A Guide to The Best Hiring Practices for Restaurant Owners

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Recruiting, hiring, onboarding and keeping great people is a big challenge and time investment for restaurant owners. Good talent can be hard to find and harder to keep.

We want to help you find, keep, and nurture great people. So we created a guide that gives you everything you need to know when it comes to finding, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and retaining the best talent for your restaurant!

This guide aims to offer clear and concise information, and give you the tools to hire and keep ‘A’ players on your team.


Finding the right people to represent your restaurant is crucial to your company's success. A mis-hire can cost you thousands of dollars and affect anything from sales, to morale and even your restaurant reputation. Recently defined by research firm Gartner as Human Capital Management, finding the right person for the job not only encompaces hiring best practices, but also plays a large part in employee retention and overall performance.

This guide aims to help you discover, interview, hire, onboard and retain the best candidates for your restaurant. With everything from step-by-step action plans to checklist, we’ll make sure you’re equipped to build an all-star team.

A happy barista is pouring coffee on a mug

Finding great talent

Recruiting talented team members is arguably one of the most important steps in the process and plays a key part of your restaurant's success.

However, with so many options, platforms and opportunities to share your job posting it’s hard to know where to start. There are a lot of great websites out there for recruiting great hires like Indeed.com or Ziprecruiter.com, and those should not be ignored, but in this guide we wanted to share some outside of the box options that you might not have considered.

Ponder Where Your Target Audience Hangs Out

You don’t just run any type of business, you run a business that hires hourly employees , which is a unique niche that may involve unique skills. Small Businesses speak to a specific demographic, so during recruiting it makes sense to ponder where your dream hires hang out and consider listing job placements based on that information. A quick search of the web uncovers some job websites that will be specific to your industry or job posting. You could also post in a facebook group for or on a trusted forum. Try and find like minded people who can get behind what your restaurant is all about!

Try Social Media Recruiting

Social media is a powerful tool and a great way to communicate and connect with your audience. It is not uncommon for restaurants to use a social media channel exclusively for hiring and sharing their company culture in a visual and communicative way.

Depending on your preferred channel, consider posting your position on social media and encouraging your followers to share with their friends.

Employee Referral Program

Speaking of sharing with friends, there is no better way to find ‘A’ players than through the praises of other ‘A’ players. It’s true, birds of a feather flock together, so entice your top hires to expand your team with an employee referral program. Offer rewards for every recommended hire you bring on board. An added bonus to this method is that your current employees get to work with their friends, and that is great for employee morale.

Consider A Campus

The small to medium restaurant space is well adopted by Millenials and of-age Gen Z, for this reason it might be worth considering campus recruiting.

Campuses full of young talent looking to start their careers and grow, so working with a great small to medium sized company is an exciting industry to jump into. Consider reaching out to your local College or University Campus to see if they will allow you to run an ad in the campus paper, involve yourself in a job fair, or offer an internship opportunity so someone studying in a related field.

Write a successful job posting

There are so many things to remember when searching for the ideal candidate but one of the key parts of attracting the right person for the job is presenting the job in a way that will accomplish that goal. Below are 7 things we recommend you consider when posting your job online.

1 - Include Any Benefits & Perks To The Job

Does your restaurant have awesome core values? Do your employees get company discounts or perks? Be sure to share these exciting things with candidates so they get a feel for your restaurant, and get excited about.

2 - Information About Th e Company Including Logistics Or Location

If your applicants are going to be working from a retail location be sure to specify where that retail location is in the job posting. If your posting is for a retail chain be sure to clarify what location the applicant will be required to work from, and when. Other logistics to include could be store hours; working hours, and even accessibility information.

3 - Be Clear On Next Steps

If you want to make it easy for the best hires to reach out to you; be sure to make it easy for them. Different job portals have different processes and next steps. If it is in any w ay unclear, be sure to outline the next steps to your potential hire in the posting.

4 - List Your Salary Range

Be sure to include a salary range you are open and willing to discuss with the applicant. The Salary range is defined based on skill set, experience or hours, however it is important that you are up front with your hires about the range. The reason for this is so the hire can apply to the job knowing they are happy with the range being offered, instead of wasting their time and yours.

