With competition for quality employees as fierce as at is for loyal guests, it may be tempting to hire anyone who fills out an application and actually shows up for an interview. Not so fast! Even if you’re really feeling desperate, filling a position with just anyone can cost you more time, money, and frustration later on. To avoid this, start with updating your employee recruitment efforts. Then, follow this restaurant interviewing process to find employees who are a good fit.

Step 1: Prepare

Being understaffed means you’re extra busy, so it may seem impossible to spend much time interviewing, let alone more time preparing before the applicant even shows up. Finding the time to thoroughly review an application and formulate specific questions will allow you to run the interview more efficiently. Write down some “red flag” questions that will tell you right away if an employee is not a good fit for your restaurant.

Step 2: Deliver Exceptional Service

The way you treat your employees determines how they’ll treat your guests. This goes for how you treat potential employees, too. Whether you end up hiring the applicant or not, treat them like you would your most loyal guests – greet them by name, make eye contact, thank them for coming in, and smile. When interviewing, just like any other interaction, you never get a chance to make a positive first impression.

Step 3: Ask the Right Questions

There are some questions you have to ask when interviewing. Get those formalities out of the way quickly so you can move on to questions that tell you about an employee’s personality, sales potential, and guest service philosophy. Avoid yes or no questions. Do a little role-playing like you would in a training session. How quickly and coherently an applicant responds to open-ended questions is just as important as the answers themselves.

Step 4: Focus on Attitude Over Aptitude

Your restaurant training program can teach employees the skills they need while also becoming an incentive to stay on the job. Attitude, however, cannot be taught. No amount of training will change a pessimist into an optimist, for example. Hire applicants for their potential to help you meet your goals, likelihood to fit in with your team, and eagerness to learn.

Step 5: Tell the Truth

You may be downright giddy if you make it past the first four steps of the restaurant interviewing process and feel like you’ve found the perfect candidate. Here’s where you really need to be careful about overselling the position. Remember, you’re not just looking for someone who can fill your needs today. You want someone who will stick around. Be clear and honest about job duties and scheduling requirements and look for confirmation that the applicant understands. With that out of the way, lay out what you have to offer, such as your investment in employee development and career advancement opportunities.

Get More Restaurant Interviewing Tips

Check out our human resources article archives for more ideas on how to find, hire, and retain restaurant employees.