November, 2016

3 Steps for a Top-Notch Restaurant Recruiting Process

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Build a Top-Notch Restaurant Recruiting Process in 3 Steps

Savvy restaurateurs know that solid processes are the key to achieving consistency within their businesses. The problem is that some restaurant owners only leverage repeatable processes for their employees to follow, particularly if the restaurant is franchised – recipes for each dish, guidelines around cleanliness and food safety, consistent greetings to customers, standards for busing and cleaning tables, etc.

Why Restaurants Need A Clear Recruiting Process

Too many restaurants are plagued year-round by the lack of clear recruitment and hiring processes, leading to bad hires, high turnover, and a poor employment brand. While most restaurateurs did not get their start in recruiting and are hardly experts on predictable hiring, they can still implement effective recruiting practices and build a strong employment brand by investing just a couple hours a week. Below, we’ve outlined three steps to help food service owners build a top-notch recruiting process.

Step One: Selectively Attract the Right Applicants

Mass-interviewing candidates is not only a waste of time, it increases the chances that a poor hiring decision will be made off a snap judgment, inconsistent interview questions, or misinterpreting candidate career goals. Many restaurant owners see the open interview approach as their only option to solve seasonal or high-volume hiring needs, and in some respects, they are right. What they don’t realize, however, is that they can leverage software to narrow down the applicant pool to only the candidates that would actually be worth spending the time to interview in person.
For most restaurants, this translates to time savings for management on a monthly basis and drastically reduced costs. In order to attract more qualified applicants and reduce unnecessary interviews, restaurant managers should begin by developing a quantitative and qualitative understanding of who their strongest team members are and what makes them A-players, and it should be deeper than just a demographic understanding. Great restaurant managers know that identifying goals and motivators of a millennial workforce is a more holistic approach than dismissing high school and college students as unmotivated and self-absorbed.

In order to identify the strengths of the restaurant’s current team and create a repeatable, predictable hiring process, restaurant management should benchmark top employees on desired culture fit, mathematical aptitude, and verbal ability. Once they have quantified a baseline for expectations, managers know what to look for in the talent pool and can screen candidates with confidence, and with an Applicant Tracking System in place, the screening process can be automated, along with job post distribution to an even larger candidate pool.


Step Two: Objectively Identify the Best Applicants

Restaurant owners know that their team members are carriers of the restaurant’s employment brand. Great employees can be the strongest carriers of an employment brand, and they’ll talk about their experiences at work with their friends and social community. Likewise, bad hires can leave lasting impressions on future applicants and can even damage the business’ reputation.
Don’t settle for a below average hire just because their availability matches the restaurant’s scheduling needs. Hastily hiring on a whim or gut feeling is a surefire way to increase restaurant turnover and tarnish the brand. We recommend that management requires all applicants to follow the exact same structured hiring process, and integrating an Applicant Tracking System to power this process is a proven way to improve hiring consistency, reduce turnover, and phase out subjective interviewing.

Many restaurants still require applicants to complete paper applications, but the shortsightedness of that approach is twofold: first, with a high percentage of high school and college-age applicants, a digital, mobile-friendly application process will greatly increase applicant flow; second, standard paper applications don’t provide the applicant insights that a customizable digital application process can reveal. Under the current standard, restaurants are learning less relevant information about a fewer number of applicants, and in 2016, restaurants are beginning to compete on talent in a huge way. Put simply, when restaurant owners and managers rely on paper applications, they are putting the business at a disadvantage competitively and increasing the risk of turnover and brand damage.

In order to identify the best applicants, management should leverage software with qualifying tools, such as tailored pre-screen questions on the application, candidate personality and aptitude assessments, and customizable interview guides. Requiring all applicants to proceed through these hiring process steps ensures consistency by eliminating variables and minimizing subjectivity.

Step Three: Consistently Interview and Evaluate Top Talent

After building a consistent process for attracting, screening, and identifying the most promising applicants, restaurant owners should turn their attention to creating standards for effectively, objectively interviewing candidates. In order to restructure the interview process to prioritize objective evaluation, the restaurant owner must develop a clear picture of what makes a candidate an ideal fit within the contexts of both company culture and job responsibilities.
A candidate’s ability to perform the day-to-day tasks of the job is critical to their success in the role, but keep in mind that these people will spend up to 2,000 hours a year within the walls of the restaurant, and it’s equally important to evaluate their personalities, communication styles, and motivators. Restaurant management should develop criteria for interviewing and writing standardized interview questions to evaluate candidates’ cultural fit. Owners should also establish “non-negotiables” with management to come to an agreement about core interview criteria.

Once management has agreed on the structure of the interview process, evaluation questions, and non-negotiables, the next step is to build the criteria into a repeatable system. This is an area where an Applicant Tracking System can be incredibly valuable to managing and ensuring consistency in the interview process. By using tailored interview guides, the restaurant owner can empower managers to make consistent hiring decisions based on the criteria and values that are most important to the restaurant’s employment brand. Structuring expectations in the interview process is one of the most effective tactics restaurant owners can employ in reducing turnover and consistently hiring A-players.

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