Your staff is your top resource, so it’s critical to assemble your team strategically. In addition to functioning as a hiring tool, interviews allow you to reinforce your brand, says Barbara Polk, National Restaurant Association’s head of human resources. Polk offers this guidance for interviewing job candidates:
- Conduct interviews away from other people in a quiet spot, so you can focus on the conversation and not disturb customers at your establishment. Speaking in a well-lit environment can boost engagement and attentiveness.
- Show the same respect to candidates that you expect from them. For example, don’t check your email or take a call during the interview. Schedule a time where you can give the candidate your undivided attention.
- Learn more about the candidate’s personality and work ethic with behavior-based prompts, such as “Describe a time when you delivered service in a way that clearly showed care and concern for the customer.” Through his or her responses, you can evaluate the candidate’s ability to interact within and outside of the restaurant.
- Look for the “little” things. For example, did the candidate dress professionally for the interview? Nonverbal cues such as eye contact and facial expressions can also indicate a candidate’s genuine interest in the position.
- Allow job candidates time to ask you questions. This will demonstrate his or her preparedness and enthusiasm for the position.
- If a position requires special safety knowledge, such as ServSafe certification, verify the candidate has acquired the necessary training.
- Consider a test run. If you’re hiring for a management position, give candidates an opportunity to work half days with their potential team (with pay). A test run at the host stand, in the kitchen or on the floor can reveal strengths and weaknesses you might not be able to gauge in conversation.
- Prepare closing comments. Thank the candidates for their time and interest. If you are seriously considering a candidate, remind him or her of the period you've established for further contact. If you are not interested in hiring a candidate, thank him or her for coming in and, later that day, call or email to share you are not extending an offer. Providing context for your decisions can be constructive for candidates’ job searches.