Tony Hsieh's Brilliant Strategy For Hiring Kind People


With all of the focus on finding technology talent and bridging the skills gap, it’s easy for small business owners to forget the most important thing is hiring good, kind people you enjoy spending time with.

A great lesson on how to do that comes from Zappos, which is already well known for the lengths it goes to maintain its focus on customer service and a positive company culture. It even designed its new headquarters in Las Vegas with its culture firmly in mind.

In a recent video interview with The Wall Street Journal, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh revealed an awesome technique the company uses to make sure hires aren’t only good cultural fits but also good people. The core philosophy: Even if you make an amazing impression in the interview, if you’re rude to your ride from the airport, you aren’t getting the job.

“A lot of our job candidates are from out of town, and we’ll pick them up from the airport in a Zappos shuttle, give them a tour, and then they’ll spend the rest of the day interviewing,” Hsieh says. “At the end of the day of interviews, the recruiter will circle back to the shuttle driver and ask how he or she was treated. It doesn’t matter how well the day of interviews went, if our shuttle driver wasn’t treated well, then we won’t hire that person.”

To be fair, there’s probably some allowance for jet-lag-related grouchiness and nerves. But there’s never an excuse for being impolite or rude to somebody just because they drive a shuttle.

That’s just one step, according to Hsieh. The company also puts all new employees, regardless of job function, through the same training that call center reps go through. That includes training on the company’s culture, history, philosophy of customer service, and two weeks on the phone taking customer calls.

They can and have fired people during that period, before they’ve started the job they were initially hired for.

“It’s pretty hard to fake your way through that entire four weeks,” Hsieh says.

Particularly for small business owners who likely spend most of their days working directly with employees, it’s doubly important to make sure that they’re working with people who aren’t just pretending to be nice for the interview.

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