Shifting Hiring Practices After Growth?

In the upcoming November/December issue of Brewer we talked to many breweries’ Human Resources Directors and Managers. We got so much great insight that we wanted to share more than what we could fit in the print edition.

Here are some insights on how breweries that have matured over time have altered their way of thinking in the searching and hiring process:

Rick Kangail – Deschutes Brewery: “We are very lucky in that our 30 years in business and the Deschutes brand allows us to fill the majority of open positions through normal posting channels and through employee referrals.  Additionally, we support brewing internships, which then allows us to evaluate and selectively hire interns as they complete their internships.

“We have a cross section of brewers and brewing department management interview all candidates. By using a team based approach to interviewing, we greatly increase the likelihood of hiring candidates that are both great technical fits as well as cultural fits.

“We’ve maintained a fairly consistent pattern over the years of hiring a mix of internal candidates, interns and external candidates with varying degrees of experience depending on the needs of the team at the time.”

Jake Wharton – Saint Arnold Brewing: “We typically recruit using our social media to promote our job openings. One of our hiring goals is to find people who want to work for us and using our fanbase is a great way to do that.

“We have not altered our hiring method but we have been able to find more experienced candidates. Since we are Texas’ oldest craft brewery, we were the farm system for the Houston beer scene. In the past, we would typically hire brewers who had no professional brewing experience and over time, some have moved on to other breweries or even started one of their own. Now that there are many other breweries in the state, we are able to hire in some brewers with previous professional experience when it makes sense for our needs. We do still look for passionate people who don’t have industry experience too but we have more options than ever before.”

Kelly Schultz – Ska Brewing: “The Ska culture is so important here and a majority of our applicants already live and breathe our core values on a daily basis. The first question I ask when interviewing for any position here is, “What do you know about Ska Brewing?”. The answer to this question gives me a really good gauge as to how well suited they are for the company they are applying to. Now, I don’t expect anyone to recite the entire comic book that our owners wrote however many years back that essentially tells the story of our brand and the Ska culture and our constant battle against Rotgutzen (big beer), but my favorite applicants are the ones that know about our beers, our history and the punk-rock traits that keep us relevant in the increasingly difficult craft beer industry.

“I’ve only been in the craft beer world for about two and a half years now but I would say that when we’re recruiting for production positions at Ska, we look for experience. A lot of it. Because the craft beer industry is getting more and more competitive every day and it might not be the best move to hire on a brewer that in his cover letter says, “I love your beer. I want to learn how to brew it.” While those candidates can often bring you a lot of passion or desire to learn and grow, we really need employees that can jump right in and bring experience and knowledge to the table in order to keep our beers competitive in the market for years to come.”

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