Why Raj Fernando recruits only “A” players for Chopper Trading

Turn employees into interviewers
As candidates move further through Chopper’s interview process, they interact with more employees in more areas — a sort of funnel effect.

“The more people that talk to him, the better it is,” Fernando says. “We try to take care of all the hiring process in the interview process. That’s why we don’t have a lot of turnover.”

Fernando will involve dozens of employees, from ones who used to have that position to ones who are currently in training, all the way to the top of the company. Current employees know better than anyone what it takes for employees to be successful at your company.

“We know what the people who work here are like and what it takes to get along,” Sizemore says. “We know what it takes to be successful as a trader, and we know what it takes to fit in with the company. Even though two different people might see a candidate differently, they both would more than likely be able to agree on whether or not that person is going to fit in with the culture of the company.”

A multitude of perspectives gives you a better understanding of the candidate. It becomes a group effort, where someone may pick up on something others missed.

“Because it is a subjective call, all of us as interviewers have our specific things that we’re looking for that we might place a little more importance on than somebody else does,” Sizemore says. “By getting a wide variety of opinions on someone, we feel like we get to know them pretty well.”

Because Fernando trusts the employee input he receives throughout the interview process, it makes his job easier when the candidate comes back around to him.

“By the time it comes to me, maybe 12 or 20 people have already talked to him,” he says. “And if these guys all liked him, the kid’s got to be pretty impressive. … It’s definitely a team effort in weeding them out.

“It’s not just ability; it’s also: Is it someone they want to work with and be next to 10, 12 hours a day for the next 10, 15 years? These guys hang out after work. You don’t work that much with someone and hang out afterward if you don’t like them. Personalities are very important.”

That’s not to say everyone needs the same personality. That’s another benefit of involving several interviewers — you understand each candidate’s overall demeanor as opposed to specific traits, so you can better identify pleasant personalities.

When decision time comes, get everyone’s opinions and observations on the table. You’re not looking for pure consensus, but ideally, most of the group will think positively of the candidate and no one will see major reasons not to hire.

If there are concerns, determine how serious they are.

“If it is the case that someone in the group sees a major red flag, we’ll talk about it,” Sizemore says. “We’ll say, ‘Look, I said this to this person and this was their response. I didn’t like for these reasons. Do you guys agree or not agree?’

“I’ve been a part of more than one of those conversations, on both sides of the coin, and generally we’re able to come to a decision, saying, ‘OK, yeah, you’re right. I felt that too,’ or, ‘You know, I really didn’t pick up on that, and even if that is true, I’m OK with that. I’m willing to move forward with this person.’ It’s not necessarily pure consensus, but generally we don’t hire people that one of the members of the group has a major red flag on.”

Though the hiring process involves some fun — like going out to dinner or shooting pool — the decision requires diligence.

“We’re not trying to wine and dine people to bring them in,” Fernando says. “As much fun and kidding around as we do, this is a serious process. The new lifeblood is everything to the company.”

Thanks to that attitude, Chopper boasts zero turnover and Fernando says he has never lost a successful trader. By devoting time and effort to the interview process, he’s able to hire future retirees, not just employees.

“It’s not just a job,” Fernando says. “Life’s too short to do things you don’t want to do or be with people you don’t want to be with. We like the people we work with, and it makes all the difference.”

How to reach: Chopper Trading, 312-628-3500 or www.choppertrading.com

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