Summer is often a busy season for the restaurant industry, but it’s also a great time to add temporary workers like college students to your staff. However, you don’t want to hire just anybody. Your summer workers should be as talented and skilled as your full-time employees. With the right preparation, you can hire the best staff for summertime. 

What to look for in a summer employee

Because they aren’t hiring summer employees for the long-term, many restaurants make the mistake of hiring the first few people who walk in with an application. However, to have a summertime staff that boosts your business, you want to look for certain characteristics during the interview, even if it means passing over the first few candidates until you find the right match.

Here are the top qualities you should be looking for in both front and back-of-house summertime restaurant employees:

  • Sociability
  • Ability to accommodate others
  • Frustration tolerance
  • Drive and energy
  • Integrity
  • Successful multi-tasking skills
  • Persuasiveness
  • Pride in work
  • Teamwork
  • Safety

How to measure a candidate’s skills

Knowing what to look for is one thing, but being able to determine how well a candidate meets the above requirements is another. Fortunately, technology is here to help. Sirvo, for example, allows employers to include a custom question in the job listing to be answered by candidates when applying, which gets the vetting process underway immediately.

In addition to using a tech service to test candidates, your interviews should be situational and specific to the job so you can gauge how well the candidate will work in your environment. Here are a few suggestions of questions to ask during the interview:

  • What would you do if you spilled beer all over a customer?
  • What would you do if one table complained about another table being too loud?

You can also do a menu quiz: ask the candidate to memorize the list, then have them take an online quiz. Accept 80 percent or higher as a passing grade.

Where to find candidates

Seeking candidates for summertime openings can be tricky. Here are some things you can do year-round to make sure you have a pool of quality candidates to choose from when it’s time to amp up your staff:

  • Recruit year-round: Post seasonal jobs on your social media pages, website and other networking sites, like Sirvo. Reach out to seasonal employees from last year or who worked during the holiday season to see if they are available again during the summer.
  • Contact previous candidates: If you were on the fence about a candidate and ended up not hiring them, this can be a good time to check in and bring them in for another interview. They may have gained more experience and/or skills that will be useful this year.
  • Start a referral program: Chances are, your current employees have friends, neighbors, and/or family members who would make great employees. Offer some incentive, like an extra $25 if a referred candidate gets hired and then an additional $50 if they stay on for longer than three months.
  • Seek out non-traditional sources: If you’re looking for more mature employees, look in non-traditional places such as senior centers or VAs for job seekers. These employees can be great additions to your workforce and might only want to work a few months out of the year.

Streamline your summertime training

If you’re frequently hiring seasonal employees, here are some things you should do to simplify the hiring and training process:

  • Set up an orientation: Have all your summertime employees go through a new-hire orientation at the same time. This saves a ton of time since you only need to go through all the required information once instead of individually with each new hire.
  • Stay on top of paperwork: Don’t let the summertime rush get in the way of filing the proper paperwork. Make sure every employee completes their I-9 and W-4 forms before they begin working. Make it part of your orientation to make sure it doesn’t get overlooked.
  • Review the rules for hiring minors: Many high school students work in restaurants over summer break, and the laws are different for them. Make sure to review the most current laws so you know how many hours they can work, when they can work until and any other relevant information.

One final thing to remember is that you generally can’t classify summertime workers as independent contract workers, even though they are only working temporarily. Review the federal guidelines so you understand who qualifies as a contract worker and who should be classified as an employee.

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