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Home  > Article

Interviewing Employees Who Stay

By Simma Lieberman

Too many people who own or run restaurants do not know enough about conducting interviewing potential employees.

Be willing to go beyond your comfort zone in hiring people who are different than you, ethnically, age, race and gender.

Too many people who own or run restaurants do not know enough about conducting interviewing potential employees. Whether you define your restaurant as fast food, casual dining, or upscale, hiring the wrong person for the job can be expensive. Consider the costs of advertising for candidates, interviewing time, disrupted customer service, training, and severance pay. Select a position in your restaurant, and estimate how much each step of the hiring process costs in terms of time and money. You'll see how important having an interviewing and hiring system is.

There are three things you need to know in order to create "stickability", or lowering your turnover:

  • Know your organization
  • Know common candidate selection problems
  • Know how to interview candidates to stay

Know your organization:

  • Be clear about where your restaurants are headed in terms of growth and market. Know where your organization is right now. That will help you determine what traits and abilities you need for specific positions.
  • Determine the kind of environment you want to create, not only for customers, but also in terms of employee teams. Assess your teams now, and what kind of people you need to complement these teams. Do you need someone who is a "pusher" and can stimulate the group, or someone who will keep everyone calm and facilitate consensus?

Know common candidate selection problems:

  • Focusing on only a few critical areas necessary to do the job, and not on the whole candidate. You can miss important information about the candidates experience and skills.
  • Disorganized interviewing processes. Use the same selection criteria for all candidates, so you can have a baseline for comparing interviewees. Not having one can put some candidates at a disadvantage.
  • Making decisions only on skills and not considering motivation. If a candidate is not motivated, it doesn?t matter how skilled they are. They won't produce and they?ll leave when something better comes.
  • Stereotyping candidates. By letting your biases and stereotypes affect your judgment you miss out on highly skilled people who can bring new ideas and creativity to your organization.

Know how to interview candidates who stay:

  • Ask behavioral interviewing questions that deal with specific situations from candidates' work experience. Have them describe specific actions they took and the results. It's not enough for them to say they were part of a team that solved problems, but what they did to help solve the problem. How they acted in the past will determine how they act in the future. Know which situations or tasks are critical to the position being offered. Vague answers are a warning sign. Ask more specific questions if needed.
  • Ask yes or no questions only when you want to limit the response.
  • Be clear about the job; responsibilities, challenges and future prospects.
  • Evaluate motivational fit, by asking likes and dislikes as they pertain to the position and restaurant environment. If their like and dislikes are in conflict with the values and needs of the position, they are not a good fit.
  • Be willing to go beyond your comfort zone in hiring people who are different than you, ethnically, age, race and gender. Behavioral questions can help break through bias and stereotypes and allow you to see a persons' ability.


About the Author: Simma Lieberman works with people and organizations to create environments where people can do their best work. She specializes in diversity, gender communications, life-work balance and stress, and acquiring and retaining new customers.

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