One of my favorite Walt Disney quotes says “You can dream, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality”. That couldn’t be truer in the business world today, where customers know they deserve to be treated well and given value for money or they can easily switch to competition, who can be halfway around the world with the click of a mouse.
Many business owners still do not realize that their employees greatly influence the customer’s experience, and their loyalty (or lack of). Various studies and research have revealed that the relationship between employees and customers has an impact on productivity and customer satisfaction. This means that the interaction between your customers and employees not only affects customer satisfaction, it also impacts on the productivity of your employees. This makes it important for organizations to carefully profile prospective employees when recruiting for a customer service role, whether at the frontline or call center. Apple has built a reputation for delivering excellent customer service and giving it’s customers delightful experiences at their various outlets all over the world.
How is Apple able to recruit employees who are passionate about the brand and their customers? How do they know which candidates would compliment the values of the brand and create magical experiences for customers?
Here’s the Apple guide to recruiting the right employees who can deliver excellent service and give customers the sort of experience that gets talked about.
Before Apple announces a vacancy for a position, a clear job description is written out, along with details of the job like the salary range and required skill set. After this is completed, the Human Resources department announces the open positions and creates recruitment ads.
The job description is then circulated to over 300 agencies including universities, traditional media houses, and online media. Having a clear detailed job description eliminates ambiguity, and increases chances of having intended candidates actually apply for the job.
#2. Candidate Screening
After the application deadline has elapsed, Apple gathers completed applications, and screens for candidates who meet the basic qualification criteria specified in the job advertisement.
This process takes between 2-4 weeks. After the screening, successful candidates will receive a phone call and are invited to a hiring event.
#3. Hiring Event
At the hiring event, Apple aims to meet and interact with the candidates to ascertain if they have the personality and traits required to excel in the company. Candidates will sit down with the senior staff of Apple interviewing them. The Apple employees introduce themselves and each candidate does same so that everyone knows each other.The candidates are allowed to interact freely with each other, and with Apple employees, while the recruiters make keen observations of how they interact with people, answer or ask questions and react to various happenings during the event. At the end of this event, Apple will weed out candidates who didn’t exhibit the desired traits and personality. The remaining candidates are then moved to the next stage. Here’s how an Apple employee describes her experience at a hiring event –
"I read so many articles and nearly all of them said that the hiring event would have 70+ people. Mine only had 15 so I guess I lucked out a little. We were told to sign in and wait. Make sure you start smiling and greeting every Apple employee you see as soon as you enter the hotel?banquet hall, etc. They will start grading you the moment you enter. Start up a conversation with a couple people. This shows you're a people person and not a wallflower. We were lead in shortly after and we had introductions. All of the Apple employees introduced themselves and then we introduced ourselves. We were asked to say something about ourselves that is unique. After introductions, we were broken up into groups of 5. We passed around an iPad that had questions on it and took turns answering the questions. Make sure you seem engaged and try to tell a story with your answer. Don't just give a one word answer. Once that was over, we re-convened in the big group. We were shown videos about Apple and everyone gave a rundown about their role. After that, they asked if we had questions. Make sure you have some ready! Good ones too. Questions that will get them thinking and challenge them. They like that. I was offered the next interview right after the hiring event. It took roughly 45 minutes"
Candidates who are successful at the hiring event will be invited for an interview. This could be a 1-on-1 interview or a group interview with other candidates. Candidates in a group interview might be required to participate in role-playing activities, acting out various scenarios between an employee & customer. The scenarios could range from customers making an inquiry to handling an irate customer and even giving support to customers on basic issues.
At this stage the Apple recruiters do not just want to know how much the candidates know about Apple, they have a keen interest in understanding the candidates: their personalities, hobbies, aspirations and how they think. Candidates can be asked questions such as –
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you?
- What would you say to a customer who wants to sync photos from their iPhone to a computer?
Again, candidates who do not meet the Apple recruiters’ expectations are weeded out, and the rest are moved to the next stage.
#5. Second Interview
Successful candidates from the 1st interview, are invited for individual interviews, occasionally, there might be one or two other candidates who will also be interviewed, but the number is usually a handful at this stage. The questions at the stage are usually a bit harder and would require some thinking before you answer. At this stage, candidates could be asked questions like:
- Tell me about a time when you had to think out of the box to solve a customers problem
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer
- Name a time you had to deal with an impossible customer, how did you handle it?
The candidates might also be asked to come for the interview in an informal attire, which the recruiters will also use to evaluate them. After this stage, successful candidates are invited for yet another interview.
#6. Third Interview
Candidates will be invited for another interview, this time with the head manager/high-level manager. The interview is similar to the last one, although the questions might get more technical. Candidates can be asked questions about Apple products, the differences between the iOS and other smartphone operating systems or questions about the latest Apple product.
The questions could also get personal, the candidates can be asked about their passions and ambitions, this is to evaluate their personalities and understand what makes them tick.
#7. Background Check
Candidates who succeed in the last interview will undergo a background check before they are made an offer by Apple. The candidate’s references (Academic, Work, personal etc) are contacted by the hiring manager to complete the candidate reference check. The candidate’s law enforcement records are also checked to ensure they have no criminal past that might become a problem when employed.
Candidates who have no issues during this stage are contacted and given an employment offer by Apple. For those candidates who don’t succeed, they are still contacted and informed about the company’s decision to move on with other candidates.
Apple pays more attention to how the candidates talk and respond to questions, than what the candidates know. They believe candidates can be taught about technology but can’t be taught to be confident, nice to customers, or think creatively. They understand that not everyone has the attitude and passion to deliver great service.
Recruiting the right people is the very first step is building a lasting relationship with customers. The Apple recruitment strategy is effective in identifying the right candidates who will make the desired impact on your customers and contribute positively to the customer experience.