Why Timpson uses Mr Men characters to recruit staff

Why Timpson uses Mr Men characters to recruit staff

Mr Happy? Mr Greedy? Little Miss Sunshine? Which Mr Men character would you say represents you the most?

An unconventional interview question, but one which has proved successful for Timpson, who recruits staff based on which Mr Men character they say represents them.

Explaining the method behind using Roger Hargreaves’ children’s books as interview inspiration, John Timpson, who leads the shoe repair and key-cutting high street firm, says Timpson interviews purely for personality.

In an interview with the BBC, Timpson, who has run the company for the past 42 years and holds the role of Chairman, says that while you can train someone to do a job, you cannot train their personality.

"We're not bothered by qualifications or CVs. We just look at the candidate and work out who they are, are they Mr Grumpy, Mr Slow, Mr Happy?” he says.

"If they tick all the right boxes then we put them in the shop for half the day. That's it, I dreamt that up years ago."

From our content partner

Championing unorthodox hiring practices, the firm also gives those who have a criminal record a chance with ten per cent of its 4,700 employees having served time in prison.

The idea of hiring former criminals came from another family member, Timpson’s son James who has been the firm’s Chief Executive since 2011.

James said of the idea: "I was a little apprehensive at what other people would think, but I was proved wrong. Our colleagues take great pride it in, and our customers like it too."

The business, which was set up Timpson’s his great-grandfather in 1865, isn’t run according to business convention, with another unique facet being its ‘upside-down management approach,’ which gives the 1,325 Timpson branches a significant amount of autonomy.

"You can't train for great service, it's not by issuing rules or notices in the back of the staffroom," Timpson explains. "You only get great people when you give them the freedom, so we let them [staff] charge what they want. Here you can't tell people [the workers] what to do. So very often if a customer doesn't have the money, they can say 'don't worry, give us the money next time'."

Employees can also spend up to £500 to settle a customer complaint, without having to check beforehand with head office or a senior manager. Timpson prefers to trust staff judgement, and believes that the key to finding good people begins at the hiring stage: "When store managers pick people, they get good people," he adds.

"And the staff get a weekly bonus depending on how the shop is doing. They're not giving the business away, we're trusting them to be commercial."

Have you enjoyed this piece?

Subscribe now to myGrapevine+ and get access to exclusive new content, and the full content archive.

Be the first to comment.

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.