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10 May 2023

Recipe for Success

Planning and Implementing a Recruitment Campaign in the Restaurant Industry

Recruiting staff for the hospitality sector is challenging and can be like putting together a recipe for the perfect dish. You need the right human ingredients to create something truly delicious, bringing it to life.

An industry survey conducted by Hospitality Mavericks in partnership with workforce management specialist bizimply  found “84.3% of operators are facing a recruitment and retention challenge, saying they are struggling to build a team with the right capabilities to drive growth now and in the near future”.

In this candidate driven market and with so many independent restaurants and cafes vying for both staff and customers attention, now’s the time to spice things up, get creative and show off your personality with unique recruitment methods, but where do you start.

Planning a Successful Strategy

Whether you're running an independent café, cosy neighbourhood bistro or a fine dining restaurant, taking time to plan, results in a more effective recruitment campaign, essential to your success.

· Determining the number of positions that need to be filled is a crucial first step in your process and if recruiting for multiple roles, exploring several recruitment channels will attract a broader pool of qualified applicants, increasing the chances of finding the best candidate for each position. Additionally, if you choose to partner with a recruitment agency, sharing the number of vacancies you aim to fill provides an opportunity to negotiate reduced fees, resulting in cost savings.

· Having a clear understanding of your recruitment budget avoids any unexpected surprises or overspending and helps where best to allocate funds giving you the most bang for your buck, such as job boards, social media or recruitment agencies.

· Creating a clear job description, sets expectations, safeguards legal compliance, and assures only candidates meeting the job requirements apply.  Include details such as.

o Job title: Clearly state the position's title, such as waiter, barista, chef.

o Job summary: Provide a comprehensive list of tasks, such as serving customers, managing stock, welcoming guests, preparing menus etc.

o Qualifications: Outline the required qualifications, such as education, experience, language proficiency, technical skills, and any certifications required. Include essential and desirable skills.

o Working hours: Specify the work hours and shift rota, including any requirements for working weekends, holidays, or overtime.

o Salary & benefits:  Confirm the salary or hourly wage range, any bonus or incentive programs, and benefits offered, such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off etc.

o Company culture: Describe the culture and any unique aspects of the workplace, such as a commitment to sustainability or diversity and inclusion initiatives.

o Application process: Include how to apply, the application deadline, and any required documents, such as resume or cover letter.

By providing detailed information and setting clear expectations candidates understand what is expected of them and what they will receive in  return, preventing any misunderstandings or confusion.

This will also provide you with a questioning framework to use during the interview process, identifying which candidates have the required skills and experience for the role.

Catching Unicorns

How to attract top talent to your business?

· Job boards are a low-cost way of increasing your visibility with a broader pool of potential applicants who can apply immediately and respond quickly to interview requests, leading to straightforward and faster hiring.

· Job fairs and trade shows connect you with potential applicants face-to-face, showcasing job opportunities and your business values.

· Employee referral programs, incentivise employees to refer friends and family creating a sense of community and camaraderie among staff, helping to save costs on recruitment advertising, agency fees, and other associated expenses.

· Partner with culinary schools and hospitality programs promoting job opportunities to students and recent graduates.

· Internship programs for students and graduates interested in pursuing a career in hospitality, providing them with valuable experience and training.

· Community outreach with local organisations sponsoring events promoting your business and job opportunities.

· Hiring events or open house showcasing your business, meet potential candidates, and conducting on-the-spot interviews.

· Social media channels are a cost-effective way to reach vast audiences with targeted ads based on location, interests, and demographics while interacting with candidates in real-time, providing instant feedback.

· Recruitment agency

o Access to a wide pool of candidates, handling the entire recruitment process from start to finish, including advertising the job, screening candidates, and arranging interviews.

o “Try before you buy” (temporary to permanent) and flexible staffing solutions with temporary or contract staff, ideal for seasonality peaks.

Although there are fees involved in using an agency, it can still be a cost-effective option compared to recruiting on your own.

Interviewing - making sure all the ingredients are just right.

Interviewing is like having a glimpse into an applicant’s personality, a sneak peak of how they handle tricky situations, and their ability to charm customers with their service. After all, it takes a unique set of interpersonal and customer service skills to succeed in the fast-paced environment of hospitality, and how you can do this can vary depending on position being filled and your specific hiring practice.

