Most companies take corporate branding and their public reputation very seriously, usually having a financial budget to promote their unique brand and its benefits. Why then does the notion of being a preferred brand in the eye of the public, so often fall away when it comes to the interview and selection process? It makes no business sense, and yet job candidates are still too often subjected to poor treatment by recruiting companies.

Here are 10 important points to remember when you are next recruiting staff for your hospitality establishment.

Acknowledge your job applicants

All too frequently candidates complain that after they have applied to an advertised job vacancy, they never hear back from that company. A candidate who has taken the trouble to write you a covering letter and send their CV will naturally feel disgruntled if they never hear a word back regarding their application. And of course, they will tell others.

At the very least, if you really do not have the time or manpower to respond to everyone, put the following lines at the bottom of your advert: “We thank you for your interest in our company. Our closing date for applications is ….. If you have not heard back from us within 2 weeks of that date, please take it that your application was unsuccessful on this particular occasion.” In this way, candidates are clear about your hospitality recruitment process.

Ideally however, after your closing date, you should assess CVs against your selection criteria and send out an email or letter to those who have not made the grade. Not only will this make them feel acknowledged, they will also appreciate your time and professionalism.

Be open and let candidates know what to expect

The rest of your candidates should now be called in to interview. If you have an application form that they need to fill out, send it out prior to the interview. Sitting in your reception area filling out application forms is not a good idea unless it is your intention is to make them feel like they are in a medical waiting room.

Be sure you also let them know exactly what information they need to bring along with them for example, written references, pay slips, ID book or chef’s portfolio.

Provide them with a time and date of interview well in advance, bearing in mind that currently employed candidates will need to organize time off work. Also let them know who they will be meeting and the person’s designation in your company. Candidates will appreciate knowing if they are meeting one interviewer or going into a panel interview situation.

An interview is an assessment, but candidates who know what is expected of them will be better prepared, more relaxed, and ultimately perform better.

Know the Employment Equity Act (EEA)

It is illegal to discriminate against job applicants directly or indirectly on certain grounds. If you don’t know what those grounds are, refer to the Department of Labour’s summarized act.

For the purposes of discrimination, a job applicant in South Africa has the same rights as a full time employee and can sue you for up to 6 months salary if they claim that your recruitment process was biased. The onus is on you, the employer, to prove that it was not.

Remember to that if your company is taken to the CCMA it is a matter of public record. Don’t do that to yourself.

Don’t leave Interviewees Waiting

If a candidate turned up 20 minutes late for an interview, you would most likely not employ them. Therefore if you leave candidates waiting in your lobby for 20 minutes, they may very well not want to work for you either.

Clear your schedule

Make sure to clear your busy schedule, hold your calls, and don’t answer your cell phone in the middle of an interview! Switch it off. And your pager, and your blackberry and any other wonderful technological invention that can go beep or bleep.

Allow Enough Time for the Interview

A rushed interview does not create a good impression. Remember that candidates have taken care to dress appropriately, research your company, take time off work and travel to your venue, therefore an interview conducted in 10 minutes will leave them feeling understandably frustrated. You should allow 45-60 minutes per interview, and for senior positions, possibly more. Let your candidates do 70-80% of the talking.

Don’t read candidates their own CVs

A good hiring manager can set the candidates CV to one side and discuss their background from memory. All too often recruiters read off the CV, saying, “Oh, I see you’ve worked here. Oh, I see you’ve worked there.” Well, the candidates know where they have worked, so what is the point? In addition, it is teaching you nothing about them that you can’t read on paper.

Clarify any questions that you have on their CV such as gaps between jobs or reasons for leaving jobs. Then move on to asking structured interview questions.

Ask Structured Interview Questions

A structured interview is a set of pre-planned questions that get asked to every candidate applying for a particular job. This serves two main purposes:

In terms of the EEA, your interview sheets are your proof that you have asked all candidates the same set of questions thereby treating them equally.
Structured interviews provide you with a comparable set of responses for you to consider when choosing between candidates.

Close the interview professionally
When closing the interview, ask candidates if they have any questions for you.

Thank them for their time, and be sure to let them know what to expect from here on. For example, will there be second interviews, a cook-off for chef positions, or a trial? If you are still interviewing many more candidates, let them know so as their expectations are not raised out of proportion.

If you know that a particular candidate is definitely not right for a job, but do not want to tell them face-to-face, simply say: “We still have several other candidates to interview. When we have completed that process in 2 weeks time, we will be contacting all applicants in writing to let them know the next step.” Then do it.

Don’t offer a worse salary & benefits than what you advertised

So you originally advertised your job at R15 000 per month in order to attract top candidates. Now that you have found the perfect candidate, you decide to offer them R12 000 pm to “see how it goes”. Not good. Even if the candidate accepts the job, and never says so to your face, this will always leave a bad taste in the mouth and leave some doubt as to your integrity.

Put simply, your hiring managers should understand that the recruitment process is also a PR exercise from start to finish, with your company’s reputation on the line at every stage.

Every candidate is a potential customer. Treat them with the dignity and respect that you would your customers, and you can’t go wrong.

Pre-interview Planning

1. All questions asked should be predetermined and relate to the selection criteria outlined in the job analysis.
2. Ask behavioural questions which require applicants to describe how she/he would perform the various duties by outlining what and how she/he has performed in the past.

Focus on:

past behaviour (not beliefs, feelings or speculations);
the process of doing the tasks/duties;
if necessary you should use follow-up questions to ensure that you understand:
the situation, or circumstances surrounding the action being described;
the specific action, what the person actually did; and
the outcome of their action(s)
Ask situational/scenario questions i.e. ones which describe a situation the job incumbent may face and ask how they would deal with such an issue.
4. All questions should be planned to be asked of all candidates in the same order. This ensures that there is a comparable set of responses for the interviewer (s) to consider.
5. Review the field of candidates to be interviewed and clarify anything that may araise, eg. missing information
6. Review what can and cannot be asked in interviews in relation to The Employment Equity Act:
6.1 Generally, questions about the work are permissible.
6.2 Do not ask about:
Marital status/Occupation of spouse
Ethnic background
Personal or family matters, eg child care arrangements for working parents

The Interview

The interviewer introduces the candidate to any other interviewers and explains the purpose and format of the interview.
Ask the same work-related questions to all candidates in the same order.
Allow at least 45-60 minutes per interview, perhaps more for senior positions.
Try to ensure that the candidate does 70-80 percent of the talking. This ensures that various communication and interpersonal skills can be properly evaluated.
Ensure to ask the candidate if there is any more information relevant to the application which they wish to bring to our attention?”
Ask the candidate when she/he could start work if they were successful.
Explain what happens next and the approximate time frame for the decision
Thorough interview preparation is one of the most important aspects of successful hiring. Even busy managers can increase their company`s recruiting power and differentiate themselves by diligently following a preparation checklist.

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