How does Disney find, hire, train and motivate so many caring and competent cast members year after year?

This is Part 2 of The Performance Differential. Read Part 1 here


2nd Magical Key: Improve the Interview

Structured interviews are twice as likely to predict a high performer than an unstructured interview. Setting up a structured process means that each candidate has the same experience and is evaluated by the same criteria. Beyond obvious HR compliance benefits it also streamlines the process by maintaining efficiency and consistency in identifying the best candidates. Start using these keys to interview success today: 

  • Employers should develop a Candidate Scorecard that instantly defines how a candidate may or may not meet needs on a ‘Perfect Match’, ’Match’, and ’No Match’ system. This allows you and your hiring team to easily compare candidates. When building this scorecard, begin with a single definition of success for the role. This is known as performance-based hiring. From there, identify and evaluate what tools, talent and personality a candidate needs to be successful in the role. Remember that our cheerful server at Disney represented the 0.007% of candidates that perfectly matched Disney’s requirements.



  • Consider what is called the “A-method approach” to conducting an interview. I have facilitated over 14,000 interviews in my career and use a modified version of this method that is simple and easily repeatable. Depending on the role, I ask the candidate to start with their college experience and walk through, past to present, each position they have held. For each position, the candidate should review job responsibilities, his or her greatest accomplishment there, and the reason for leaving. As the candidate discusses these positions, the interviewer should direct specific questions that relate the candidate’s job history back to the Candidate Scorecard. This allows the candidate to tell a story and for both you and the candidate to stay organized. Simple follow-up questions can be revealing, showing how the candidate approaches an issue, how s/he resolves it, if the candidate is a team player, and more. You should not be afraid of pressing the candidate: it may give you insights into how the applicant deals with less hypothetical pressures in day-to-day business.

What’s the Risk? 

Making the final selection and job offer to the right person is the critical step for company stability and growth. The cost of a bad hire can be as much as fifteen times their base salary, while the value of a good hire can be up to 300 times their base salary! It is easy to see how one bad hire can threaten your success on many levels, including the impact on culture and your bottom line. Steve Jobs, another great hiring expert, said: 

“What an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1... A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players."  

The risk of hiring a poor fit because you are out of time, patience and budget in your recruiting efforts is high. However, the risk of waiting for the right employee is worth taking. Every business lives and dies on the work of its employees. Disney is wildly successful because it attracts and demands the best people for every position, every time. There are no B- or C- level cast members in their show.  This philosophy toward talent is the most efficient pathway to organizational success, on both a financial and personnel level.  

Start hiring heroes by using these Magical Keys in your hiring practices today. You will see profits increase, employee turnover decrease, and, maybe most importantly, your customer and employee satisfaction soar when talent acquisition and development is on target.  


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