In my experience, very few people are strong interviewers right out of the gate, and it is a task that often ranks relatively low on the list of things most enjoyed by restaurant hiring managers and recruiters. Even the most outgoing "people-person" personalities struggle to hit their stride.
But it's never too late to improve. With some determination and practice, it's an artform that most can fully cultivate.
Here are 11 detailed steps to help you become a more confident and effective interviewer.
- Gather your documents.
At all costs, avoid walking into an interview completely unprepared and attempting to just wing it. Just as you expect professionalism from candidates, they are looking to you to extend the same courtesy to them.
Make sure you understand and can clearly explain:
- What are the job's responsibilities?
- What specific skill sets are you seeking in candidates?
- What is the position's anticipated schedule or hours?
- What are the benefits and perks of working for the company?
- What is the company's vision, mission, purpose and overall culture?
Take a printed copy of the job description to give to each candidate as well as a copy of their resume/cover letter for you to reference.
- Queue your questions.
While many of the questions you ask prospective employees will be standardized across all positions, there should be a handful of questions unique to each job. Ideally, management has already worked together to establish these lists. If not, you'll need to begin there. These approved interview screening forms will help jump-start your efforts.
Once your lists are finalized for each position, for the most part, you can simply grab that questionnaire and be good to go. Do keep in mind the following though:
- For each position, ask all candidates the same questions. Being consistent in your questioning gives you the best odds of creating a true apples-to-apples comparison of each position's candidates.
- In some instances, you may need to revise and/or add questions, depending on the position's needs or desired qualifications. Allow time to make any necessary revisions in advance.
- If there has been a unique problem your employees have encountered, make sure your questions address this. Explain the issue and ask the candidate how they would prevent and/or resolve it.
- Avoid asking questions that stray into illegal territory.
- Review candidates' public social media accounts, websites and networking profiles, such as LinkedIn, to learn more about them beyond their cover letter and/or resume.
- Dial in your mindset and expectations.
You want to be in the right headspace to fully engage with prospective employees. Rushing in frazzled or mentally checked out won't leave a great first impression. And regardless of whether the candidate ends up being a good fit for the position, it's important to show up as your best self and representation of the company. Arriving prepared and focused shows you respect the candidate and their time.
Five to 10 minutes before the interview:
- Find a private spot.
- Silence your phone and close your emails/laptop.
- Take a few deep breaths and review the candidate's resume and job-specific questions as well as their online profiles.
- Think about how you will greet the candidate and ways to break the ice and tension.
- Pinpoint what makes you feel this person could be a good fit for the position and any concerns you have, then make sure your line of questioning will encompass those topics.
- Choose the location carefully.
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Legal Disclaimer: The information I publish is not legal advice but rather is intended to prompt a discussion on best practices in human resources. Further, federal and state laws are amended frequently and vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Therefore, the published information may not be current at the time that you read it or it may not be applicable to your jurisdiction. As such, you should not rely upon any of the published information without first consulting directly with Restaurant HR, legal counsel, and reviewing your local, state, and federal laws as well as any applicable industry practices and company policies.
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