Using An Open House for Recruitment

January 26, 2008 by Mike Walter

Open HouseWhen you start an active recruitment push, placing ads in papers and sticking flyers up at the local colleges, your phones are going to start ringing off the hook. You are going to attract a lot of people and you are going to have to meet with most of them (some you can actually eliminate over the phone.)

For years I set up interviews and met with people one-on-one. I realized though that this was an inefficient way of doing things and so for the last five to six years, I have instead hosted a few “Open Houses” to coordinate with my recruitment.

The advantage of this is that I can meet anywhere from 10-20 people in one evening and I only have to explain the job once (as opposed to 10-20 times.) But that’s not all. I believe, if you host an Open House correctly, you can get your recruits even more excited about joining your team than they would have been from a one on one interview.

I hold my Open Houses in my warehouse space. We have 2700 square feet of mostly open area (some storage.) If you do not have the luxury of such a space, I suggest you use a banquet hall or conference room at one of your house accounts. You’d be surprised how inexpensive space like this can be mid-week. If you have a good enough relationship with a banquet manager you may even get a freebie (as long as you don’t abuse the privilege and have an Open House every other week)

At my Open House, I have a sound system pumping out some new hits with one of my younger staff members spinning. I will usually have some lighting set up and also a video screen. Am I looking to impress with all this equipment? You betcha. Most people who are applying for the job are going to be more interested in the “mad lighting effects” than they are in teaching the Electric Slide. That’s cool with me. Down the road I’ll get them pumped about the Slide. For now, I’m just happy to get them pumped.

As the recruits file in they are given a two-sided application. Side one asks the basics (name address, job history, reference etc) and Side Two is a fun little musical survey that I like them to take. Silly questions like: When was the last time you went to a club? What radio stations do you listen to? Who sang the “YMCA”? I let them know this isn’t a test but truth be told their answers could decide whether they get the job or not. I think an interest in music is fairly important in our industry so if someone’s answers show they have no interest (they don’t go to clubs, they don’t own any CDs or download music, they can’t remember their prom song etc) and I was on the fence about hiring them, that could be the deciding factor.

Another thing I look for during this time is rhythm. My DJ has been instructed to play stuff with a beat. And in my opinion, people who have rhythm and love music, CAN’T hear a beat without doing something, even if it’s just tapping their feet. If I see someone singing along, grooving to the music, that person gets a little gold star on their application.

Till next week.

Mike Walter’s emceeing career began in his hometown of Queens, New York in 1984. With an eye towards radio, Mike attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1988 where he was chosen from his class of 25 as “Most Likely to Succeed.” After school, Mike helped to develop a staff of DJs from 12 to over 50 by training new recruits and handling an increasingly complex schedule. In early 1993, Mike felt an increasing desire to venture out on his own and by March of that year he became a partner in a much smaller Mobile DJ company, Elite Entertainment. He quickly had an impact on the Elite staff, imposing his high standards of emceeing and DJing. Mike bought out his partner in 1998 and Elite Entertainment has continued its growth (21 emcees in 2006) and sets the standard for excellence in New Jersey. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and his message has helped show hundreds of DJs from across the country that it is possible to grow their companies without sacrificing quality.

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