RAAPA Magazine «Attractions and Entertainments», №24, March 2018
ASSESSMENT — a method of recruitment in the entertainment industry
Work with a staff is an eternal theme in the service and entertainment industry, and even the first stage of this activity — the selection of employees — is of great importance. How should we choose really «gold workers» who will become a team and will meet the interests of your park or entertainment center from a mass of people? Pavel Timets — the founder of such large entertainment centers as Maza Park in St. Petersburg, FUN24 in Kazan and Galaxy Park in Smolensk, told about an effective way of mass recruitment in the entertainment industry.
Assessment is a method of staff evaluating by monitoring participants in pre-modeled situations. The technology was developed and then applied in the period of the First and then the Second World Wars. The assessments were conducted for the recruitment of junior officers in Great Britain and for the selection of scouts in the United States of America.
«AT & T» company applied this method for evaluating candidates to managerial posts in 1954. By the sixties almost all the major American corporations founded their assessment-centers. In Russia the assessment technology has been used since the early 1990s.
How to recruit employees quickly?
While opening a new entertainment center of our format, it is required to hire about 200 employees, who are necessary to be found, trained and adapted. It is a huge number of people for different posts. For example, 20 barmen, 40 instructors-coordinators, 4 sales managers, 10 persons are demanded for the Department of Marketing, and so on and so forth.
We came to a decision to combine a number of posts with similar competencies and conduct a massive and one-time recruitment competition. Such competences as communication skills, the ability to interact with the Guest, the desire to «serve» are of great importance for barmen, waiters, instructors. So, these candidates can be invited to a common assessment.
Who organizes and conducts assessment
The assessment can be conducted by a company employee or a specialist involved from outside. For example, our company «The Indoor Amusement Parks» provides services in organizing and conducting assessments in the entertainment, hospitality and service industries. Organizers from the part of the company, recruiting employees, are divided into internal and external circles. The external circle is a number of observers, consisting of functioning workers and persons, making decisions. The observers are not involved into the assessment process. They fix the behavior of applicants and add data to special tables.
The internal circle is actively involved into the process at the time of the event. Usually the inner circle conducts assessment, prepares cases, team games and joint assignments for participants.
Inner circle team
The participants of the inner circle are HR specialist, success story, the Chief Manager and a secret observer, in some cases. It’s not necessary to engage in only one person for each position. They can be HR-director, HR-managers and several success stories.
HR-specialist is the main organizer and facilitator of the assessment.
Success story is a company employee, who has passed from a linear to a managerial position. He shares his story of success. It can be a story of a manager, who came to the entertainment center some years ago, became a barman and then went to build an entertainment park in a new city and reached the leadership post step by step.
A first-person story is a must-have item to «charge» candidates. The successful example shows that this is not just a game, but a real job placement opportunity with subsequent career growth.
Management — the Chief Manager or the Project Leader. The presence of the Chief Manager gives status to the event. The value of the assessment increases in the eyes of applicants when they see the Chief Manager among the facilitators. The attention of the top management is often rare at the stage of recruitment. The manager can say welcoming words to the participants in inner circle, and then move to internal circle as an observer.
The secret observer is a current employee of the company, who plays the role of applicants and passes the assessment together with other candidates. He activates the audience, watches the reactions of participants from inside and gives his estimates of candidates as a result.
How is the assessment system developed?
The skills and factors, required for the employee in his future work, are prescribed for each post. Various activities and tasks are formed on this basis.
Example 1. Check the knowledge of English
Sociability, goodwill, activity and knowledge of a foreign language are important for the waiters. We are expecting a flow of tourists in 2018 in connection with the Football World Cup. So, it is necessary to hire people who know the language. In the vacancy description, we specify spoken English as a requirement. 90% of candidates will write that they know the language. We can verify this by including a special block in the assessment.
At a certain point, the hosts will begin to talk and ask the audience questions in English. Everyone who understands the speech will react immediately. It becomes clear quite well by the external circle, which marks the reactions of the participants. Those, who don’t know the language, but continue to take an active part, can suit us, so as they can compensate the lack of good knowledge of the language with their involvement and interest.
Example 2. The dance of small ducklings — entertainment for adults
We simulate various situations and observe the reaction of the participants intentionally. Sometimes it may not be obvious. For example, everyone begins to dance to the music of «The Dance of small ducklings." Some of them react negatively: «What a nonsense?! Where am I?! «. If they do not leave themselves, they are screened out by the external circle of observers. A person, who is not ready to dance with us from the very beginning, will feel himself out of sorts in the team.
Example 3. Stressful situation
Such qualities as stress resistance, readiness for changes, unreasonable objections, pressure are important for sale managers. In order to assess these qualities, the situations with an acute phase of open conflict are being simulated for potential candidates. Analyzing stress resistance, we sometimes mind even such moments as the reaction of participants to the loss in the team game.