5 - Duties An d Responsibilities

It makes a difference what you spend your day doing, and for many employees having an idea of the required duties will make them more or less likely to apply to this position. This also ensures that the applicants who apply for your position are aware of what the work will entail, and are applying based on the information given.

6 - Requirements And Nice To Haves

If you are hiring for a position that requires a specific certificate or license, or are looking exclusively for someone with a specific type of experience - be sure to list this in your job application. Also be sure to make a note to cross check your applicants resume with these specifics before inviting them in for an interview. It is also a great idea to include some nice to haves in your listing as well, this way you can make a note of applicants who have both without missing the opportunity for a great new hire who is happy to learn new skills.

7 - Be Honest About Who You Are

Great culture is built by hiring like minded people who fit in with your values and vibe. Don’t be afraid to share some personality in your job description. The goal is to attract people who would be a great fit, and speaking to them authentically is a great way to draw them in.

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Interview questions you need to ask your potential hires

A comprehensive human capital management strategy that incorporates careful interview and hiring practices is vital to the success of any restaurants, big or small. This is especially true in the service and retail industries, where the people you hire interact directly with customers all day, every day.

Conducting strategic, careful job interviews is an essential skill to master. Along with asking some specific questions related to the cannabis industry, we also advise that you approach the interview process from an angle that allows you to really understand the candidate in depth. Here are some suggestions we recommend.

Start With The Early Years

Starting with past experience helps you understand where the candidate is coming from and what makes them tick. We recommend exploring as far back as high school to really help understand your candidate on both personal and professional levels. Ask the candidate about some influential moments in their early life, and what their career planning looked like at that time, revealing insights about what motivates them or has shaped their values.

  • Who were the most influential people in high school?
  • What were some of the highlights and low points at school/college?
  • What were your career goals or ideas after leaving school/college and what did you do next?

Ask Detailed Questions About Their Experiences At Previous Jobs

A candidates’ resume doesn’t say it all. There are many other dynamics that play a part and are equally as important in the hiring process. When asking the candidate questions about their past work experience, be sure to inquire about past supervisors, their relationships with management, and other team members. You may also want to ask about any notable accomplishments, which will help you understand how they work with others, and their work habits. Consider asking the following questions:

  • What are some of your career successes and how were these achieved?
  • We all make mistakes - what would you say were some of your mistakes or failures in this position?
  • Who did you report to and what was their position?
  • What was it like working for them? What is/was it like working for them and what were his/her strengths and shortcomings as a supervisor, from your point of view?
  • What is your best guess as t o what your supervisor honestly felt were your strengths, weak points, and overall performance?

Learn About Their Goals

Hiring people whose long-term goals align with yours is mutually beneficial to you and your employees is a key part of building a great team. Ask questions that will help you understand their career goals and how you might play a part. Consider asking the following questions:

  • What are you hoping to accomplish in taking this job?
  • What are you looking for in terms of this job?
  • What are some of your long term career goals, and how do you see this position helping you accomplish them?

Get Their Perspective

Being reflective and willing to learn is an important trait when it comes to any hire. A great hire will be self aware of their weaknesses and strengths and be open to working on them without claiming a damaged ego. Ask them what they feel their strengths and weaknesses are and how they imagine their previous manager would grade them on these areas. Consider asking the following questions:

  • What would you consider your greatest strength?
  • What is something you are the best at?
  • What is something you need to work on?

Ask Industry Specific Questions

When looking for a new hire, you are going to need someone with some specialized knowledge in the field. Asking some industry specific questions is a key part in finding someone who has the skills, qualifications and interest in this role. Consider asking the following questions:

  • What do you think makes a good employee in this industry?
  • What industry regulations are you aware of?
  • Can you explain to me the differences between___ and _____?
  • In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a great _____restaurant?
  • How do you advise a customer if they’ve previously had a bad experience with ____ ?

A young lady prospect is being interviewed by restaurant employers at the kitchen

How to conduct a successful reference check

After you complete the interview process it will be time to check in with the references. Reference checks are a key part of the interview process as they allow you to cross check the candidates interview narrative with their supervisor. It pays to conduct reference checks in a strategic way by following these guidelines.

