How to Hire the Best Restaurant Workers

If you’re hiring food service workers, personality is probably the first trait you’re looking for. That makes sense, because everyone who works in any food-service setting is really in the customer service business. If customers have just one negative experience with the people who serve, prepare, or deliver their food, they will probably never come back to your place of business. Worse yet, they will tell their friends bad things about you, post negative reviews about you online, and take other steps that damage your ability to attract new customers.

But Disgruntled Customers Might Not Be Your Biggest Problem

While displeasing customers is damaging, there is something much worse that your restaurant can do . . .

You can make your customers sick

If you do that, you have done something really hurtful, which is to harm someone’s health. There are less important considerations too, like the fact that you will have damaged your company’s reputation and possibly triggered legal action against you.

Here are the most common ways that patrons become ill in restaurants . . .

Food spoilage and contamination, which happen when food is not stored correctly or when it comes into contact with unclean surfaces or utensils, or with other food. The most effective way to prevent contamination is to get all food service employees to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently. But other skills are needed to prevent contamination, like knowing how to clean the surfaces where food is prepared.
Chemical contamination, which most often happens when food comes into contact with cleaning products. Another source of chemical contamination? Hand sanitizers.
Physical contamination, which happens when non-food items end up in food that is served to patrons. Pieces of plastic, plastic bags and the paper-wrapped metal wires that are used to seal storage bags are some of the non-food items that often end up where they don’t belong.
Allergic reactions to shellfish or nuts, which can occur without warning. Unless your staffers recognize allergic reactions and summon medical assistance immediately, the results can be disastrous.
How to Hire Restaurant Workers Who Please Customers and Minimize Risks
You should be on the lookout for job candidates who have the kind of sunny personalities that are the driving force behind good customer service. But to identify candidates who will wash their hands often and understand how imperative it is to protect your customers’ health, follow these additional steps when you interview:

Talk seriously about how necessary it is to protect customers’ health and see whether your job candidate treats the topic with equal seriousness. Eliminate candidates who make jokes or seem dismissive of the topic of customer safety.
Ask scenario-based questions to judge how resourceful the candidate would be if something went wrong. You can ask, for example, “If a diner found a piece of glass in his salad, how would you handle the situation” or, “If a customer suddenly had an allergic reaction to food he was served, what would you do?” You shouldn’t expect interviewees to answer those questions correctly – you will be teaching them correct procedures and protocols after they come on board. What you are looking for, however, are candidates who come up with rational and well-reasoned answers to your questions.
Try to judge candidates’ hygiene, even though you cannot ask them about it openly with questions like, “Do you shower every day?” or, “How often do you wash your clothes?” You can, however, ask a candidate a question like, “Can you explain to me what you think would be the most effective way to wash your hands?” As is the case with scenario-based questions, the answers you get to questions like those might not be 100% correct. They will, however, give you an idea of how diligently a job-hunter will observe important procedures and protocols after he or she is hired.
Hire people who have demonstrated good decision-making skills in previous experiences, such as veterans, educators, athletic coaches, or members of law enforcement. The ability to do the right things under pressure is a skill that translates to most food-service settings.
Consider using work simulations to screen for whether your strongest job candidates have what it takes to come on board. One way is to bring them into your food service area and have other employees play the roles of diners who are angry, who have become ill, or who have been served the wrong foods. Simulations can separate your strongest candidates from your also-rans.
Related Posts on Finding Restaurant Employees
How to Find the Best Restaurant Staff
Are You Hiring for the Right Skills?
How to Hire Workers with the Skills that Really Matter

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