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Below are tips for almost every aspect of the hiring process.  Every company operates differently and these may or may not be in the order that you will need, but everything should be covered here.  Continue to scroll for each step in the interview process.

THE PHONE INTERVIEW

Preparing For The Phone Interview

I speak to many restaurant managers who have not interviewed with a hiring company in many years.  A lot has happened in the coarse of those years.  Many have held tightly to the job they have in a struggling economy–and it is easy to hide under a rock as the rest of the world continues to move at the speed of light.  Many candidates do not know how to navigate the first step in the interview process–the phone interview.  Here are some basic do’s and don’t’s that can move you into the hired or declined category quickly.

Rule 1: Do NOT schedule the phone screen for the morning after you close your restaurant.

This seems obvious, but it is surprising the amount of people who do not realize how much brain power a phone interview can use!  Many people also underestimate the power of an energetic voice on the phone as well.  Remember, the interviewer is considering trusting you with a million dollar (oftentimes multi-million dollar) business.  If you sound like you are dying on the phone, you are at a deficit.

Rule 2.  Do NOT miss the call.

This seems obvious as well.  However, many candidates do not consider things like poor cell service or dead batteries.  The interviewer has set aside valuable time for you, the best way to be grateful for their time is to ensure that you are in a clear cell service place; ensure that your battery is charged and ignore any calls that come in at the scheduled time (in fact, 5 minutes BEFORE the scheduled time).  When you miss the call you get put on a long list of things that the interviewer has to do; you are already at a deficit.

Rule 3.  Do NOT have an inappropriate ring back number or answering machine message.

This should have been rule number 1.  There are few things that will make an interviewer hang up the phone more than a blaring, inappropriate ring back sound.  You are being judged by this (incidentally, this is true about your email address too).  Additionally, your message should be appropriate for that of a job seeker.  If it is rude or unprofessional, you are at a deficit.

Rule 4.  Listen more than you speak.  Do not interrupt.

Let the interviewer drive the conversation.  Answer questions succinctly.  Remember, your goal is to get past the phone interview and to a face to face interview.  If the interviewer can not get a word in edgewise, you go to the bottom of the list, and you guessed it, at a deficit.

Rule 5.  Wait for the face to face interview for salary, benefits and hours questions.

Wait to get through their process before you ask these questions.  Even if you were recruited by a third party recruiting company, you still have to compete for the job.  There is a proper time and place for these questions.  The phone screen is not that place.  If you are all about getting at double digit percentage wage, the hiring company will go with a candidate that is not.  If you are as good as you say you are, these things will take care of themselves.  If you are all about the money, guess what?  You are at a deficit.

What SHOULD you do?  

Rule 1: PREPARE

It won’t take you long.  Research the company.  Jot down what you do on a daily basis at your restaurant.  Be prepared to answer all the normal interview questions.  If you are prepared, it tells the interviewer that you are interested in the opportunity and you are at an advantage.

Rule 2: Be Grateful

It doesn’t take much.  Thank the interviewer for their time.  Time is money, and they have decided to spend theirs on you.  A grateful heart transcends industries, religions, and technology.  Be grateful.  Everybody likes to be thanked for their time.  When you do this, you are at an advantage.

Rule 3: Follow Up

It will separate you from the masses.  Follow up with either the company interviewing you or the company that recruited you.  The more you are in the story the more all involved want you to become the main character.  When you are professionally persistent, you are at an advantage.

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APPLICATION AND ASSESSMENT

 

Necessary.  Frustrating.  Helpful.  Important.  Useful.  Essential.

Time Consuming.

Prerequisite.

Required.

These are all words that describe the online application process.  This process can add a significant amount of time to the recruiting process and many times candidates lose interest or don’t have time for these processes.

However, if you can stay with it, and complete the online process, many times the pay off is well worth it.  The online process usually includes an online application (which makes your information easy to access at offer time) and an assessment.  Most of our clients require the completion of such before a phone interview.  This is often disconcerting to the passive job seeker.  When you do finally get to the online process there are some basic things to remember.

