Every applicant who sits across from you in an interview has potential. If you didn’t think that was true, you wouldn’t have invited them in to talk, right? Think of interviewing as opening gifts. Some may be impressively wrapped, but without much inside. Others might seem simple and ordinary on the outside, but have a wealth of offerings inside.

Your job as a restaurant manager – and an interviewer – is to discover the potential of each applicant. As you prepare to interview a potential staff member, ask yourself, “What do I want to know about this person? When I take the wrapping off, what’s inside?”

Who’s in Charge of a Restaurant Interview?

In this employment market, employers have as much at stake during an interview as applicants do. You want to find the perfect employee just as much as the applicant wants to find the perfect job. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have the upper hand when interviewing. It’s sometimes the opposite. Also, keep in mind that many applicants have a lot of experience in interviews. Unless they’re brand new to the workforce, applicants have probably answered every traditional question you can throw at them.

Behavioral Interviewing

Get the standard questions out of the way quickly, then get creative with “behavioral interviewing.” Questions that focus on past behaviors rather than past experience will yield more telling answers. Behaviors are formed over time through repetition. If people have done something in the past, they’re more likely to repeat it in the future. Exploring past behaviors requires a little digging.

For example, you’ll get a flat “yes” when you ask, “Do you consider yourself to be an honest person?” The follow-up question is what puts the applicant on the spot and gives you important behavioral insights. You simply ask about a specific time and place when honesty was demonstrated or put to the test. For example, “Tell me about a time when you demonstrated your honesty.”

All in all, the idea is to structure interview questions to uncover past behaviors that match up with your restaurant staffing philosophy.

Restaurant Service and Sales Training

Once you interview and hire the right people, training is the key to retention. The Service & Sales Excellence Waitstaff Training Series is based on Service That Sells!, a restaurant training philosophy developed by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. Click here to learn more.