Even managers who interview thousands of applicants throughout their careers make mistakes and hire the wrong people. It’s often because they approach the process the same way they did five, 10, even 15 years ago. Not a good idea, especially when you consider the fact that applicants have become professional interviewees. They’ve answered every traditional question numerous times before you’ve had a chance to ask it.
They’re well-schooled in the proper responses. They’re ready for you. You can thank turnover for their expertise. The first step in hiring the right employees is planning, which includes describing your ideal employee. You can find the character traits you want in your employees by asking questions that reveal those traits.
If, for example, hiring people with a great deal of past experience is part of your philosophy, ask questions centered around past work experience. On the other hand, if you have a great training program and you’re confident that you can teach the skills necessary to be successful, you should be asking questions about how willing a candidate is to learn on the job.
For any interview, there are preliminary steps to prepare yourself and the applicant. Keep in mind that you’re often fighting time constraints, so be productive. Cover some of the basics before getting into what can be a lengthy process of the behavioral interview. Put applicants at ease by welcoming them and offering them something to drink. Hand out updated descriptions of all jobs you’re currently hiring for. Applicants may have a particular position in mind, but they may qualify for others.
Ask them to read the job descriptions and let you know if there are any aspects which cannot be performed. This is an important step relating to compliance with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act). If there are tasks listed that are unnecessary to the successful completion of the job but would eliminate a disabled person from consideration, you may want to make some changes. Conduct interviews in a quiet part of the restaurant where you won’t be disturbed but can still monitor the flow of your business. It’s best to have additional management coverage during interviews to eliminate the ever-occurring interruptions of deliveries, employee problems, customer issues and so on.
If management coverage isn’t available, ask employees not to interrupt you during an interview unless it’s an emergency. Or select a key employee to handle minor issues that may crop up. After all, you’re about to sit down with a person who may be interacting with guests and other employees, not to mention handling money, guests’ credit cards, and much of your food, liquor and other business assets. You need to give your undivided attention for your own sake. Plus, it’s the professional, courteous and polite thing to do. It’s an employee’s market out there. It’s just as much your responsibility to sell yourself and your restaurant as it is for the applicant to sell him or herself to you.
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