Want a job? Get your poker face on

HRM 01 Feb 2013

Most companies in the US look for top talent among MBA graduates in roughly the same way.

They send special teams to business schools and host mixers with free food and drinks. They schmooze with the students and if they are impressed with someone, they invite him or her back to their office for further interviews. Everyone is dressed smartly and it is clear that every student there has one purpose in mind – to land that job.

One company in the US is taking a vastly different approach to the matter – it screens job candidates during a poker tournament.

Caesars Entertainment has been hosting its MBA Poker Championships and Recruitment Weekend for the past eight years. In its recent event, more than 500 people attended.

According to Caesars’, the people who best understand poker are likely to be the same people best suited to run casinos and hotels.

"Look at the skills required of quality poker players," said Paul King, corporate director of talent and recruiting for Caesars, in a report by Vegas Inc. "They are the same types of qualities we look for in candidates. They are analytical in nature, strategic in approach to the game and savvy in the way they play. What we're looking for is a critical eye and analytical thinking skills."

Of the hundreds who play in the three-day tournament, only a few win positions with the company. Last year, 12 candidates from the poker weekend received invitations to work in Caesars' President's Associate Programme.

"When it first started, it was much more a brand-building event, not as focused on recruiting," King was quoted as saying. "In the last few years, we've changed that. We are interviewing people, and some are leaving with offers. We're not a boring company, and what better way to expose people to the fun culture of our company and Las Vegas than a poker tournament?”

He added that it is now a well-known event among MBA grads in the US and it is a significant part of their recruiting brand. It makes Caesars stand out from crowds of companies, including its competitors.

"Every time I go out and talk about this, they say this is the most creative event they've seen," King said.

The company imposes only one restriction: Poker players must be in the process of earning an MBA or have recently graduated to qualify for the tournament.



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