Interview Questions: Any suggestions?

AJPRATT

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Mar 7, 2007
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Atlantic City, NJ
In my last job, I managed a department where I interviewed applicants and hired employees. From that experience, I do have a list of questions that I normally ask, that would be useful (open-ended types), but I was wondering, based on your hiring experience, if any of you have any suggestions? I know there are a number of factors that go into hiring a good employee. At this point, I'm sort of drawing a blank and could just use a little help from my friends.
 

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
To Paraphrase one of the most important points Matt points out in his seminar:

How they show up to interview is the best they will ever look.

I thought it was an obvious but often overlooked point.

That being said, I would assume you will have a series of interviews (at least two) before hiring anybody. An initial 5-10 minute max to see if they are even worth exploring, and then a greater, in depth interview after that.

As part of the initial weeding out process, I would either make them a drink... a cappuccino is a good telling drink, or ask them what they would like. If their eyes light up on first sip, good sign, if they politely refuse or have no positive reaction, interview is done.... move on.

First and foremost your employees, staff, management, etc. all must have a passion for coffee/espresso. Of course everyone has their own degree of passion, but this is something you really can't teach. If they don't share that important piece of your vision from the outset, no need to go any further.

After you bs about general stuff for a moment and they have a chance to enjoy a bit of the drink, tell them, "Walk with me" or "let's take a walk..."
It's much harder for people to give bs answers while walking, it will provide a much more honest response if you get them on their feet rather than feeling "prepared" and seated.

Walk them around the caffe... inside, outside... whatever.

I would ask:
So can you tell me about your most memorable coffee experience?
This they shouldn't have to think about, unless they just start chattering because there are so many, but... X is the best.

What do you see that makes you want to work here rather than at X, down the street?
I don't want someone who is looking for a job. I want someone who wants to work at MY caffe.

Tell me about a great book you recently read.
Much can be told from this.

What are your greatest flaws?
Be aware of the *safe* and *canned* answers. But this could give great insight into maturity, honesty, emotional stability, etc.

I think at this point, taking into account promptness, dress, sincerity (no "canned" answers, the drink they choose, I would have enough information to decide whether they were worth a second interview.

The second half is the easier :lol: part.
 
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AJPRATT

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Thanks, John... I can certainly use most of what you suggested. Unfortunately, I don't have anything hooked up yet. Maybe by the end of the week/early next I will, but its kind of up in the air.
 

NW JAVA

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First and foremost your employees, staff, management, etc. all must have a passion for coffee/espresso. Of course everyone has their own degree of passion, but this is something you really can't teach. If they don't share that important piece of your vision from the outset, no need to go any further.

I couldn't have said it any bester......
 
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AJPRATT

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Well, IMHO, I wonder if someone doesn't drink coffee, how will they know what they are serving; if its good or has an off-taste?
 

NW JAVA

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Well, they have to taste and not have to drink. I have been priased for the coffee I make and roast, but truth be given I like root beer the best, of a ice cold coke. YEAh SUGAR!!!!! But I love the taste and the entire aspect of coffee. The culture the taste, the shot pulling, the techy machine tweaking...all of it .......
 
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AJPRATT

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I get the passion thing. I know you can teach someone a skill, but you can't teach/train them to care.

I guess they don't have to love coffee/espresso, but how will they know if there is a problem with the beverage if they don't know or appreciate what it should taste like?

For instance, my SIL does not like coffee. To her, coffee tastes "bad" and "worse". She doesn't like coffee so it will always taste bad to her.
How do you explain a taste profile if they find coffee to taste bad and worse? She would never notice if the espresso is over/under-extracted.

I would like to think that people will apply for a job in a coffee joint because they like coffee, but you never know.
 

Kiwi Coffee

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Aug 29, 2006
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Maybe this passion thing is over-done. You want someone who can do a good job, is courteous, reliable, and most of all is honest and won't steal from you.

You can teach someone to make coffee, you can hire someone who will be a good employee, you can employ someone who doesn't have a passion for coffee but does have enough pride to do the best job they can and do the best they can for you and your business.

Take me as an example, I don't have a passion for coffee, yet I do for interacting with customers and providing a good environment for them. I make really good espresso and I do that through pride and a desire to offer a great product. It could be hamburgers for all I care.

By the way, I don't drink anywhere near as much coffee as I used to before buying my coffee house. Every morning I have the first cup to make sure everything is ridgy-didge and very rarely have another.
 
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AJPRATT

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Yes, I will be sure to taste the coffee myself, but I also want to have employees that will understand how it should taste. If they can do that without liking coffe, that's OK with me, but I don't know if its possible. I do want my employees to be passionate about customer service and doing a good job.

I met with three students today. I did the walk around and chat thing, asked a couple of "what if" questions. They all seemed to be good, decent answers. I will probably call them back. One girl really impressed me. She actually just showed up because her Mother took down my number incorrectly when I called to schedule her interview. She knew I would be there today and didn't want to miss the opportunity to meet with me.

I know this thread kind of warped into another discussion, but THANK YOU to everyone who posted their thoughts. IT REALLY HELPED!!!
 
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