As we’ve shared with you here, and your employees are your most valuable asset. Finding the right employees can be tricky - you have to write the perfect job description, advertise in the right places so you attract qualified applicants, and then get to know your candidates through a quick interview process. All of this so you can trust someone who you’ve only known for a few days to help run your business!
In past posts, we’ve covered ways you can make the most of your search by developing an employee profile and building your “we’re hiring” page on your web site. In this post, we'll give you some tips about how to develop interview questions that will help you determine the most qualified candidates for your restaurant.
Avoid yes/no questions
The interview process is your best opportunity to really get to know your prospective hires, so get them talking! Make sure you have a solid list of questions that allow your interviewees to thoughtfully explain themselves. Avoid asking simple yes or no questions - and if you must, follow them up with “why,” or “tell me more about that.”
When you do ask more involved questions, make sure you’re practicing good listening skills. While you might be excited to jump into your next question, it’s important to give people a chance to fully develop their thoughts and explain their responses so you can get to know them. Make sure the majority of your questions are open-ended and allow enough time for discussion.
Balance skill questions and character questions
By the time they get to the interview, you should have a pretty good idea of whether your candidates can perform the tasks required for the job. Their resume, past experience, and references all help paint the picture of whether they are trained and qualified to work with your team.
That said, it’s always a good idea to include some skill-based questions in an interview. Beyond whether they can actually perform the tasks, it’s a good idea to get some context for how they work. Consider questions like “If you were faced with x, how would you complete your duties?” This will give you a more detailed picture of how they like to work, whether they execute certain tasks to your standards, and how they might lean on your broader team to collaborate on solutions.
It’s also important to move beyond the basic skills of the job and get to some character and personality questions in the interview. Again, this is your chance to get to know someone who will become an important part of your day-to-day team. Infusing some ethical, team-oriented and/or straight personality questions allows you to get to know another side of your potential new hire, beyond their work life.
Ask about specific scenarios
The restaurant business is dynamic, and as you know, it takes a certain type of problem-solver to thrive. You know your staff will be faced with multiple, varied challenges every day. And while you can’t design interview questions that perfectly prepare them, or that give you a crystal clear view of how they will handle things, you can get a feel for how they think about problems by providing some specific scenarios.
During the interview, create some hypothetical scenarios for your prospective employee to react to. Describing a scenario like a disgruntled customer or a clash with a fellow employee can help give a real-world scenario that your prospective employee needs to react to. As they describe how they would handle it, try to focus on the themes instead of the specifics: does their response indicate that they are a team player? Does it show a high level of customer service? What does it say about their work ethic and character? There’s no one right answer to these types of questions, so it’s important to focus on the parts of the puzzle that will help you decide if this person is the right fit for your team. And remember, sometimes the most unexpected responses can be the most helpful.
Finding the right employees isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly worth the investment to find someone who will thrive in your environment and make your establishment a better place to work and to visit. Do you have tips on the interviewing and hiring process? Share them in the comments!