Staffing | 6 min read

3 Hiring Mistakes To Avoid

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By Anthony Lambatos,

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This guest post comes to us from Anthony Lambatos. Anthony is melding the historic Footers name with new and exciting trends in catering. He grew up in the business, from scraping plates for his dad, founder of Footers Catering Jimmy Lambatos, to hosting his own concession stand at Parade of Homes in High School. He has worked full time for Footers Catering since 2004 as Vice President and became Co-Owner and CEO at the beginning of 2010. Anthony is passionate about taking the knowledge he has learned from his Father and putting a fresh spin on it. Anthony and his wife, April, are also the founders of MIBE Tribe (acronym for Make It Better Everyday), which provides education and coaching around heart leadership and intentional culture building for companies in the hospitality industry.

Hiring new employees is one of the most difficult challenges for any business.  Just when you think everything is firing on all cylinders, someone gives their notice and you’re forced to divert your attention from the work that you love to replace a team member.  There is no question that this is a time consuming process, however making the wrong hire can be costly and have long term negative effects on your business. I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes over the years and seen many caterers stumble through the process.  Here are three common mistakes to avoid when you’re looking for your next hire.

1. Fishing in Shallow Waters

If you start with a mediocre pool of candidates and you pick the best one, then all you are doing is picking the least mediocre.  This is where there traditional hiring funnel can come back to bite you. “Get a bunch of resumes, narrow those down to ones you want to interview, pick the best three to come in for a second interview and hire the best one.”  Most employers search for new candidates by marketing toward the active job seekers: people who are either unemployed or looking for a new job. Ideally you want to be marketing toward the passive job seekers or sleeper candidates – people that are currently employed doing a good job, and open to making a move.

To expand your candidate pool I suggest using “Talent Folders”.  At Footers we have a mantra that we should “Always be Recruiting”.  If you continually look for talented people (even when you’re not hiring) you are one step ahead when you actually have to start the process.  When you come across someone you think would be awesome on your team, put their information into a “Talent Folder” to save for later. Once an appropriate position comes open, you can reach out to them to see if they are interested or know someone else who might be.

2. Asking Theoretical Questions

Theoretical questions get theoretical answers.  Candidates are more prepared than ever for the interview process.  They are often coached on what to say and have access to endless tips on how to best present themselves.  It’s imperative to ask for specific examples of their previous work and how they handled similar situations that they will be in if you hire them for the job.  Don’t ask; “How would you handle an upset customer?” Instead ask; “Tell me about a time when you had to interact with an upset customer? Then ask a myriad of follow up questions:

  • Did anyone else help you with that interaction?
  • What solution did you come up with for them?
  • What happened after that experience?
  • Did you get any special recognition?
  • Were any process changes made as a result of this incident that you were part of?

The more concrete questions you ask, the clearer the picture becomes of the candidate.

3. Desperation Hiring

Resist the urge to settle on a candidate that you don’t feel one hundred percent sure about simply because work is piling up.  It is tempting to get someone in the door quickly before a departing team member’s two-week notice is up. Or, maybe they’ve already left, and your team is falling behind picking up the extra slack.  We’ve all been there before, and while hiring someone fast may be a short term fix, settling for the wrong person can cause serious long term problems. Hire slowly and take your time to make sure you find the right person for the job.

If you need additional help to get the job done in the short term look to those on your team who might have some additional capacity, even if they don’t work in that department. Do you have a service staff person looking for extra hours that could come in and complete some paperwork to help ease the load on your sales team? Don’t be afraid to get creative as you look for the right hire.

Eye on the prize: Focus on top talent

By avoiding these three very common mistakes, you can improve your hiring and ensure that you are adding top talent to your team. Those are the people that will continue to move your company forward and bring you success in the long run.