Five things you’re doing wrong with pub recruitment

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"The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world."

Apple founder Steve Jobs knew the importance of good recruitment, but what common mistakes are pub bosses making that are holding them back?

1 Being too vague in job ads

Philip Sambell, founder of the How To Run A Pub advisory website, warns that too many pubs use the ‘chef wanted’ template rather than asking specifically for what they require.

“Be clear exactly what you want someone to do – in terms of a job description and duties,” he says. “In a pub it could be anything from just microwaving or grilling to preparing Michelin Star meals.”

Don’t pay too much for someone far too qualified, or waste your time interviewing people clearly not up to the job.

2 Keeping the plan to yourself

Katrina Fox, director at candidate attraction consultants Peters Fox, says all too often eager potential candidates are met with blank stares at the bar.

“Landlords should never forget that recruitment is the same as customer service,” she says. “If a customer came in to your bar expecting to be served and there was no-one there – or even worse they were ignored – you'd soon be out of business.

“Make sure your team members know what to do and say if someone comes into the bar looking for work, and that staff know candidates are as important as customers – sometimes they're the same people.” 

3 Bypassing the professionals

Sambell urges pub bosses to use the services available to help them with their hunt for the right people.

“A recruitment agency, if you can afford it, or the government job service – which is free – will sift through candidates for you,” he says.

“If you think about it, most landlords’ time is worth at least £10 an hour, so if it takes you 100 hours to read CVs and interview unsuitable candidates, you’ve spent £1,000.


“It’s far better to let an agency or Jobcentre Plus do that for you and give you a shortlist with real potential. Yet I see landlords failing to do this all the time.”

4 Ignoring instinct

Heath Ball, head of pubs at Dark Star Brewing, says trusting your instincts is critical to successful recruitment.

"More than anything else, trust your gut feel,” he urges.

“The author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink tells us of the power of the brain in snap judgement situations and how we then try and argue against those decisions.

“He's right – the number of times I've gone against my gut feel and been proven wrong is more than I'm proud of. It is often driven by a need to recruit but, honestly, you're better off being short staffed than having the wrong staff."

5 Skipping due diligence

Sambell says research work before and after interviews is often wrongly skimped on by bosses eager for a solution.

“Prepare properly for interviews. Make sure you ask relevant questions to candidates’ experience and what you want from them. Consider practical tests.

“And if you’re going to employ someone, then follow up references, check out their social media and see if they’ve been bad mouthed or they like to bad mouth.

“If you’re going to spend this time recruiting then get the right person for the job – you don’t want a lazy chef who could ruin a food reputation in one session, or a member of bar staff to put off locals.” ENDS (580 words)

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