Hiring the Right Restaurant Manager

Restaurant Success Tips

Recruitment and hiring can be one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of running a successful restaurant. The manager position is particularly hard because it requires a mix of leadership, mentoring, training, and day-to-day operations skills. The right person must also successfully juggle interpersonal skills with the logistics of running an often-chaotic environment.

Recruitment

Before you can begin interviewing candidates, it will be important to outline the duties and responsibilities so that expectations of the position are clear. A job description is highly recommended and can be used throughout the recruitment process and for evaluations during employment.

To assist in writing the job description, ask the following:

  • How will the job description change as the operation expands, if at all?
  • How many staff will this position supervise?
  • Will other managers will report to them?
  • What hours and days will they be expected to work?
  • Should the position be stronger in the front or back of the house?
  • Will you want them to work with the menu and on new recipe development?
  • Is this position “hands-on,” or more of a desk job?

Once a job description has been started, you can summarize the duties to create an appropriate advertisement. Be sure to include any minimum requirements for the position, such as prior restaurant or management experience. For example, the ad could read as:

Bistro Manager will provide daily management and support, training, and mentoring with restaurant staff, provide excellent service and supply management, and perform all ranges of front and back of the house. At least four years of restaurant experience required. Full-time position, salary starting at $2,490 per month. Send a resume and cover letter to John Ownerman, 1234 Cooking Ave, Anytown, State 00101.

Interviews and the Selection Process

Once you have placed the manager ad, you will likely start seeing applications within a few days. Keep in mind that in the current recruitment environment most applicants will have other established jobs. If you are not receiving enough qualified applicants, then you may have to be creative and seek out recommendations from staff or others in the industry.

Interview Questions

At this point take some time to predetermine a few questions and your expected responses before interviews begin. Schedule the interviews and, if possible, include another member of your team. This will create some balance in decision making and deter any potential complaints from disgruntled applicants.

Some typical questions to consider:

  • Discuss your previous restaurant experience.
  • What is your approach to managing conflict when it arises?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What do you enjoy most about working in a restaurant?
  • If you were training a new person and they kept making the same mistake, how would you manage this issue?
  • Why are you the best candidate for this position?

During the scheduled interviews, take time to describe the type of manager you are looking for. Know which character traits are important for your restaurant specific to leadership, interpersonal skills, and the ability to help any staff in heavy times, all with the ability to think clearly under pressure.

Take notes and ask follow-up questions; however, do not ask personal questions about family or children. Those questions can be misconstrued as discrimination. Once you have asked your questions, provide an opportunity for the applicant to ask you any questions, then answer them honestly.

Consider each applicant individually for their qualities and devise a means of scoring. While often overlooked, it is also important to go with your gut. If something seems off or if you really ‘click’ with an applicant, there is a reason behind either situation.

Hiring and Training

Once you have decided on an appropriate fit, follow up with talking with references about the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. If any concerns are brought up, be sure to get the applicant’s side of the story and make the most informed decision possible. If you have found the perfect candidate, then offer them the position and discuss a start date.

On the first few days of employment spend ample time discussing your expectations, introducing them to existing staff, and providing support and mentorship the way you want them to support staff. Provide hands-on training with the point of sale devices and seize opportunities to introduce them to regulars.

Slowly allow your manager to take on tasks, connect with staff, and eventually run the show. As the manager picks up more duties simply remember to refocus your efforts on the big picture items such as reviewing data, menu updates, and social media and marketing efforts.

Ongoing Efforts as a Management Team

As time goes by and the manager finds a groove in your restaurant, be sure to have regular update meetings and include your manager in big decisions such as budget review, marketing, and staff management. Ensure your manager is motivated and provide regular constructive feedback. This helps build respect, trust, and accountability.

To build your manager’s skills, be sure to discuss room for professional growth and provide opportunities. This could include proposing new menu options, leading a training session for staff, or providing input on purchases.

In the end, selecting a restaurant manager will be a difficult decision. Great managers need to be firm yet understanding, with a level of confidence to ensure you don’t have to micromanage them. Another aspect of successful managers is someone who can strike a balance between being second-in-command and keeping things under control without your presence. Once you’ve found one though, your restaurant business will be that much smoother.

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