1. Remember that this information is permanent.  I have spoken to many candidates who have completed an online assessment for our client’s in the past.  Usually, this information can be recalled with the click of a mouse.  Therefore,

2. WAIT and start the assessment when you have plenty of time to complete the online assessment.  Do not rush it and

3. WAIT until you are rested and able to recall information quickly.  Also, remember,

4. Prepare by having some basic equipment and services.  Make sure you have a reliable internet connection; make sure you have scratch paper available as well as a calculator.  Finally,

5. Answer questions honestly.  Do not cherry pick.  Many of these online assessments are used as tools to test for a culture fit.  Do not answer the questions the way you think the hiring company wants you to answer them.  Answer them honestly and most accurately, in your own opinion.

6.  Honor your word.  If you give a deadline that you will have completed this task, honor that to the best of your ability

7.  Wait until you can complete the application and or assessment on a computer versus a tablet or a smart phone.  Using a table is not the worst thing in the world, but it generally is not a good idea to complete these on a cell phone.  

8.  Provide a professional email address.  While sometimes fun, email addresses that are unprofessional will sometimes completely knock you out of the running regardless of your test results.  If you are concerned that you may have an email address that is inappropriate, it is highly recommended that you create an email address that is professional for this process.

Online assessments are not going anywhere.  While many of us would prefer the traditional recruiting model, remember that this is a change that is here to stay.  Like difficult “weed-out” classes in high school and college, these assessments are meant to test not only basic management skills, but also your ability to follow through with basic instructions.  The MOST common problem with candidates and online applications and assessments are either a technical issue or a broken computer.  If you have technical issues, contact either the hiring company or us immediately so that this issue can be resolved.  If you are having computer issues, there are options such as the public library or internet cafes where you can complete this very important part of the process.  

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RESUME PREPARATION

Candidates with resumes ready for the client will land on the list much higher than a candidate without one.  Most candidates will lose the job opportunity because of the inability to get a resume together.  Do not over-think your resume.  It should be one page and should cover at least 7 years of your employment history.  Be succinct and parallel.  Here is an example of succinct and parallel:

  1. Work with corporate office to ensure proper customer satisfaction.
  2. Work with  General Manager to ensure lower food and labor costs.
  3. Work with team members to help them develop important skills

When you are succinct and parallel on your resume, you will be set apart from the rest.  Remember, the hiring authority might have 50 resumes to review.  Make sure your resume quickly reflects your skills.  Here are a few additional tips for resume preparation:

    1.  Tell the truth, the truth is the easiest thing to remember.  Refrain from embellishing your resume.

    2.  Keep your resume to one page and 10 years of experience.

    3.  Provide references on the resume itself if possible.

    4.  Explain discrepancies or gaps in employment notate it with an * and at the bottom of your resume indicate that you will         explain the gaps of employment when given the opportunity to speak to someone via a phone interview or face to face.  This is also true if you have taken steps backwards in position or restaurant genre (full service vs fast food etc).

    5.  Proof your resume, and ensure that there are no grammar or spelling errors.  The easiest way to do this is to use a word processing program like Microsoft Word or something similar.

    6.  Print several copies of your resume as well as email it to yourself in the even that your computer crashes.

Face TO FACE INTERVIEW–TIPS AND APPROPRIATE QUESTIONS TO ASK IN AN INTERVIEW

When you are scheduled for the interview,  there is certainly a time and place for all questions, but there are a few that are perfectly appropriate to ask in the first interview.  These questions are indicators of your interest, yet not the kind of questions that sends red flags to the interviewer.  However, before we get to the questions, let’s cover a few general rules for the face to face interview.

       1.  Dress to impress.  Business causal is the minimum you should consider.  If you get a chance, find out what the managers wear to work and step it up one notch from that.  If they wear a company polo shirt, do not wear a similar shirt to the interview.   For men, a tie and a long sleeve shirt is appropriate, in some cases a nice button down shirt without a tie is also appropriate. Most times a blazer is optional for men.  Make sure your clothes are not wrinkled and without stains.  Women, dress suits are appropriate or a modest dress that also conveys a professional message.

        2.  Cover all visible tattoos, if possible.  Men remove earrings for the interview.  

        3.  Arrive on time (if not 5  or 10 minutes early) to the interview.

        4.  Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and eye contact.

Now it is time for appropriate questions for the interview.  Generally speaking, you want to steer clear on questions pertaining to salary and benefits until a second interview.  Unless the interviewer brings this subject up, avoid asking those questions on the first interview.  Here are some great questions to ask:

Do you see my experience fitting well within your organization?

Can you tell me a little about the growth of the company?

