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When you interview for restaurant workers, the quality of the person is more important than the person’s technical skills. If you have the right person, you can teach him or her almost all the technical requirements in the restaurant industry. Certainly, when you need a certified professional chef, technical skills are critical to your decision-making process, but that position tends to be an exception to the rule.

For the most part, the purpose of an interview is to find out more about the person being interviewed. I use a system I call S.I.D.E. +1+1 to determine whether I want this applicant on my side or on the side of my competitors:

S = Smart: Does the person have common sense and intellectual smarts? Without it, I can’t teach the person much. With it, I can teach him or her nearly anything if he or she is willing.

I = Integrity: In my restaurants, honesty is not only the best policy, it’s also a requirement for continued employment.

D = Drive: Does the person have the desire and will to do a good job and work hard? Does he or she have a “fire in the belly” to succeed?

E = Enthusiasm: Is the person happy, positive, and enthusiastic? Is he or she willing to learn and excited about the opportunity?

+1 = Image: Does the person take care of himself or herself? Does the person dress nicely, respect others, project a professional demeanor and attitude, and speak with eye contact and confidence?

+1 = Service Orientation: Will the person gladly serve others and provide an environment where service is revered? Is he or she people-oriented and does he or she look comfortable working with and for others?

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