Aquarium of the Pacific Client Story

Since we’ve been using the Wonderlic Personal Characteristics Inventory, I see people who treat each guest like the first guest of the day.

Client Spotlight: Aquarium of the Pacific

At almost 160,000 square feet, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, is one of the largest aquariums in the United States. More than 500 species fill 19 major habitats and 32 exhibits, taking visitors on a journey throughout the Pacific Ocean’s three regions: Southern California/Baja, the Tropical Pacific, and the Northern Pacific.

Selective Hiring Process Improves Employee Competency

At the Aquarium of the Pacific, frontline employees must not only be able to perform their jobs—dispensing guest information, answering questions, guiding tours—they must be able to work in an environment of constant, hectic activity.

“The work environment here is so important when hiring,” says Kathie Nirschl, Vice President of Human Resources. “If we hire the wrong people, we notice that over time they wilt with the press of humanity. They might be outgoing and cheerful and have the right attitude, but if they can’t keep their attitude up all day, they can’t do the job. And, they won’t like the job.”

Nischl used Wonderlic to perform a customized job analysis to determine the core competencies necessary for success in specific jobs. Through interviews with subject matter experts, employees, supervisors, and managers—the qualities, attributes, and skills necessary to do those jobs well were defined.

Based on the initial research, Nirschl began using the Wonderlic Personal Characteristics Inventory in the hiring process. “Since we’ve been using the Wonderlic Personal Characteristics Inventory, I see people who treat each guest like the first guest of the day,” Nirschl says. “They’re thriving in this environment instead of being burned out by it.”

Ultimately, Nirschl’s goal is to make the Long Beach-based aquarium the standard of quality among Southern California employers. “I want to hire employees who will stay with us for a long time, and if they do leave, I want our name on their resume to mean something to other employers in the area,” Nirschl says.

Nirschl credits Wonderlic for the significant changes she has seen in employees. “Since using the Wonderlic pre-employment screening tools, Aquarium of the Pacific has seen a dramatic reduction in involuntary terminations and an increase in cross-functional promotions. Further, the ratings our guests give us on customer service are among the highest in the industry, nationwide. We now use Wonderlic products for every position we hire.”