When Walt Bettinger, Charles Schwab CEO, conducts an interview, he likes to do lunch; not at all out of the ordinary when filling a high level, leadership position. This isn’t just any old lunch, however. He watches how the candidate treats the server when their order gets mixed up. He pays attention to what kind of tip they leave. He’s looking for their character, because Walt knows that how a person handles an uneven power dynamic is telling of the type of leader they’ll be. Anyone can prepare for an interview, but using creative ways to let people show who they really are is a great way to immediately recognize a good (or bad) fit for your business.
Aren’t quite sure what you’re looking for in a new hire? Your company mission is a great place to start! Identify your purpose and look for others who have the same values. For example, Ruby’s mission is to preserve and perpetuate meaningful human connections in a virtual world, and years ago we decided to only bring in people who identify with these ideas in a very personal way. To find them, instead of predictable, traditional interviews, we conduct “sit-withs.”
A sit-with is a visit where a potential new hire tours our office, observes a receptionist, and chats with their potential trainer (we call them “Rubyinators,” of course). We look specifically for their ability to connect with the various Ruby staff members they meet that day, and if even one person doesn’t feel it’s a good fit, we don’t move forward with the hiring process. Someone might give great answers to the interview questions, but connecting with a bunch of strangers is hard for an individual who doesn’t have a natural inclination for it. The way we see it, Ruby can teach someone the skills to be an efficient receptionist, but we can’t teach them to find fulfillment in helping and connecting with their fellow human beings.
Employees stay longer at a companies where they are empowered to practice what they believe in. In fact, in 2013 Ruby experienced a 17% turnover rate, which is practically unheard of in an industry where rates over 100% are common. We’ve found that when you identify candidates who have values that align with your mission, you can build a truly remarkable team.