5 Restaurant Hiring Mistakes You Should NEVER Make
By on Workforce Success | Last updated on 2 May 2018

A restaurant’s X factor is the people running it. With that, it’s important to make sure that you’re not making any mistakes when hiring for your restaurant. You might be plating up great food every day, but it won’t lead to rave reviews online if your staff aren’t up to par.

5 Restaurant Hiring Mistakes You Should NEVER Make

To help you out in creating the perfect team for your restaurant, we’ve listed down the top 5 hiring mistakes you should avoid at all costs when recruiting new staff.


Not Having a Clear-Cut Job Description

You may think filling out job descriptions for your restaurant is a piece of cake, but it’s not. Neglecting to be clear-cut during this process will bite you back in the end.

When starting the hiring process, you should dedicate a lot of time in creating your staff’s job descriptions.

Make sure you be as precise as possible when listing out your personnel’s tasks. “It’s not just ‘here’s a job, you’re a server and you sell food,’” David Scott Peters of TheRestaurantExpert.com said in this video.

According to him, the job description of a restaurant server or waiter should look something like this:

  • He or she is expected to greet customers within two minutes
  • He or she should introduce himself or herself then take an appetizer order
  • They should be back within two minutes to take your customer’s order
  • Within five minutes, the order should be in the POS with 100% accuracy
  • And so on, and so forth

The job description should not just identify what the job is. It should indicate how to do the job, how well the job should be done, and by when the job should be done.


Not Using Referrals

So you’ve made comprehensive job descriptions and posted it on your company website, on social media, or at recruitment sites. But solely relying on these channels can only go so far in ensuring that your restaurant has high-quality staff.

According to this article from ERE Media, those hired using employee referrals are more likely to stay on board beyond two years than those hired from job boards or career sites. Having an excellent employee referral program within your restaurant pays dividends to both management and staff. According to this article from the National Restaurant Association, team members are highly motivated when there is a referral system in place. Starbucks recruiting manager Tom Tice adds that “the real value is that they’re getting good people to work aside.”

Referrals are not just limited to existing employees.

The same NRA article also advocates for “second-interview referrals.” Encourage existing candidates to bring in someone they know on their second interview to fill in other open positions. Chances are, they’ll bring someone good to impress you.


Hiring Those Who Don’t Fit In With the Culture

It goes without saying that a restaurant should run a tight ship.

Peak hours mean cooks churning out dish after dish like clockwork, waiters rushing from kitchen to table every so often, and hosts patiently accommodating those waiting to be served. It could be an extremely stressful environment that leads to a lot of personal squabbles at the heat of the moment.

This is exactly why your restaurant staff should have excellent rapport bound by common culture.

For celebrity chef-restaurateur and the host of Vice TV’s Fresh Off the Boat Eddie Huang, what he wants in his restaurant are people with a sense of humor. “It translates into great customer service,” he says. “It also helps contribute to the vibe of the restaurant.

TheRestaurantExpert.com’s David Scott Peters’ video from earlier also talks about how important culture is in a restaurant. For him, he’d hire someone for culture over experience. Peters added that it’s easy for him to teach someone how to count out a bar drawer. But he can’t get employees “to show up and smile every day.”

“If you are not a fit for my culture, you’re going to be a cancer in my business,” he says.


Not Doing Interviews the Right Way

It’s easy to hire the wrong person when you think of the interview process as just a formality.

It goes without saying that there is more to a candidate than just what they look like on paper. It is during the interview phase you’ll be able to find out if they’re compatible with the job description and the culture you are building in your restaurant.

All you need to do is do it right.

Typsy has an article with tips on hiring and keeping restaurant staff. Inside it is a list of questions that you can use for your next interview. Some of the questions we highly recommend are:

  • What do you think is most important when dealing with customers?
  • How do you cope with stressful situations?
  • What would you do if you got 30 minutes of downtime?
  • What kind of work environment do you shine in?
  • What’s your own favourite restaurant?
  • What do you like about the industry?
  • What is something you didn’t like about your last job?
  • What are your expectations of this position?

To further help you nail the interview process, the NRA also has an article with tips on the right way to interview the candidate.


Neglecting to Call References and Doing Background Checks

You might have to hire from all walks of life: from culinary school graduates to part-time high-school students. You need to know for sure that they can be trusted with your business.

Calling upon references and doing background checks is one sure-fire way to give you that peace of mind when hiring your restaurant’s staff. Opentable recommends that you ask each candidate to provide three professional references when they apply. Make sure that at least two of three people named get back at you before moving forward with the application process.

For those who are going to handle money on a daily basis, such as servers and managers, a quick background check is crucial to find out their credibility based on their previous work history and other factors.

Having the right people on your staff is the key ingredient for every successful restaurant. And being careless on the hiring stage will guarantee a difficult time for you in the long run. Make sure to avoid these mistakes and set your A-team’s schedules the right way to ensure your restaurant is a well-oiled machine any time of the day.