· One-on-one interviews: A standard format often used for entry-level roles, where the applicant meets with one interviewer to discuss their experience and skills.

· Panel interviews: Applicant meets with a group of interviewers who represent various roles within your business, commonly used for managerial or supervisory positions.

· Behavioural interviews: Focus on past experiences and how they've handled specific situations, designed to assess their competencies and how they may fit within your culture.

· Skills assessment: Testing practical skills related to the position, for example, a chef may be asked to prepare a dish, or a server may be asked to role-play serving customers.

When interviewing ask questions that will help you get to know them better, assessing their experience, customer service skills, work ethic, problem solving and team working abilities. for example,

· Can you describe a time when you had to go above and beyond to satisfy a customer’s request?

· How do you approach a difficult or upset customer, and what strategies do you use to diffuse the situation?

· In your opinion, what is the most important quality for someone working in the hospitality industry, and how do you embody that quality?

· Can you share an example of how you have improved a process or procedure in a previous role to enhance customer satisfaction or operational efficiency?

· What do you do to stay informed about food trends, new technologies, or best practices, and how do you incorporate that knowledge into your work?

· How do you prioritise tasks when you have multiple demands, such as serving customers, handling administrative duties, and managing staff?

But there's no need to make it sound like a dull checklist, get creative, have fun with your questions to see the candidate's personality shine through. Who knows, you might even uncover some hidden talents along the way!

Selection & Assessment

Before you hit the "you're hired" button, there are a few things you need to consider.

· Interview feedback: Take time to evaluate the feedback provided by the interviewer(s), review notes and compare the candidate's skills and experience to the job requirements.

· Candidate references & background checks: Critical steps in the hiring process. Contact applicant's references and verify the information provided during the interview, conduct background checks to verify criminal history, education, and previous employment.

· Business culture fit: How they would fit into your business, their values, work style and personality traits.

· Salary and benefits: What are you looking to offer before extending a job offer.

Legal Compliance

Don’t forget to mind your P's and Q's (and your A's, B's, and C's!) when it comes to complying with employment laws and regulations, consider the following before making a job offer:

· Immigration laws: Check they have documentation confirming the right to work in the UK and comply with other immigration laws. Further details of the right to work checklist can be found at

· Discrimination laws: You must not discriminate against age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.

· National minimum wage & national living wage: UK employers must pay employees the national minimum wage or the national living wage if they are eligible and keep records of all pay.

· Employment contracts: Must be provided within two months of the start of employment, outlining the terms and conditions of employment.

· Data protection: Compliance when processing applicants’ personal data.

· Health and safety: Ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of employees and provide a safe working environment.

· Pension auto-enrolment: Must be offered to all eligible employees.

· Employers liability insurance: A legal requirement if you employ staff, even seasonal ones, providing cover to business owners against the impact if an employee is injured or suffered illness as a result of working for you. If you are found legally liable for the injury, your insurance would pay the damages, including claimant's costs and expenses.

If you do not have Employers Liability, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can fine you £2,500 for each day you don’t have it, with a further £1,000 daily fine for not displaying it.

Expression Insurance offers £10m Employers Liability as standard across all our packages.

Further information, guidance and a checklist relating to Employment Status & Rights can be viewed at

Induction & Training for a Well-oiled Machine

A comprehensive induction and training program is like showing staff the secret recipe to your signature dish, equipping employees with all the necessary skills and knowledge to provide a top-notch service while keeping your star players happy and motivated. And when your team is happy and inspired, your business will thrive!

· Employee conduct

· Dress code

· The Importance of good customer service

· Menu knowledge: Including ingredients, preparation methods and potential allergens.

· Health & safety: Check all risks, associated with your business, including fire safety, emergency procedures and sanitation guidelines. Make sure you have taken and documented all the necessary precautions to prevent accident or injuries as this can help us defend independent business owners in the event of a claim. For example, minimise the risk of manual lifting injuries for employees by undertaking and documenting manual handling training for both you and your employees.

· POS systems: Order taking, processing payments and cash handling.


In this candidate-driven job market, finding the right people for your team can be a real pickle and depending on where you’re located, it can be even trickier to snag top talent. That’s why when it comes to attracting the best applicants, its important to think outside the box, get creative and be the shining star that catches their eye and makes them say “I want to work there!”

Discover how Expression supports independent business owners who love their business, and their customers visit

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