Hiring a Restaurant Manager: The Top 5 Untrainable Traits Any Candidate Must Possess

Chris Rumpf

Founder and CEO, 15+ Years of Restaurant Technology Innovation

Hiring A Restaurant Manager: The Top 5 Untrainable Traits Any Candidate Must Possess

Some things are trainable while others aren’t. This is true across the board and in all industries. You can teach an employee the skills they need to succeed, but when it comes to certain natural traits, they’ve either got what it takes or they don’t.

Read on to learn the top 5 critical traits to look for when hiring a restaurant manager, and find out the three traits to avoid at all costs.

1. Look for Ambition

When interviewing candidates for a front-of-house position, take note of their drive and ambition. Do they ask about advancement opportunities? Have they moved up quickly in their previous jobs? Do you get the sense that they are always wanting to grow and better their life?

Ambition is a quality that is hard to train. Therefore, it’s best to hire a front-of-house restaurant manager that already possesses that drive to get better and succeed. If you hire a front-of-house manager who lacks ambition, their work ethic, and managerial style is likely to reflect that.

2. Think About Likeability

Your front-of-house manager is the person your front-of-house staff will communicate with on a regular basis. He or she is also the person who will resolve conflict and be the face of the restaurant for customers.

That being said, your front-of-house manager must be likable. They must be easy to talk to, approachable, and have a way of communicating that resonates with most people. However, this kindness should not translate to weakness. A manager must be likable while still being respected and firm in their managerial style.

3. Favor Assertiveness

Along that same thread, a likable manager shouldn’t be afraid to be assertive. In fact, this assertiveness is what draws the line between a nice manager and a too-nice manager who can be a bit of a pushover.

A front-of-house manager must be able to clearly assert expectations for employees in a clear and understandable manner. In the event of conflict resolution with a customer, this manager should be able to respond with empathy and clarity, and not coil in the face of a necessary confrontation.

4. Don't Overlook Passion

A successful front-of-house manager is passionate about what he or she does. They should have a knack for management, but should also love service, food, and creating experiences for people that leave them happy and satisfied.

While posing interview questions for a restaurant front of house manager, be sure to ask the following: What draws your interviewee to the restaurant industry? What makes them happy? What feels rewarding about their job? If this is just another job for them, that attitude and lack of passion will infiltrate its way through your team and atmosphere.

5. Hire a FOH Manager with a Willingness to Learn

Whether they’ve been in the industry for 15 years or not at all, a front-of-house manager must be willing to learn. Sometimes, when you hire someone who has been in the industry for a long time, they think they know everything there is to know about the job. This makes them difficult to train in your restaurant, style, and expectations. Get a gage for how veteran interviewees handle information about new policies and management styles.

Traits to Avoid When Hiring a Restaurant Manager

Alternatively, if you hire someone who is new to the industry entirely but has managerial experience and all the above traits, he or she could be a great fit despite their longer learning curve. Their willingness to learn will have them trained in the exact way you’d like; without the bad habits that they may have picked up from other restaurants.

The truth is that some traits are trainable and some simply aren’t. By hiring a restaurant manager based on the traits you can’t train, you ensure that your team members have what it takes to learn, grow, and succeed at your restaurant. Hiring solely on availability, experience, or referral increases your chances of hiring someone whose personality wasn’t a great fit for the position in the first place.

Once an applicant is given the position, it is important to tracking the team’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) so you can see how their management is impacting your restaurant.

If you need to perfect the way you track KPI or NPS, check out FlyghtHR products. They streamline the onboarding, measuring, and training of your employees.