Finding people who will bring a fresh perspective and yet work well within a team is a challenge. For a team to be successful, each member must bring a combination of skill, belief in the team’s mission, and the ability to collaborate. Someone with skills who lacks belief in the mission is a flight risk, and the prima donna who refuses to collaborate can squander the potential synergy of the team effort.
I interviewed Morgans Hotel Group CEO Fred Kleisner in the basement nightclub of their New York City property, The Hudson. We had to do some creative camera framing and lighting since the walls were covered with vintage 1970s and 80s pin-up posters. Kleisner, hip and cool himself, has the enviable job of running some of the coolest, hippest hotel properties in the world. When it comes to hiring, Kleisner says Morgans is interested in someone’s whole personality and all their strengths. Instead of a traditional interview, the company has “casting calls” in theatres. After a standard question and answer session, candidates are invited to get up on stage and share anything they want, with an emphasis on something that expresses who they are at heart.
As he described:
“We want fun, friendly, gracious, authentic—we want original. So at the end of the interview, we’ll say to you, “There’s the stage. Go up and do whatever you’d like. Show us who you are.” And some people sing a song, some people tell a joke, some people tell a story. That’s what cuts away the people who are just attractive from those who are internally attractive and really care about delivering great service, who understand that service is never servitude.”
This exercise tells the candidates they are entering a safe, welcoming environment where they are expected to bring their unique identity to work, while also allowing the interviewers to glimpse the more personal and authentic side of potential hires instead of finding those six months into the job.
By Shawn Hunter