Hiring the right staff is key to great customer service. While skill and experience are important, personality trumps experience when hiring restaurant employees. You want to surround yourself by people who are driven, quick thinkers that can handle stress well. Ideally you can find the right balance of the two, but if not remember that you can teach skills but not personality. Below are a few tips to help get the right people in your restaurant.
Advertise. In the weeks before you intend to interview, be sure to advertise that you are hiring. You want to get as many people in as possible so that you can hire only the candidates that you are highly confident in; not just warm bodies. Explain in your ads what kind of person you are looking for. List traits that are important to you like “professional”, “fun”, “team oriented, or “experienced” to help draw the right types of personalities to you.
Place ads on Craigslist, Facebook, LinkedIn, and local papers as well as posting a notice on your door. College students are great candidates as the flexible schedule works well with their class schedules. If you know of a local campus, place a few fliers on their bulletin boards. Another good idea is when you find an outstanding candidate ask him/her to bring in a friend.
Interview. Be sure ask each applicant open ended questions that will help you see what kind of person they are. You want someone who can communicate clearly and easily. You also want someone who fits into your concept and is a team players. A few examples of questions that help you learn about the applicant are:
- “Tell me about yourself.” Asking this question will let you know immediately how comfortable he/she is with talking to a stranger. Those who cannot answer this easily may not be the best communicators.
- “Why do you want to work here?” Someone who answers along the lines of they admire the concept, feel like he/she would fit right in with the staff, or believes the menu is so unique that he/she wants to be a part of it. This question will let you know if the applicant has done his/her homework on your restaurant or if you are on in many establishments interviewing this person.
- “What makes you want to be a server?” Applicants will say a range of things such as they enjoy the fast-pace, fellowship, flexible schedule, making others smile, being part of the food industry because they like to cook, etc., giving you an idea of what motivates them.
- “What qualities do you want in your coworkers?” Answers such as motivated, hardworking, or honest are great as the respondent will be using words that describe their own qualities and work habits.
Check backgrounds and references. Many owners skip this step due to the costs associated and the high turnover of employees. Others only run background checks only bartenders and headwaiters that may be handling large sums of cash while closing or checking out other employees. However, checking references is free. While time consuming, so is hiring and training a replacement for an individual who is dishonest, chronically late, or often no-show for shifts.
Hire and train. Try to hire approximately 20% more employees than you think that you will need. You don’t want to be short-handed while you are learning sales patterns. And, honestly, not every hire will work out so having some padding is will help in those first few months. Observe each employee during training to identify super stars; you will want to make sure those are scheduled on your (expected) busiest shifts when you first open.