Between tracking food costs and working to create a steady flow of customers to your café or restaurant, proper hiring practices can fall to the wayside. But resist the urge to hire quickly, just so you can get back to running your business. Be thoughtful and patient, even if it means you and your staff will need to work extra hard until you hire right, and find the right person.
Good hiring requires at least two interviews, reference checks, and possibly background checks. The process can take at least two or three days, but the due diligence will pay off.
A wrong hire can damage staff morale, productivity, and your reputation. If the person quits in a week or two, wasting your time and money, you’re lucky. If they mistreat a customer or fellow coworkers and damage your reputation, you could have some real repair work to do. Plus, the hiring process alone costs an average of $1,000 (not including training, of course).
Traits to look for in a new hire
Think about how a potential new-hire will fit into your operation’s culture—a must for long-term employment. If they’re going to spend several days a week there, they should be surrounded by people they resonate with.
Also, pay attention to any signs of humbleness in the interview, versus an overly confident attitude. It’s great to have employees who are smart and energetic, but if they don’t have that humility factor, they will think they know best and won’t be as teachable.
Look for someone who smiles and makes eye contact—a baseline necessity for working with the public. If you get a weird feeling about someone’s attitude during the interview—when they should be on their best behavior—don’t ignore it. Think of how your customers would feel about any signs of aloofness, disregard, etc.
Consider getting a second opinion from your staff
Allowing interviewees to meet with members of your team at some point during the hiring process can help you assess their true nature. They might act differently around you than they would around your baristas or servers, especially if they think that person won’t have a say in their getting hired. Have an employee you trust meet with the applicant to answer questions about the job. Give them a couple of interview questions to ask, and then get their impression of the person.
Don’t skip the reference checks
It’s essential. Don’t get so excited by relevant experience on a résumé and a friendly smile that you hire an applicant immediately. Call former employers first to ask, “Why doesn’t this person work for you anymore?” Some of them will tell you. Others will only verify employment dates, but even knowing someone didn’t lie about that information is helpful.
Now that you know how to hire right, get the word out
Several advertising methods can bring in quality applicants. If you’re fine with people stopping in randomly to apply, put a “help wanted’ sign in the window. Online listings are about as easy as it gets, and craigslist.org is the standard go-to site, for ease of use. SnagAJob.com and FohBoh.com are targeted toward hourly workers and restaurant job-seekers, which might help you attract real foodservice pros.