x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Fairmount Hotels benefits from online recruitment

Feature Everyone that wants to work for Fairmont, be it as a waiter or a general manager, has to first complete a carefully devised online interview.

Everyone that wants to work for Fairmont, be it as a waiter or a general manager, has to first complete a carefully devised online interview that aims to identify how well that candidate will fit into the hotel.
Everyone that wants to work for Fairmont, be it as a waiter or a general manager, has to first complete a carefully devised online interview that aims to identify how well that candidate will fit into the hotel.

Many employers would say that a good face-to-face interview and an impressive CV are the most important factors in their decision to recruit a candidate. But Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has developed its own testing that has come to play a critical role in whether it offers someone a job. Everyone that wants to work for Fairmont, be it as a waiter or a general manager, has to first complete a carefully devised online interview that aims to identify how well that candidate will fit into the hotel. The Fairmont Selection Interview, which was developed in partnership with Gallup, a consultancy that specialises in the study of human nature and behaviour, is tailored for the different roles within the company. The test is designed to find out if the applicant has certain innate characteristics that will make it more likely for him or her to succeed in the job. "What we did 23 years ago was say: 'What makes a great Fairmont employee?'" says Rachel Moosa, the regional director, human resources, at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Middle East and Africa. "We wanted to find out the profile of their best-performing employees in order to hire more people like that." So every Fairmont hotel selected its best and worst employees in each type of position, from room cleaners to sales managers. They were then asked a series of questions. From their responses, Fairmont and Gallup created the selection interview based on the theory that there are consistent, predictable aspects of people's personalities. Those who responded in a similar way to the group's best performers would be well-suited to work for the company in that role. "Most of us have a few very dominant themes that explain a great deal about our behaviour," Mrs Moosa says. "If you describe someone you know very well in a sentence or two, you would probably be tapping their dominant themes: 'She's reliable, very friendly, and a stickler for accuracy'. " Every three to five years since, Fairmont has updated the interview. For example, Mrs Moosa says that in a recent study group the ones that had been selected as the best room attendants were asked what their jobs were. Most of them responded that it was to make the guest happy, rather than saying: "My job is to make the bed and clean the floor." "Really, what the interview looks for is the talent that comes within the people," Mrs Moosa says. "You can't train somebody to be a Fairmont colleague. What we do is we find people who have these talents within them and then show them how to work in hotels or train them to our standards." She says extensive analysis has been done into how effective the selection procedure actually is, and the process has benefited the bottom line through increased revenue and productivity. The results of the interview classifies people into three categories: recommended, conditionally recommended and not recommended. "A food and beverage manager who is recommended on our interview is going to make US$250 (Dh918) per square foot of the restaurant more than someone who is not recommended," Mrs Moosa says. "If there are no actual business results at the end of the day, it's a pretty pointless exercise." Other findings were that employees classified as not recommended would be absent for an average of 10 days a year more than someone who was recommended. Food and beverage staff who were ranked conditionally recommended were likely to have between two and three times more health and safety incidents than recommen­ded candidates. Mrs Moosa says the selection interview, which is now conducted online, helped to identify characteristics that may not necessarily come through in a regular interview. "In a general interview when you're meeting someone, nobody acts negatively," she says. "What's great about this interview is it puts you in real-life situations and asks you how you feel about certain things." In a regular interview someone can talk around a subject, but in the Fairmont Selection Interview people have to just react to what is in front of them, Mrs Moosa says. "It gives you a true picture of what someone is actually like. We do reference checks, background checks, sometimes we do three interviews in person, but I'm always going to go with the automated one as the basis." rbundhun@thenational.ae