Jul 13, 2010
Being the business junkie that I am, one of my favorite things to do is read company stories. Large or small, my favorite companies value their culture and cultivate it in unique ways.
I'm going to share culture stories from time to time on this blog because I think we can all be encouraged and inspired by them. Our trip to Zappos was the first one I talked about. Culture is not a buzz word to these companies; they live and breathe it.
First up ... Southwest Airlines.
I've been reading a book called Nuts: Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success. It's a great history of the early days and talks at great length about the culture they built over the years. One particular thing I'm fascinated by is how they hire people.
How Southwest Airlines Hires
In 1995 (the book was published in '96), the Southwest Airlines People Department (they don't do HR, just people) received 124,000 applications and only hired about 5,400 folks. Guess what the #1 criteria is? Sense of humor.
Founder Herb Kelleher says, "We look for attitudes; people with a sense of humor who don't take themselves too seriously. We'll train you on whatever it is you have to do, but the one thing Southwest cannot change in people is inherent attitudes."
How would you answer if someone posed the following question in an interview? "Tell me how you recently used your sense of humor in a work environment." If you don't know the answer, I wouldn't suggest applying at Southwest Airlines.
In what very little experience I have hiring people, it's not surprising Southwest hires for personality first. Although our industry in particular requires technical expertise, it's not worth hiring someone unless they have a personality that compliments everyone else.
Now you know why the most memorable flight attendant you've ever encountered was most likely on a Southwest flight. I know mine was.