Monday, September 22, 2014

Tips for Hiring in the Hospitality Industry.

As the busy holiday season approaches many restaurateurs are realizing their needs for more staff. Hiring staff takes a lot of man power, costs money, and can be draining on current staff as well as guests, so you want to get it right the first time. Here are some things to look for on a resume:

1. Previous experience lasting longer than two consecutive years. - A red flag should go up every time you see a resume with a number of different restaurants on them lasting about 6 months each. It shows that the potential employee either cannot stay loyal to a restaurant or cannot hold a position. Seeing a resume with only a couple of restaurants lasting a couple of years each is a good sign.

2. Previous experience at a company known for their training. When I used to hire employees at a large pub I used to love seeing McDonalds work experience on resumes. McDonald's has a reputation for intense and customer driven training. The foundation for the way I wanted my employees to work was already ingrained by their previous employer, bonus!

3. Previous experience that includes hard manual labor. Landscapers, farm hands, and even construction workers work on their feet, using their body for a living and if they can manage that in hot summer temperatures then running around a restaurant or lifting kegs of beer will be a breeze.

4. Hobbies that include recreational team sports. Not everyone lists their hobbies on a resume and if they don't you should definitely ask about them in the interview. If hobbies are listed, look for team sports on the list. The ability to play a team sport translates well to a restaurant environment, its labor intensive and a team based atmosphere. The ability to work well in a team both in sport and in work is a highly sought after skill.

5. No restaurant experience at all. Depending on what position you are hiring for it might be best to hire someone with no previous experience. The bonus here is that you have a blank slate, someone who isn't bringing bad habits with them that you can train to be the employee that works best for your store.

When you're interviewing for new employees you should:

1. Pay attention not only to what the person is saying but HOW they are saying it. If someone speaks with low energy, little expression, and no smile, chances are pretty good that those qualities will translate into their presence at work and on the floor. You want people who are confident, sociable, and interesting to listen to.

2. Pay attention to what they're wearing - Everyone knows that dressing to impress for an interview is step one in the process so don't consider applicants that don't take the time to dress up a little for their interview. If someone appears sloppy during an interview imagine how much of a hassle it will be to get them to iron their uniform for work.

3. Not discriminate against tattoos, piercings, or appearance. You are looking for someone with the ability and personality to do the job. Just because someone has tattoos or piercings doesn't mean that they can't be customer service all-stars. You might very well be loosing out on an exemplary employee if you decide that you don't want to hire someone with visible tattoos.

4. Prepare for the interview just as you would expect the interviewee to. Write down your list of questions as well as key points you are looking for in the answers.

Some fun and helpful questions to ask while interviewing employees for the hospitality industry:

1. Ask about hobbies: What do you do when you're not at work? Team sports, socializing, baking, cooking, eating out, learning new things, working out, are all great answers. You want an employee who can work well in a team, has a passion for food and drink, and who can carry on a conversation. You also want someone with the stamina to work the long hours and at a fast pace like a restaurant requires.

2. Ask about previous experience as a customer: Can you tell me about a time you had great customer service at a restaurant? Can you tell me about a time you had bad customer service at a restaurant? What made it so good / bad? You want the interviewee to highlight aspects of great customer service and bad customer service so that you know that they know key elements of the difference between the two.

3. Ask about their passion for food: If you were hosting 6 of your friends for a celebratory dinner, what would you serve and why? This question is a great way to highlight your interviewee's passion for food and beverage. You're looking for descriptors that make you want to be invited to that dinner. If they are able to sell you on their meal selection, they will have no trouble selling specials to your guests.

4. Ask about conflicts at previous work environments. Can you tell me about a time you had a conflict with another employee or guest and how you overcame that conflict? This question is really a trick question. The best answer you can hope for is "I've never been in a conflict at work." Should they tell you about a conflict, look for mature ways of approaching the situation and resolving the issue. Conflicts with guests are usually a red flag.

5. Ask about their ability to ask for help: You were just sat 4 tables in a row, one table is extremely chatty, another has multiple food allergies, one table barely speaks English, and the fourth are regulars and very important guests. How do you effectively serve them all? You want them to respond with "I would ask for help from a manager or fellow employee." No one could effectively greet and serve them all on their own. The ability to recognize when you need help and be able to ask for it is paramount in this industry.

Happy Hiring!

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