Every so often Mike Faith walks into his company's office in San Francisco or Nashville accompanied by a job candidate. That candidate is his Lyft driver.

Faith is the CEO and founder of Headsets.com, a 41-employee business that sells headsets from multiple manufacturers online. Faith doesn't own a car in Nashville and prefers not to drive in San Francisco, so he is a frequent client of ride-hailing services. In the past three months, he has hired two drivers who ferried him round town to work in his company's Nashville warehouse. (One has already started the transition into sales and account management.) The company's Excel consultant was also recruited that way.

"We hire for personality much more than experience, and, in an interview situation, people have their 'game face' on," says Faith. "With Lyft, you've got 10, 15, 20 minutes in a car with someone. Sometimes the social chemistry goes off, and sometimes it doesn't."

As opposed to taxi drivers, car-service drivers are often between gigs, and so more open to job offers, says Faith. He says he prefers Lyft to Uber (although he uses both), because he finds Lyft drivers friendlier and thinks there's greater expectation he'll sit in the passenger seat, which facilitates conversation.

Faith asks no probing questions during his rides. He simply inquires why the driver is doing this job and a little about his or her life. "I am looking for communication skills--whether they are balanced in listening and talking--and whether they seem honest," says Faith. "I can get a pretty good sense whether this person would do well working with us."

Faith met his two recent hires during periods he needed warehouse help. As their cars arrived at the office, "I said, 'Have you got five minutes? Come in and have a look,'" recalls Faith. "I introduced them to the manager and they took it from there. One started work the day he came in, and one started the next morning."

Faith met the consultant a few years ago, during a Lyft ride in San Francisco. "I was in the front seat, and we were having this friendly, chatty thing," he says. "He was an Excel whiz, and I realized he could perhaps solve a problem I was just working on." The driver walked into the office with Faith and had the spreadsheet issue sorted in an hour. Now he comes in once every couple of months to help with complex issues.

"I use Lyft because I need a ride, not because I am scouting someone out," says Faith. "But if I make a connection, and there is this exchange of value, that's a nice kind of icing on the cake."

Published on: Feb 20, 2017