From simple to complex, what do you think is fair to ask or expect of new hires? Experience is important but how do you sort out the good talkers from great performers? Other than a probation period?

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I meant to say, ( other than using a probation period to sort out good performers ).
Do you drive, are you married, do you have kids... where do you live...

I was married, I have two small children, don't drive and I live twenty miles away...

But, all joking aside, we poke people a little to see if we can get a pissy reaction... if not, then that's a good thing. It's almost all personality... we are always willing to train a new hire... for the first month we will put them on with two other people riding shotgun and training them... by the end of a full month, they are in a position to start working shifts without supervision.

Appearance, attitude, willingness... personality ...

The other thing we do, is we never have one person interview them... always two... then those two speak with me and I get the different feedback from each...

We've only ever fired one person and in six years the only people that have left have gone on to bigger and better things ... or back to school. We usually get several months notice...

We've rehired people a year or two later...

The other thing we do, with four locations all the staff have worked at all locations and everybody knows how to do everything... that way filling a shift is never a problem ... regardless of position or location.

Just a few hints... I am sure there's a lot more.

Marek
I think attitude, interest, and work ethic are more important than knowledge. You want sponges.
Joseph,

Experience is not important, unless it came from an known artisan type place. Otherwise, former bartenders, and people with a true passion for coffee are your best resource.

Don't hold a normal interview. Do something like what Andy Newbom at Barefoot does and don't ask for resumes or application, ask for each interested party to write a 300 - 500 word essay on why they are passionate about coffee and why they want to work for your company. Create specific questions based on the content of each worthy person's essay. No need to have the same questions. Different people. Different question. It should be about finding the truth of what they have written, and that you and they are on the same page, wanting to be part of YOUR vision, and in turn, they will learn how to be a great craftsman.

They should want to specifically work for you. You should not be interested in someone who is out "looking for a job in a coffee house" If they don't know who you are or what you are about, you should pass.

My thought.
John,
nice thoughts. My gut has said as much to me regarding this. We here at JoLinda's now have a regular baker who is now on BX with us. I did a face to face with her to get her thoughts on working here. I must admit at first I had some concerns about her working with me but she came back with some magic words. Can you teach me? If someone really wants to learn and they really want to work for me then yes I can teach you. I think Bob who owns our local brew pub had some wise words one day when this subject came up over a pint.
One of the things he said was, "I really don't want to hire someone who does not want someday to own there own pub or micro brewery.
Joseph
-- Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform

John P said:
Joseph,

Experience is not important, unless it came from an known artisan type place. Otherwise, former bartenders, and people with a true passion for coffee are your best resource.

Don't hold a normal interview. Do something like what Andy Newbom at Barefoot does and don't ask for resumes or application, ask for each interested party to write a 300 - 500 word essay on why they are passionate about coffee and why they want to work for your company. Create specific questions based on the content of each worthy person's essay. No need to have the same questions. Different people. Different question. It should be about finding the truth of what they have written, and that you and they are on the same page, wanting to be part of YOUR vision, and in turn, they will learn how to be a great craftsman.

They should want to specifically work for you. You should not be interested in someone who is out "looking for a job in a coffee house" If they don't know who you are or what you are about, you should pass.

My thought.
Joseph,

It's not just about someone who wants their own place, but someone who wants to have a place that meets or exceeds your current standards. If you train someone to be a star, make sure they carry your name well.

Otherwise, pay well for talent. Loyalty is a shared relationship.



Joseph Robertson said:
John,
nice thoughts. My gut has said as much to me regarding this. We here at JoLinda's now have a regular baker who is now on BX with us. I did a face to face with her to get her thoughts on working here. I must admit at first I had some concerns about her working with me but she came back with some magic words. Can you teach me? If someone really wants to learn and they really want to work for me then yes I can teach you. I think Bob who owns our local brew pub had some wise words one day when this subject came up over a pint.
One of the things he said was, "I really don't want to hire someone who does not want someday to own there own pub or micro brewery.
Joseph
-- Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform

John P said:
Joseph,

Experience is not important, unless it came from an known artisan type place. Otherwise, former bartenders, and people with a true passion for coffee are your best resource.

Don't hold a normal interview. Do something like what Andy Newbom at Barefoot does and don't ask for resumes or application, ask for each interested party to write a 300 - 500 word essay on why they are passionate about coffee and why they want to work for your company. Create specific questions based on the content of each worthy person's essay. No need to have the same questions. Different people. Different question. It should be about finding the truth of what they have written, and that you and they are on the same page, wanting to be part of YOUR vision, and in turn, they will learn how to be a great craftsman.

They should want to specifically work for you. You should not be interested in someone who is out "looking for a job in a coffee house" If they don't know who you are or what you are about, you should pass.

My thought.
John,
I'm am way on the same page with you. I'm not talking about someone who wants a hobby or wants to "give it a try" so to speak. Remember Yoda, "Do or do not there is no try". John, for me it's all about the Passion. You have it or you want it. If someone has it, you and I and most coffee pros can spot it. If you really want it, I'm bleeding enough to share and hopefully infect a wannabe with it. Loyalty, yes. It does not come cheap.
Joseph
-- Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.

John P said:
Joseph,

It's not just about someone who wants their own place, but someone who wants to have a place that meets or exceeds your current standards. If you train someone to be a star, make sure they carry your name well.

Otherwise, pay well for talent. Loyalty is a shared relationship.



