Leadership

After firing his entire company, a CEO used a 'beer and BBQ test' to hire great people

Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
Courtesy of O2E Brands
Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

In 1994, Brian Scudamore fired his entire 11-person company. "I realized that I didn't have the right people," the CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK tells CNBC. "I had to clean house and start again."

Since, his junk removal service company has grown to 400 employees, operates in 180 metros and makes more than $200 million in annual revenue.

Scudamore credits his success to finding the right people. He says: "We're in the junk removal business. We take ordinary businesses like junk removal and make them exceptional through customer experience. The only competitive advantage we really have besides our brand is finding great people, so that's the one secret sauce to our business that we always attempt to get right."

Brian Scudamore and his employees
Courtesy of O2E Brands
Brian Scudamore and his employees

That's where the "beer and barbecue" hiring test comes in.

It originated after Scudamore cleaned house in 1994. "One of the things I realized that day was that I wasn't enjoying working with these people," he says, so when he started re-hiring, he made it a point to ask himself, "Would I have a beer with this person? Would I have them over for a barbecue?"

"I want people, as friends and as employees, that are ambitious and driven and have a zest for life." -Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK

Scudamore draws a parallel between hiring great people and finding great friends: "You don't sit there and make a checklist and go ask interview questions [when finding friends]. You just get to know someone in a casual environment like you would over maybe a beer, and you trust your gut.

"Do you like this person? Do you find them interesting? Are they asking you questions? Are they a likable person? And do they have a passion for something?

"I know that I want people, as friends and as employees, that are ambitious and driven and have a zest for life."

As 1-800-GOT-JUNK expanded and more and more people started helping Scudamore hire, the "beer and barbecue" test became more ingrained.

Today, the CEO asks anyone conducting interviews to ask themselves two questions during and after the interview: "Could you see yourself sitting down and enjoying a beer or coffee with this person?" And, "if we had a company barbecue, how would they fit in?"

"What we're looking for is, 'Does our community make sense?'" says Scudamore. "'Are we all guided by that same principal of us building something much bigger together?' And the beer and barbecue filter seems to work like magic for people because it's such a simple, easy to grasp concept and forces people to do a gut check."

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