9 Restaurant Hiring Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make . . . Even if You’re Understaffed

When you’re short-staffed, everyone is under pressure. Employees take on more responsibilities, you work longer hours, and everyone feels exhausted. Under these circumstances, it won’t be long until these effects trickle down to your customers.  

The good news is you can help business grow, even if you’re understaffed. The key is to utilize a smart hiring strategy. 

Read on if you want to: 

  • Bring in more restaurant customers,
  • Increase profits,
  • Strengthen your local presence, and 
  • Improve employee cohesion. 

In this article, we’ve identified the 9 common pitfalls of sourcing and hiring new employees. Save yourself time, money, and stress by learning how to avoid these costly mistakes.

Overlooking In-House Talent and References

You don’t always need to source new candidates for open roles. Sometimes, the solution to your problem is right in front of you. Before you dive into interviewing external candidates, take a look at your existing team of employees. 

Promoting your employees from within is a cost-effective alternative to sourcing, interviewing, and onboarding new employees. Internal promotions alleviate overhead business costs because your existing employees are already:

  • Familiar with your company brand and culture
  • Knowledgeable of in-house processes and workflows 
  • Understanding of ongoing internal problems

Plus, they probably have creative ideas to address these types of challenges.

Another benefit of looking inward is word-of-mouth references. If you have a good relationship with your employees, trust their opinions, and admire their work ethic, you can ask them for references for the position in question. Chances are they know someone or have a friend that is qualified for your open role. 

Using Vague or Outdated Job Descriptions

Reusing job descriptions from previous years is fast, free, and easy—but should you really do it?

The restaurant industry is always evolving—so should your employees’ roles and responsibilities. New technology requires new skills. Changing customer behaviors need personalized sales strategies. Trends demand novel experiences. 

Avoid creating a job description with a myriad of non-essential skills. Be clear, descriptive, and concise when defining the skills and responsibilities for the open position

You want to attract candidates who possess the technical and behavioral skills necessary to thrive in your restaurant. Invest your time and effort to write a job listing that is relevant to the needs of your business and customer base. 

Avoiding Affordable Job Posting Strategies

Promoting your job ad on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and SnagAJob are terrific avenues for generating and interacting with a high-volume of applicants. However, promoting your job on these sites becomes expensive fast. If your budget is tight, try these affordable alternatives to cultivate your local talent pool. 

Post a Job Listing on CraigsList

Unless you’re in select areas of California, it is completely free to advertise your job listing on CraigsList. Create a job listing on Craigslist that includes your thorough job description, business location, and contact details. If you want to make the application process even easier, include a fillable online application form

Post on Social Media

If you’re short-staffed, take advantage of the free and shareable nature of social media. All you have to do is create posts and statuses about your active hiring goals. Make your posts visually interesting by including fun pictures from within your business. 

Include your website, contact information, and online application form in your posts and page bios.

If you’re unenthused about the idea of managing your business’ social media, you can delegate it to your restaurant staff. Chances are your in-house team has a lot of inspiration to add to your online brand (and maybe a bit more tech know-how).

Or, if you prefer the set-it-and-forget it model, try an automated social media posting service like The Later App

Looking For the Same Old Talent

Stop looking for the archetypal restaurant worker who has eight years industry experience as a host, waiter, shift-lead, cook, busser, and bartender. If you’re short-staffed, time isn’t on your side. 

Be open-minded with your candidates. Don’t disqualify candidates with little to no industry experience. Instead, see them as a rare opportunity to foster a new member of your business at an entry-level wage. Your new hires can train and learn alongside senior employees who are more skilled and embedded in your company culture.

Omitting Pre-Interview Screens

Inviting every candidate to an onsite interview is an inefficient use of your time. You should only invite candidates who have a strong likelihood of working with you. During your screening, you want to identify candidates who have basic social skills and realistic compensation expectations. 

Schedule and conduct your pre-interview screens over a brief phone call. Discuss the details of the job—including the start date, responsibilities, and company culture. Ask your candidate to describe their career and wage expectations. If your interview candidate has reasonable objectives, invite them onsite for a technical and behavioral interview. 