The stages of the assessment preparations
1. Determine the posts and consider if they can be combined in the assessment. In order to save time and money, we combine assessments of similar areas.
For example, everyone, working with the Guest directly (front-division) must possess a common communication skill.
That’s why, cashiers, barmen, waiters, animators, instructors-coordinators are recruited into one group. Part of the assessment can be done in general. Then people can be separated according to the specifics of the activity.
2. Think of the number of people we need to hire. It affects the scale of the assessment: the number of invited participants, the size of the area, the amount of time and money spent. For instance, an assessment for 60 people suggests appointing 120 candidates to the meeting. The number of guests should be doubled at least, so as there will always be people who change their minds, will not be able to come or will refuse at the last moment.
3. Appoint responsibility and prescribe a script. This stage rests on the shoulders of the HR Director and the task managers. HR-director is working on the overall picture, the task managers are working out the specifics. Together they form the script of the upcoming event.
For example, an assessment script for barmen and waiters is written by HR and F&B directors, and as far as instructors-coordinators are concerned — by HR manager and front-manager. Also, it is necessary to identify people for the external circle and develop an evaluation system in accordance with the values of the company and the aims of the assessment at this stage.
What does the assessment end with?
Any of our projects is built according to the PDCA Deming cycle — plan, execute, watch the results, make adjustments and plan again. It’s the same with assessments. We need to go through a full circle — to understand what we wanted and what we got, and it demands a system of evaluation and analysis.
The analysis begins at the time of assessment. While the event is taking place, the external circle makes notes about each participant. After it the external and internal circles check the data and analyze the behavior of applicants to choose those, worthy to be hired.
We contact with those who suit us within a week and invite them to work. When a person comes, we have at least two paragraphs of information about him and the way he showed himself during the assessment. Mostly, after the assessment there is no need for a personal interview. The future employee gets to know the conditions of work and brings documents for registration.
5 pluses of the assessment
Advertising of the company. The first budget for promotion is not laid for the marketing aims of the establishment, but for intensified informing of recruitment. It is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone — to invite people and get an additional PR.
When we recruited staff in Kazan, the first active rumors about the opening of a new entertainment center spread after the assessment.
The applicants’ database. In the recruitment process, HR specialists receive hundreds of curriculum vitae, the staff reserve is formed from. In case if someone refuses or resigns, you can always apply to the candidates from this list. There will be questionnaires and evaluation from the HR-specialists of the company in this list. That is completely processed base.
One-time immersion into corporate culture. A corporate culture is developed in our company. It will take a long time to distribute the corporate code to all newcomers and explain how it is arranged.
A special block, dedicated to a corporate culture, is included into the assessment. We introduce people to the company and tell them the principles the interaction of the employee with the Guest and colleagues is maintained on.
Even those employees who do not suit us, and therefore won’t stay in the company, learn about the corporate culture. And since the culture we have is rather interesting, people are immediately charged, having passed the assessment. They talk about the inner atmosphere to their friends, acquaintances and relatives, which is an additional PR for us.
At the end of the assessment all participants receive tickets to the future entertainment center. Regardless of whether they become our employees or not, we are glad to see them among the Guests.
Rush. People observe rush, coming in a large number. It is a psychologically important point. They look around and think: «How many people want to work here! I’ve got into the place, everyone wants to be at! «. There happens a real revolution of mind. The value of the vacancy grows in the eyes of the applicant.
The stress factor reduces. Many people are in distress during the job interview. We have a mass interview, during which everyone is in equal conditions. One can talk to his neighbour, find out how he found this place, get acquainted with the company’s employees etc. Discomfort is inevitable at the beginning of the assessment, but people are getting rid of this stress when the game begins. Participants reveal themselves quickly and do things that are unlikely to be done at any other job interview. People sing songs, dance, recite poems, which allows us to recognize talents at once.
Is it worth trying to please?
If the applicant wants to please us, seem better than he is at the assessment, it may be possible, but he will constantly have to face uncomfortable situations in his future work. Why would you mislead the employer and bring yourself into a negative environment? It’s better to leave in time and find the job you like.
The assessment method is applicable in any industry, and our experience shows that the entertainment industry is not an exception. The specificity of this technology lies in the fact that the main work is aimed at revealing the pure and natural psychological reactions of people. Game situations of professional life allow candidates to feel the atmosphere of the place, where they are going to work and understand whether it is suitable for them quickly. We recruited more than 400 people to the entertainment centers, that we opened since 2014, with the help of assessments.
Pavel Timets, the General Manager of «The Indoor Amusement Parks» Ltd