March 01, 2017
2 min read

Former Disney exec: Knowing your best employees improves future hiring

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ATLANTA — Ask your best employees questions about their job, then use that information as a benchmark for when you are interviewing candidates, customer service expert Dennis Snow said.

Snow, who is a trainer and consultant, worked at the Walt Disney World company for 20 years, where he cultivated skills to hire and retain productive employees who lived the Disney corporate vision to make guests happy.

Tom Sullivan
Dennis Snow

“In the long run, success comes down to who you bring into the practice,” he said here at MedPro360, a 1-day health care practice management program prior to SECO 2017.

Snow suggested asking employee “superstars” questions such as: What part of the job is most rewarding? What is frustrating about their current role? Why is their role important? How do they get everything done each day?

“Study your best people,” he said.

When interviewing a candidate, listen and watch for sincerity of responses, appropriateness for your corporate culture, and specifics and details when the candidate answers the questions you pose, Snow said.

“The more stories and examples they bring to the answer the more likely that’s how they are really wired,” he said.


Snow said key attributes of candidates are skills, knowledge and talent. Talent is one’s attitude and how one approaches the world. Skills and knowledge can be taught, yet most employers spend the majority of the interview discussing those two attributes, he said.

When Snow worked at Disney, people often asked him how it was that all the Disney employees were friendly. He said the “secret was we hired friendly people.”

He encouraged the audience to hire for talent, not skills and knowledge.

Snow asked the audience to think about what negative behaviors in his or her practice would take away from the practice’s brand experience. He asked them to think about what is one’s expectations of an employee and what might be a non-negotiable and then operationalize those expectations and non-negotiables.

“Intolerable service exists because intolerable service is tolerated,” Snow said quoting an often-quoted but unknown source.

Reflecting on his Disney experience, he said it would be unacceptable for a child in Walt Disney World to see Cinderella smoking.

“When you see a ‘smoking Cinderella,’ address it at that moment. Coaching is real-time training. It is as good as training gets,” Snow said. “Never let a coaching moment go.” – by Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS


Snow D. Performance excellence – The employee factor. Presented at: MedPRO360; March 1, 2017; Atlanta.

Disclosure: Snow reports no financial disclosures.