So I'm doing an interview tomorrow with a girl I used to work with at another coffee shop.

 

I pretty much know her background with coffee and I don't want to seem super impersonal so what are some good questions to ask someone I already know a lot about?

 

Also I want to hire her, I've made my decision, I just have to ask her some questions before she interviews with the big wigs.

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Will she be your subordinate?  And is she capable of being your subordinate? Taking orders?

 

 

She's very respectful and won't have any problem working for me. 

 

I always like to ask these questions:

 

What do you know about our cafe?

What have you tasted form our cafe? Did you like it? Why?

I am always amazed that people would apply to a place they have no clue about. It's insulting.

and my favorite,

As a person and a professional...what are some of your your strengths? and even more importantly, what are some of your weaknesses?

If they can't answer that last one...they don't get the job. How can they take criticism if they don't practice self critique?

Right there with you.

 

If a perspective candidate walks in the door for the first time and immediately asks about an opening, the answer should be no. Even if it is a "maybe, leave me some info and we'll contact you", they almost always turn around and leave.

 

Frankly, if you are capable of walking in to a coffee shop and then leaving without getting a drink, checking out the equipment, chatting with the baristas, looking over the beans, etc... you aren't a suitable candidate. Incredible.


More to the OP's question, offer a drink and see what they go for. Are they curious about the menu? Are they adventurous? Do they know what your specialty is and ask for it? This is when a walk-in candidate might reveal that they don't like coffee... or have reservations about your shop's coffee. That said, if they've just come off a bar shift, they may go for ice water...

 

Deferio said:

...What do you know about our cafe?

What have you tasted form our cafe? Did you like it? Why?

I am always amazed that people would apply to a place they have no clue about. It's insulting...

Offering a free drink is always something I would do, and what they chose says alot. Also asking what was there favorite and least favorite thing about there previous job. I used to ask them if they drink coffee, and if they said yes then what. 

Brady said:

Right there with you.

 

If a perspective candidate walks in the door for the first time and immediately asks about an opening, the answer should be no. Even if it is a "maybe, leave me some info and we'll contact you", they almost always turn around and leave.

 

Frankly, if you are capable of walking in to a coffee shop and then leaving without getting a drink, checking out the equipment, chatting with the baristas, looking over the beans, etc... you aren't a suitable candidate. Incredible.


More to the OP's question, offer a drink and see what they go for. Are they curious about the menu? Are they adventurous? Do they know what your specialty is and ask for it? This is when a walk-in candidate might reveal that they don't like coffee... or have reservations about your shop's coffee. That said, if they've just come off a bar shift, they may go for ice water...

 

Deferio said:

...What do you know about our cafe?

What have you tasted form our cafe? Did you like it? Why?

I am always amazed that people would apply to a place they have no clue about. It's insulting...

thanks a lot you guys that was really helpful!

 

I was diggin the questions like what they drink. awesome!

Make sure they like espresso - there's no point in having a barista who can't enjoy it, taste it, diagnose problems, dial-in, etc etc.

Agree with all previous answers, but even more with Alex. If they don't truly like espresso or understand how to dial different coffees in then they lose my interest.

 

 

Speaking as someone who would someday hopefully like to own a shop, and also living in an area where deep discussions about the complexity coffee don't exist, I would find it hard to turn someone away just because they say they don't like espresso.  Maybe they've never had one properly prepared?  I would say where I live that is most likely the case. Before I started working my first barista job, my answer probably would have been that I don't really like espresso, but now I would say I thoroughly enjoy the entire espresso making process, from preparing to tasting and enjoying.  Although I would love to be picky enough of my prospective employees to turn away people who can't dial in espresso (so jealous!) I must take what I can get!

 

That said, if I were looking for prospective employees I think having an openness to new things and ideas would be huge.  I may ask if they want to try a shot of espresso I've prepared and see what they say?  Or even a nice capp?  See if they are open to that experience, I think that may say a lot.

I wouldn't really care about what drink they choose, whether they like espresso, or whether they could dial in or diagnose problems. You'll surely by skimming off a lot of great candidates that just aren't experienced with coffee.

Like Daniel, I would want to know how open minded they are to new things/experiences. If they are willing and able to learn fast. How hard working they are. Are they able to anticipate, think fast, and problem solve on their own? 

To figure out these things it's a mix of your gut feeling and knowing their background.

And BTW you'll really know how someone is when their actually working, and if it doesn't work out don't hesitate to fire fast and move on.

If you already know you want to hire this person, why not just help her prepare to be interviewed by the big wigs?

Ask them what they are not good at it always provides interesting answers as well as some insight on how they think.

I'll concede that maybe a person hasn't yet had an espresso they like, and in that case I would give them an espresso and see how they go. If they pull a funny face or don't enjoy it, I really wouldn't be inclined to hire them - espresso is the basis and the most important element in almost all the hot drinks a cafe will serve. Not drinking espresso and not being able to enjoy it is like a cocktail bartender who is a teetotaler or a vegan chef working in a steakhouse. You just have to know what you're dealing with.

 

If I walked into a cafe and they had, for example, a single origin from Ethiopia on offer and I asked the barista how it comes across in an espresso, I would walk out if the barista responded with "I don't know, I don't drink espresso".

 

However, if everything else about the person screamed "Hire me! I'm perfect!", and they were willing to learn, I would stress to them there are only two things they are drinking on the bar for the first month - water and espresso, and if after that first month they still can't appreciate it I would let them go.

 

Maybe the person is from a place where good espresso is hard to find, but at the very least they need to be open to it and eventually love it.

 

Espresso is just too important for the baristas craft to not be able to enjoy it. I wouldn't trust a barista who doesn't enjoy it to make me a great espresso, or even a great latte for that matter, just like I wouldn't trust a vegan chef to make me a great steak or teetotaler bartender to make me a great Manhattan.

 

It's the difference between a Barista and a "just-doing-this-to-pay-for-my-saturday-nights-while-I-finish-my-degree-in-social-sciences".

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