Identifying and hiring people who possess the ‘hospitality gene’

Identifying and hiring people who possess the ‘hospitality gene’

A survey in Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine asked operators to rate the quality of service taking place in their restaurants on a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being the highest. Sixty-seven operators rated their service a “9” or better. All but one of those said they screened for specific personality and customer service attributes during the selection process.

Several said they look specifically for people who have a desire to serve others. They said they look for “people who want to go the extra mile to please our customers” and “people who love to serve others and feel good about doing so.” Looking for people with a built-in desire to serve others is a key to creating a hospitality-driven culture. Those folks are natural caregivers, born with “the hospitality gene.”

You’ve probably got at least one or two people with the hospitality gene on your staff right now. Imagine the level of hospitality your restaurant would deliver if your entire service staff were composed of natural caregivers.

Here’s a series of interview questions that can help identify the “hospitality gene” in job candidates:

Question: Do you enjoy serving and taking care of other people? Of course they’ll know what you want to hear and will reply, “Yes.” To see if this is really the case, immediately go to the follow-up questions.

First follow-up question: Describe a couple of instances in which you served or cared for someone else that were particularly gratifying. If their response is genuine, they should be able to provide you with instances in which they went out of their way to offer assistance or care to someone else. The more enthusiastic and animated they are the better. Unless they’re part-time actors and very quick thinkers, this one is tough to fake.

Second follow-up question: How did doing that make you feel? Listen for positive feelings created through the act of taking care of or doing something special for someone else. Not only is it important to recruit people with a basic desire to treat people well, it’s equally important for potential staff members to click with existing employees. Many operators in the survey indicated they involve their staff in meetings and interacting with prospective employees, and even give them a say in who is hired.

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