Case Study: Screening Helps Keep Six Flags Theme Parks at its Peak

High-volume hiring for sensitive positions presents unique challenges.

by Barry Nadell

For Valencia, CA-based Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc., selecting and hiring the right employees present unique challenges due to the sheer number of new hires, most of which are for somewhat “sensitive” positions. When you hire as many as 500 employees per month for positions working with children, handling cash, and operating machinery, there is no room for error. An efficient screening program is essential.

“It can be tough in the interview process as people tell you everything you want to hear and more. However, through background screening, I am able to discover that these people are not all that they appear to be and get to the heart of the matter. Considering that we have more than 4,000 applicants per year, screening for the right employee is vital,” commented Six Flag Theme Parks Human Resource Assistant Manager, Brent Houchin.

UNEARTHING THE TRUTH
When Houchin first arrived at Six Flags three years ago, he was surprised to find a very low hit ratio for the volume of applicants being screened (few criminal records or resume falsehoods were uncovered). As a 12-year human resource veteran, Houchin was suspicious, being familiar with resume lies and falsehoods.

Houchin attended a certification course at California State University, Northridge, at which InfoLink Screening Services, Inc., was one of the presenters. “Nadell seemed to know what he was talking about and I was impressed. As I was concerned about our low hit ratio, I had InfoLink conduct a one-week trial at Magic Mountain, and in that one week we had more hits than in the entire previous year; a 12-percent hit ratio,” claimed Houchin.

To handle such a high volume of applicants, Houchin had to have an efficient screening program. “With InfoLink, due to the thoroughness of their searches, we now get an average hit ratio of 9 to10 percent, which shows us that a good number of our applicants are not all they claim to be; it really helps us with the challenge of finding the right employee,” he said.

SAVINGS IN TIME AND MONEY

Houchin was surprised to find many applying for jobs in cash handling areas such as food services had grand theft charges on their records. “A thorough screening program has definitely saved our cash flow, the budget and everything else. These people have been caught up front, before starting in these positions,” he recounted.

According to Houchin, the provider has helped not only in screening but also in establishing a proper interview process. “InfoLink has changed the way in which we look at and review an applicant and helped revise how we ask questions related to criminal records to ensure we are completely legal and not liable. At InfoLink everything happens quickly and effectively. Nadell also dedicates a lot of time to speaking with clients; there is no ivory tower, and that tells me a lot about the company,” Houchin added.

SCREENING IMPROVES QUALITY OF NEW HIRES
Due to the nature of its operations as a family-oriented theme park, Six Flags has to have confidence in the quality of its employees.

According to Houchin, the hit ratio has gone down significantly over the past couple of years as the word is out that the company does not hire people who lie on their applications. “We are hiring a better quality of person and keeping people out that could be a future risk, liability-wise. This all results in helping to bring smiles to the faces of our guests as they are dealing with appropri-ate employees, people who have the qualifications applicable to that job,” concluded Houchin.

Posted November 10, 2005 in Talent Acquisition

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