Joseph Robertson said:
John,
nice thoughts. My gut has said as much to me regarding this. We here at JoLinda's now have a regular baker who is now on BX with us. I did a face to face with her to get her thoughts on working here. I must admit at first I had some concerns about her working with me but she came back with some magic words. Can you teach me? If someone really wants to learn and they really want to work for me then yes I can teach you. I think Bob who owns our local brew pub had some wise words one day when this subject came up over a pint.
One of the things he said was, "I really don't want to hire someone who does not want someday to own there own pub or micro brewery.
Joseph
-- Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform

John P said:
Joseph,

Experience is not important, unless it came from an known artisan type place. Otherwise, former bartenders, and people with a true passion for coffee are your best resource.

Don't hold a normal interview. Do something like what Andy Newbom at Barefoot does and don't ask for resumes or application, ask for each interested party to write a 300 - 500 word essay on why they are passionate about coffee and why they want to work for your company. Create specific questions based on the content of each worthy person's essay. No need to have the same questions. Different people. Different question. It should be about finding the truth of what they have written, and that you and they are on the same page, wanting to be part of YOUR vision, and in turn, they will learn how to be a great craftsman.

They should want to specifically work for you. You should not be interested in someone who is out "looking for a job in a coffee house" If they don't know who you are or what you are about, you should pass.

My thought.
For me it's all about work ethic, and then passion. Passion can be shared easily, but work ethic is a much longer learning experience. it takes years and years of hard times to finally understand and develop a good work ethic if you were not raised with one. I know, because I wasn't raised with one and I had to learn the hard way. I have to say this thread stuck out like a sore thumb for me. At the moment, I'm short staffed, not due to lack of passionate people who want to work and learn the coffee industry, it's more the challenges of other responsibilities which come along with working in coffee, such as mopping, doing the dishes, customer service, punching in on time, availability, responsibility, register skills, etc. Passion for coffee is easier to find in people than an awesome work ethic. I'll never hire anyone on "passion for coffee" alone. if they don't know how to mop or scrub a toilet but can pinpoint where the Amaro Gayo washing station is located in Ethiopia, I'll be slightly impressed, but I won't give them a job until I know they are willing and able to clean a toilet. A good deal of people are misguided about the day to day realities of the coffee business. many think it's all about information, precision and craftsmanship. yes, it is, but it's so much more.

The first thing my employees get to do after being hired is take out the trash, then wash the dishes, advance to the cashier position, take on closing duties, then opening duties, and if they still haven't left after that, I start training them on the bar and cupping coffees. Then they advance to shift management, and so on... That's what happened with me, and now I own a coffee roasting company and make my employees go through all the same old crap I went through... I am however always looking out for those folks who know a good deal about coffee and have potential to actualize great barista skills, but even then, if they can't do the dishes, I don't need them, nor do I want them. Commitment is also a huge factor. my questions would be:

have you ever worked in the food/customer service industry?
do you know how to mop a floor, and have you ever had to do so as apart of your job?
where is Uganda? where is Papua New Guinea?
where does coffee come from?
how long were you employed at your last job?
how long did you work at your most favorite place of employment?
why do you want to work here? what are your expectations?
do you know what our mission statement as a company is? (if not, have them read it, and have them give you some feedback as to what it means to them)

just some ranting. hope this helps..
cultiva guy said:
...if they can't do the dishes, I don't need them, nor do I want them.

Best answer yet.
Research behavioral interviewing techniques. By this, learn how to ask questions which force the interviewee to relate a story about how they handled a specific type of situation in the past. Being in customer service, they should have plenty of stories for how they've dealt with difficult customers. Likewise, how do they deal with disagreements with co-workers and with management. Avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or a no, as an interviewee will almost always answer yes.

My interviews now include demonstration as well. I want to see the person make a drink. Do they clean the steam wand? Are they keeping the bar clean in general? Do they know how to dose coffee? What does their milk steaming sound like/look like? If they are experienced, these are all things they should be able to demonstrate in various proficiencies, even if the overall drink isn't perfect or beautiful. This can take just 10-15 minutes.

Also, consider having more than one person interview candidates. I have my chef interview every candidate, and pass along the best choices to me for a second round. Whether it's the chef, or lead barista, or just someone you trust, getting them to do the first interview, before they even get a chance to talk to you is a very handy thing.

And a final thing on passion: I'm sure you have a website with tons of info about your shop. I make sure each candidate knows I expect them to have studied what Echo Coffee is about, from the info on the website. If they do that (and I can tell fairly easily), it tells me they care and potentially have a passion for this. If they don't...they can keep walking.
Steve,
very nice synopsis.
I'm hoping all this feedback will benefit many small businesses, not just me and mine.
Joe

Steve Belt said:
Research behavioral interviewing techniques. By this, learn how to ask questions which force the interviewee to relate a story about how they handled a specific type of situation in the past. Being in customer service, they should have plenty of stories for how they've dealt with difficult customers. Likewise, how do they deal with disagreements with co-workers and with management. Avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or a no, as an interviewee will almost always answer yes.

My interviews now include demonstration as well. I want to see the person make a drink. Do they clean the steam wand? Are they keeping the bar clean in general? Do they know how to dose coffee? What does their milk steaming sound like/look like? If they are experienced, these are all things they should be able to demonstrate in various proficiencies, even if the overall drink isn't perfect or beautiful. This can take just 10-15 minutes.

Also, consider having more than one person interview candidates. I have my chef interview every candidate, and pass along the best choices to me for a second round. Whether it's the chef, or lead barista, or just someone you trust, getting them to do the first interview, before they even get a chance to talk to you is a very handy thing.

And a final thing on passion: I'm sure you have a website with tons of info about your shop. I make sure each candidate knows I expect them to have studied what Echo Coffee is about, from the info on the website. If they do that (and I can tell fairly easily), it tells me they care and potentially have a passion for this. If they don't...they can keep walking.
Nice,
This one I won't forget.
Joe

John P said:
cultiva guy said:
...if they can't do the dishes, I don't need them, nor do I want them.

Best answer yet.

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