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Fast Casual Feature: How to Hire Top-Notch Summer Employees

This article originally appeared on FastCasual.com. Summer usually sends restaurant brands into a hiring frenzy, and if we see a repeat of last year’s numbers, they’re about to hire more than 500,000 people for the season. “The economy is good and gas prices are down, which means restaurants are in for a strong season, said […]

This article originally appeared on FastCasual.com.

Summer usually sends restaurant brands into a hiring frenzy, and if we see a repeat of last year’s numbers, they’re about to hire more than 500,000 people for the season.

“The economy is good and gas prices are down, which means restaurants are in for a strong season, said Greg Moran, CEO of OutMatch, a company that uses predictive technology to help companies vet potential employees.

Simply having enough warm bodies won’t cut it, however. Restaurants must employ the “right” people, said Moran, who believes that since the two biggest KPIs in restaurants are guest experience and sales, managers need to consider guest focus and sales ability. Guest focus, according to the OutMatch, measures a person’s desire to please customers, while sales ability is a person’s ability to persuade others to buy a product or service. In order to find employees who excel in both areas, Moran said there were 10 personality traits that restaurateurs should look for as they staff the front- and back-of-house.

They include:

1. Sociability
2. Teamwork
3. Frustration tolerance
4. Drive and energy
5. Integrity
6. Multi-tasking
7. Persuasiveness
8. Pride in work
9. Safety
10. Accommodation to others

Many of these traits are difficult to gauge in an interview, which is why some brands are restaurants are using technology to improve the process. Chili’s, for example, used OutMatch platform to test potential servers in those 10 areas. It recently reported that the servers who had higher job fit scores, sold 80 cents more per hour and received higher customer satisfaction ratings than their average server population.

“Determining quality of talent shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the hiring manager,” Moran said. “Using technology, restaurants can transform hiring into something that’s scalable and objective.”

Anthony Lye, CEO of HotSchedules, agreed, saying that finding talented seasonal employees can be tough. He recommended these five tips:

1. Always Be Recruiting

If you want to have seasonal staff when you need them, always be recruiting. On your website, social media, job boards, etc., post seasonal positions year-round. Keep in touch with last year’s seasonal hires, and consider reaching out to people that you didn’t hire last year (maybe they’ve gained experience?). Be spontaneous. If you’re out and spot a potential hire, hand out your card and say you’re staffing up for summertime. Talk to your regulars, too. Do they have a college kid or another family member looking for summer work?

2. Go Mobile

Quick! Grab your phone and Google your restaurant + “jobs.” Does your brand look outdated? Is the career page mobile-optimized? Can you apply right from your phone? According to LinkedIn, 72 percent of Millennials browse for jobs on their phones, which means that you need to have your mobile game on. If you were searching for a job from your phone and stumbled upon your own restaurant, would you submit an application?

3. Reward Referrals

Chances are, your employees know someone who needs a restaurant job . Referrals rock and only 7 percent of job candidates are referred, yet they account for 40 percent of hires. Likewise, referrals are hired 55 percent faster than career site applicants, according to Jobvite. Start an in-house referral program and offer an extra $25 to anyone who brings in a qualified candidate. If the new hire stays on for the duration of the season, drop another $25 or $50 into the referrer’s pocket.

4. Look in Unlikely Places

Need more mature seasonal hires? Someone who can speak whole sentences without saying “um,” “like,” or “literally”? Check senior centers or VAs for job seekers. Other unlikely labor pools include special needs, displacement, relocation, internship, or school-to-work programs, U.S. Armed Services and other Federal, state, or local employment programs. Be sure to post specific job descriptions so applicants understand your needs. Your restaurant can stand out from the crowd (and filter candidates) by including your mission, vision, the job’s tasks, and other expectations.

5. Do Some Quality Control

Finding a warm body is one thing. Finding hard-working seasonal talent is another. You can vet candidates in a few different ways. For example, try the menu test. Ask candidates to memorize your menu and take an online quiz. If they get 80 percent correct, they pass. You can also ask situational interview questions that probe for behavior. For example, “If you accidentally spilled beer all over a guest, what would you do?” Or, “If one table complained that another group was being too loud, what would you do?” You’ll get a range of answers.

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