3 Ways to Hire Better

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

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If you’ve been on the Internet lately, you'll see there is a storm coming. The industry is undergoing changes that will impact how you do business. The fast-casual segment is growing rapidly, while other segments are feeling the effects of declining sales and closing locations. Add in that mix the drive for higher hourly wages for foodservice workers and the elimination of tipping, and there it is — the perfect storm. 

Storms can be good for an ecosystem. They are nature's way of natural selection. The strong survive and the weak perish. During any economic storm, the restaurant that delivers consistently on outstanding food and guest experience will make it through. For those that operate at the level of mediocrity, their fate is sealed. Sometimes the best way to survive the storm is straight through it. 

Successful restauranteurs open their minds to change. Closed minds close restaurants.

To deliver the kind of food and service that will help protect your restaurant from the impending economic turmoil, train and retain better. Restaurants get better when the people in them become better. How do restaurant get better people? They either hire better people or train their current team to become better. 

3 Tips to Hire Smarter

Hiring better from the beginning is the best way to insulate your business from the turbulent peaks and valleys common in our industry. Here are three things you can do to hire better and smarter:

1. Recruit creativity.

The standard and boring “Help Wanted” ads don’t really appeal to many people. It’s a lot like social media marketing. When you put out generic stuff, you get generic results. If you want to attract top talent, then stop giving a job description and start appealing to human emotion.

Here is an example of a “Help Wanted” ad pulled off the Internet:

"We are currently hiring servers for special events and other projects. A server or waiting staff takes on a very important role in which is to always be attentive and accommodating to the guests. Each waiter follows rules and guidelines that are developed by the manager. The main rule is to always stay busy. Wait staff can abide by this rule by completing many different tasks throughout his or her shift. Such as food-running, polishing dishes and silverware, helping bus tables, and restock working stations with needed supplies."

Doesn’t that sound exciting? Maybe if you’re a zombie. Let’s see if this is better:

Do you like fast-paced environments?
Are you the kind of person that rises to the challenge?
Do you get energy working around people?
Do you take pride in your work?
Do you want to be compensated for your efforts?

If you answered yes to any of these, then we would love to discuss the opportunity for you to join our award-winning restaurant team.

The second example describes the person, not the job. Just remember that words become images in our mind. The first example paints a picture of monotony that is reminiscent of a Stalin-like regime. You can bet that top talent avoids jobs that sound dreary and gloomy.

2. Use behavioral interview questions.

Just as you have to break free from the standard monotone “Help Wanted” ads, your interview questions need to dig deeper.

Here are some standard questions that are commonly used:

Tell me about your last job. What did you like about it?
If I called your former supervisor, what would he/she say about you?

If you want better results, you need to ask better quality questions. You want questions that draw out someone’s personality, because that’s really what you want to hire for, personality. Make this a rule to add to your interviewing guidelines: Always hire for personality over skill. Here are a few behavior-based questions that drill down to an applicant’s true nature:

If you saw someone you thought you recognized but weren’t quite sure, what would you do?

Trait you’re looking for: extroversion. Let’s face the facts that the restaurant industry is really the human connection industry that uses food and beverage as its medium.

If you saw someone stealing something, either an employee or customer, how would you handle the situation?

Trait you’re looking for: integrity. If you ever want to have a team that can perform without you looking over their shoulder all the time, then you need to make sure the people you hire have solid core values such as integrity.

The main idea is to ask questions that expose how they see themselves. Psychologists like to refer to the image you hold yourself as your identity. Most people will go to great lengths to protect the image they hold of themselves. You can always train skills, it’s very hard to change personalities.

3.  Have a plan for the growth of your team.

In today’s market, you can’t avoid the topic of Millennials in the workplace. There’s a lot of misconception about this generation, like they tend to have an underwhelming work ethic and a sense of entitlement. The truth is, most restaurant employers just don’t keep them stimulated enough with training to keep their interest. 

It’s very hard to keep your employees engaged without a plan for continuous growth and development. And it’s not just Millennials; as human beings, we have a core need to grow and develop. Face it, if we have not aspired to be more than, we would still be living in caves and hunting with spears.

You will hire top talent if you can show a plan to develop and refine skill sets that let employees achieve and be more. Not just the standard four-day “go follow Susan around and do what she does” training program. You’re going to need to dig a little deeper and be more consistent with your training. 

Just like you have a yearly marketing plan (please say you have one), you’ll need to develop a solid yearly training program that focuses on foundational skills, interpersonal skills, and advanced skill sets. Many restaurants will bring in outside consultants for workshops or seminars to provide training and reinforce their commitment to growth for the team. Remember, the way your team trains is the way they will perform.

There is a storm coming and the restaurants that adapt, change, implement, and improve will weather the economic storm far better than those that choose to hold onto outdated methodologies that no longer get results. 

Najib Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia said it best, “The world is changing quickly and we must be ready to change with it or risk being left behind."