Job Interview Tips Revealed by Restaurant Recruiter
By Suvarna Sheth, Hcareers.com
Brinker International (JOBS) is one of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies. It owns popular restaurant brands including Chili's Grill & Bar, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, and Maggiano’s Little Italy. With more than 1,700 restaurants and over 125,000 employees, the company has a positive growth outlook for the coming year, is expanding and continues to hire new team members. Read on for exclusive inside advice on recruitment practices at Brinker which may help maximize your chances of landing a job at the company.
Lucky for Brinker, the down economy didn’t affect the company’s hiring very much. “Based on our statistics, we’re still full-speed ahead on recruiting in the field,” says Laura Linthicum, senior manager of corporate recruiting at Brinker. Linthicum says there are many opportunities for managers throughout the company and several open positions at the support center at the corporate office.
The majority of the positions Linthicum works to fill are for the corporate office as well as the remote position in their regional offices for regional directors, area directors and managers in the field, and restaurant managers (world-wide). Recruitment takes place locally at the restaurant. Brinker tries to hire locally in the community, but is willing to relocate the candidate for management level positions for the restaurants in the field.
For restaurant management positions, Linthicum says there’s a healthy network of field recruiters that look for skilled and experienced candidates. She says the company also uses online social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace to reel in qualified candidates.
The company tries to drive as much traffic to the Brinker website through other recruitment websites and job boards such as HCareers, and others.
Linthicum says online job postings are an important part of “setting the hook,” and getting candidates interested in a particular opportunity at the company.
As far as the talent pool, Linthicum says at the corporate level, it has been phenomenal. “There’s a very strong candidate flow, a very strong pipeline of talented candidates for the positions,” she says. She wouldn’t say there’s an over-supply of candidates, but she says there is an abundance of well-qualified candidates. She says it’s a pretty competitive market because right now it’s an employer’s market. “We can hand pick the people we want for our open positions and we can set the bar pretty high for what we’re looking for,” Linthicum says.
Linthicum says Brinker has a very strong corporate culture. She says one of the pillars of Brinker’s corporate culture is that the whole thought process and shared purpose of the company is to make people feel special. “We use this in our recruitment habits and make sure the people we hire have that same mentality and that same service heart,” Linthicum says. “Without those core qualities, all the skills in the world wouldn’t be advantageous for us,” she says.
So, what can one expect at a Brinker interview for a management position? After the candidate gets past the skills and background review, one of the main questions for Linthicum is what the candidate’s relationship was with their direct reports at their previous job. What their relationship was like with their peer-groups and how they are perceived are also important questions.
According to Linthicum, it’s important to ask these questions because it helps her to find out what a candidate’s core values are. She also likes to ask questions that have a hospitality focus, and she is always interested in listening to good stories about how a candidate handled a hospitality situation, or how they might have positively affected a situation. Again, she says what she is looking for is the customer service orientation, and how well someone can take care of customers.
As for common questions that Linthicum gets from candidates, she says there’s a variety, but the good questions are related to the growth of the position. She appreciates candidates that have done their homework, and if the candidate understands where the position lies in the company. “If they expand on the research that they have already done, that bodes well for me,” Linthicum says.
She says some of the questions that aren’t impressive are when candidates ask about benefits or compensation right off the bat. Since a candidate can go through 1-2 or 6-7 interviews depending on the position, she says it’s wiser to wait to ask questions about benefits and compensation.
Linthicum encourages candidates to be open and honest, and always try to articulate where you’re coming from as far as your cultural values and core beliefs. “And don’t stray from it,” she says, “because people will be able to see right through you if you’re not being honest about your core values.”
If a candidate is applying online or over e-mail, she says to make sure the cover letter and resume are very well written. She emphasizes the resume should be concise and she prefers a one page resume, two pages at the most. “You don’t want anything that’s rambling,” she says, “and not a lot of floss, just give me the details,” she says. Also, she advises to make sure your resume has quantifiable information instead of reciting your daily responsibilities. For example, Linthicum says instead of writing: ‘I’m responsible for budgeting’, she says to consider a phrase such as: ‘I’m responsible for a million dollar budget and seven direct reports.”
In much of the restaurant business, your appearance and the way you present yourself are very important. While Linthicum says good looks don’t necessarily matter, she says it’s important to present yourself in a very positive attitude and confident manner.
At the end of the day, when all the questions are asked, Linthicum says many times recruiters have to go with the candidate they felt best about and had the best connection with. Across all of Brinker’s corporate brands, it’s a candidates’ personality and core-values that wins the job.