As you have likely experienced, the turnover rate for restaurants is crazy high-anywhere from 75 -250 percent! Finding the right people, and attracting the right talent-then maintaining and retaining it is not only imperative, but can save you thousands of dollars a year.

What does it look like to find good talent? How do you weed out the bad apples? How do you keep the good ones and find who the good ones are through different methodologies? With most restaurants doing interviewing at least once a week, the costs of replacing employees and training new ones add up.  You’re going to spend the money either way on a new employee, so why not find the right one and keep them?


At the end of the day the most important thing to realize is no matter who you are hiring-they are people. They want to be seen and they want to be heard and it is important to recognize that. You should take some time to figure out the best way to communicate with your staff because when everyone is understanding each other, more work gets done.

Hire slow, fire fast.

Nobody likes firing people, but if it just isn’t working out it is best for everyone to let them go. Ultimately, the best way to not have to fire someone is if you hire the right one to begin with. Know who you are getting because one bad hire can bring everyone else down. Whereas hiring the right team member can actually boost morale and increase productivity. If you take the time to slowly hire people and thoroughly vet them, you make the work place better for everyone and will build a self-sustaining and cohesive team.

If it does come to the point where there is a problem, it is best to start asking yourself some questions. When deciding if you should fire someone, ask yourself: If I had to hire this person again, would I? If the answer is “no”, you should probably consider beginning the process of getting them off the team or put them on a performance improvement plan. This may seem harsh but in the end once your staff knows you won’t settle for mediocrity they tend to work better and hold each other accountable. When there is pride in the work place, it really does become a self-sustaining model. It is important to keep in mind that most people are far happier with less help than supporting dead weight.

How often should you look for new talent?

ALWAYS! When you look at successful businesses like Google, In N Out and Facebook, the one thing they have in common is they get the best people on their team and they try to figure out how to keep them there. You should look for people that can add value to your team, whether that means interviewing them extensively, poaching talent that you find elsewhere, or setting up a referral system with your established team members. Even if you don’t have space available today, with turnover rates being so high you don’t know what you will need tomorrow, next week, or next month-so keep your options open for all positions.

The Interview Process

You know you need good talent, and that you need to look for it constantly for all positions large and small. So how do you run the interview process to make sure you find the right person?

Firstly, it is important to set up an interview for the position specifically. A person working in the back needs a totally different set of skills than a person working in the front with customers. You don’t necessarily need a bubbly line cook, so the best thing to do is look at the people that are doing a good job and make a list of what attributes make them great and structure your questions so that you can learn if your new hire shows those characteristics.

The best way to really see if they have the right attributes is to take the time to have multiple interviews. If you don’t have the time, no problem! Get one of your top performers or a shift leads to do it. It may cost more time and money up front, but in the end, you are going to save a lot more on new hire costs because you will be doing it less often. You shouldn’t be looking for just a body to fill space, you should be looking for someone that will add something to the workplace.

Secondly, change the times of your interviews. Some people just aren’t morning people, others get lousy around dinner time. You should know this when you hire them so that you know if you should in the first place or if you should pass.

As for the questions you should be asking. It is best to keep them open ended. Ask questions like what have they accomplished in their life that they are most proud of? Why? Who helped them accomplish this? Have them tell you about a time someone else got credit for something they did and how they handled it. Dig deeper and always ask why and how did they get there. You will learn a lot about their passions, humility, and drive. This translates into passion and vigor that will make your establishment a better place.

Get the Details

The great thing about doing multiple interviews is that you can get different perspectives. Maybe someone was great with you but a grump with someone else. Or maybe you were in a great mood one day and took somethings they said better than you usually would on a normal day. These are all important things to keep an eye out for because they all come together to form a full picture of who you are taking on. Taking detailed notes about your thoughts and feelings during the interview gives you a chance to look back and see if they are valid.

In the end we all do what we can to ensure that our businesses are running as smoothly as possible, but it is the attention to detail that ultimately puts you above the rest. Making sure all your new hires in every position fit in as a cohesive team member by adding depth to the interview process and  setting the bar high for all employees can make your restaurant not only a better experience for your patrons, but a more cost effective and happier place to be.

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