Restaurant staff – 7 tips on how to hire top quality personnel

Employers & Recruiters June 12, 2017

Top Restaurant Talent

Restaurant Talent
Updated 12/7/22 – For today’s blog we gathered a variety of insights directly from industry experts on how to hire top quality restaurant staff and how to identify, attract & retain these employees. We asked these experts to share their thoughts on this topic and I hope you find these tips informative and helpful!

1) Carrie Restaurant HR GroupCarrie Luxem, CEO of Restaurant HR Group: “Hiring top-notch restaurant staff comes down to brand storytelling. Telling your company’s story in your own voice. It’s finding your unique selling proposition – the characteristics that set you apart from your competitors – and then creating your story around that. Whatever it is, find that special ‘thing.’ Then use it to tell your story (on social media, website, job boards, etc.). Ultimately, the goal is to attract active and non-active job seekers by connecting on an emotional level. This approach works because it humanizes your company – you’re no longer just a build-your-own burger joint, for example.

Then, once you have hired talent, make sure they’re in an amazing environment. Here are some more ideas: 21 Everyday Behaviors To Create A Happier Workplace.”

Kevin kuns
2) Kevin Kuns, President of
Pro Management & Associates and a previous General Manager, Director of Operations and Restaurant Owner with over 40 years of industry experience explains a few of the ways he identifies top management talent. “In this day and age identifying top restaurant staff can be harder than ever, the biggest reason is that the invention of Microsoft Word and Google has made everyone perceive themselves as resumes writers.

  • -First and foremost, make sure anyone you are thinking of presenting to a client or hiring manager, has a resume no more than 2 pages.
  • -Look at the progression of their career, make sure they are moving forward in title and responsibilities. If their career is moving backwards, be careful and really find out why.
  • -Depending on the client and industry, do you know the companies they have worked for.  How much business volume have they managed and how big of a staff have they been in charge of.  This should all be on their resume.
  • -Any more than three jobs in the last 10 years is a major red flag , unless there is a life reason that can be verified
  • -If not on their resume I always want to ask about their involvement in community  organizations or charity events.  I want to find out who they are in their life not just in their work life. If it’s not on the resume I have them add it to it.
  • -Also, I always look for education background and other seminars; or continuing efforts to improve their business or life skill sets.”

 MyEmployees, an Inc. 5000 List company that helps over 3,400 restaurant units in North America with employee recognition, retention, and engagement programs, had a few of its team members chime in on what that experience has taught them about hiring quality restaurant staff.
Brian H Myemployees
“It’s important to bring in top, high performing talent into a culture of recognition and appreciation. High achievers need to know their efforts will be recognized and they will be stepping into an environment that measures and celebrates success. In an industry that’s challenged with high turnover, it’s important the culture at the restaurant distinguish itself from others so top talent will not only be attracted to the position, they will stay and thrive.”~Bryan Harrell, Employee Engagement Specialist

Benjamin B 2
“Every team’s overall attitude and levels of engagement never surpass that of its leaders. That’s why attracting top employee talent starts with attracting, training, and maintaining top management talent. Having a wildly successful business will also attract higher caliber employees but to achieve that it’s critical to foster a goal-oriented and fun working environment that celebrates both the success of the whole team and outstanding individual contributors.”~Benjamin Baldwin, Retention & Communication Strategist

David Strange Myemployees
“The Cheesecake Factory, our most tenured client, doesn’t have to spend tons of time and resources trying to find and hire Top Talent. They allocate those same resources taking care of their people. That, in turn, makes them an extremely attractive place to work. #48 on Fortune’s Top 100 Best Companies to Work For list to be exact!”~David Strange, Business Engagement Executive


Michelle Austin4) Michelle Austin, previously worked as a Talent Acquisition Manager at Brinker InternationalManager at Darden and currently recruits and consults for top restaurant brands says, “retention starts at the first interview. Your first impression as a candidate and hiring manager are immediately etched in each other’s psyche. As much as we want to believe we are not biased, our brains are always analyzing and processing “data.”

