HUMAN RESOURCES: Hiring and keeping your employees, Part 2

Aug. 3, 2005

This week, PizzaMarketplace continues a five-part assessment of human resources topics by expert Alan Guinn. Guinn has spent more than 25 years in the foodservice industry, both in operations and in consulting. Currently he is chief executive and managing director of The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc.

The more insight gained prior to making critical hiring decisions, the more objective determination an operator is able to make. The comfort with which both parties approach the interview

Alan Guinn.

process can make the difference in a poor interview and a great one.

You will have ascertained either prior to, or during the early part of a face-to-face interview, whether a candidate will meet your necessary skill requirements, ability and knowledge requirements. It's time to use comparative interview as a final determinant of whether you'll hire the applicant.

CI allows you to test the responses of a potential employee to verbal questions and assess responses as they will impact your business. The technique arose out of the concept of behavioral interviewing, which is the practice of asking questions and allowing a job candidate to relate specific experiences to something he or she has successfully accomplished previously. It is a process generally accepted as representing a high probability of success prediction.

The most critical attributes of a new hire are generally those that are the most difficult to measure objectively, but which can create the largest impact on your customers, clients and guests.

CI reaches a step further, however, in that you identify the specific traits which you believe are important in your particular business and actually complete a comparative analysis between your needs and those qualities offered by the candidate. Using the technique is not difficult, it's not time consuming and it's a way to feel much more comfortable with your hiring choices. Moreover, it's a way to determine that you are placing the correct job candidates in the correct positions. And, of course, the end result is the best of all — it works.

Many managers responsible for hiring follow a template developed with specific questions to avoid possible legal entanglements. It's time to add a few questions to your template.

What categories must be added? The answer to that depends entirely on you, your management style, and your business needs.

Before we start examining additions to the interview template, however, let be sure you are approaching this process in the right manner. Ask yourself the following questions:

· How committed am I, through the interviewing process, to find the best person for this position?
· Am I approaching the process with pre-determined ideas and thoughts about which "type" of employee might best fill this position?
· Will my attitude be positive during the interview?
· Am I the correct person to be conducting this interview?
· Will I objectively see the best characteristics of the interviewee during the process?
· Can I invest the time in the interview process to truly make the interviewee feel comfortable and welcome in our operation?
· Should I have another manager/supervisor with me to assist in the Q&A?

Your answers to these questions determine the next steps in the process. Assuming you have reviewed these questions, feel comfortable with your command of the situation and are ready to move forward, it's time to determine the qualities most conducive in correctly assessing job candidates.

Critical business skills

Set consistent objectives to be attained during the interview process. This is important, because each candidate for a position must be treated equally. Be a bit more realistic in determining your principal objective than stating, "To hire the best candidate for the job." Go into the process fully cognizant of both your needs, and the needs of your business. These may be different, and if so — recognize and accept them as such. Understand that both these needs must be met and exceeded for the interview to be of value and the hire to be successful.

CI uses categorical questions to help assess a candidate's potential. Focus open-ended questions on addressing both potential success skills of the candidate and skills critical to the success of your business.

Since it's critical to your business that your employees understand good customer service — and can practice good skills in this area — we'd suggest you include open-ended questions such as, "Tell me how you react in a group situation." Note that we're not asking how a candidate has behaved in the past, or in any given situation, but we're allowing the candidate to set the parameters for the answer. The answers to this specific question offer valuable insight into how the candidate will behave with groups of customers and guests.

Another critical employee quality is honesty and integrity. In a recent survey, 87 percent of managers listed honesty or integrity as the quality most sought after in an applicant. How can we determine honesty or integrity in an interview? An open ended question such as, "Assume you're overpaid on a paycheck. How do you handle it?" does not entrap a candidate, or assume he or she will keep the overpayment, but offers a true open-ended opportunity for the candidate to respond. It also allows you to assess the candidate's knowledge of management skills and interaction capabilities.

Most QSR and fast casual — as well as retail businesses in general — depend upon attributes of employee dependability. Will the employee show up on time, when scheduled, and work the full shift as needed? Open-end comments such as, "Tell me what makes you dependable," allow candidates to highlight their personal characteristics without conveying pre-supposed deficiencies.

At GCG, we've developed a one-page series of CI questions you may utilize to learn about a candidate's

start quoteUsing (comparative interviewing) is not difficult, it's not time consuming and it's a way to feel much more comfortable with your hiring choices.end quote

— Alan Guinn

grasp of critical business skills. Included in the 2005 Q1 Resource Guide, we've designed questions impacting the importance to your operations, and what may be desired outcomes.

We believe categories of critical business skills must include:

· interaction with others
· honesty and integrity
· dependability
· forthrightness and determination
· flexibility
· leadership and resourcefulness
· confidence

As in any type of modification to your interviewing program, remember to discuss the questions developed with a trusted legal advisor, making sure that in your creation of questions you have not inadvertently crossed into an undefined area of employment law.

In my next column, I'll discuss both rating the interview and the steps necessary in the hiring process to offer the best opportunity for developing a long-term working relationship with your new hire.

* This story appeared originally on

* Read also:
HUMAN RESOURCES: Hiring and keeping employees

Topics: Operations Management

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