How to Attract (and Keep) Better Candidates for Food And Beverage Roles
From high turnover to poor performance, from weak soft skills to an uncertain career path, finding dedicated F&B employees who have both the skill set needed to get the job done and the desire to make a long-term commitment to your brand (and their own career paths in the industry) can be challenging for hiring managers.
Here are some things you can do before you interview candidates, during the interview, and immediately after hiring that will help you to attract more qualified candidates to these roles and support loyalty and high performance once you’ve made the hire:
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
- Job Description: One of your first and most important touchpoints with any candidate (other than their familiarity or experience with your brand) is the job description. In effect, it’s your “sales pitch” to job seekers. To attract better candidates, make sure your description not only contains all of the standard information a candidate will expect (duties, required skills, application information, etc.) but really make an effort to sell the role as well as your brand. Highlight the benefits to the candidate of working for your company, and let them know what they'll get out of launching a career with your brand.
- Know what soft skills you’re looking for: While technical skills and experience are important in many F&B roles, good customer service skills (like problem-solving, communication, an outgoing personality, willingness to learn, flexibility, good listening skills, etc.) are key for these positions. Before interviewing candidates, have a list of must-have, non-negotiable soft skills you’re looking for in your ideal candidate, and then make sure the job description and your interview questions communicate this to the job seeker.
- Employer Branding: Because of the tight labor market, it’s now the responsibility of employers to convince candidates to go with their brand, rather than the other way around. As such, employer branding is as important as ever in attracting qualified, serious candidates. For this, you’ll need to work cross-functionally with other teams in your company to make sure you have a strong employer branding strategy in place so that you can communicate this to job seekers across all of your touchpoints with them.
- Offer attractive benefits: Flexible hours, discounted memberships or perks, paid time off, health benefits, childcare, management training… candidates need to know, aside from salary, what they’ll be getting out of working for your company. Be sure to communicate any and all benefits to them in your job description.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
- What would you do if…: Give candidates specific scenarios or problems you know they’ll face once they’re in this role. How will they handle them? What is their process? These questions are excellent for evaluating the problem-solving skills of less experienced candidates as well, because even though they may not have faced these circumstances in the past, you’ll be able to get a sense of their overall readiness for the job.
- Ask them what they don’t want to do: Interviewers often ignore this line of questioning, but it’s a valuable step in understanding who will or will not thrive in the role. First, you’ll need to make sure any duties or responsibilities they’re not comfortable with aren’t a key part of the job. This will also give you a sense of their overall career path and goals, and you’ll avoid placing them in a role for which they’re unsuited and will eventually become dissatisfied with.
- Ask them what they expect out of a good manager: Asking candidates what their ideal manager looks like involves them in the active management of their own career path and gives them a sense that they are a real asset for your team. Serious candidates will appreciate this two-way-street approach, and you’ll also learn what motivates them, what kind of feedback and support they need, and what kind of communication style they prefer.
- Behavioral questions: These types of questions prompt candidates to give specific examples of how they handled situations or addressed challenges on the job in the past. With behavioral questions, you’ll get a better sense of candidates' problem-solving skills and how they’ll handle issues they’re likely to face.
- Soft Skills: Be sure to ask questions that address not just their “hard” technical skills but also more general “people” skills (customer service skills). Get creative and ask for specifics. It’s not enough for a candidate to say “I love people” or "I'm good at customer service" or “I know how to solve problems.” Ask them for examples of when they demonstrated their soft skills, which soft skills they think are their biggest strengths, and which skills they need to improve on (and how they plan to do this). Open ended questions like “what does good customer service mean to you?” also prompt the candidate to really break down the kinds of soft skills they value and what they’ll demonstrate in this new role.
- Encourage them to express any concerns or reservations they have about the job, then address them: Some candidates are reluctant to answer this question for fear it will reflect negatively on them. It’s up to the interviewer to put them at ease and encourage them to answer as honestly as possible. You really do want to know what their concerns are, so assure them their comments won’t hurt their candidacy.
- Be very clear about next steps: Candidates strongly dislike ambiguity at any point in the job application process. Be sure to provide a clear timeline for what happens next and when they can expect to hear from you again. Will they need to interview with anyone else? How many days or weeks will it be until they hear back? Will they hear from you even if they don’t get the job? How many other people are you considering for the role? Do they need to do anything else or provide you with more information? What is the best way to contact you if they have more questions?
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
- Management support programs: Even though they’ve just started in their new role, make sure your new hires are aware of and excited about any opportunities for short- and long-term growth or advancement in your company, such as management programs or mentoring. Knowing that they are working towards growth will motivate candidates to excel in their current jobs and remain loyal to your brand in the long run, not to mention the positive effects this has on employee satisfaction and retention.
- Remember what they said in the interview: If you asked the right interview questions, you know what your new employee does not want out of the role and the type of management style or involvement they need to thrive. Don’t just leave these answers in the interview room. Use them to form an effective management strategy for this and other employees that encourages productivity, satisfaction, and job security.