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Reducing Employee Turnover Starts at the Interview

Most restaurant operators are very concerned with reducing turnover in their stores. There are a couple of things to consider, but it starts with the interview to make sure that you are hiring the right people and setting the right expectations. There are two real components to that: learning why they want the job, and weeding out the people that are not the right fit.

What’s Their Motivation for the Job?

So are we going to talk about those terrible questions that people ask? For example, what is your worst quality? “My worst quality is that I just care too much.” That's fine if you want to ask those if you've got some purpose besides just trying to sound clever. Many people even like to ask the tricky unsolvable questions as well. 

However, if you want to hire and retain the right people, it starts with this: framing your questions. It’s okay to sometimes ask all the same questions that everyone else does. But one of the key things to do is try to align motives. Now, whether you're talking about your entry level person or a general manager, you can align motives in a couple of ways. Dig deep on as to why they want the job. And we’re not talking about, “Tell me why you're here today.” We’re saying it's very important to find out what their main motivation is for the job.

Maybe it’s to pay for a car, or their kids have gone back to school, or they want flexible hours. When you learn what they want, you can figure out how to give it to them. And if they're a really high value prospect, you’re going to have a lot of competition to hire and retain those people. By asking the right questions, you've got a much better chance of them choosing to work with you.

Find Your Tribe

Second, it's very important in an interview to figure out what they're doing when they're not working. We’ll say it for a few reasons but it’s the cliche, “birds of a feather flock together.” When you have people on your staff that are interested in the same things, you can form a bond. If you have people working together with common interests, it becomes more fun for them and they want to stay.

If you are hiring someone who is a 17 year old in high school and they want the job because they want to buy a car, how would you cater the job to make sure that you're aligning with their interests and giving them what they want? Think about it, if they need to buy a car and they're paying for it themselves, then there's a certain amount of hours they need to work. So you need to make sure if you're going to hire them, they have the right amount of hours at the times they are available to work. If you hire them and you don't give them enough hours so they can make their car payment plus their insurance payment, it's probably not going to go well.

For example, if you want to have people who want to spend time together, figure out who on your staff likes Marvel movies. If you're thoughtful and you watch the new Ant Man movie, you'll talk about it with them, right? Do you do events outside of work? One of my partners at one of the stores always does these events with his workers and it makes them want to stay. And all these things, they're not going to work if you don't mean it. So be sincere.

Establishing Your Culture from Day One

Once you've established who they are and what they want, how do you go about establishing who you are and the kind of atmosphere that you hope to cultivate there? One thing you can try is asking them some of your basic store policy questions. For example, schedules change and you need workers to be good teammates, right?

So say something like, “Hey John, we make the schedule every Wednesday. If you need a time off request, we need it in by 2:00 PM on Tuesday. And that being said, none of us are perfect and I know there's going to be a time that you're going to need someone to switch a shift. And if that's the case, then I would hope that someone would switch with you.”  If they won't agree to that, they're probably not going to be a good fit.

So those are really two things you can do during the interview to reduce turnover in your restaurant. Find out what they want and establish some of the basic rules at the stores. Get their agreement during the interview, and you'll do a little better job of hiring people and setting expectations. You don't want any surprises when it comes to hiring people. You want to get it all out on the table beforehand so you can have a clear cut relationship that’s well defined. 

We're never going to be perfect, but most people are hard working folks who just want to make their way in the world and improve their lives. And that doesn't mean they're always going to work out perfectly for you. So try your best. We guarantee you that you'll lower your turnover in your stores. 


Dealing with high turnover rates at your restaurant? Download our checklist, 6 Ways to Decrease Employee Turnover at Your Restaurant!

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Everyone in the restaurant industry is dealing with high employee turnover rates.

Everyone in the restaurant industry is dealing with high employee turnover rates. Some may be facing this problem more than others
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