Top Restaurant Hiring Tips

Ask any restaurant owner for  their main pain point and the likely response will be: staffing. Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine asked hiring expert Sid Upadhyay, co-founder and CEO of Wizehire for his advice on best practices for hiring and retention. 

What do you see as key challenges of restaurant hiring right now? What are the biggest pain points and have they changed due to the pandemic?

Hires are often not made by corporate staff but by front line managers at individual restaurants. For many, recruiting is a skill they’re not trained on and just one of a hundred tasks occupying their work day. Since the pandemic, businesses have had to cut staff to save costs, which has made hiring even more challenging.

Recruiting and hiring decisions are often made by managers at the store or restaurant level instead of by corporate recruiters. This gives a manager a small advantage in speed, but on a broader scale, busy hiring managers lack the time and training to compete with the resources of a Fortune 500 company. 

This “luck versus skill” dynamic in hiring has multiplied staffing shortages in small restaurants and compounded the effects of the shortages. Businesses lose out on repeat customers due to limited service and the smaller revenues make hiring even harder.

Increased staffing shortages are causing restaurant managers to reduce hours or increase menu prices to make up lost profits. This negatively impacts the customer experience which leads to poor reviews and lack of repeat business.

What goes into crafting an effective job ad?

Before writing a job ad, owners and managers should ask themselves: 'What makes us special?' 'How do we stand out from our competition?”

The key components of a job ad are job title, location compensation, responsibilities, qualifications, and a company description. Each component should be written specific to the role to best sell the position to high-quality talent. 

Make sure the job description outlines expectations and allows candidates to quickly assess whether they are a right fit. Job summaries should be brief, accurate, and engaging to grab the attention of high-quality candidates. 

With more states requiring employers to disclose salary requirements, it’s important to be clear about the salary upfront or include a salary range so candidates have the full picture before applying for a job. 

How do you teach how to hire?

For business owners with more than one location, a consistent, repeatable process will help ensure that managers attract top talent and make the right hires for every role.

New managers can shadow experienced managers who can distribute best practices across your multiple locations.

Most importantly, a centralized hiring platform that allows everyone to screen, interview, and hire on the same system sets every location up for success. Virtual training on the tools and systems that your company uses can ensure all your managers are following the same hiring playbook.

What do restaurant workers expect from their prospective employer?

Restaurant workers today are expecting benefits that have not been historically offered in the industry such as health benefits, flexible scheduling, daily pay apps, and continuing education. 

For example, fast food chains like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell launched a $100 million “Unlocking Opportunity Initiative” to expand employee education and skills training to underserved groups and recruit and hire diverse employees. That’s why it’s critical for today’s small business employers to consider what they are able to offer that aligns with what jobseekers value.

What are some of your best tips for hiring the right people throughout a franchise operation?

The key to hiring the right people every time at every location is consistency. That starts with each location using the same system and methods to hire. You want to make sure every hiring manager has compelling job ads, a list of benefits your franchise can offer jobseekers, and the necessary interview questions for every role to set them up for success.

Employers should also invest in quality training to support employees and ensure they have the proper tools to do their job well, once they are hired.

In what ways does technology help the hiring process?

New technologies help employers hire faster and more efficiently. A few examples of this include: 

  1. Texting and mobile optimization – Because candidates in the restaurant industry are often looking for jobs on the go, adapting job applications for mobile viewing and searching can result in jobseeker higher engagement. Employees may even consider connecting with candidates via SMS text message instead of email.

  2. Video job interviews and applications – Candidates who go through the process of a video interview as an initial screening are more likely to show up to a first job interview and their first shift. The process is also more convenient for employers who can watch the video interviews during their free time and share the video with hiring teams.

  3. Applicant tracking systems – Hiring platforms and other tech can help hiring managers save time and money. Hiring solutions like Wizehire help locations build the right teams and manage the job application process from start to finish. Each application includes a DISC+ personality assessment to determine whether candidates are a 

  4. strong fit for the role and ready-made job templates. 

How can restaurants best compete for hires against other industries that pay more per hour?

Restaurants can emphasize the elements that make working for the industry more appealing. For example, working parents and college students can work hours around their schedules and pick up additional shifts to earn more income.

Additionally, new restaurant technology like same-day pay apps let employees get their paychecks faster, which gives them more financial freedom and flexibility. 

The restaurant industry also provides more opportunities for on-the-job training, which can lead to career growth at a faster pace than other industries, while also teaching employees valuable soft skills such as customer service, people management, and the ability to perform under pressure.