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  • Writer's pictureTJ Vytlacil

How to Skyrocket Your Restaurant’s Hiring Success Rate

For any restaurant or small business, Brigade Society has found hiring the right people is perhaps the most crucial variable in determining your future success.  

Consider the U.S. Department of Labor estimate that the cost of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of an employee’s first-year earnings; so making a few bad hires has the potential to do serious damage to your business. Then there’s the more difficult to quantify, but just as costly variable of, a bad hire undermining your culture and fueling bad word of mouth.

The turnover rate in the restaurant industry is 72.9%, while the average number of employees per restaurant is 19. So the average restaurant hires 14 new people each year and conducts dozens of interviews.

With so much valid importance placed on hiring the right people, it’s no wonder there are over 3,000 books on Amazon about hiring. Many business owners struggle to consistently make successful hires.  

So what’s the solution to this painful common business point?

According to almost all “hiring how-to books, ”a thorough interview is the critical part most miss.” The most read blog articles emphasize this even more with titles such as, “The Top 20 Interview Questions” or “High Impact Questions to ask in an Interview.” The N.Y. Times says, one of the keys to hiring the right person is to “ask unusual questions that will get candidates to open up and provide insights into what makes them tick.”

But if asking the right questions is the key to unlocking the restaurant hiring mystery, why are there so many terminations and employees quitting? Even for non-restaurants, the national turnover rate is about 50%. Clearly, the problem still exists on a massive scale. No matter how good you feel about a candidate during the interview, the data says it’s a coin flip as to whether they will be successful in your restaurant.  

If you have any experience hiring employees, you are familiar with this frustration and the disappointment experienced after your new employee quits, or performs so poorly they need to be terminated. It’s even more painful after they interviewed well, allowing you to start envisioning them as a future leader finding success in your organization. Not only did you make a financial investment in this employee, but there’s also an emotional investment made.

Eventually, after you find yourself continually re-living this experience, you might start asking yourself the same questions I did: What am I doing wrong? Am I asking the wrong questions? Am I bad at reading people? How can I tell whether the candidate truly will be a good employee?

I had to accept the fact that, in spite of my best efforts, I was unable to increase the probability of making a successful hire. This inconsistency was costly and draining. Hiring fatigue is a dangerous place, as it tends to lead to less effort in hiring, and a warm body as the chief requirement for hire, which only exacerbates the situation.

It was from this borderline point of despair that I did some soul searching. I knew I needed to improve. Then the light bulb went on; it’s not about me!

I had it wrong and so did the books/articles I read. Trying to become a psychologist and glean essential character insights about a candidate in 30 minutes or less, is a dead end.

It’s a futile effort for two reasons:

  1. Most business owners don’t have a Doctoral Degree in Psychology.

  2. Even if most did, it wouldn’t matter. The person interviewed is almost certainly doing everything they can to say and do the right things to get the job. They are showing an idealized, much different version of themselves than the person who starts working after being hired.

What purpose does an interview serve in the restaurant hiring process?

In reality, we have no idea who the person is during an interview. That is not to say the candidate is doing this deliberately or maliciously. It’s human instinct to behave in an approval-seeking way during situations such as an interview. So, it doesn’t matter what questions we ask, if their answers aren’t accurate representations of who they are. Therefore, the interview as we know it, is meaningless.

What a relief, right? How much better does it feel to not have that burden of making sure we ask the perfect question, or the pressure to analyze their every word and facial expression?

Now that we can stop worrying about being the world’s greatest interviewer, we just freed up a lot of bandwidth to start understanding where the real leverage point in the restaurant hiring process is: The Training Program.

For the complete guide, please download “The Restaurant Training Program: The Key to Unraveling the Hiring Mystery” below.



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