Your team is the heart and soul of your restaurant. Hiring the right person is quintessential to your restaurant's success. Hiring the wrong person is time and resources wasted, but due to the industry's labor shortage, we are looking at anyone with experience or not. I have found through my experience that how you conduct the interview and the questions you ask go a long way to hiring not just a great employee, but a great addition to your team. As with cooking, running a restaurant takes a team, so whenever possible have at least two people conducting the interview. Having at least one other personality and set of ears at the table will give you a more well-rounded opinion of the people you interview.
Conducting the Interview:
First, are they on time? People on time are organized, one of the most necessary qualities in a restaurant professional and it speaks volumes about the person. If they are late, best wait for the next candidate. While the candidates don't have to be dressed up, wearing clothes that are clean and without holes should be the minimum of what is expected. Hygiene matters, especially when the industry is built on standards that keep food and people safe.
Make the interviewee feel comfortable, have a glass of water, tea or coffee for them. This will help the person feel more at ease. Make sure you have a beverage too so they feel comfortable taking the offer.
When hiring for your kitchen brigade, you should only be hiring entry level positions. If you are a good mentor and build your team correctly, you already have a great candidate for your upper level kitchen positions. Always promote from within, it lets your team know that they are being taken care of, and a well cared-for employee always does a better job.
Ditch the typical interview questions, get to know the person sitting across from you. What are their passions? How do they feel about food and the restaurant industry as a whole? What have they eaten recently that made them go "wow"!?
Are they a good person? What about attitude? Do they smile? Can they be light hearted? You can teach anyone to cook, you can't teach someone to be a good person.
"Cooking can be taught, character, you either have or you don't."- Anthony Bourdain
This person is a potential member of your team. They need to be a good fit. The restaurant business is a team sport, the best ones work together. Experience is great but if you feel like the person is a bad fit, or if you have doubts, go with your gut. Your first instinct is always right.
When hiring for the front of the house, personality and demeanor in the interview will tell you all you need to know about a potential team mate. Are they composed during the interview? Do they hold a conversation in a clear and concise manner? Are they able to take direction as well as problem-solve on their feet? Asking for a few examples of sticky customer situations is key; and what you are listening for is their perspective on the customer's attitude. Patience is top priority, and a person who behaves as if customers are frustrating in an interview will treat your customers as such.
When the interviews are over
Meet with all people who have conducted the interviews. Make sure there is a consensus on the right candidate. This is a unique opportunity to mentor your employees and let them know what to look for in potential candidates. Asking your employees for their perspectives and why they believe certain things about the candidates will also give you a chance to prepare your employees for more responsibility and eventually, promotions. Hiring is much trickier than firing because so many people can look good in an interview if they are coached to do so. If there isn't a consensus, keep looking. Hire the right person, not the person for right now. If your establishment is open, it will remain open if you hire this person or not. So wait for the right one.
Don't be afraid to take a chance if you get a good feeling about a person. Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
Until next week,