Culture Puzzle Wall

Every company wants to have good employees. More importantly, they also want the right employees. There’s a difference.

The smartest person in the world may not end up being a good cultural fit for a company. Every company has a personality, and the people they hire must possess the right skills, character and behaviors to fit in. This differs from company to company, so what works for one may not work for another.

I recently interviewed Teri Yanovitch for Amazing Business Radio, and she talked about her job at Disney World. She had just finished high school and remembered walking up to the “Casting Center,” where she would go through her first interview. Her experience that day, from the moment she walked through the doors, set the tone for what she expected the job to be like.

First, she noticed the door had the doorknobs from the animated Disney movie Alice in Wonderland. In case you don’t recall it, the doorknob has a face that talks to and smiles at you. By the way, this doorknob character originates with Disney; the original novel by Lewis Carroll didn’t feature a smiling, talking doorknob.

The next step was a video orientation. This explained the company culture and expectations of Disney employees, also known as cast members. Only then was it time for the first interview. The point is that Disney establishes upfront that learning about the company culture is a priority for new applicants.

In my book The Amazement Revolution, I wrote about Hy-Vee, the regional grocery store chain based in Des Moines, IA. Part of their hiring practice is to ask applicants to spend a few minutes in the store before the interview. This gives the applicant the opportunity to observe employees and customers. Meanwhile, the interviewer gets the opportunity to see if the applicant makes good observations, understands what’s working and what’s not and more. Ideally, the potential employee experiences the store through a different lens than a regular customer.

Very few companies have a pre-application or pre-interview experience. Yet consider how much easier it would be for a potential employee to make a decision about applying for a position at a company if they could watch a video to help them understand the company’s culture—or perhaps the position itself. It could make interviews more effective and even allow potential applicants to determine whether or not the company and job are a good fit for them.

I’m not a hiring expert, but I know this. The best customer-focused companies are also employee-focused. They recognize the need to hire the right people with the right personalities. That is what builds the foundation of a successful customer-focused culture.