#edGY:Interviewing the Interviewers: McDonald’s Malaysia

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EVER dropped your curriculum vitae (CV) into the hiring inbox of a large company and wondered what the interview process would be like?

Some companies do it quickly and easily — a glance at your CV, followed by an interview. But most companies have a set of processes, including several rounds of interviews, assessments and tasks.

Whatever it may be, going through a recruitment exercise can be daunting for most people. The “Interviewing the Interviewers” series sheds light on the recruitment processes of large firms and multinational corporations.

This week, #edGY speaks to McDonald’s Malaysia senior human resources manager Zarina Osman about the corporation’s hiring process.

McDonald’s is one of the world’s most recognisable and distinctive fast food restaurants. Despite facing various controversies over its products, the multi-billion dollar company continues to serve 69 million customers daily in more than 119 countries across its 35,000 outlets worldwide.

McDonald’s first outlet in Malaysia, located in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, opened its doors to hungry Malaysians in April 29, 1982. To date, there are more than 250 McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, and the corporation plans to have 500 outlets by 2020.

As a growing and leading fast food chain, McDonald’s frequently hires new employees for both its entry-level and professional positions. The fast food giant aims to provide 13,500 job opportunities over the next eight years.

According to Zarina, the corporation hires around 10% of the hundreds of applications received, with the bulk of them for the trainee manager position. She advises interested candidates to state their relevant working experiences and be clear about their career aspirations in their CVs in order to stand out.

“Depending on the job position, the applicants will have to go through at least two rounds of interviews. For certain levels, we also conduct peer interviews for a more holistic assessment. In addition, reference checks on the applicants play a part in the hiring process,” Zarina tells #edGY in an email interview.

She adds that for junior executive and management trainee positions, interviews are normally conducted in person with a panel of interviewers, including a hiring manager and a human resource representative. This is so that the interviewers can screen candidates who are the right cultural fit for the company during the interview sessions.

“We seek employees who are people-oriented, have a good attitude and possess the willingness to learn. They must also be great team players, as we believe that ‘none of us is as good as all of us’. We like to say that our people have ‘ketchup in their veins’. They’re proud to go the extra mile to make our customers feel special.”

More than just flipping burger patties

Flipping burger patties might not sound like the dream job, but take a look at television’s most popular and beloved burger flipper, Spongebob Squarepants. He enjoys being a fry cook, always thinking of ways to make his patties taste better and serve quality meals to customers.

Even celebrities and business figures like talk show host Jay Leno, actress Andie MacDowell and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have had their fair share of working at McDonald’s, doing back-end jobs flipping patties in the kitchen. You would be amazed to find out that three out of eight McDonald’s global CEOs started as crew members.

In Malaysia, about 80% of McDonald’s restaurant managers started their career as crew members. Zarina began her career with the corporation as one of the restaurant staff more than 20 years ago.

“A good local success story is of our former managing director, Azmir Jaafar, who was recently appointed the new managing director of McDonald’s Middle East Development Company, overseeing McDonald’s markets in the Middle East region. Azmir started his McDonald’s career in 1993 as a trainee manager at a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, and his rise through the ranks is a testament to McDonald’s commitment towards people development.”

According to Zarina, 65% of McDonald’s employees in Malaysia are below the age of 25, and nearly 100% within that age group are based at restaurants. The company has more than 12,000 employees, less than 2% of which are based at the head office.

She adds that the corporation has implemented various development opportunities to retain young talents and ensure their career progression. For example, Strategic Workforce Planning was implemented to look at its employees’ plans in the company. A fast-track development programme called Accelerated Store Managers’ Development Programme was introduced to promote career progression. Under the programme, a trainee manager can move up to the restaurant manager level within an 18-month period.

McDonald’s head office also offers leadership courses for different job functions such as the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa Leadership Development Programme. The leadership course is designed for potential employees looking at top management positions.

The fast food chain is proud of its world-class training system, and spends more than RM2 million per year on staff training. McDonald’s Malaysia even opened two Hamburger University — Standard Training Centres two years ago to cater to the growing training and development needs.

“We have a structured training programme for restaurant employees at every level, and it’s compulsory  for them to complete the McDonald’s curriculum for their respective job functions before they can move up to the next position. The curriculum covers areas like restaurant shift management, customer satisfaction, people skills, business development and leadership practices,” explains Zarina.

To assist new employees assimilate McDonald’s culture, the corporation provides an on-boarding programme that could run up to 90 days. It includes restaurant training, business knowledge and the understanding of McDonald’s values to help new employees blend into the organisation.

McDonald’s takes pride in being awarded Best Employer by Aon Hewitt, a global human resources consulting firm. Zarina stresses that it is highly critical for the organisation to provide its talents with the best working experience.

“Personally, the biggest draw is the learning and development opportunities offered by McDonald’s. The on-the-job experience, exposure and educational courses provided by our company will equip every employee with lifelong skills that will benefit them, not just while working with McDonald’s, but also outside of the organisation.”

This article first appeared in #edGY, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on November 17 - 23, 2014.