Making Better “Restaurant Employee” Hiring Decisions

waiter3diningHalf of all hiring decisions don’t work out; I hear money going down the drain of many restaurant establishments as I write this. The reason for this is pretty easy to deduce; either the restaurant owner makes the wrong decision or the candidate decides they are in the wrong job. When budgets are tight and failure is costly, the fine dining restaurant establishment cannot afford to hire the wrong person. So, how do you avoid being in the 50% of hiring decisions that don’t work out? Read on to gain access to the latest thinking and trends to “making better hiring decisions” for the fine dining restaurant establishment.

Why do some restaurant hiring managers make the wrong hiring decision? The number one mistake hiring managers make is trying to use a one size fits all hiring process—using the same assessments and process for each job. This type of thinking and process will almost always end in unhappy managers and employees within the new hires first 18 months. Before you can even begin to look for job candidates, you must define the job—what behaviors, knowledge, experience and personal attributes are needed to do the job? If you miss one of these four items you will probably misdiagnose, and miss the opportunity at identifying people that will succeed or fail as a restaurant employee.

The next step in defining job success is to determine what you are willing to sacrifice and how that sacrifice will affect your quality of hire. For example, am I willing to train or do I need people who already have the skills, experience, and knowledge to do the job? There will more than likely be some sacrifice needed or it could take you months to fill the position. Identifying those sacrifices the best you can up front will save you lots of time and money.

Selection System Integration ~

The second mistake many restaurant hiring managers make is failure to use and implement a proper selection system. A selection system consists of pre-employment testing, interviewing and on-boarding. Advancements have been made in pre-employment test/assessments and even application of job simulations to the hiring process. These tools are in the best interest of the candidate and the company and are great ways to provide a realistic preview of the job and to gather information in the context of the job, thus ensuring job compatibility. When preparing for the interview process, keep in mind that behavior based interviewing, which is asking candidates questions about their previous job experiences, is the most accurate way to interview.


On-boarding once a candidate is hired includes orientation, training if applicable, development planning and mentoring. Implementing and adhering to a well designed selection system can make a major difference in a successful hire and your relationship with new employees. It also lends itself to assist you in identifying and resolving problems in your hiring process. Remember to always define success in the job properly & utilize the information found in the pre-employment assessments. I do want to point out that if you are using an RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) company, you should maintain ongoing conversations about the assessments they are using and how those assessments are working in your hiring process. The best practice is to always provide the RPO recruiters and even your own hiring managers with the feedback you receive from new hires during the on-boarding process.

Crucial Questions ~

Once you begin using the selection system and seeing results, there are some crucial questions to ask to ensure sustainability of your selection system process. Are my assessments predicting success in the final interview and are they predicting win/win hiring decisions and predicting job performance & engagement? Does my final interview lead to acceptance at an acceptable rate? How do I compare to my competitors or a benchmark? And probably the most important question of all; how am I able to make predictions to increase talent in the future; given my business direction? Wow—that’s a lot of questions and seems a little overwhelming—so you may ask how to quantify this information. Well, the days of gathering information for a hire and after the hire is made just putting it in a file and forgetting about it is over; that information is very valuable and should be used to assess your hiring process and create a template for each job. Once you have hired someone for a position, you have started a job template to be used the next time the position or a similar position needs to be filled. This process of creating the template for the first time is not an overnight process and should take a minimum of 6 months to 1 year to complete.

The following list can be used as a road map to accomplish and gather information to create your job templates : 1) Candidate source is where you found the candidates or how they found you; 2) Assessment data is not only what assessments were used but how the candidates performed; 3) Once the final interviews are performed you should ask how satisfied your managers are with the quality of candidates; 4) You should track how often your job offers yield job acceptance; 5) During orientation, ask your new employee what they thought of the hiring process; 6) Follow-up interviews 6 months after the hire should be performed for the employee and mangers to determine how the hire is going and 7) One year after the hire you should review how the employee has performed and how they have engaged with your company as a whole. If, at this one year mark, you have happy employees & managers and enhanced productivity you can proudly say you have a “successful hire.”

Final Thoughts ~

Being open minded to change, combined with a little effort; can lead to avoidance of falling into the 50% of hires that don’t work category. But, more importantly, using the tools of defining your job, a selection system, and building job templates can save you money & time and leave you with happy restaurant employees which means enhanced restaurant operation productivity. And happier employees are less likely to decide they’ve chosen the wrong job. Remember, these steps work together, leaving one or more of them out will more than likely result in continued unsuccessful hires or create vulnerabilities in your hiring process. This is only a broad overview of these tools, so feel free to contact us for further information on how to begin implementing a successful hiring process for your restaurant.

The Deerfield Team


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