The 2018 winners of our Employees’ Choice Award for Best Places to Work understand the importance of cultivating and maintaining a great company culture. These 100 large and 100 small-to-medium businesses all share similar values when it comes to prioritizing their people, embracing transparency and building a mission to believe in.
What’s more, these Best Places to Work recognize that attracting and hiring the right candidates is key to sustaining a positive and healthy working environment. So what’s their secret? We recently sat down to talk interviewing and hiring with seven of 2018’s winners to find out.
In Conversation with Delta Air Lines
Glassdoor: What do you look for in a quality job candidate?
Ed Bastian, CEO: Jobs at Delta are enormously competitive, which is a good situation for us. For example, last year, we had 150,000 applicants for 1,200 openings for flight attendants. So we look for the best of the best – those who have strong skills and experience but also those who we know will be a good fit for Delta. If someone is brilliant at their job but doesn’t fit our values or culture, they won’t be successful here.
[Related: How to Conduct Better Interviews]
In Conversation with Power Home Remodeling
Glassdoor: [When] you’re looking to hire new entry-level employees, what skills or traits do you look for?
Asher Raphael, Co-CEO: We only look for one of the two. I’m not interested in what somebody’s skills are; I’m interested in the traits that make them who they are. I believe you can train anyone to do something, but the core of who a person is, is way more important than the skill set that they’re arriving with. Instead of an interview, instead of talking about what they’ve done and what skill set they’re able to come in with, we’re focused on what makes them who they are.
Glassdoor: That’s unique.
Raphael: We look for very specific traits. We look for people that are positive and optimistic, honest and caring, people that are mission-driven, people that want to work for something that is bigger than themselves. We’re asking questions about the hardest thing they’ve had to overcome and what inspires them.
Glassdoor: What makes an informed candidate a good fit for Power Home Remodeling?
Raphael: I want somebody that wants to learn — who wants to be trained and wants to constantly be uncomfortable. That’s a specific type of person. Our philosophy is “Who before what.” The strategy of the business over the course of 25 years now has changed several times, as it needs to, with the reality of our economy and climate, and as our territories change. If you have the right type of people on your team, people who are there for each other, they’re able to shift with the strategy and lead the charge.
Glassdoor: So how do you interview with those things in mind?
Raphael: We take a different approach, which is, “Let’s have as open and transparent a conversation as we possibly can to determine if we are the ideal fit for one another.” If the answer’s no, we’re better off figuring that out at this point. The most important part is the organization being as upfront as we can be in order to empower the prospective employee to make the best decision for themselves. Hopefully, in doing that, [we] create as safe an environment as we can for the applicant to feel that they can be open with us about not only who they are, but also what they’re looking for in their career.
In Conversation with Glint
Glassdoor: When you’re hiring, what do you look for in informed candidates?
Alexandra Coonce, VP of People: We really mean it when we say hiring is a mutual selection process. It’s a huge mistake to convince someone to join your team without allowing them enough time to truly understand what they’re signing up for. So we spend a lot of time with candidates asking about what they’ve learned during their conversations and from what’s out there on the internet. We want to ensure first that they have a deep understanding of our culture and values, and second that they’re aligned with our mission and what we’re trying to achieve. Those two factors come before skills fit, and holding true to that philosophy without compromise is what’s allowed us to build an exceptional team.
Glint’s values are really simple: we look for and encourage positivity, authenticity, connection, and transformation. We ask people to choose positivity in the face of adversity. Basically, to trust that they can find the solution. We lead with authenticity, and value each individual for who they are and what they add to our culture. At Glint, you can show up as you, know that you have a voice, and expect to be heard. We celebrate human connection and value conversation over technology. And finally, we embrace transformation and push ourselves to redefine what’s possible.
Glassdoor: What interview questions do you like to ask potential Glinsters?
Coonce: My favorite question to ask is, “What are you passionate about?” I don’t care if their response is work-related or personal, I just want to understand what gets someone up in the morning and brings them happiness. People are often thrown by that question because they’re expecting us to start out of the gate asking about their work history. We can read that online. But if we can get you excited in an interview, teaching us about something you love, it helps us support you as an employee at Glint because we can figure out how to tap into similar experiences that drive you and bring you joy.
Glassdoor: If you could speak to millions of job seekers interested in Glint, what would you want them to know about what it takes to succeed at Glint?
Coonce: That’s easy – it takes a passion for our mission. Between our people and our platform, we have the power to transform the way we work and the way organizations support their employees. If you’ve ever worked somewhere where you didn’t feel you had a voice, you understand the importance of what we’re building. People who thrive at Glint let that passion drive them and have an attitude of ownership: of the company, their own career development, and the culture we’re crafting together.
[Related: Master Interviewing Toolkit]
In Conversation with In-N-Out Burger
Glassdoor: What are some of your best practices when it comes to recruiting? In-N-Out is known for friendly, well-trained associates. What makes someone a perfect fit for In-N-Out?
Lynsi Snyder, CEO: We look for great smiles and people who love being around people. We also want Associates who have a natural commitment to serving our customers. We can teach just about everything else. We find a surprising number of our best new hires are referrals from current Associates. Great people tend to hang out with other great people.
[Related: Candidate Screening Checklist]
In Conversation with Silverline
Glassdoor: When you’re hiring, what do you look for in informed candidates?
