Recruitment Lessons from the World’s Best

heartone_websize021I get very frustrated visiting retail stores and receiving poor service, from staff who I feel don’t want to be there and certainly don’t look like they enjoy their job. Recruiting the right staff is critical for every business if they want to deliver consistent excellent service. Today’s discerning customers want to feel that staff members actually care and are able to build a relationship. This will only happen if you recruit the right staff.

Easier said than done. However if you want to survive in today’s ultra-competitive market you need to hire and retain the best staff. So here are three processes from one of the world’s best airlines.

Southwest Airlines in the US have consistently been at the top of the customer service awards for airlines for many years. It is certainly not by luck as I read recently, they have a very rigorous recruitment and appraisal process.

  • Awesome screening process – Southwest are very particular in who they hire due to the fact that while they get lots of applicants, they hire only a very small percentage of these applicants. In fact in 2015 it was only 2% of the close to 300,000 applicants.

Their recruitment process focuses on finding people whose values are in sync with the organisations. They talk about hiring for attitude, not for skills (which is a mantra of ours as well) with these three attributes: a warrior spirit (that is, a desire to excel, act with courage, persevere and innovate); a servant’s heart (the ability to put others first, treat everyone with respect and proactively serve customers); and a fun-loving attitude (passion, joy and an aversion to taking oneself too seriously.)

Have you outlined the ideal person you want to hire and what attributes they must have? Or do you just make it up as you go and hope you find the right person?

  • Clearly define their expectations – Southwest list these 3 attributes on every job description and build their interview process around them. Their mentality isn’t “we’ll know it when we see it”, they find out if the applicant lives and works the way they do. 

They go as far as not offering the job to an applicant with the right qualifications who doesn’t have the right values, no matter how long the job goes unfilled.

Do you hold off recruiting if you haven’t found the right person first time? Or do you choose the best of an ordinary bunch and end up with mediocrity?

  • They measure not just results but how they got those results – They constantly measure if every employee is meeting the three attributes through regular performance appraisals and 360 degree reviews. The people who rise to leadership roles are those that display the three attributes in spades.

Anyone considered for a senior position has a final interview with the CEO to ensure they will serve as diligent, selfless passionate role models for everybody else.

Do you measure to see if your staff are delivering on the attributes you have defined? Or does their performance (both good and bad) go unnoticed?


Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service and selling skills.