Get Permission

The first step will take place during the interview process; inform the candidate you would like to speak to their direct managers from past jobs should they qualify for the position. In addition, request permission from the candidate to ask these managers employment related questions. Sharing your intentions with the candidate during the interview will be a catalyst for a more honest interview, as the candidate will know their story will be verified with their manager.

Let Them Organize

Have the candidate organize the reference checks. They should provide information and names to the references you would like to call and organize the times for you or provide you with a window of time that is appropriate. During this period the candidate should also check in with the references and inform them to expect the upcoming calls.

Past Managers First

First conduct reference checks from past managers, then once you are interested in offering the candidate the job, speak with the current manager. This is to ensure the candidate retains confidentiality during their job hunt, and their current manager is only informed when you are close to the final step of hiring.

Prepare For The Reference Checks

Prepare for the reference checks as you would for an interview; be sure to prepare a list of questions that you will ask all the references; remember these questions need to be appropriate questions that you would also ask in an interview.

Some questions you might want to consider asking your applicants previous manager are their ability to fulfill their position, the reason they left, their opinion of the candidates ability to fulfil the role you are considering hiring them as well as their take on strengths or weaknesses they feel the candidate possesses. It is important to keep these questions professional and respectful.

Recommended Best Practices

When you call the reference best practice is to introduce yourself, why you are calling, and the applicant you are calling about. Be sure they are aware the applicant has given you permission to ask them questions. Keep the call short and concise, do not disclose your opinion of the applicant.

Once you have completed all the reference checks to your standard, it’s time to offer them the job or let them know you will not be moving forward with their application at this time.

Effective onboarding

Congratulations, you found a great hire and now you are ready to make them a part of the team! This is where onboarding comes in.

What is onboarding anyway? Onboarding is the art of integrating a new employee into the company and making sure they have all the tools and information they need to become a productive team member. An important factor in onboarding is understanding the employee experience and anticipating their needs. Here are some key things we recommend when onboarding your new hire.

Listen To Them And Anticipate Their Needs

Listening to employees needs and making them feel safe will encourage them to feel comfortable to connect about their experience and communicate any concerns. Your new employees should feel heard, seen and appreciated from day one; anticipating their needs will help them see you care about their workplace wellbeing and make them feel empowered to speak up if they need your support.

Share The Culture

Share the company’s culture and help them understand the important company values.

Consider a welcome package as part of onboarding and remember that the first few days with onboarding can make all the difference in employee engagement and ultimately retention with your restaurant.

Share The Rules

Whomever you choose to conduct onboarding and orientation should be someone who thoroughly knows the company rules, policies, and culture. It should also be a positive member of your team. Sharing rules and systems up front with the employee will make them feel comfortable and aware of how to do the right thing.

Make Sure They Have All Th e Tools They Need

From log-ins to uniforms, make sure your employee is set up for success on their first day and doesn’t have to ask you for anything. Your new team member should feel like you are excited for them to join the team, and have anticipated their every need. This leads to feeling valued and appreciated, another key to retention.

Check In Regularly

For the first couple of weeks be sure to check in regularly to see how they are doing, consider setting up a weekly meeting and let them know you are there to help.

Be Clear About Expectations And Set Them Up For Success

As the manager or restaurant owner you are ultimately responsible for the success of your employees. Be sure to communicate to them what is expected and share any tools or systems to help them achieve their goals. If they aren’t achieving their goals, be sure to evaluate your systems and make sure they have everything they need before assuming they aren’t doing a good job.

How and why you should be utilizing HR software

A solid HR management strategy starts with who and how you hire. Your employees are your human capital. How you acquire, manage, and optimize your greatest resource — your people — impacts every aspect of your operations.

Using technology to help with the onboarding process will not only help with first impressions, but it will also help create an efficient syst em for onboarding. Human Resource software helps make it easy to transition new hires onto the team. Web based onboarding and software frees up valuable time for the fun stuff, like the hands-on training and diving into the heart of the team culture.

Utilizing tools like HR software can help you simplify, streamline, and centralize your hiring and management processes and measure the effectiveness of specific policies and practices. Easily access and stay on top of things like payroll, scheduling, and time-tracking, and actively monitor and manage labor costs and other data through regular reports in one location.

