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How to Fast-Track Interviewing Front-of-House Staff

Peak season is just around the corner.

If you’re short on time and looking to hire a group of casual workers for the summer period, consider running group interviews. They’re straightforward to facilitate and are very effective in evaluating communication skills, which makes them ideal for hiring front-of-house staff.

If you’re keen to try one out, here’s a guide to help you prepare, along with some tips on what to look for in candidates.

Running a group interview

Organise for at least two staff members to attend the interview. This will allow you to observe multiple candidates at once. For 12–16 candidates, we suggest three interviewers: one to facilitate, and two to observe and evaluate.

Make the setting as relaxed as possible to encourage social interaction. Position the chairs in a circle and offer refreshments and snacks (chips, mints or lollies).

Here’s a proposed agenda.

1. Welcome – 5 minutes

Introduce the interviewers, by name and role, and then talk briefly about your venue. Follow this with a quick description of the role – including the hours, wage and benefits.

2. Introduction exercise – 10–15 minutes

Divide the candidates into pairs. Give them five minutes to introduce themselves to each other, and then ask each person to quickly introduce their partner to the group.

3. Group discussion – 10–15 minutes

Initiate a group discussion by bringing up a dilemma and asking the group how to solve it. For example: how to deal with a difficult customer who is creating a big disturbance. Steer the conversation to involve as many candidates as possible by asking direct follow-up questions.

4. Team project – 30 minutes

Break up the candidates into small groups for a team task. Give each group 15 minutes to solve a problem or create a brief presentation. Then ask each group to present its findings to the room.

  1. Individual questions – 5 minutes

If time permits, ask questions of individual candidates. Examples include how they would approach a particular challenge, or what they are looking for in an employer. This will allow you to evaluate those who haven’t spoken up.

  1. Questions – 5 minutes

Give candidates the opportunity to ask questions. Finish up by thanking everyone for their time and indicating when they can expect an update.

Selection tips

Look for positive body-language cues such as eye contact, an upright stance, a calm and friendly demeanour, and clear articulation. These are all vital for customer-facing roles.

While self-confidence is important, be wary of controlling personality types who don’t listen to others. They may be difficult to work with and have a negative effect on your team’s dynamics.

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