Harris + Hoole recruitment: play to strengths

Tesco-backed coffee shop chain Harris + Hoole tells Recruiter it has adopted the strength-based approach to recruitment replacing its previous competency-based approach.

Mon, 18 Mar 2013

Charlie Glynn (right), people director of Harris + Hoole, which is 49% owned by Tesco, explains to Recruiter that the company’s new approach replaced traditional competency-based interviews, which focused on candidates' previous experience. 

Glynn says one reason for the change was to not rule out people lacking previous experience of working in a café, who could be brilliant in the company’s customer-facing roles of team members, baristas, team leaders and shop managers.  

“This could come from experiences outside of the workplace, from travelling, doing a community project, working in the theatre, so there are so many different avenues through which people who are really brilliant at Harris + Hoole may come. I don’t want us to close down our opportunities to have a really colourful, diverse and rich workforce,” says Glynn.

Selection is in two stages, she says. The first involves online situational strength tests, featuring a number of multiple-choice questions covering different scenarios. A typical question would be ‘A customer asks for a bespoke coffee, what you do?’ This tests their passion for customer service, she says.  

The second stage consists of two-and-a-half hours of activities, including group exercises to test “group synergy”, as well as strength-based interviews to identify those candidates with the key strengths that Harris + Hoole look for, such as “real customer passion” and “authenticity”. 

A typical question would be ‘Do you like meeting people for the first time?’, says Glynn. “A great candidate will say ‘I love meeting new people, I am constantly meeting new people’ and they will be energised and give lots of examples,” she adds. For authenticity, a question might be ‘How do you balance being yourself while adapting your style to that of other people?’ 

Glynn says that for some roles, such as in the finance team, where the need was for people to “hit the ground running”, experience was needed “but they also needed to have demonstrated the strengths”.

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