are a three simple ways to see if your candidate’s values match your brand . . .

    • Get comfortable and conversational with your candidate.
      Starting an interview can be awkward for the manager and for the candidate. Take a few moments to relax the candidate by small talk – yes, small talk. It’s very important. The more relaxed the conversation, the more we tend to reveal about ourselves – manager and candidate.
    • Ask open-ended questions to identify motivation. 
      Ask the right questions and you’ll get the right answers. Ask probing questions to identify your candidate’s motivation for the decisions they made in their career. Ask about their reasons for taking former jobs, why they left those jobs, why they chose their college, etc. Let the candidates reveal their motivations for doing what they’ve done. These questions will give you a great idea of who they are as a person as well as how they’ve performed.
    • Get up close and personal – when you can.
      If your candidate has personal information on the resume (hobbies, travel, awards, etc.), it’s OK to ask about that information. Volunteer work, membership in organizations or association, hobbies or civic involvement are all great ways to ascertain the character of your candidate. I’m impressed, for example, with candidates who volunteer for organizations such as Big Brothers or Big Sisters. The “helping hand” mentality goes a long way in the workplace as well.

I felt just as refreshed when I returned home as I would if I had taken a warm weather vacation. Maybe it’s because of the lovely, warm staff at The Mt. Washington. You can bet that I’m looking forward to my next stay there – why I may just take a little spring mini-vacation!

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