Hiring employees these days is a daunting task. You want to find the best people to fill your job postings who will represent your business well and help you achieve your goals from the small pool of people you can get to apply. However, making mistakes when hiring can cost you your valuable time and money, so you want to be sure that the hires you do make turn out to be superstars.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to avoid the most common mistakes restaurants make when hiring employees. Keep these things in mind when interviewing potential candidates, and you’re sure to find the perfect person for the job

Do Not Panic – Give Yourself TIME For The Hiring Process

Leaving the hiring process until it’s a crisis is the first mistake. You should always be hiring! If you’re not always on the lookout for your next “best person,” you often do what I call “panic hiring.” That’s where you’re rushed to make bad decisions and hire the wrong person for the job, desperate to have a warm body fill the spot. You know, it’s when you use the mirror test.

The hiring process must have a solid vetting time- you don’t want to realize later that they were not a good fit for the job. That costs you time and money.

You need a hiring system in place so that you have a constant stream of qualified, potential candidates to call upon when a spot becomes vacant. This system might involve regular social media posts, emails to your customers seeking referrals, table tents, handouts in carryout bags, online ads all leading to an online application and interview booking process.

In the current employment climate, this means that when you find a standout candidate, you can hire them and find a spot for them immediately or have a corral of suitable candidates to call on when a spot opens.

How Do You Find Job Seekers?

Have Control Of The Hiring Process.

This doesn’t mean you have to do it all, delegate a lot of the preliminary efforts in finding and narrowing down candidates. It is important that you can trust your managers but don’t relinquish all authority over them. This can lead to chaos in the workplace and decreased productivity. Instead, find a balance between trusting your employees and maintaining control of the restaurant. There should always be a stage for you in the hiring process, even if it’s the last step.

Looking In the Right Places

When it comes to finding restaurant employees, there are a few different avenues you can use to place your job ad to attract the right new hires.

Contrary to what you might be doing or thinking right now… one place NOT to look is the big online job posting sites. You’ll pay for an ad regardless of whether or not you find employees. Their sole purpose is to drive traffic – to have as many applicants go to their sites as possible – where literally thousands of employers are waiting. Your odds are extremely thin. You’re fishing in a pool with thousands of sharks.

I would rather be fishing in a barrel stuffed full of fish with a stick of dynamite. (Apologies if that sounds too graphic.)

Instead, take control and create your own Google Ads, spending money to highly target the geographic region and specific future employees who are using the relevant keywords to connect with you. Use Google tools to ensure that you are at the top of the search engine results when your target starts looking for jobs like yours in your area. It will get you MUCH better results for less money.

You can also create a referral program for staff and customers – who else knows better what kind of people would be a good fit to work in your restaurant. Use your social media accounts to solicit interest. Reach out to your local community college or university. Many schools have career centers that can help connect you with qualified candidates.

Here’s a video I recently did with more information about using social media sites instead of job posting sites. It’s another option you do not want to under-utilize when hiring. Using Social To Score Staff

So, What Are Some Of The Common Mistakes Made When Hiring?

Once you’ve gotten your potential candidates to apply and set up an interview, this is when the rubber hits the road. Now you need to sift and sort, ensuring that you find the talent you need. Here are some of the mistakes to watch out for:

