A well-trained and welcoming staff is crucial to a positive restaurant experience. Investing time and effort in the hiring process can produce premium hires and fewer staffing issues. Here are some key tips for restaurant operators gleaned from years of experience and research in the foodservice industry.

Step One: Create an Employee Profile

An employee profile helps restaurants know what to look for in potential employees. Consider the following factors when creating your employee profile.

Experience Required—Evaluateeach position for the amount of experience needed to perform the role successfully. Previous work experience may be more critical for certain positions than others.

Qualities and Traits—Define what an ideal employee looks like for each role. Operators should think about existing top performers and list the abilities and talents they embody. Always keep in mind that it is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

Core Values—While someone’s skills and experience may complement the job profile, the person might lack the values needed to be a successful part of the team. Operators should articulate their company’s mission statement to help determine if an applicant is a proper match.

Personal and Career Goals—Employee turnover affects operations and the bottom line, so retaining quality talent is vital. Operators can increase their chances of keeping workers by ensuring a candidate’s goals and expectations align with the position and the company. Ascertain applicants’ commitment by asking what they want from a job, an employer and a career.

Step Two: Maintain Optimum Staffing Levels

Managers can’t always predict who will leave and when. But those who proactively source new candidates on a regular basis—and maintain a list of recruits even when not hiring—won’t be left in a lurch when someone walks out the door. Managers should be ready to replace vacancies quickly when they occur. This is accomplished by developing a manpower plan, consisting of the following:

Employee Ranking/Assessment—Rank each team member for each position, starting with the best staff member and listing each person in order of performance. Measure performance as “A,” “B” or “C” level, with A being a top performer, B, a good one, and C, an underperformer. Ranking and assessing staff enables operators to more accurately predict turnover and plan for each position.

Projected Turnover—Operators should calculate turnover frequently—monthly, if possible—and track turnover trends. A simple formula looks like this: Staffing needs plus projected turnover—current level of staff equals hiring needs.

Step Three: Establish a Hiring Process

Selecting high-performing employees who fit the hiring profile involves an in-depth hiring process. To create a process, consider the following:

Referrals—Current employees are a great resource for recruiting high-quality talent. A referral program incentivizes employees to refer qualified candidates and rewards them when a referral is hired.

Social Media—Don’t be afraid to recruit via social media platforms. Promote job postings across LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter.

Applications—Requiring candidates to complete a form can reveal significant information—such as a person’s ability to follow directions or their level of thoroughness.

Attitude Surveys—A pre-employment assessment can be helpful in weeding out underperformers. Surveys also can reveal glaring red flags, such as gaps in employment.

Multiple Interviewers—Getting a second opinion is an important step in the interview process. Diverse styles of questioning could yield new information about an interviewee.

Hiring Schedule—Set a deadline for each step of the process, from receiving the application to extending an offer, to keep the process flowing.

Step Four: Conduct Thorough Interviews

Each of the following steps can help uncover an applicant’s performance level, character, abilities and whether they’re a cultural fit.

Introduction—This is when first impressions are made. Note the candidate’s body language, professionalism and tone of voice.

Disarm—Put the interviewee at ease by asking informal questions that don’t relate to the job.

Background—Review the candidate’s work background. Ask about positions previously held and responsibilities. Seek detailed answers rather than vague responses.

Technical—Learn about their skills and technical level by letting them explain how to accomplish a certain task, such as plating dishes.

Cultural—Ask questions about how they interacted in a work environment. The best predictor of how someone might behave in the future is how they acted in the past.

Ending—Once interviewers gather enough information from the initial interview, they can either offer a second interview or end it there. The hiring manager should promptly alert those who didn’t make the cut and let preferred applicants know they’ll be following up.

Paula Weeks is the Senior Manager, Integrated Marketing—National Foodservice & On Premise at The Coca-Cola Company. Paula has been with The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) for 13 years, most recently serving as the lead for TCCC National Foodservice Crew platform. She has extensive experience working collaboratively with our customers to create business-building solutions from guest analytics to Olympic marketing programs.
Employee Management, Outside Insights, Story