You have a vision. How you want your customers to be treated. The atmosphere of your company. The feeling clients get when they interact with you. As a manager / owner / entrepreneur, you make sure to deliver this feeling with every single interaction, but you’re only one person. When you’re hiring staff, how do you ensure they deliver this same feeling? Especially if they are part-time?
We had the great pleasure of speaking with Jesse Kupina, Principal Partner of Central Social Hall. Jesse’s success in the hospitality industry speaks for itself, with great food, fun atmosphere, and incredible service. We couldn’t help but wonder – how has the team at Central created such a wonderful atmosphere?
Full-time Vs. Part-time
Working in hospitality, Jesse guesses about 30% of his staff are full-time, the other 70% are employed part-time to provide service during typical hospitality industry rush periods – dinner time and weekends. This means that working in hospitality is usually a secondary employment behind school or other full-time work for most of his team. According to Jesse, full-time employees have greater cultural submersion because they are present day-to-day. Employees who are in the store less frequently are less influenced by the atmosphere and culture of the restaurant. They can also be more concerned with their full-time endeavors such as school or full-time work. Because part-time employees are less impacted by the cultural submersion from being in store every day, Jesse stresses hiring for fit; “skill and experience are second to attitude. It’s a personality that we’re looking for. Those traits are primary – then they are trained to be a great server, or bartender, or back of house – although being a good cook does help”.
Hiring for Fit
Challenges exist for hiring part-time and full-time employees. Hiring part-time employees can be trickier, according to Jesse, because it tends to be supplemental for both the applicant and employer. Both are trying to fill holes in their schedule. Scheduling is often a challenge because many part-time employees are primarily seeking income and not a position that aligns with their values. There is a certain level of transience in the industry as employees move based on the highest earning potential rather than cultural fit. Jesse often provides scheduling priority to full-time employees, and those with tenure. Finding employees who want to work their way up can still prove to be a challenge, with even full-time employees only staying for about a year on average, and few with the desire to manage in hospitality.
Tools & Techniques
To overcome some of the challenges, Jesse stresses hiring for fit by looking for the right attitude for your company culture. One of the techniques he uses to determine this fit is conducting multiple interviews with very open-ended questions. Some questions may seem a bit unusual, such as: What shows are you binging on Netflix, and: Have you ever been the new kid at school? Overall, the questions are aimed at getting a feel for the candidate’s personality, attitude, and outlook on life. Successful candidates would then go through orientation and informational training. Jesse suggests that “over the first few weeks, you can usually see if the employee will or won’t be a fit”.
We asked Jesse if he has had any revelations in his hiring experience which have surprised him. One of his biggest surprises has been the value candidates who have been on sports teams has brought to his team. Their attitude and ability to work as a team has sometimes proven to make them more successful in the long-term and more likely to enter management than someone who has more experience. In fact, some candidates who have had negative past experiences can negatively impact culture based on what they have learned from those experiences. Because of this, according to Jesse: “the interview process is key. Gauging a person’s personality is difficult on a resume, so you really need to have those interviews with open ended questions to get a better understanding of the person”. Jesse admits he will sometimes purposefully bring people in who do not have experience but have a great attitude. Other times he looks forward to hiring employees who are experienced and have been trained by other great establishments.
Final 3 Tips
With so much great experience, we asked Jesse what final three pieces of advice he would offer to someone who is trying to hire employees that will fit into their culture, and he did not disappoint! Jesse’s three tips are:
“Ask the right questions. If you want teamwork – ask about teams. If people are going to be working in cubicles – ask questions about working autonomously”.
“Take risks on employees and think outside the box – we’ve often seen this pay off. Don’t solely look at their experience. Get them to the interview so you can ask questions”.
“Stay on them in the beginning – Check-in with employees a lot in the first three months. We exist in a culture that is inspired and dependent on likes and clicks – if we’re not giving constant feedback – they may not be engaged, or we may not know how they are doing. Both constructive and positive feedback is crucial. How are you feeling? How are you liking working here? Is anything making you feel frustrated? If an employee leaves a company, we often think “oh they weren’t a good fit for us” but turn it around – why were we not working for them? People don’t quit jobs, they quit employers. What did we miss? The culture? The manager? How can we improve? We don’t look enough into this”.
Thank you again, so much to Jesse Kupina for sharing his insights and tips for hiring employees who will provide the incredible experience that we have seen so often at Central Social Hall!
Do you have any other tips for hiring employees for fit? Have you seen something work well, or seen an opportunity to improve? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us more in the comments below! If you find yourself in downtown Edmonton or St. Albert, be sure to check out Central Social Hall for some fantastic wings and doughnuts (yes… doughnuts!).