Employees who have positive attitudes can make all the difference in whether your food service enterprise succeeds or fails. They please clients, build ongoing customer relationships that cultivate repeat business, and do a better job of handling high-stress situations.

Yet as the owner of a food service company, you have probably hired employees whose positive attitudes disappeared as soon as the job interviews were over. You begin to wonder, “Why did I hire this person, and what am I going to do now?”

There is no doubt about it, it is critical to screen applicants not just for their skills and experience, but for attitude. Here are some steps to take to help with this process.

Be Sure to Check References

Even if you are in a hurry to staff a position, don’t skip this step. Call the references the applicant provides, but also call establishments where the applicant has worked and speak with pervious managers. Ask whether the applicant was upbeat and positive when dealing with patrons. Take the feedback you get seriously – it could help you identify the best candidates and avoid hiring the others.

Get Feedback from the People the Employee Will Be Working With

Let applicants meet individually with their potential teammates and managers, who can then give you feedback about the applicant.

Provide On-the-Job Screening

If you are hiring a barista, for example, have applicants go out and work the counter for even a short period of time. All applicants will feel stress in that situation, but people with good attitudes will jump in calmly and professionally. If applicants show annoyance and frustration that patrons can see, they are not for you.

Ask How They Would Handle Difficult Situations on the Job

Questions like, “how would you handle an unhappy customer” and, “what if a customer complains about the temperature of food when it arrives on the table” can help you evaluate candidates. The point of asking these questions is to watch candidates and assess the attitude they bring to answering these questions; the answers they provide are of second importance.

Ask about Difficult Situations the Applicant Has Handled in the Past

You can learn a lot about an applicant’s attitude by asking questions like, “What can you tell me about something you did not handle well on your last job, and what you learned from the experience?” Does he or she answer a question like that with a smile and a good outlook, or not?

Look for Prior Positions that Required Good People Skills

It is always good to hire applicants with prior experience in food service. But it is also possible to identify excellent candidates with experience in retail, health care, customer service, the military, and other fields.

Remember that employees with great attitude will help your business prosper. Your job, as a recruiter, is to take the extra steps to find them. Food Safety of America Institute (FSAI) offers many training courses to help prepare your employees for the job after they have landed the position at your foodservice business. Contact us if you have any questions about food safety training courses or learn more about FSAI here.