HR software should meet some of the following requirements, helping you save time, stay labor compliant and ensure safe record keeping:

  • Applicant tracking functionality & tools .
  • Store all employee data on one secure cloud-based platform.
  • Allow employees, and yourself, access to multiple location's schedules.
  • Payment information, and documents from one account.
  • Streamline hiring processes with paperless onboarding.
  • Set up weekly alarms for employee anniversaries, end-of-day logbooks, etc.
  • Easily generate and view employee information on one report.
  • Set and remind tasks with due dates, for yourself and your employees.

Check out Push for a software service that can help you with the entire lifecycle of your cannabis retail store; all while integrating with your POS System and saving you time and money on all your operational tasks.

Ultimately, it is important to remember not to skimp on the onboarding process. After all, first impressions do matter. Making an employee’s onboarding process flow easily and flawlessly will help build that necessary trust in y our organization.

A happy employee at the desk of a bakery

Employee retention for keeping great talent

Congratulations, you have hired, interviewed, referenced, onboarded and integrated your newest team member - and with any luck if you followed these steps they are going to be doing a great job -but the battle isn’t over yet. The next thing managers and business owners need to consider is how to keep great talent. With opportunities all around, it’s important to go the extra mile to make your people happy. Here are 5 Ways to make them want to stay.

Hire A Great Manager

Bad management—in any industry—drives away good employees. People don’t like working for someone they don’t respect. The Gordon Ramsay “scream-louder-to-motivate-people” management approach is for entertainment, not retention.

The fix? Hiring managers who can handle conflict (rather than spark it themselves) is important to help increase employee retention. Empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of another, is an important quality when looking for successful managers.

Spark Friendships & Grow Culture

A simple truth: happy workers stay. Building friendships helps build happiness. In fact, 67% of workers say that friendship makes work fun, and 55% say it makes work more fulfilling.

The solution? Encourage team building, and incorporate activities and games into training or everyday practices. An example is starting a little friendly competition among the morning and afternoon shifts (after all, nothing sparks teamwork like sharing a common enemy).

Acknowledging Their Performance

People need to feel seen. They need their hard work to be noticed . As a manager , it’s easy t o only speak up when something goes wrong. It’s the “why fix it if it ain’t broke” trap a lot of manager s fall into. But complimenting y our workers is like oiling the machine and keeps them working better for longer. 28% of the employees said their most memorable feedback came from a manager. Managers’ voices matter. What’s needed here? A simple “thank you”. With two words and eight letters, you can easily increase an employee’s commitment to their job, especially when they’re faced with a tough challenge. Building in weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly one-on-one meetings with team members and manager s for them t o discuss performance can help build employee loyalty and show that you see their hard work.

Don’t Give Them Unpredictable (And Low) Pay

The restaurant industry is fueled by minimum wages and unpredictable hours. The solution isn’t to grossly overpay employees, but to show employees that you value them by fairly increasing their pay. Meet or surpass the minimum wage and benefit requirements to create a steady environment for your employees. Make it a routine to revisit the staff scheduling staff numbers to ensure you aren’t under or overstaffing.

Provide Room For Growth

Employees want opportunities; the millennial workforce crave it. If you aren’t offering, they’ll look elsewhere. Additionally, when the economy is climbing (and there are more job options on the market), employee retention sees significant falls.

To hold onto millennials, develop training programs to help them learn cooking, communication, leadership, and other growth-based skills for the industry. Also, be transparent in your promotional practices and create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing a lack of challenge in their work. Invest in your staff and they’ll invest in you.


The goal of this guide was to provide you with tools and tips of how to locate, hire and keep ‘A’ players so you can love what you do and do what you love.

Running or hiring for a business can be an arduous task, that is why we hope that this guide w as helpful in alleviating some of that stress. The goal of this guide was to provide you with tools and tips of how to locate, hire and keep ‘A’ players so you can love what you do and do what you love.

We created a software that helps restaurant owners who manage hourly employees through the entire life cycle from HR to scheduling to payroll reporting and more.

If you need any more help along the way; or are looking to integrate more systems into your business to save time and money - BOOK A DEMO with one of our team members today.

Download the guide here!

Click to download the guide to best hiring practices for restaurants

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