When hiring, start with ‘fit’.


In this industry, we are particularly prone to basing hiring decisions on attractiveness – ‘Curb appeal’, as one grizzled and cynical GM referred to it. And yet when we hire the wrong-people-who-just-happen-to-look-pretty, the results are invariably disastrous. And expensive.

I’m not debating whether looks are/are not important, to you or your guests. All I’m saying is, for goodness sake please hire the right person behind those looks. It’ll save you a lot of money and a few gray hairs.

There’s a lot of research coming out on the science of ‘fit’, and for good reason. Simply stated, people whose values and personal standards align with yours and those of your company are likelier to stay longer, perform better, set a higher standard for their co-workers and represent you better to your customers.

The best part is, you don’t need science to probe for fit (although it helps, and of course we’d like you to use ours). Here are some DIY questions you can ask your job applicants, which will give you a direct window into their personal standards and values:

  • What was the best job you’ve ever had? Why did you like it so much? (repeat for ‘worst job’)
  • Think of the worst supervisor or manager you’ve had. What characteristics made that person a poor manager, for you? (repeat, for ‘best manager’)
  • What traits do you most (least) admire in co-workers?
  • What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you at work?
  • What was the hardest job you ever had? What was it about that job that made it so hard?

Because there is no inherently ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, candidates will drop their ‘interview mask’ and get more real with you, more quickly. They will have to access their memory and evaluate past experiences in order to answer the questions, not the answers they rehearsed to the questions they were expecting.

And better yet, as they describe for you the situations where they thrived and those where they did not, you’ll be able to hold those attributes up against the reality that would greet them in your establishment… and immediately get a pretty good sense of their likely fit.

And honestly, if the fit’s not right, the curb appeal just doesn’t matter.


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