Lynette Williamson
Blog, Operational Efficiency

Hiring fast-food workers is an ongoing issue for most QSRs. While some employees are in it for the long haul, others are just looking for summer work or some extra part-time cash. Hiring the right fast-food workers can help cut down on the headaches that inevitably come with the hiring process. The right workers will stick around longer (reducing your turnover), be better examples for their co-workers (improving quality and engagement), and might even grow into management positions (which has plenty of benefits over hiring managers externally).

Here are some of the best methods some QSRs use to attract and interview for the best talent.

Attracting better candidates

Before you even get to the interview process, you need to attract good applicants. Waiting for candidates to come into a store to ask for a job application may have been the traditional method of recruiting in the past, but if you want to attract better employees, you need to be more proactive.

  1. Focus on your web presence.
    Most job candidates will look for positions online long before setting foot in a store. If the job section of your website is hard to find, or if your site isn’t user-friendly, you’re going to lose potential applicants – especially the more tech-savvy ones. Your website is the public face of your QSR. Don’t take it for granted.

    Go to your website and act as though you wanted to apply for a job, and jot down any stumbling blocks you run into along the way. If your website is managed by corporate or a vendor, share your findings with whoever can make it right. You don’t want the best candidates to skip your website and move to a competitor. 
  2. Rethink your job descriptions.
    Job descriptions are tricky. Nobody likes writing them from scratch, so it’s easy to copy the same job description for years at a time. Unfortunately, that means that many job descriptions are outdated, or they might use language that isn’t very approachable. Your job descriptions are your first engagement with potential candidates, so start things off on the right foot.

    Someone who’s just looking for a part-time gig might not be dissuaded by a clunky job description, but better-qualified candidates look to job descriptions for clues about the job they’re applying for. Use casual, approachable language. Add photos, or maybe a video. Get testimonials from employees who are already working in the position. Good candidates will recognize when an employer cares about the position. And if you’re passionate about hiring, you’ll get that passion back from your applicants.

    If you really don’t have time to write a new job description, try recruiting word-savvy employee to write the first draft. Sometimes having something new to react to can help get you out of a rut. 
  3. Keep your existing employees happy.
    You may not realize it, but you already have a team of the best job recruiters you could ask for: the employees you already have. If your employees love their job, they’ll tell their friends and family (and by that same token, if they’re unhappy, they’re going to tell everyone they know to stay away).

    Talent attracts talent. Your best employees aren’t going to refer their shiftless younger brother who never shows up on time, because they wouldn’t want to work with someone like that. What they will do is tell their talented, responsible peers how much they love their job.

    For more on keeping your existing employees happy, check out our blog on How to better incentivize employees and reduce restaurant turnover rate.
  4. Keep it clean. QSR’s can serve as many as 1,500 people each day. A clean, well kept restaurant with a well trained staff is in itself a great recruiting tool – an environment that will attract employees, restaurant guests, or a friend of someone looking for a job.

Identifying talent in your interviews

Once you’ve encouraged better candidates to apply, you need to be able to pick them out of your pool of applicants. Here are some ways to identify applicants who are in it for the long haul.

  1. Ask “big picture” questions.
    During an interview, it goes without saying that you’ll need to ask applicants about their qualifications – where have they worked before, how well do they work with others, can they handle a cash register, what type of schedule they need, etc.

    Remember that skills like these can be learned. To pick the best candidates out of the pool, get to know the applicant beyond their ability to do the job. Why did they choose to apply at your restaurant over another? What hobbies do they have? If they have gone to or are planning on going to college, what majors are they passionate about? These things might not seem relevant to the job, but getting to know what makes a candidate excited can help you choose employees who will be more engaged with their job. 
  2. Tell candidates about your QSR’s vision, benefits, and culture, and gauge their response.
    You’re passionate about your QSRs, but are your employees? Sometimes a candidate can tell you more with their nonverbal response to a question than with their actual answer. Tell candidates what makes you excited about your business, and see how they react. Ok, they’re probably not going to jump into the air with excitement. But an applicant who seems interested in more of the business than just collecting a paycheck is going to perform better and stick around longer. 
  3. Include shift runners and senior employees in interviews.
    Including your shift runners and your more senior employees in interviews has two major benefits. First, your employees can share their firsthand experience with candidates – this gives applicants a better look at what they’re applying for, and it also gives your existing employees a chance to share their own feedback. Second, including senior employees in interviews gives them a chance to develop skills they could use in management positions, if the time comes for a promotion.

You can’t have a great QSR without great employees. Spend less time hiring replaceable customer service reps so you can spend more time growing your business. Reduce your turnover rate and improve your store quality by hiring the best employees. You won’t regret it.

Get the free ebook "A restaurant leader's guide to maximizing labor efficiency"