Finding the Right Talent Doing “Something”

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Six Flags America in Prince George’s County, Maryland is exploring a different way to find the right applicant. “‘We’re looking for the most engaging, outgoing people,’ said Julia Filz, the park’s spokeswoman. ‘We want people who aren’t shy. In this business, you can’t be shy.’” But how can an employer assure that candidates aren’t “shy” in a business that requires enthusiasm and an undying energy? After all, most job seekers do attempt to practice before going to an interview, sometimes so much so that they can come off as almost scripted. When you’re looking to hire someone who isn’t afraid of being in the public eye, Six Flags offers an alternative to the traditional interview and they even explain how to prepare for it in advance on their website.

According to an article in the Washington Post, “About 1,000 job seekers came in for group interviews and were given 60 seconds each to stand up in front of some of the park’s managers and seasonal supervisors and do . . . something.” What “something,” do you ask?

“One woman did 20 pushups. A teenage girl moonwalked, then shrieked like Michael Jackson. A young man did jumping jacks. Somebody drew a picture. Somebody else belted a gospel song.”

And the talent show didn’t stop there. One teenager described her interview process, the results and the expectations she held before walking into the interview.

“Malerie Matthews, a 16-year-old from Upper Marlboro, made up a poem:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I want a job
How about you?

She was hired as a ride attendant.

‘I thought they’d ask me some questions and give me a tour of the park, and then I’d go home,’ she said.”

And why exactly is Six Flags trying this approach? “‘It’s a different interview style,’ said Brad McClain, a human resources supervisor. ‘But we’re not your typical employer.’ There were role-playing sessions during the interviews, too. But the 60-second showcases were key. Went to a job fair and a talent show broke out! The company wanted engaging. It wanted outgoing. Simply put- “It wanted people who are willing to do the Dougie on command. “‘Who knows how to Dougie?’ aquatics supervisor Olivia Lawson asked a group of applicants, referring to a dance that’s popular with the kids. ‘Teach me how to Dougie.’” Two giggling teenagers stepped forward. They herked and jerked. Lawson hooted.

All kidding aside, Six Flags recognizes the nature of their work and aren’t afraid to admit it- The working conditions and pay aren’t ideal for most, but the amusement parks still manage to get results. “Six Flags positions pay anywhere from minimum wage to $10 an hour. The bright green polo shirts that park employees wear are the opposite of cool. Working conditions can be brutal. (You try operating the Flying Carousel when it’s 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity.) And yet 25,000 people apply for the jobs at the park every year.”

While their interview process might seem a bit odd, let’s not forget the Alstin blog about some of the wackiest interview questions. In comparison, this style of interviewing seems to make more sense considering the type of applicant the company is seeking. The tips to prepare for an “audition” on their website include, but are not limited to:

· Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled audition time.
· Please bring a recent headshot and resume with current contact information.
· If you plan to audition with a musical number, please bring the sheet music or a backing track on CD.
· Please review the audition material requirements. If you are asked to audition with a monologue, please come prepared with a monologue.

So maybe you don’t necessarily want candidates singing and dancing through your office, but are you seeking someone who isn’t afraid of public speaking? Someone who will have to speak frequently to media, travel to see prospective clients to talk to them about your services or give annual presentations on the company’s status in front of potentially hundreds of professionals? Why not give a potential employee the chance to really show off their talent by allowing them to give a mock presentation or a monologue?

As a hiring manager, do you believe that Six Flags is onto something? Could this interview style work for your company, if tweaked to your specifications, or do you think this is an impractical method for a professional atmosphere?

As a job seeker, would you be willing to stand up in front of your employer and do “something” if asked? How would you show off your talent?

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About Kate Gamble

Known to have her hands in a ton of things at one time - Kate is a confessed news junkie and proud Dean’s List grad. Whether she’s working the PR or HR side of her brain, her computer’s mouse or her Dremel (she makes handcrafted jewelry too!), Kate delivers the energy, commitment, and detail-orientation that are a perfect mix for Alstin.