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In The Spotlight: Ultimate Teambuilding
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MPACE Member Spotlight – July 2015
Q&A Session Featuring Greg Clefisch, Southern Wine & Spirits




Greg, tell us a little about your background?


I have a Masters in Counseling and worked for a number of years as a therapist in a treatment center for youth.  I believe these skills I learned as a therapist help me in my role as a College Recruiter to read and assess people.  Starting with Southern Wine and Spirits as a sales person over 15 years ago, I moved to recruiter and totally enjoy my role. Southern is the largest distributor of alcoholic beverages in California and the nation.




What is it that you look for in candidates?


It sounds so basic yet it works for us. 3 things:

        1. Work ethic/competitive spirit – the desire to compete and challenge themselves

        2. Social skills – Southern didn’t get to be #1 by hiring wall flowers.

        3. Organizational skills


We can teach candidates product knowledge and how to sell.  The 3 things I look for we can’t teach candidates; it must be part of their DNA.



Walk me the typical recruiting process for your new hires:


The first point of contact is usually at a Career Fair.  I talk to students and immediately assess for the 3 basic qualities mentioned above.  I check to see if students are smiling and looking me in the eye.  Based on this interaction, I invite candidates to an on-campus interview.  If that goes well, we invite approximately 25 students to a Meet and Greet at a Bay Area winery.  In attendance will be a variety of Southern employees from recent college hires to higher level manager and executives.  This gives the students a chance to interact with their future colleagues and experience the Southern brand.  In addition to a tour of the winery, 3 specific areas are highlighted in our presentation:  the culture of Southern, promotion rates, and training details.

After the Meet and Greet, those who are interested are invited to schedule interviews with the hiring managers.



Have you noticed any differences in candidates of today, the millennial generation, compared to when you first started recruiting at Southern?


Not really – millennials don't act differently.  However, I will say that today’s students are sharper than ever before.  They are more attuned and knowledgeable.  Because they have more choices of jobs after graduation, I have to explain the company more.  Also, millennials are quieter - not as lively as previous generations of students.



I noticed the quote on your email signature line: "Sales does not build Character, It reveals it.”  Can you explain that?


Sure. I borrowed that from a sports radio announcer who closes his show with, "Sports does not build character.  It reveals it."  I changed the word “sports” to “sales” because a salesperson won't make a sale every time.  It's when someone says "no" that a sales person is challenged and how will they respond.  How is a candidate going to overcome a negative no?  That’s what I am looking for, someone who will rise to that challenge, when interviewing a person.



What is a recruiting strategy that you are especially proud of?


About 3 years ago I started presenting etiquette dinners on campuses.  I realized that this was an excellent way to brand Southern with students and it met a need for students as well. In today’s employment culture, many interviews are conducted over meals. The key is how to get through the meal and interview with their future boss.  I’m not teaching them how to meet the queen but how to maneuver through this stressful event.


This fall I will conduct my 40th etiquette dinner at various universities throughout California.  It’s a great way to interact with students and teach them some valuable skills.



Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the MPACE community?


In the past, I was very aware of the lack of workshops for employers/recruiters at conferences, which I voiced to MPACE leadership. After a number of discussions with my MPACE, NACE and recruiting colleagues I realized that there is nothing new under the sun for recruiting.  The focus and take away is building college relationships.  Recruiters, including myself, have to invest our time into building these relationships, whether it’s through mock interviews, etiquette dinners, or workshops on how to work a career fair and how to network at a social event. We have to make it a win-win-win for the career centers, the students and Southern Wine and Spirits.  The bottom line is I’m always branding Southern on campuses through these efforts.


Greg Clefish is Manager of College Recruiting at Southern Wine & Spirits, Northern California.  He can be reached at gregclefisch@southernwine.com.


This Spotlight article was compiled by Ellen Kelly Daley of the MPACE Communications Committee. Ellen is the Director of Career Success at University of San Francisco.
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