Improve Restaurant Hiring with Group Interviews


Restaurant hiring can be tough under any circumstances. When you have several positions to fill, such as with a new store opening or when several student employees are returning to school at the end of summer, it can be even more challenging. Group interviews, or open house hiring events, can streamline the process. Schedule open houses to accommodate as many applicants as possible. Use regular recruiting methods to reach potential applicants: online ads, social media posts, flyers, etc. Review applications in your file and invite walk-ins, as well.

To conduct an open house hiring event, first welcome everyone, introduce yourself, and explain the purpose of inviting them: “It’s a great way for us to get to know you and for you to get to know us in a casual, no-pressure atmosphere.” Ask how many have eaten at your restaurant. Describe your restaurant’s menu, style of service, and atmosphere. Pass out applications and copies of job descriptions. Review the job descriptions out loud and have everyone sign a form that states they are aware of the essential functions of the job.

Questions & Answers for Hiring

Then ask applicants, “What would you like to discover about us?” Write their questions on a flip chart. Topics may include wages, benefits, scheduling, management philosophies, and opportunities for career advancement. You may want to prepare and memorize a brief explanation for each anticipated topic ahead of time. If the group doesn’t bring up a topic, bring it up yourself.

Then break everyone into groups and pass out copies of questions you prepared ahead of time. Have other managers lead the groups, each with less than 10 people. Go around the circle having applicants take turns answering interview questions. Keep it fun, conversational, and upbeat so it won’t be intimidating. Continue through all of the questions until everyone’s had a turn. Finally, thank everyone for coming and walk each one out. As you walk each participant to the door, say something like, “If you haven’t heard from us in 24 hours, we’ve selected another applicant” or invite the applicant to return for a one-on-one interview.

Do It By the Book

If you’re going to hold an open house or group interview, be sure you understand the legal implications that come with it. Some applicants may mistakenly view open houses as your attempt to find just those “looks” that suit your operation. By inviting a large group of applicants to participate, you’re giving the impression that everyone has the same shot at available positions. So be prepared to give serious consideration to every applicant who walks through the door, regardless of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or other protected status. Be sure you understand and adhere to the current guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And be especially careful not to single out or exclude anyone during the group interview.

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