Recruitment: Selecting the right candidates

By Melodie Michel contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Recruitment, Human resource management

Businesses can ensure they hire the right candidates by following a thorough recruitment process
Businesses can ensure they hire the right candidates by following a thorough recruitment process
Once the challenge of attracting applicants has been overcome, hospitality recruiters find themselves with the task of selecting the right candidates for their brand - ultimately aiming for improved staff retention.

In terms of advertising jobs, using multi-channels seems like the right way to go, allowing recruiters to target a wide spectrum of prospects.

“We have our own jobs website, we do local advert in some places, social media, flyers in local areas, posters and signs, quite a wide range of things as well as using agencies,” says Jane Wilkinson, HR manager at the Northcote Group.


It may seem unnatural, but according to human resources managers, keeping an open mind on the profile you are looking to recruit pays off.

Carluccio’s senior recruitment manager Marcus Weedon says: “All companies have their idea of the person they’re looking for, and sometimes we may overlook some people because they don’t fit that idea. So another thing we’re trying to do is to be more flexible on in terms of the backgrounds we’re looking for.”

Some companies, including the Northcote Group and serviced apartment provider Marlin, have even created jobs for the right people.

“We take each applicant as they come and even if we don’t have a vacancy but we get a good CV through we get them in and if they’re good enough we’ll take them on because there is such a shortage,” says Wilkinson.

Susan Cully - Marlin
Susan Cully - Marlin Apartments

At Marlin, recruiters keep an open mind through the whole process, suggesting different positions than the one advertised to applicants they feel would be better suited for them, and creating roles for the right fits.

Managing director Susan Cully adds: “I’m very conscious that the hospitality sector in general has a wrong view towards their employees and how they treat them. They seek out people who have experience so there’s a lot of jumping around from one company to another, and not necessarily looking at whether they’re the right fit.”

Choosing the right interview manager

Having the right manager interview candidates can make the difference between a good and a bad hire.

At Côte, a high percentage of the recruitment team comes from restaurant manager backgrounds, meaning they understand what is needed for efficient day-to-day operations.

“Everyone has an original telephone interview, followed by a one-to-one interview, and then go into a trial shift where they get to see how our business works and we get to see them in action.

“Depending on the levels, an area manager or area chef will be responsible for signing them off and offering them a job, but our managing director want to meet all head chefs and general managers, so they’re still very much involved with senior level employees,” adds head of recruitment Scott Williamson.

A thorough recruitment process involving multiple interviews seems to be the norm. At Marlin, some candidates even undergo psychometric evaluations. “Before we ever bring somebody in we’re pretty certain that we’re taking on the right person,” says Cully.

Focus on personality

In hospitality and elsewhere, recruitment is all about personality. A study of over 900 line managers, conducted by ICM Research and released last month, found that nearly two fifths (38 per cent) want young people to emphasise their personal achievements and real-life experience in job applications.

Furthermore, 19 per cent complained that young people’s CVs often all look the same, and 33 per cent admitted that good candidates sometimes miss out on interviews because their application was not exciting enough.

Jamie Oliver’s head of people and development Stacy O’Hagan, explains: "We’ve always recruited by looking first of all for the right cultural fit. Our philosophy is that we can train people on how to cook or manage the restaurant, so we tend to look for what we call Jamie’s people.

“Do they have the same values as us? Are they passionate about what Jamie is trying to do? If that fits right, then we’ll look at whether they’ve got the experience we need. And especially for junior roles, if the experience isn’t quite there but they are the right cultural fit, we’ll take that risk.”

Scott Williamson - Cote
Scott Williamson - Cote

At Côte, personality and passion for food and wine are prioritised, and although experience is needed for managerial positions, junior chefs and waiters without a restaurant background can be hired.

And at Carluccio’s, it’s all about finding people with the personality that matches the brand. “You can have a great head chef that doesn’t necessarily suits us,” says Weedon.

According to Marlin’s Cully, looking past a person’s experience is the first step to creating a working environment they will want to stick to.

“When we’re recruiting we don’t look for people with lots of experience and skills in certain areas; we look for that person with the drive and ambition and who wants to make something of themselves. We would never recruit based on experience.

“If you can connect on a more personal level, understand and identify what their needs, desires and wants are, you’ll fit somebody into a role that they may not have been in before. Some people get set on a track and see their future as linear without even realising it, until you sit them down and start talking to them about what they would like to do if there were no restrictions,” she says.

The agency debate

Because they are widely used by chefs looking for work, agencies are sometimes unavoidable for hospitality recruiters. “We struggle with getting chefs through agencies, as that’s a very expensive way of recruiting for us. Chefs tend to use them because they’re easy, and we use them because that’s what chefs seem to use,” adds Wilkinson.

Aside from the cost issue, agencies can actually lower staff retention by not doing proper due diligence on candidates, or selling the job as something it is not.

Executive search firm BarrettClark Search & Selection’s hospitality specialist Lee Redding points out: “Unethical recruitment agencies would for example send a CV out before interviewing the person to try to get an interview before calling the candidate back. Sometimes they also mis-sell the jobs to get candidates through the door. So when they do get the candidate they tend to stay one or two months before leaving. They see it as a money maker more than a good recruitment process.”

Are you looking for a job in hospitality? Or perhaps you want to hire a new employee for a key position within your company? our jobs website​ specialises in vacancies across restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs and clubs.

Related news

Show more


Follow us

Hospitality Guides

View more

Featured Suppliers

All suppliers