Interview rules for you and your managers

WRA consultant Kathy Chaffee Groff shows you how a well-organized job interview can yield the strongest staff for your team.

By Kathy Chaffee Groff

I consider staffing to be the number one function of management in each business model, whether you are fast casual,  full service or somewhere in between. Good staffing begins with a solid interview/selection process.

We all have horror stories about the person who was hired for the wrong reason, had no experience for a job that required great skill or was a last minute “desperate” hire. It’s difficult to build a synergistic team if you haven’t done your due diligence when hiring your staff.

We say we are in the food and beverage industry, but really, you are in the “people” business, and just happen to serve them food and beverage in an attractive ambiance. So, it makes sense to ensure you have the right people.

1. The first critical component of staffing is the interview process. I favor a three-step process that allows for a “screening” of the applicant, then a “second” interview and a “sign-off” by the manager or chef, followed by a reference check and potential job offer. I believe it is best to have tools established to assist you throughout the selection process.

The screening interview need only take about five to 10 minutes and is intended to give you a “look see” to ascertain whether the applicant would be a good fit with your team. Do they have the hospitality style, appearance, experience and communication skills to add value to your operation? After your interview, have you “scored” them according to your guidelines?

2. In the second interview, I usually recommend that you establish specific criteria for each individual position and design interview questions to determine whether the applicant can meet your criteria. For instance, you might decide the most important criteria for a line cook is experience, followed by dexterity, pride in their work station and so on. For a server, it more likely would be hospitality, communication skills, organization, etc. Because your positions are varied, you need different questions for each work group. You can set up a scoring grid based on your criteria so you can assess each candidate after the interview process.

3. The third part of the process is a good time for the general manager or chef to meet the candidate their team is interested in hiring. If there are areas that weren’t clear in the interview process they can probe further, but this really is intended for them to say whether the candidate should be hired. While you may not require either the GM or chef to ask specific questions, it is important for them to meet the candidate face to face prior to an offer.

These interview steps can take place all in one visit, or you can ask screening applicants to come back for a second interview to get a second look. If you are in an opening process, you will likely have multiple candidates to assess. If you are established and occasionally adding people, you might want to take a more leisurely approach to the process.

In the end, I believe it is key to make sure you are always looking for talent and representing your operations positively at all times. Remember that even if you don’t hire a candidate, they are a potential guest!

Hire the best… you will get your results through your people!

Kathy Chaffee Groff is a WRA Consulting Network consultant. She is the founder and sole proprietor of Restaurant Solutions, a 17-year-old Seattle-based consulting firm. Her mission is to empower restaurateurs to achieve optimal financial, staffing and operating results. Call the WRA Consulting Network at 800.225.7166 for a FREE 30-minute consultation with Kathy.

Categories: Human Resources, Resources