Back Of House Hires

As Fortune magazine recently put it, finding talent is “tougher than baking a soufflé during an earthquake.” The article, “Restaurants are Facing a Serious Chef Shortage,” gives three big reasons for the talent shortage, including:

As a result, the labor pool is shrinking. In fact, another recent article in the New York Times reports that restaurants across the country are struggling to fill positions in the back of the house. Not only are positions taking longer to fill, but skills are weaker too.

In the New York Times article, chefs and restaurateurs confirm that the shortage has affected their hiring, and has even affected their food, forcing them to simplify dishes and hire just about anyone who walks through the door. Large-scale employers are even overhiring on purpose, and then weeding out the lowest performers.

But there are things you can do. For example, when interviewing candidates, the National Restaurant Association suggests that hiring managers learn more about the candidate’s personality and work ethic with behavior-based prompts like this one: “Describe a time when you delivered service in a way that clearly showed care and concern for the customer.” That way, you can better understand the candidate’s ability to interact in and outside of the restaurant.

Carol Jenkins, our very own talent solutions expert, says that front-end sourcing and screening strategies have a big impact also:

“Consider setting up an employee referral program, and tap into social media. And don’t be afraid of assessments! Many people worry that adding pre-hire assessments will limit their talent pool, but with assessments, you can screen out the bad fits from a work ethic, safety, and teamwork perspective.”

Ultimately, this saves time and helps you find the people who are mostly likely to thrive in a restaurant environment. Then when you find that valuable hire, “keep them happy so they don’t jump ship for another job that pays say $.10 more an hour,” she says.