William Uranga, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

“Question: How does your language, terminology used in recruiting, reflect the driving culture, industry focus of your company?” -William Uranga

Spring Break this year found me at Disneyland.  It was a Christmas gift to the family and all the planning, scheduling, and waiting finally placed us at the door steps of “The Happiest Place On Earth.. On the second day of park visiting, we encountered a surprise that provoked some thought around some issues that are relevant to what my company is currently working on.

We entered California Adventure Park just as it was opening on the second day of our visit. We were on the Buena Vista Street and looking to get around a growing crowd at Carthay Circle.  As we headed toward Hollywood Land, a staff member asked us where we were headed.  I thought they were being helpful and replied, “Tower of Terror”. He then asked if we’d like to ride the trolley and be their “first family.” I was pleasantly surprised.

We boarded the trolley which was already loaded with staff – and Chip and Dale who were all but tackled by my kids. Autographs swirled, photographs taken, and high fives and hugs were given with great joy. All these things were then topped off with a separate, secret access route to our own private car ride on the Tower of Terror and complimentary picture. Everyone in our family is still talking about the experience.

The special treatment we received from the cast members, along with the backstage tour of Disney World and their HR department a couple of years ago, got me thinking about How can my company (the cast members) improve the candidates (guests) experience and make it remarkable?

There are a lot of business books about how Disney operates from a business standpoint. On the plane of talent acquisition, I’ll just touch on three:

Language – Disney borrows heavily from the production environment. Disney doesn’t have employees who wear uniforms. They do have “cast members” who wear “costumes”. Customers aren’t visitors, but “guests.” This intentional wordsmithing creates and transfers the mindset to everyone employed by Disney. Salesforce.com recently did this as they shifted their talent acquisition to reflect their sales product’s focus and culture. For example, there are now “in-bound” and “out-bound” roles in recruiting, like their sales team roles. Question: How does your language, terminology used in recruiting, reflect the driving culture, industry focus of your company?

Surprises – You aren’t recognized as a global, top brand by accident, on a big budget or using tons of social media. Even with lots of training, having 133,000 cast members, Disney can not make every guest happy all the time. Creating the exact same experience for every guest is impossible to achieve (not that it isn’t a worthwhile endeavour).  

Disney pays attention to the other side of spectrum by going above and beyond and giving random guests a remarkable experience. The surprise of being selected as First Family is a perfect example of this. Doing something remarkable works to create mini-viral episodes as you can see in these search results. Numerous engineering candidates interviewing here at Groupon have remarked how much they enjoy the practicality of the interview questions – that it gives the candidate great insight into the sort of challenges we are solving for and what they could be working on if they join the team. Question: How do you give your candidates a remarkable experience?

Measure – Disney regularly looks to better understand its employees and guests through collecting data – there is even a partnership with Gallup in conducting surveys.  On my way out of California Adventure, I was stopped by a cast member and asked to take a questionnaire in one of their offices just behind the Chamber of Commerce. What did they want to know? This time it was about food (price, selection, preparation, healthiness etc.) I had ordered during my visit. Do you want to know what your candidates think about your organization? Groupon constantly measures customer and merchant satisfaction. Our recruiting team this year began to mirror that focus by launching a candidate experience survey for those who came to a Groupon office for an interview. Question: What can you learn from your candidates?

The language you use, the surprises you deliver, and the measurable impact of these strategies are a great route to improving the candidate experience in your company and make any Mickey Mouse operations proud.

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