by Jeff Van Sant, Franchisee, Christian Brothers Automotive

I have been lucky in that I have not had to hire many people in the last several years. My team at the auto repair shop, that I had owned and operated, had tenures ranging from 6 to 13 years. So, as I started a new venture as a franchisee with Christian Brothers Automotive, I prepared by reviewing materials from past training. I compiled my favorite interview questions, including the “Tell me about a time” questions which often proved to be very revealing.

I started the hiring process for Service Manager with one of the franchise’s recruiters. Brian explained that the process would be an online video conference with each candidate followed by an Escape Room Event. I didn’t really know what an “escape room” was except for the little I had heard from my daughter and son-in-law who had been to one. Brian said that he had participated in about 5-6 of these to date and that the experience reveals more about the candidates in an hour than asking all of the best behavioral interview questions.

I responded with some comment about how it sounded “crazy” but was willing to trust his experience in this. So, after the video conference interviews, we chose the top 4 candidates which were then invited to the escape room event on a Tuesday evening at Escape This! in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. I personally invited each candidate by phone and all accepted. However, the next day one of them withdrew from the process. (He probably thought we were crazy.)

On the day of the event, Brian flew into town to participate in person along with me and the 3 remaining job candidates. The plan was that he would be involved but mostly observe and that I should interact with everyone. We all arrived early and met each other for the first time. It seemed rather strange that all the candidates who were seeking the position were visiting casually together. Already personalities were coming out.

During the event some things quickly became evident. One candidate was assertive and became somewhat of a leader in the process. Another was fairly quiet and hung back yet still solving important parts of the puzzle. And the third showed that he was a team player by working diligently with the leader. All three had unique behaviors which seemed to reveal their personality strengths.

The candidates had all mentioned finding the right fit for them during previous conversations and this event made it easy for me to choose the person that I will be working closest with in my business. I wanted someone with strengths that would complement mine, not be the same as mine and I believe that I found that. Another phone conversation included the next step which was a spousal dinner invitation where an offer was presented and quickly accepted.

Jeff and Pam Van Sant are franchise owners of the Christian Brothers Automotive location in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. The Van Sants bring extensive industry experience to Christian Brothers, as they owned and operated a 10-bay full service auto repair business for 24 years in Pella, Iowa. They were drawn to the Madison area for the chance to be near their adult children and families, as well as inspired by the faith-based business model. Christian Brothers Automotive seeks to glorify God by providing ethical and excellent automotive repair service to customers while being a light in the community.