  1. Hiring friends or family members without considering their qualifications. While it may be tempting to give someone a job because you know them well, it is important to remember that they still need to be qualified for the position. Hiring unqualified friends or family members can lead to drama and tension in the workplace, which is something no business owner wants.We’ve all done this at some point if you own a restaurant. I don’t know about you but have lost some friends and family members that don’t talk anymore because of this one. BE CAREFUL! It might seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s not an easy relationship to manage. You need clear-cut separation, duties, and chain of command. I suggest other means to finding employees.
  2. Hiring based on qualifications alone. Just because a candidate has the right qualifications doesn’t mean they will be a good fit for your company or team. Make sure you also consider personality and company culture fit.Like I always say, “you can’t train nice.” Either they are, or they aren’t. You can teach someone to work a POS or make a Manhattan, but you can’t teach personality.
  3. Not Paying attention to “soft skills.” Some candidates may not have the skill set or the experience you were looking for, but they may have other qualities that will make them exceptional team members.Great employees often have experience with a broad set of industry attributes thanks to their communication skills, curiosity, problem-solving ability, enthusiasm, integrity, and ambition. Inexperienced interviewers might dismiss these highly skilled candidates, when in fact, they can be trained to do virtually anything.
  4. Not doing a background check. This is often time-consuming and tedious, but it will always pay off if you weed out a potential disaster. How they behaved at their previous jobs, who they have given as references, and small subtle things a previous employer says can help you determine a good or bad hire. This is especially important for positions that deal with money or have access to sensitive information. This step can’t be a shortcut.
  5. Ignoring a Candidate’s Personality – the bottom line is that they need to fit in with the rest of the team. Focus on getting to know the candidate outside of their work, asking questions about their daily hobbies and free time. Personality tests work well to see how their personality fits with the team.
  6. Make sure you’re hiring for the right reasons. Often restaurant owners will joke, “are they breathing? They’re hired!” Don’t just hire someone because you need someone to fill a position – make sure the person you’re hiring is a good fit for your company and the job they will be doing. A bad hire is an expensive decision to undo, so make it right in the first place.
  7. Be Prepared – Take the time to investigate potential candidates and find out as much as you can about them. Be sure to prepare a job description and list of qualifications beforehand so that they have all the information they need.Interview your best employees in each position and make your list from there. Really laser in on what type of person you are looking for to fill the position, and the best way to do that is by knowing the type of person you have right now.This will help you to screen candidates more efficiently and ensure that you are only considering those who are truly qualified for the position. Additionally, be sure to budget enough time for the interview process so that you can get to know each candidate well.
  8. Be patient. Don’t rush the process- it’s important to take your time and make sure you’re making the best decision possible. I know this isn’t always easy or an option but believe me, it will save you in the long run. And this is why you should always have a file full of qualified candidates.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be finding employees that are right for your restaurant and creating a team that will help you succeed.

How Can I Ensure I Hire Superstar Restaurant Employees?

Cast a wide net with specific goals in mind when you’re setting out to find great employees. The larger the pool of candidates you have to choose from, the better your chances of finding the right ones. Use all the advertising avenues you can think of and then drive them all to an online process for applying and setting up interview times.

This is where you can take advantage of the technology that’s available. Paper applications have gone the way of the yellow pages. All your efforts to find restaurant employees can then be directed to an online page giving more information about your job openings, your business, and you. That way candidates have all the right information. And you attract the right type of employee and repel the wrong ones.

Lead them to an online application that asks them for enough information so that YOU have all the right information to move the process forward. Once they complete an application, an online calendar application can allow them to choose an interview time that works best for them and you. Automatic reminders will ensure they show up.

During the interview, have a system. Perhaps two or three people are part of the process, ending with you. There are a variety of personality and work style tests and assessments online that you can use to discern if they fit with the rest of your team, your culture, and your company values.

All the methods you use, and you should be using them all, need to have a simple way to access your online application. Printed material can use a QR code that is readable with a smartphone, online resources with a clickable link, both of which lead to your application. These work well for driving new staff to fill out the application and come in for the interview with little effort on your part.

Bottom Line – Have a System

Like any other part of your business – your success in hiring will be tied to having a documented process or system.

Good luck!


If you are interested in learning more strategies and techniques that are working right now that top restaurants are using to find and hire great staff, click the button below to register for my upcoming

Michael Thibault

Known as “The Done For You Marketing Guy for Restaurants.” International Speaker on Restaurant Marketing. Published contributing author of 4 Marketing Books. Industry expert on Google Searches and Review Sites. Recovering Independent Restaurant Owner and Caterer of over 21 years. And, all-around good guy.