November 05, 2007

KaBOOM! hiring practices featured in Boston Globe

Bosses try new ways to skip misfit hires

By Ellen Simon
Boston Globe
November 5, 2007

NEW YORK --A resume and a brief job interview can't answer the question that matters most to a new hire's co-workers: Is this person an absolute pain?

Despite a labor shortage in many sectors, some employers are pickier than ever about whom they hire. Businesses in fields where jobs are highly coveted -- or just sound like fun -- are stepping up efforts to weed out people who might have the right credentials but the wrong personality.

Call it the "plays well with others" factor.

...

At KaBoom, a nonprofit that builds playgrounds, the board was hammering co-founder and CEO Darell Hammond four years ago over the organization's high employee turnover.

"I rationalized that they were on the road too much, when in reality, it was the wrong fit in the wrong role," he said.

He started thinking about who left and why, then focused on the characteristics of workers who stayed. The list of traits: Can do, will do, team fit, damn quick and damn smart.

His team kept a closer eye on job applicants in the reception area, which is set up as a playground, to see how they acted around playground equipment.

"If you're early, you may have to sit on a swing or the bottom of a slide," Hammond said. People who stand with a tight grip on their briefcases instead of sitting on the playground equipment aren't asked back.

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