Posted by Colin Ransom on 13 Nov 2012

At this time of year I’m always asked for advice on recruiting staff for the Christmas period. I’ve called this post Seasonal Recruitment rather than Christmas Recruitment, because for some of our clients, the summer holiday period is their peak trading time. Here are some of the tips I’ve shared with clients:

1. Start early

In fact, never stop. There’s nothing to say you can’t collect CV’s at any time, whether or not you have a vacancy. Do be careful, though, that your ads are not misleading in any way. You cannot advertise a position that doesn’t exist. The more CVs you collect, the more you have to choose from when you do need some>body. As a general rule of thumb, though, the Christmas recruitment process should really begin at the beginning of September.

2. Vet CVs as they come in

Set up a filing system and read the CV before filing it. Those applicants who aren’t suitable can then be filed separately from those who are. This will mean that when you’re arranging interviews, you will have a pile of pre-screened CVs.

3. Remember the Data Protection Act

The Act states that personal data should not be kept longer than is necessary for the particular purpose for which it is being retained. A retention period of up to six months (for the CV) is likely to be regarded as acceptable in these circumstances.

4. Students

Are a Godsend. It’s always worth having links with local colleges and universities, especially those with hospitality and catering faculties. Some hospitality management students will be required to undertake a work placement as part of their degree course. This could be good development both for you and for the student.

5. Beware of friends

And friends of friends. Sometimes business and pleasure just don’t mix.

6. Experience isn’t always essential

Don’t be put off by those with no experience in the industry. Look for transferrable skills. Anyone who has had a successful career elsewhere in a service industry will likely be a good choice for a front of house position.

7. Don’t be afraid to employ people who are “better” than you.

That’s right. Clearly this applies mostly to management. But employing somebody with a wealth of experience and knowledge beyond your own shouldn’t be seen as a threat, but a positive thing.

8. Plan the interview properly

Allocate enough time when you know you’re not going to be needed. Remember you need to make an important decision about this person and to a degree, the future of your business, based on the information you gather over the course of this interview. Write everything down so you can refer to it later. Ask open-ended, probing questions. Make a list of these. Write them down.

9. Think about what you want to ask

  • a. Check that the candidate has a basic background knowledge to your company
  • b. Ask them what skills and qualities they have that they could bring to the business
  • c. Ask them what relevant experience and qualifications they have
  • d. Ask them questions about their CV
  • e. Present them with some scenarios – ask them what they’d do
  • f. Are they personable? Keep in mind that’s it’s an interview and they will probably be quite nervous
  • g. Find out what their long-term plans are. If there was an offer of a permanent position, would they take it?

10. Get a second opinion

If you’re not sure, get someone to sit in on the interview with you.

11. Keep the channels of communication open

Make a decision fairly promptly after interviews is conducted. Contact everybody that you interviewed in a timely manner. This is only fair and you don’t want to damage your rep as an employer.

12. Always check references before you make an offer of employment

Because you just never know.

13. Plan a thorough induction and training plan

Training is often a low priority in hospitality. But getting this right at the beginning is essential if you want your new member of staff to really come good for you over the busy period. It will also make your new employee(s) feel as if you value and respect them.

These are just a few tips on recruitment. For further information, contact Ransom Harris.

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