Hiring Food Service Employees & conducting interviews

Hiring employees is an important task and relates directly to the efficiency and also the bottom line.  I know you’ve probably heard and read enough about how much it costs if you have employee turnover- and we all know it’s just inevitable in a food service situation.

Even more of an issue as we continue to do business in a financial crunch is that waitstaff may begin to turnover even faster if tips are not coming in.  Let’s face it, fewer tables means lower tips.

As we’ve been conducting interviews quite a bit as our staff expands, I’ve had to take a few tricks out of my bag when I used to hire for my staff of fifty.  I am not tooting my own horn but I’m rather good at getting folks to talk and really show me sides of their personality that will be integral to their performance within the workplace.  I think the easiest way is to get a potential employee to talk about what really has meaning to them and also ask them how they problem solve and handle difficulties in their lives/ workplace.

Over the years I make sure I do a few part process:

  1. Telephone pre-screening (can they even communicate over the telephone in an appropriate manner which tells me if they will be able to communicate with co-workers and clients)
  2. In-person interviews (during this phase I actually review their resume with them and then have a list of questions that ALL candidates answer- this list will be stapled to their resume/ application)

If I were creating a list of questions for waitstaff or staff in a food service establishment I might use some of these questions:

  1. Have there ever been times during shift where there was nothing to do?  How did you deal with being bored?  (this will tell you if they’re a self-starter or like to hang out)
  2. If I talked with <insert name of last boss> what would they say you strengths were?  What would they say they wanted you to work on?  (You will be surprised at what folks tell you here.  If they think you are checking references- and of course you will- then they will be candid and also tell you what level of awareness they have as an employee.  It will tell you if they are simply working on the level of this is my job let me clock in and out or if they think on a company level).
  3. Have you ever had a customer who just wasn’t going to be happy?  <insert laughter here> Can you tell me about the last customer like that and how you handled it?  Tell me about your most frustrating customer.  Tell me about your best customer.
  4. How would you handle a surly cook?
  5. When was the last time you were late to work or called in?  Why was that?  How many times were you late/ absent int he past year?  If I were to ask <insert name of last boss here> how would they describe your dependability as a team player?
  6. We’ve all had poor managers.  Can you tell me about the last poor decision a manager you worked for made?  How did you handle it ?
  7. Did folks steal in any of your past jobs?  Explain how.  How did you handle it?  (This will give you good insight into their ethics and also dynamics in past places of employment.)
  8. If you have to come early for a shift or stay late with little notice is that a problem?
  9. What was the last thing you did at work without being asked/ outside of your job scope?

Obviously this is just a rough working outline and you should personalize it with the issues important to your operation.

Questions you MAY never ask:

  1. Religion
  2. Family status

Please remember you are an EOE workplace and when you advertise positions that should be in the ad.

Thanks for reading and I hope it helped a bit.  If you have an interview outline you usually use and would like to share it, please do send it to me at connieb@onefatfrog.com