Imagine a job interview with Cersei Lannister. You'd walk in, bow respectfully, then hand her your resume. After yawning as she glances at your resume, the Queen Mother would begin to ask you a few questions. Things would seem to be going well until...
"Now tell me, if I were to ask you to spy on my son's wife, and possibly kill her if need be, what would you do?"
Hopefully your organization doesn't use such unnerving tactics during the hiring process. But there's no denying that in Westeros the struggle to get the best talent is real. Allegiances and loyal supporters could make or break a house. So, in honor of the new season premiere, it might be fun to explore how each family would try to attract and hire employees. And which similar strategies your organization could use.
Here are what the hiring processes of the Game of Thrones houses would look like if they were in a war for talent:
SPOILER ALERT: In case the Internet hasn't already ruined the last season of Game of Thrones for you, this article might give some things away.
House Lannister: Built on power and employee referral
Let's just say the Lannisters like to keep things in the family. This preference for taking care of their own creates a strong employee referral program in which being a distant cousin of a current employee is enough to get you an entry-level gig. The Lannisters also reward loyalty handsomely so hard work is always noticed and compensated generously. After all, a Lannister always pays his debts.
Thanks to their policy of employee referral, House Lannister has created a solid and reliable talent pipeline. Whenever there is a new opening there's always a young, calculating blonde ready to step up. The power and influence they've built through strategic alliances also does wonders when it comes to attracting talent from other houses. And if their name isn't enough, they've got enough (borrowed) gold to convince anyone to work for them.
By hiring employees with the same beliefs and values, the Lannisters have created an incredibly tight-knit, if unethical, company culture. If you also hire with a strong focus on cultural fit, beware. With so many like-minded, power-driven team members it's hard for any outsiders -- a cunning dwarf with a conscience, for example -- to succeed.
House Targaryen: An employer brand rising from the ashes
After years of cruel, unstable leadership, the Targaryen employer brand is all but ruined. However, now with the compassionate Daenerys taking charge, her focus on employees' well-being has allowed her to attract new and faithful talent.
Daenerys understands the power of diversity so she surrounds herself with people from all walks of life -- even castrated former slaves and exiled mercenaries. As long as employees put the organization before themselves, hard work and loyalty is all that matters to the Mother of Dragons.
Be it the Dothraki tribe or the Unsullied, Khaleesi has had to reach out to some unfamiliar candidate pools to rebuild her organization. And while she's found some real diamonds in the rough, she's also made a few bad hires that ended up costing her. As Daenerys continues to develop her leadership skills, she'll find better candidate screens, but until then it's always possible for a spy to work his way into her inner circle. If you're also reaching out to new candidate sources, make sure you fully understand the type of employees it will produce to avoid similar hiring mistakes.
House Stark: The talent winter is coming
The Starks are focused on preparing for all their future workforce needs and the inevitable talent shortage. That means taking illegitimate sons and hulky, simpleminded stableboys and giving them the support and development tools they need to become high performers. And unlike in other houses, even daughters are able to partake in swordsman training, if it fits their chosen career path.
The tools the Starks give their employees make them resourceful and resilient. No matter if their career path takes them to King's Landing or the Many-Faced God, they have the skills to be successful. They, and hopefully you as well, understand the importance of preparing for the future.
Massacres at weddings seem to lead to high turnover for the house. Whether the killings lead to the employees going into hiding or, well, dying, very few Starks make it in the long run.
The Night's Watch: Once you go to Castle Black, you never go back.
There's no denying the Night's Watch is desperate for talent. Doesn't matter if you're a ninth-son or criminal, there's a place for you on the Wall. And one of the nicest perks they offer is job security. Once a man becomes a crow he's in it until his watch has ended.
The mission of the Night's Watch is what drives its success and unites the team. Every decision and action is taken with the Watcher's oath in mind. That clarity of purpose motivates employees. Even if it means being killed by a White Walker.
The benefits package of the Night's Watch sucks. There's no paid time off, no work/life balance. It's not even certain if those heavy fur capes that make the Wall bearable are provided by the company or if each man must get his own. If you're offering job seekers the same paltry perks, expect to get the similar bottom-of-the-barrel talent.
Aside from the battle for the Iron Throne and the White Walkers breaching the Wall, there's another real war happening in Westeros: a war for talent. And only the house with the best leadership, culture, and career opportunities will get them the workforce they need to survive. Of course, here in the real world, you don't need drastic strategies like kidnapping and torture to convince employees to join your team. But remember, how you approach talent acquisition can have some dramatic consequences.
Which house's hiring process do you think would be most effective in talent acquisition? Share in the comments below!
Aaron Michel is the co-founder and CEO at PathSource, a career exploration solution helping students and job seekers make better career choices. To navigate your infinite career possibilities, connect with Aaron and the PathSource team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.