8 Ways to Ensure Job Applicants Say “Yes” to Your Offer

December 28, 2022 | 1536 Views

8 Ways to Ensure Job Applicants Say “Yes” to Your Offer

Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT

Director of Innovation, Recruiting, and Training | Ivar's & Kidd Valley Restaurants

You’ve written the recruiting ads, posted them on all the job boards, and – it’s a miracle – qualified people applied for your open positions! And even more miraculous, they showed up for the interviews on time! As the manager for a hospitality business, now it becomes your responsibility to convert these fresh faces from candidates into new hires – but how do you do that? How can you increase the odds that they will choose your location over all the other hotels or restaurants up and down the block? 

Here is my list of 8 steps that you should be taking to convince applicants that your workplace will be the right one for them: 

1. Before they enter

Go out to your parking lot and walk into the workplace as if you were doing it for the first time. Go slowly and really look around – what do you notice? Does the parking area seem well-maintained, well-lit, clean, and safe? Has the landscaping been taken care of recently? Is it easy to find the front door? Is it clear in the lobby where candidates should go or who they should speak with? Now repeat this process after the sun goes down – does everything still seem welcoming? You may be crushing your recruiting game online with the perfect ads, but it could still all fall apart if those folks showing up for interviews feel wary, unsafe, or confused upon arrival. You need to make sure the entire path from the parking lot (or the bus stop, train stop, or wherever) to the interview spot positively reinforces their decision to show up, so take steps to remove any obstacles and improve the situation. And for those locations where it might be challenging to get to the interview site no matter how much work is done (such as concession stands inside a stadium or at airport restaurants), consider sending parking information/directions to candidates ahead of time and providing them with a contact number in case they lose their way.

2. Be ready

I know…you’ve been burned 1,000 times before by other candidates who skipped out on their interviews, but you shouldn’t use that as an excuse to not be prepared for those who actually arrive. So do your interview prep work – have the time set aside so you can step away from operations, the room reserved, the resume printed, your phone on silent, and your notepad with questions ready to go. Don’t disrespect the good ones for the bad behavior of the applicants who ghosted you previously.

3. What can you do for them?

Yes, an interview is the time when you find out whether candidates have the qualifications to succeed in a position, but it should also be a time to sell those candidates on how the company can benefit them. You should be asking about professional goals and discussing how those goals can be accomplished in your workplace, and a great visual for this topic is a career ladder showing potential growth they could have as a part of your team. The ladder shouldn’t only include a linear rise in operational positions and wages, but also offshoots into other areas such as training, multi-unit supervision, and corporate office positions like HR and Accounting (and if you have them, share success stories about current staff who have accomplished those transitions). No candidate should leave an interview without feeling like they can take advantage of a wide variety of professional opportunities within your hotel or restaurant system.

4. Boast about the benefits 

One area you won’t want to gloss over is the benefits package you can offer a new employee. You might not be able to pay the highest wage in the area, but that’s not always the #1 consideration for every candidate – sometimes it’s more about flexible scheduling, medical insurance coverage, or having holidays off. Provide everyone with a printed list of all benefits that employees can expect, which can be helpful for them to remember the details of your package if they are interviewing at numerous businesses.

5. Feed them 

If you operate a restaurant, or if your hotel has a restaurant or café, offer to have lunch with your interviewee in addition to the conversation (even better…tell them when scheduling the interview that the meal will be included). Yes, it’s sort of a bribe to get them to show up, but once they do, a tasty free lunch will not only demonstrate the generosity of your company, but also allows you to discuss your menu, standard recipes, and sourcing, and it provides an opportunity to learn from the candidates what they are passionate about when it comes to food – menu item creativity, sustainability, organic ingredients, plant-based options, allergen awareness, etc. And if the candidates come in during a time when the restaurant is not open, consider giving them a gift card to come back and enjoy their meal later in the day.

6. Serve that swag

In addition to food, consider what promotional swag you might be able to give out to candidates during an interview – remember, the goal is to make them already feel like members of the team before they leave, and having something with your company name on it will help create that feeling. Think about the different items (like a shirt, water bottle, or earbuds) that will work within your budget and fit within the theming and values of your operations.

7. Elevate their comfort

Either before or after the interview, set aside a little time to take the candidates on a tour of your operations. Some folks may not want to leave the comfort of their current position, so it can be advantageous for them to see how things work in your business (and what equipment you use), learn how much training they will receive, and get to know who their potential co-workers will be. If you are conducting interviews and never move beyond a booth in the dining room or a table in the lobby, you’re missing out on a prime opportunity to increase candidate comfort level with your workplace.

8. Don’t delay

The conventional wisdom when it comes to interviews is for hiring managers to wait on a decision until after every applicant has been seen, but in my experience, that tenet should no longer be followed. If you find worthy candidates, offer them a position right at the end of the interview. Additionally, it can be standard practice at some workplaces to have candidates meet with multiple managers before getting hired, and if this is the case for your company, do not drag out this process. Have both managers attend the same interview so your applicants don’t have to return, or if that’s not possible, schedule the interviews back-to-back. If the latter option is also not possible, see if the second manager can conduct their interview over the phone or by Zoom that same day. The longer you wait before you make an offer, the stronger the chance that your preferred candidates will get hired by more nimble competitors.

In conclusion

I am not saying that every candidate who shows up at your door is worth hiring – that would be ridiculous, of course. Some folks will not be truly ready to work, some won’t be a good fit for the world of hospitality, and some will be looking for a specific arrangement that you cannot provide. But for those whose skills and qualifications are a match for what you are looking for, don’t just cross your fingers and hope these applicants will say "yes" to your job offer. You can greatly increase the chance of acceptance by taking control of the situation and convincing interviewees that your organization will be their best possible option.

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