Foregoing Behavioral Assessments 

Acing the technical restaurant interview is not enough these days. It is vital—to the cohesion of your staff and success of your business—to hire someone who fits within the culture of your company. We recommend you split your behavioral assessment into two parts. 

For the first part, use an online personality assessment tool. This test will help you anticipate what kind of strengths and weaknesses a candidate will bring to your team. You can include this in your job posting, or send it as an email alongside your pre-interview phone screening. 

For the second part, bring your candidate onsite. Have them interact with a few members of your staff. Encourage your staff to ask them open-ended or hypothetical questions. Take a look at these top ten behavioral questions if you need help coming up with ideas.

Consider these behavioral assessments as a whole. Try to envision your interviewee as an employee. Do they seem like they would collaborate, uplift, or clash with your team? What about your business practices? If you want to ensure a successful hire, you need to find someone who is behaviorally compatible with your team.

Skipping Reference Checks

Before you get carried away with a successful interview or a charming interviewee—check their references. You can learn a lot about a person by listening to what others have to say about them.

Reference checks are more than just an opportunity to confirm an applicant’s education and experience. They are also your opportunity to ask open-ended questions like:

  • How do they work with others?
  • How would you describe their ethics?
  • What seems to motivate them?

If you need help generating more questions, check out this guide for conducting elegant reference checks.


Skimping on Training

Poorly trained employees work poorly. Inadequate training prevents your new hires from learning the intricacies of your restaurant. This forces them to infer business protocols while they perform their responsibilities. 

Insufficient training also disrupts the cohesion and productivity among your staff. A teammate who operates inefficiently creates more issues for those around them. Burdening the staff with additional work has a demotivating domino-effect on the company as a whole.

Don’t let your hiring efforts go to waste by expecting your new hires to learn everything on their own. Ready your new hires for success by equipping them with the resources and training they need to perform optimally. 

For best results, pair them with a senior employee for at least two weeks. Shadoing and collaborating with an experienced employee will fast-track their understanding of your company processes and culture. 

Overscheduling Your Staff

Staff scheduling is always a challenge—especially when you’re understaffed—and it happens for a number of reasons. You may be eager to recoup lost profits. You may be overworked yourself and unfocused on how frequently your staff members are working.

Overscheduling your staff degrades the quality of your restaurant by reducing the quality of service. Avoid overworking your staff and harming your business by investing in smart scheduling protocols. These technologies automate scheduling, time-tracking, POS management, and more—giving back the time you need to support your employees and help business grow. 

How to Increase Profits in the Meantime

Recruiting and hiring is a time-intensive process. You need to be thorough, patient, and persistent to find the right candidate. We know you’re doing your best to run your business. But there is one more thing you could be doing.

Attract more restaurant customers by offering services that cater to their unique needs. Pair these services with cashback incentives. Better yet, give them cashback promotions that guarantee a profit for you, too. 

Does this sound too good to be true?

While you focus your efforts on bringing in quality talent, let us help you bring in more customers. Upside is a cashback platform that aims to support restaurants like yours when you need help most. While you’re working to reduce hiring costs, we’re working to increase your profits

Our platform circulates personalized promotions that motivate nearby patrons to visit your restaurant. Plus, you don’t have to change any of your business operations to integrate with us!

We create personalized promotions that drive patrons to your restaurant by using the anonymized credit card data you already have. Our platform assesses dining habits and uses predictive data science to design irresistible promotions that meet patron needs in a way that profits you. 

All promotions generated by Upside guarantee cash back for your customers and profit for your business. 

Download our infographic to learn how Upside can generate an additional $3,000 a year for you—today!

Save Some, Make Some

Finding the right employee is an effort worth every minute. Attracting customers should be effortless. Pair your knowledge of restaurant hiring mistakes with Upside’s patron-centric platform to cut costs and grow incremental profits.

Get started with Upside

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