Exclusive: An inside look at Hollywood Casino Toledo’s interview processWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sept. 30, Hollywood Casino Toledo began taking applications for hundreds of open dealer positions. In the five days since the announcement, the casino, which is tentatively scheduled to open April 1, has received roughly 1,500 applications for the positions and expects to receive more.
When the interview process began Oct. 4, Toledo Free Press partnered with the casino’s Advertising and Promotions Manager John McNamara to pose undercover as a potential candidate — unbeknownst to both the casino’s staff and other applicants — to learn what Toledoans should expect when they interview.
Prospective employees are corralled into a large room with comfortable chairs as music plays in the background. The interviewers quickly attempt to find personalities in the room, bantering back and forth with each other to see if candidates will chime in. This atmosphere sets the stage for the applicants to showcase their personalities.
“The biggest thing we are looking for in all positions and specifically dealers is personality,” McNamara said. “It is something that we cannot train; you either have it or you don’t. We can train you how to deal cards and all the technical stuff but we have to have that personality aspect.
“It is so crucial. Imagine going to a casino and you walk up to a table. You almost need to feel like that dealer is your best friend as soon as you sit down. You don’t want any awkward [greetings], you just want it to flow naturally. As the casino customer, it shouldn’t even cross your mind that you just met this person, it should just be natural. That is why personality is so key in this.”
The group interview is the first of three stages that interviewees will face. The Hollywood Casino Toledo staff will also give a math test and conduct a one-on-one interview.
The first stage of the interview, the group interview, requires each applicant to verbally answer a few questions about themselves. This includes name, position desired (full time or part time), a question about themselves and a situation in which they dealt with others. The real test of this round, however, is the applicant’s ability to showcase their personality in the limited time they have to discuss the answers.
“Group interviews are normally very tense,” McNamara said. “People don’t know how to act. We really wanted to make it laid-back because then we can get a true gauge for what somebody’s character and personality is like. In the group portion of that interview, really the only thing we are looking for is personality. To make it to the next round for the one-on-one, you have got to have the personality.”
The second stage of the interview is the math test, which is a test of basic mathematics knowledge and speed. Applicants are given five minutes to answer 60 basic problems including addition, multiplication and division. Although the biggest challenge for most potential employees has been finishing the entire test in the allotted five minutes, completion is not required to be recommended for employment.
The final stage is the one-on-one interview, where an employee will take an applicant into a separate room to ask more personal questions. The questions fielded are fairly standard, including the reason the person is interested in the position and listing the traits that would make an applicant a good fit.
If an applicant has done well in all three stages, they will be notified that they will be recommended for employment, which for full-time can fall in the $35,000-40,000 range. Applicants will be required to answer an email that will be sent within 48 hours. Being recommended does not guarantee employment.
A recommendation gains an applicant access to a class at Owens Commmunity College, which requires a $200 fee for tuition. The first class begins Oct. 31 and will teach everything an employee would need to handle blackjack during a five-week period. The top students will then move on to learn craps (8-12 weeks).
Following the course, applicants will face an audition where they will be a dealer to real people, some of whom need the game explained to them. If they can pass the audition, they will be offered employment.
“I would say if you pass dealer school, and not barely pass it, there’s a very good chance you will pass the audition,” McNamara said. “If you pass the audition, you get offered the job.”
For applicants who already have dealer experience, the class at Owens is not required. They can skip to the audition, but if they do not pass they will have to take the class.
Casino developer Penn National Gaming has never before allowed a media member to test the hiring process. McNamara said it was a unique way to test his employees when they weren’t prepared — and they succeeded in every area.
“This gave us a great tool to analyze our process to ensure we are holding ourselves to the high standards we have set for ourselves,” he said. “We have a very clear and unified vision of the management team so far and we are going to convey it to the rest of the staff as we hire them. We honestly want to provide the absolute best customer experience that anybody has ever had in a casino. To do that, we have to hold ourselves to very high standards.”
For more information on Hollywood Casino Toledo or to fill out an online application, visit the website HollywoodCasinoToledo.com.