It is important to realize a couple things about the restaurant industry, for those who do not know a lot about it. It is different from other industries in terms of hiring. There are always applications coming in from prospective employees, especially in a larger, high volume restaurant. Because of this, the managers are always looking at applications, and the potential for interviewing and hiring. You do not wait for someone to quit or change their schedule before you start to look for someone new. It takes time to go through the selection and interview process, and then the training after that.
In a restaurant, the goal is to have your staffing levels appropriate to your sales volume. So, if you wait too long to interview and train, you may fall short of your proper staffing level. This could ultimately lead to not having enough servers to work at any given time, which could in turn lead to bad service for the guests. It all goes back to staying ahead of the game when it comes to interviewing.
Applebee's uses applications as the basis for screening potential employees for interviews. The manager may look at things like previous experience, availability and flexibility to determine who may have the best fit for the job. The manager would look at all the current applications, and interview the people that most closely fit the needs of the restaurant. The interview process is very structured at Applebee's.
There is a first interview, done by the service manager. There are four sections of the interview, within which the manager can pick two or three questions from the list provided for them. The sections of the first interview consist of action orientation, composure, teamwork, and guest focus. The manager will rate the answers in each section from one to five. The manager adds up the scores from each section to get a total, and would then determine whether or not to proceed with the interviewing process. The next part of the interview process is a test, the SQ-II (service questionnaire, second edition.) This is a test of 150 yes or no questions.
The test is given to see if applicants' answers correlate to those that have proven to be successful in customer service and guest relations. The 150 questions are rated using five areas: drive and energy, sociability, emotional consistency, accomodation, and acceptance of authority. The manager translates the answers into a five letter code. This code is then located on the summary interpretation table. This is a very detailed table, which tells what type of characteristics the person may have, and how well they correlate to success in this industry. At this point, the manager must again decide whether to continue on with the interviewing process, depending on their scores on the test.
If continuing on, this is when the reference checks would be done. Then the applicant would have a second interview, this time with the general manager of the restaruant. The questions asked during the second interview are based on the specific tasks of the server position. Again, the manager will be asking two or three questions from the list provided for them, in each of four sections. The sections in the second interview include interpersonal effectiveness, integrity and trust, humor / work attitude, and suggestive sales. The manager would rate the answers on a scale from one to five to find a total score for the second interview.
At this point, the person would either be offered a job, or be told they will be contacted by mail or phone within the next three to seven days to be told the results. As you can see, Applebee's has a very detailed and structured interviewing process. They have learned to spend time in this process early on to try to find the right person for the job every time. Why go through orientation and training for someone who will not be there next month, simply because the fit wasn't quite right?