Making the Right Hire

Making the right hire for your foodservice operation

DiningRD mydrd Hire

People are the greatest asset to an organization, and perhaps that is no more true than in the world of foodservice operations for long-term care facilities. Residents deserve to have their every want and need catered to by your staff, whether it’s you as the foodservice manager or your greeters, servers, cooks, and other wait staff. These are people the residents will interact and develop trusting relationships with every day, so making the right hire is critical. At DiningRD, it’s important to us that we offer as much advice as possible for every aspect of your foodservice operation. And that includes the hiring process!

What hiring criteria you “should” be focused on

When trying to make the right hire, it’d be nice if the person who’s applying has foodservice experience in a healthcare setting. But it’s not a must-have. The reality is that you can train someone to grow into their position. What you can’t teach them are the minimum standards that make a great employee such as:

  • Customer service skills
  • Willingness to learn new things
  • Dependability and self-motivation
  • Team-oriented attitude

Focusing on the real “must-haves” helps you know exactly what your ideal candidate looks like before you meet them. You will also avoid costly hiring mistakes and pick up on red flags.

Red flags can include any of the following:

  • Showing up late to the interview
  • Unprofessional appearance
  • Negativity in their responses or attitude
  • Inability to follow directions 

Conducting the interview — Structured vs. Unstructured

Structured interviews are those in which you prepare predetermined questions. Some are basic, such as, “Can you work nights and weekends?” or “what makes you interested in this position?” Others are more situational or behavioral, where the candidate must craft their response to your made-up scenario and share real experiences. Asking these questions allows you to compare job candidates and reduce biased opinions for each candidate. For example:

“Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for work?”

“Describe a situation where you saw a problem and took steps to fix it?”

“Tell me about a situation when your job went through big changes. How did you adjust?”

Additional questions you can ask during structured interviews include:

  1. What is the easiest part of being a server? What’s the most difficult?
  2. How many customers or tables are you used to or able to serve at one time?
  3. What would you say if a guest asked you a question that you didn’t have an answer to?
  4. How do you handle a fast-paced working environment?
  5. What does the word hospitality mean to you?
  6. If you were interviewing someone for this position, what traits would you look for?

Meanwhile, unstructured interviews are improvised. There isn’t a predetermined list of questions. Instead, you’re free-styling as you go and throwing in relevant questions based on responses to each question. With unstructured interviews, there is the likelihood that you open yourself up to potential mistakes. This can include everything from overlooking red flags to making a rushed hire. Additional mistakes can include:

  • Asking too many closed questions (yes or no)
  • Sugarcoating the job
  • Hiring someone with an unimpressive resume
  • Ignoring previous hiring mistakes that led to unnecessary turnover

If you want to make the right hire, PLAN IN ADVANCE

  • Choose a private environment that is free from interruption.
  • Set a beginning time and stick to it.
  • Read over the application form before the interview.
  • Come up with questions beforehand.
  • Provide enough time to have all questions answered.

A successful dining operation starts by making the right hire

For hiring foodservice managers — Evaluate problem-solving skills and even issue an aptitude test for basic kitchen management, sanitation skills, etc.

For hiring cooks — Focus on their length of previous employment and how long they’ve been cooking. Is there stability in their work history? Also, evaluate the type of previous experience they have (scratch cooking vs. prepared foods).

For hiring serving staff — Focus on their personality and ability to take on detail-oriented work.

Achieving the perfect dining experience is a delicate balancing act that requires you to look at everything — including who you will hire next. And we are here to help you get there!


Health Technologies is committed to improving dining and nutrition services in healthcare communities through expert clinical consulting, innovative menu solutions, and training support for foodservice teams.

We nurture joy through food with long term care dining programs. Call us today!

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