Each interaction/experience with the candidate and hiring manager creates the developing discovery dialogue to move forward or stop in the interview process. Interviewing is a two-way street. Some highways are two mph and some are 100 mph. A company with a good balanced interview process is going to be somewhere in the middle. Each interview should offer more insight to the day-to-day happenings at the company and giving the candidate more opportunity to share their true selves, as well. Companies which have an interview gauntlet as a process will lose many qualified and great candidates as easily as those companies which lack a sense of urgency to interview.

Here are some more of Michelle’s thoughts on this topic from her guest post Restaurant Staff Retention Starts with “Hello”.

patti casas5) Patti Casas, owner of Casas Career Search, who been recruiting in restaurant and hospitality for 15+ years, says: “obviously everyone is looking for a competitive salary, attainable bonus, great work environment, good benefits, growth potential and a decent quality of life. However, managers and employees have a few other things that are important to them as well:

Feeling of respect and appreciation: Let them know in the interview setting how you reward outstanding employees and that you listen to their feedback or ideas. Bonuses, awards, mention in a monthly newsletter and continued growth all matter.

Follow your mission statement or company motto: If you say you foster a great culture for guests and employees alike, then do it.  You can’t expect your managers to follow your mission statement or company philosophy if you at the top don’t do the same. Give them examples of upper level employees “walking the walk” when you interview them.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep: Honesty, integrity, and open communication are important to candidates in the workplace and when interviewing. Tell them the good and the bad about the position, they deserve to know. If you lure them in with a promise of a perfect company, high salary, great benefits and bonus but some (or all) of these things don’t ring true, they will resign and you will be back to square one.

Work / Life Balance: If this is what you advertise or promise.. then give it to them. Restaurant Managers are the hardest working people on earth. Let them take their earned vacation, try and give them two days off in a row, even a weekend every now and then. These things are not out of order. Tell them that this is your policy (if it is) while interviewing and that you want your managers, etc. to be refreshed and ready to come back to work after time off.

Matthew Rodgers CEO RestaurantZone6) Matthew Rodgers, CEO of online hiring & recruitment platform RestaurantZone: “Finding reliable and professional restaurant staff, is certainly not easy. Restaurant recruiting requires financial resources, a time commitment, focus and investing & using the right tools. It’s something we strive to accomplish for our clients and internally at RestaurantZone. Here are a few patterns I have noticed when making better hires on the hourly/management front:

1. Personality & Character – Don’t always necessarily judge a resume by its cover, especially if you haven’t spoken on the phone yet. Many times we’ve seen resumes that have some minor red flags like “job hopping”, or a candidate being unemployed for a few months, or other “traditional” red-flags. However, what I always keep an eye out for is hunger and enthusiasm for work or passion for a particular role. Things to watch out for are how fast an applicant responds when you initially email, text or call them? What does their voice sound like on the phone or in person? Is it energetic and excited or unenthusiastic and low energy. Usually you don’t want the latter no matter how “talented” they appear to be on paper. Some of the best hires we have ever made have been individuals who really want the job and go above and beyond during the interview process.

2. Trial Period – I’m a strong believer in bringing in hires on a paid-trial basis. We do this internally with our customer service reps and sourcing assistants. With this approach, we have been able to easily see if the candidate has the skills and traits we’re looking for to be a fit at RestaurantZone. Generally speaking, I think this is an excellent way for both parties to see if they are a match for each other. It helps you find out quickly if candidates are who they say they are and for job-seekers to also decide if the role is a good fit for them.”

Danny Meyer Hiring7) Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group came up with the “WETCO” hiring principle: Warmth, Empathy, Teamwork, Conscientiousness, and Optimism.

1. Optimistic warmth
 – genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full.

2. Intelligence – not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning.

3. Work ethic – a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done.

4. Empathy – an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel.

5. Self-awareness – an understanding of what makes you tick.

6.  Integrity – a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment.

I hope you enjoyed reading these tips and that they prove beneficial to you. And as always happy hiring. Are you a restaurant recruiting for top talent? RestaurantZone helps restaurants, hotels & hospitality hire the right talent. Learn more here. Or call 1-800-513-5096 to speak directly with one of our seasoned recruiters.

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