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6 min read

I’m sure I’ll do an extended series on hiring in the future, but I couldn’t leave the organizational health series without talking about hiring for fit.

Most restaurants tend to hire poorly. When an employee quits abruptly or they have to fire someone, they frantically search to find a replacement. Or worse yet, they

keep a troubled employee because they need that person to cover the closing shift on Sunday. Not good.

Instead, you need to take your time hiring. Several have heard the phrase “fire quick, hire slow.” It’s based on the premise of getting those employees that kill morale and weaken your organizational health out of your restaurant as quickly as possible and making sure that the people you hire fit into the dynamic of your restaurant and aren’t just people filling a hole.

Always hire for fit. Make sure the person you are hiring is someone that will fit with and improve the employees you currently have on staff. If you have an applicant that’s has loads of experience but that would clash with your team, don’t hire them. It’s better to train someone with little to no experience that is a great team fit, then to bring clashing personalities into your business. Ideally you should also be at least a half a person or more overstaffed in each area at all times with a number of employees cross trained in multiple areas. Or in other words, you should be trying to find another shift for an employee every week. This extra person should be after you account for weekly ask offs. By having this extra half of a person, you should be able to allow for shift switches when people need off, you’ll have enough people if someone calls in on a busy night, and you’ll be able to fire an employee without weakening your business.

You should be training or trying to hire people whenever you get below that level.

When hiring, I recommend doing open interviews every time if at all possible instead of the standard, getting applications and calling people for interviews route. If you don’t know, open interviewing is when you schedule a block of time, usually about two hours, and anyone that shows up in that period is guaranteed an interview. I have found good success just advertising open interviews on Craigslist and social media. Server and bartending jobs typically have greater success on Craigslist over even the larger job sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, and Indeed and at no cost to do so.

I recommend doing open interviews for a few reasons.

First, quite frankly, it’s easier. Rather than trying to schedule multiple different people for interviews on multiple different schedules and days, you can see a wide variety of different applicants in a two hour period.

Second, you’ll typically see more people. Because, you see multiple interviewees back to back you can see more than if you tried to schedule them out. Additionally, applicants are more likely to apply if they know they are guaranteed an interview.

Third, you see personalities a lot more easily. Rather than trying to decipher who is good and who is bad from just an application, you get to meet and talk with them.

Fourth, you get serious applicants. Rather than getting applicants that are just trying to fill their unemployment quota, you get people that actually want to work for your company.

Fifth, you can compare personalities quickly. Rather than trying to remember your interview from last week with Steve, you can easily compare multiple interviewees while they are fresh in your mind.

Sixth, it’s fast. Rather than scheduling across multiple days, you can get all your applicants in one day and have a qualified candidate starting the next day.

Seventh, you can schedule it at a time you want the employee to work. If they can’t make the interview, they likely can’t make the shift you want them to work, so you can find applicants that actually can work the schedule you need them to work rather than going through the whole process and finding out the applicant can only work Friday nights from 5:30-8:00.

Finally, it’s effective. People that want a job, show up. You are able to pick the best fit for your team, and hire them quickly. You get the best applicant available every time. You find great people that may not have had the exact credentials that you wanted, but end up fitting great with the team. It just works. And, guess what, if someone doesn’t work out, you have a large pool of applicants you have already met that you can easily recontact.

Many times, I have had interviewees that I have told that I cannot fit them in currently, but that I like so much that I would call them as soon as another position becomes available.

Finding people that fit well with your team is an imperative part of the hiring process. If they have the experience as well, as they often do, it’s a double win. And, while experience is helpful in getting people up and moving fast, it’s much easier to teach someone how to serve rather than teach them how to be nice and work well with others. One of them is a two week inconvenience, the other is a poison that will weaken your organizational health for months until you finally let them go. Hire for fit, every time.