Skillsoft Blog

Hiring for service, not servitude

By Shawn Hunter

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

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