How beer and BBQ will help you find the best hires

Dec 19 2017, 9:42 pm

Here’s the bad news: when all is said and done, you’ll have spent 90,000 hours of your life at work. That means that most of your waking hours will be spent in the company of co-workers!

But there’s great news too: Armed with that knowledge, any organization can focus on personality and culture fit during the hiring process. Imagine spending your 90,000 hours with people you really gel with – work would be fun!

At O2E Brands, we made the mistake of overlooking cultural fit before, and morale and productivity plunged. Now we prioritize compatibility during the hiring process – we want people who work hard and play hard together. Turning our attention to the “fit factor” has boosted our ROI and made our office an awesome place to be.

So how do we find these people? Over the years, we’ve developed two simple (and delicious) hiring hacks you can try yourself.

Part 1: The Beer Test

Image: O2E Brands

Image: O2E Brands

My first company hit a plateau in 1994. Even though business was steady at about half a million in annual revenue, I’d lost my enthusiasm. My employees didn’t understand my long-term vision to grow 1-800-GOT-JUNK? into the world’s largest junk removal service. At one point, the office culture felt so toxic that I stopped coming into work.

To break out of my rut and renew my passion for the future, I fired all 11 people on the team in one day. I vowed that going forward, I would only work with people who believed in the long-term vision to build something bigger, together.

As I rebuilt my team, I learned that successful recruiting is less about a checklist or someone’s resume, and more about trusting my gut. When potential candidates came in, I started asking myself, “Do I like this person? Do I find them interesting, and interested? Do they have a passion for something in life?”

Over time, I was able to cut these questions down to one: “Would I enjoy grabbing a beer with this person?”

This hypothetical question is powerful because it shows me if we’re likely to work well together. Of course, the right qualifications will get someone in the door, but the Beer Test determines cultural compatibility. It may sound simple, but it has helped me build a team at O2E Brands that I love working with – and grabbing a drink with sometimes, too.

Part 2: The BBQ Test

The Beer Test has become an essential piece in our hiring tool kit, but it has a drawback: it only measures one person’s opinion. It took an especially bad hire for me to realize that we needed a way to test someone’s compatibility with the team.

A few years ago, I brought on a new COO to take 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to the next level. This person passed the Beer Test with flying colours – we laughed and talked favourite movies. What the test didn’t show me was that while highly intelligent, this executive wasn’t as strong in a team setting. People were unhappy. When a few strong employees left because of the change, I could see it was time to part ways with the COO.

That experience helped us come up with a way to determine overall compatibility: the BBQ Test.

The BBQ Test is all about group fit. When the candidate meets the team, it’s a chance to ask, “Would this person fit in at a backyard barbecue with our corporate ‘family’?”

The combination of the Beer and BBQ Tests has been effective for us. The Beer Test is singular (do I like this person?), while the BBQ Test asks, “Does he or she fit into our community?” If most of the group feels a connection and gives positive reviews, there’s a good chance that he or she is right for the company.

Corporate culture is not fluff

Of course it’s nice when everyone gets along, but cultural alignment is also good for your bottom line. One study shows that having a workplace bestie is a primary factor in employee engagement. Engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity.

Cultural values vary widely – what’s important for us at O2E Brands probably isn’t important to a high-end commercial law firm. What is key is finding people with the same values, who connect with your company’s mission.

So the next time you’re hiring, look beyond the candidate’s credentials and ask yourself, “Would I grab a beer with this person? Would they be a great addition at the company BBQ?” Two simple questions might help you assemble your dream team.

GIF: O2E Brands

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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