The hire of a new staff member is a key moment for any organisation, but it's particularly important when hiring new restaurant staff. One person can make a big difference, positively or negatively, to a team. So, what personality traits should you look out for to make the right hires and what interview questions can you use to identify them?
- Calm under pressure
Kitchens can be fraught places, especially during peak hours. Choose staff who will remain calm and carry on.
Interview question: “Describe a situation where you’ve felt under a lot of pressure. How did you handle it and what would you have done differently?”
- A positive contributor
Staff who will make suggestions about efficiency, or offer ideas for improvements, can make a restaurant a better place to work and help to drive the business forward. On the flip side, team members who just coast along and aren’t really invested in the success of the business hold everyone back.
Interview question: “What do you think are our business objectives and how can you help us to meet them?”
- Job specific expertise
Look for specific traits that will work well for the role you’re hiring for, such as the ability to lead for more senior staff and attention to detail for the runner. It’s not just about whether the person has done the job before but whether they have the right kind of personality to do it well in your establishment.
Interview question: “What specific skills or experience do you have that make you so well suited to this role, in particular?"
The food industry can involve long hours and late nights so it’s important to hire someone who you can rely on not to let you down at the last minute. Many people assume that talent is all that’s required to make them a great team asset but the reality is that it’s turning up, every day, on time and delivering what’s asked of them that will keep the business moving forward.
Interview question: “Tell us how you would rate these three attributes: being a reliable team player, exceptional job skill, great potential.”
Even the most junior members of a team should be passionate about what they do. Whether the tasks are the most menial or the most high profile, passion and a genuine love for the industry will ensure standards remain high.
Interview question: “Why have you decided to do this job and what is it about the industry that appeals to you?”
For every restaurant, reputation is everything. Do you trust this person to do everything they can to preserve it and to treat your kitchen, staff and equipment with the respect that they deserve?
Interview question: “Who trusts you, and why?”
- A spirit of ownership
Do you think that this person will step up and take ownership of the role, be creative and innovative in what they’re doing and contribute to helping to make the business better as if it were their own? If they get the business then it’s more likely they will help it to thrive.
Interview question: “Why do you want to work for us, what is it about our business that makes you want to be a part of it?"
- A sense of humour
Sometimes there is nothing more valuable in a high-pressure environment than someone who can make you laugh and is open to laughing themselves.
Interview question: “Who’s your favorite comedian and why?"
Being organised, clean and tidy will make anyone an asset to a team. The opposite can have an instantly negative effect.
Interview question: “What does your workstation look like before, during and after service?”
- Communication skills
Passive aggressiveness or a bad temper can make it difficult to work with someone. Choose staff who can clearly communicate, including when it comes to problems or issues.
Interview question: “Tell us about a difficult situation you’ve experienced recently and explain how you handled it.”
Staff who are enthusiastic create positive energy from which come ideas and team bonding.
Interview question: “What gets you out of bed in the mornings?”
- Basic safety and hygiene knowledge
These are a must for any kitchen and the knowledge will feed into everything that person does.
Interview question: “What kind of health and safety training have you had; where do you think this fits in a modern business strategy?”
There’s nothing more important than staff working as a team to keep a kitchen high functioning. However, one person’s idea of teamwork may not be the same as someone else’s. Make sure that you and a potential hire are on the same page when it comes to your business culture and what makes it work smoothly.
Interview question: “What qualities make someone a team player?”