Canadian Pizza Magazine

Auditioning for High Morale

Stacy Bradshaw   

Features Business and Operations Staffing

Author discusses how to hire motivated employees

Yes, there are some questions in life we’d just rather
not know the answer to. Whether or not a prospective employee is
dishonest, is not one of them.

Author discusses how to hire motivated employees

Yes, there are some questions in life we’d just rather not know the answer to. Whether or not a prospective employee is dishonest, is not one of them.

Have you ever thought to ask an applicant if their current boss knows they’re interviewing for another job? Maybe they lied and said they were sick. But who cares, right? They’re here now and they’re not going to lie to me.


“Don’t kid yourself.”

At the recent New York Pizza Expo, Carol Hacker, best-selling author and founding president of a skill-building enterprise for human resource management, portrayed the interview as a proverbial crystal ball – an opportunity for employers to ask those tough questions that may prevent decisions that are very difficult to “unmake.”

First, you must attract highly motivated and enthusiastic individuals to your establishment.

Hacker suggests uncovering ways to create excitement about your business. Have business cards printed that read, “If you’re looking for a position with a great restaurant or pizzeria, call us,” with your contact information on the flipside. Empower your employees by having them hand the cards out to people they think would be good representatives of the business.

Even if you are involved in multiple locations, each one of those restaurants has their own culture, said Hacker.

Define what you are looking for in terms of work experience, specific skills and qualities. Then decide if the candidate is going to fit into the culture of your business.

Hacker also suggests interviewers take the opportunity to build a relationship with the prospective employee. Help applicants feel comfortable so they are honest with their answers. Simple things like asking them if they need to use the restroom before you start will help alleviate tension that may cause them to clam up.

Take control
The author also recommends starting with the following phrase: “We’re going to spend a few minutes talking today, I’m going to ask you a few questions and when I’m done I’ll invite you to ask me anything you want.” 

Take control of the interview, and don’t commit to a half-hour or hour-long interview, because you might discover immediately they’re not what you are looking for.

“The number one mistake hiring managers make is talking too much during the interview,” Hacker said.

The “80/20 rule” states a hiring manager should be listening 80 per cent of the time and talking only 20 per cent of the time.

Use behaviour-based questions
Hypothetical questions: “If I were to criticize you about your performance, how would you react?” Give the applicant an opportunity to tell you whatever they think you want to hear.

Behaviour-based questions: “Give me an example of a time you were criticized by someone at work or school,” are worded in the past tense and encourage honesty, using real-life examples.

“The past is a reliable prediction of the future,” explained Hacker.

If a resume boasts that an applicant can make dough from scratch or prepare a budget for a department, ask them to prove it:
“What I’d like you to do is share with me from A to Z, what it takes to prepare a budget.” If they’ve never done it, they will not be able to tell you. It’s that simple.

Then, at the end of the interview, ask the applicant to write down ten questions they’d like you to answer. Give them some time at the end of the interview or have them complete the task at home and bring it back.

This will show you several things: can they follow directions?; are they going to be on time with tasks?; and more importantly, where is their focus? The task may reveal their true focus is all about, “What’s in it for me? When do I get a raise?  When can I get time off?”

Make good use of references
The easy part of checking references is soliciting facts. The difficult part is soliciting opinions. If references are reluctant to give you information, Hacker says, go back to the applicant.

“It is their responsibility to provide references that are willing to talk to you.” 

If the applicant can’t provide at least three to four references or they don’t prepare the reference for your call, “drop ‘em like a hot potato,” advised Hacker.

Questions you cannot ask a reference or an applicant, like “what religion are you?” can be addressed in a more subtle (and legal) manner.

You can ask, “the job requires that you be here Sundays and Saturdays – is there any reason why you could not be here any of those days?”  And if they answer no, have them sign on it.

Hacker suggests hiring managers have applicants sign a document with all the job’s requirements listed and a disclaimer, “and any other duties as assigned.” This gives you some degree of protection when an employee is unwilling to do certain tasks.

When you evaluate each applicant against your specific job requirements (skills, experience, qualities), remember, no one is a perfect ten.

Have a look at your best employees – those that have been with your for five, ten, some even fifteen years – and use them as a model. With the right questions, an interview could be your crystal ball, and you might even find some more just like them.•

Interview Tip
Use behavior-based questions, worded in the past tense. The answers
will require honest, real-life examples with specific information. 
They will provide clues to how the candidate works, interacts, accepts
responsibility and handles criticism.

Sample questions:

Tell me about a time when your supervisor criticized you.

Give me two examples of decisions you had to make on your last job.

Can you tell me about a time when you were asked to do a job that was not part of your job description?

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