Gireesh Sonnad, CEO: Ultimately, I look for someone who has the passion to be part of an organization that is rapidly growing, is focused on the success of their customers, and driven by the desire to contribute to the team as a whole. Certainly, skill in their role and the ability to bring a unique perspective are important traits. But I believe that if there is a strong and meaningful fit between a candidate and the team at large, then we will be capable of incredible things.
Glassdoor: What interview questions do you ask to ensure your companies recruit great employees?
Sonnad: “Are you willing to learn as much as you teach? Are you willing to teach as much as you learn?”
“Describe for me the best example of day that makes you excited to jump out of bed that morning.”
We care deeply about the cultural fit of every new Silverliner – for their success and ours. While it may not be unique, we make sure that our candidates have dedicated sessions with a large cross section of individuals from throughout the company – not just their department – so that we can gauge an individual’s overall fit with what we have built. We spend a great deal of time with every candidate to make sure that they will be wildly successful as a Silverliner.
In Conversation with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
Glassdoor: What do you look for in informed candidates who apply to Kimpton?
Ginny Too, VP of People + Culture: If you’re a self-starter, motivated, compassionate, have a great sense of humor, and a passion for hospitality, we’re the right place for you. I can’t emphasize how important it is to get to know our candidates as individuals. We’ve always been very purposeful about hiring for heart and intuition. Those are innate characteristics that translate to our industry. We can teach someone how to make a bed or improve their Excel skills and everything in between, but we can’t teach someone to have heart. There’s an unscripted nature in how we do our business and it’s that level of empowerment that allows our people to continue to flourish in their roles.
We also love when people do a little extra homework to learn not only about our hotels and restaurants, but also our culture and core values such as wellness, the environment, diversity and inclusion. Those who have a 360-degree view of their role will be set up for success and can hit the ground running.
Glassdoor: What are some of your best practices when it comes to recruiting?
Too: When it comes to recruiting, it’s as unique as our hotels and restaurants are from each other. Depending on the city and neighborhood, it could be a more casual BBQ and brats luncheon versus a job fair with team-building lawn games. Depending on the position, we may also break bread with a candidate to see how they interact with a restaurant’s wait staff. Given the nature of our business, that’s a great litmus test to how they may behave in a similar workplace. We mix it up and rely heavily on word-of-mouth as well to build up awareness for our available opportunities. We also get great referrals from people who have previously worked with us – you never truly leave Kimpton … we call it Kimpton for life!
We also do things a little differently here at Kimpton. Our managers are responsible for their own hiring, instead of a centralized HR/Recruiting team. We love this model, since they know best who will be the right fit for their property and team. We offer support from our local People + Culture and Home Office Talent Attraction teams, but the manager is in the driver’s seat.
[Related: Group Interviewing Techniques and Tips]
In Conversation with REI
Glassdoor: What are a few things you want informed candidates to know before they apply to REI?
Jerry Stritzke, CEO and President: As important as what they know, is who they are. For us, that means: Do they have a love for the outdoors? Do they care about introducing other people to it? And do they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and make a difference? When we find those kinds of people, they immediately become part of a community that REI represents.
On a side note, in 2015, when we announced we were going to be closed on Black Friday for #OptOutside, we saw the number of applications double. I think that example of living our values, being authentic and making big decisions draws people in. So I feel like who we are attracts, almost by definition, the kind of people that are passionate about what we do.
[Related: Effective Exit Interview Templates]
In Conversation with SpaceX
Glassdoor: Many companies struggle to get enough candidates to apply for their open positions. At SpaceX, I imagine you have the opposite problem. How can a candidate stand out from the many other applications you receive?
Brian Bjelde, Vice President of Human Resources: People articulating the exceptional things they’ve done really helps them stand out. Year after year, as awareness of SpaceX’s brand, mission, and success grows, so does the interest in being a part of it. The number of applicants has drastically gone up, but we always welcome candidates to apply. We’re out there looking for people that want to help us achieve that goal of making humans multi-planetary.
I distill what we’re looking for in candidates down to three items: passion, drive and talent. In general, we ask our hiring managers and the employees that we’ve selected to be part of the interviews to always be focused on hiring people better than themselves. If you’re given the opportunity to grow your team and you seek out someone better than yourself, then you’re going to make the company better.
We’ve also noticed that one of the best indicators of a candidate’s ability to perform the tasks we’re hiring them to do is to give them a practical examination of sorts. If you’re hiring someone to be a world-class welder here, then we actually bring them in as part of the interview and give them a welding assignment to understand their talent with this task. We do the same thing with our engineering groups, and with any role in which the work activity can be distilled into a practical examination.
Glassdoor: Do you have any interview questions in particular that you like to ask candidates?
Bjelde: We challenge our teams to be very prepared for interviews, and that means not just looking at a candidate’s resume as you arrive in the interview room and proceeding to ask them questions about it. Resumes gauge the ability to write a bulleted list of achievements, and that’s not always indicative of success — the resume is not going to be sitting in the seat doing the work on Monday. We also seek to understand what they didn’t put on the resume, the items people tend to not want to brag about in an interview – things like what failures they experienced along the way and how they worked through them. We really want to figure out, what makes the person tick? What motivates them and makes them do their best work? How do they like to be challenged?
Being able to grow our teams is a privilege and we take the interview process very seriously to ensure that both the candidate and interview team feel like it is a great experience and ultimately a great fit for any hiring decision. We were very flattered to have been recognized by candidates in Glassdoor’s 2017 Best Places to Interview list.
Want more winning advice?
Discover what makes an interview experience great from the winners of our Candidates’ Choice Award for Best Interview in Secrets of Best Places to Interview.