What is the average tenure of your management team?

How fast are you looking to make a decision?

Does your company have any programs that donate to charitable organizations.

SHADOW SHIFT/JOB PREVIEW TIPS

The Shadow Shift is increasingly becoming an important part of the interview process.  It is the opportunity for your potential employer to place you into situations that you will face if you accept a job with them.  This is also a time for you to know if their company is one that you like.  It is an opportunity for you to gain a perspective of the culture of the company as well as the customer base.  It can be awkward and one of the most common questions I get from candidates is “what can I expect from the shadow shift?”.  It is a good question and one that deserves attention.  It is difficult to narrow down all the things you should acknowledge as different companies look for different traits.  However, there are a few things all companies are seeking.  Let’s first address those common characteristics.

  • Energy that translates to those around you
  • Enthusiasm for your chosen vocation
  • Excellence in customer service and employee relations
  • Experience in common restaurant duties
  • Engaging personality

Five-E's

With those things in mind, here are 7 practical tips for the shadow shift.

  1. Dress appropriately.  Ask your point of contact (usually a company recruiter) what appropriate dress is for your time in the restaurant.  If you are unable to get this information, generally business causal with appropriate shoes for the restaurant will work.
  2. Plan well.  Pay attention to the location of the restaurant.  Make sure it is a good distance from your current place of employment–this lowers the chance that somebody from your current company will see you completing the Shadow Shift.
  3. Research thoroughly.  Take a few minutes to research your potential employer.  Take a quick glance at the menu as well as any articles that may have been recently published.
  4. Introduce yourself immediately.  When you get to the restaurant, find the senior ranking manager on duty.  Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and eye contact.
  5. Work hard.  Every company is different as to what visiting potential managers are allowed to do in the restaurant.  However, ALL restaurants have common tasks.  Find those tasks (i.e.: busting tables, greeting customers, checking bathrooms, trash etc).  Be proactive and just complete those tasks.
  6. Ask Questions.  If you ask questions, it demonstrates that you have genuine interest in the company and that you are interested in a fit that will work in both directions.
  7. Engage with the employees and the customers.  When you do this, you will demonstrate your personality and both parties will be able to ascertain a “culture fit”–both parties will be able to decide if the opportunity would be a positive move for you and for them.

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ACCEPTANCE, COUNTER-OFFER OR DECLINING ON AN OFFER

Chances are, if you have gotten to the offer stage, you, as well as the company have identified that you are a good fit for a management opportunity.  Generally speaking, most offers are given verbally and then followed up in writing by the Human Resource Department.  Many times, candidates get through the entire process listed above and then blow it when it comes time to communicate on the offer.  Here are a few tips regarding communication of the offer.

     1.  Listen to the offer intensely and ask any questions that you still have about employment with the company.

     2.  Ask for 12-24 hours to think about the offer.  

     3.  Use those 12-24 hours to seek counsel from several sources.  Find somebody you trust that does not have a stake in your decision (i.e.: a friend vs a spouse).  Speak to your spouse, if appropriate about the offer and what it would mean to your family finances as well as quality of life.  Remember to factor in benefits and how they will be different and how that will affect your family.  Consider growth opportunity with your present company as well as the potential company.  If the offer is at least 10% more than you currently earn, it is not appropriate to counter-offer.  If the offer is less than a 7-10% raise, consider confer-offering but not before getting counsel from your contact at our office, who can also schedule a time for you to speak to the CEO if you feel that would be helpful.  Refrain from the temptation to express anything that could be received as cockiness.  Also, refrain from changing your the salary expectations from what you said in the beginning of the process to the end of the process.  Finally, have a plan in place in the event that your current employer counter-offers.  This is very common and sometimes it makes sense to stay with your current company.  However, a lot of candidates will refuse a better offer from a better company out of pure loyalty.  While this a an admirable trait, it often is the the detriment of your long term career.  

Whatever you decide, it is not a decision that should be made lightly and should be made with the counsel of a few people including our office.  As we demonstrated to you from the beginning we are going to advise you for the best fit for your situation.  Respond to the offer in the time period that you said you would respond and honor your decision. Remember, this is a small world and improper handling the acceptance, counter-offer or declining an offer can come back to haunt you in years to come.  We are here to help you make the best decision for you; understand that oftentimes we have the complete picture and you may not.

 
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