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Best Practices To Avoid Hiring Mistakes

Best Practices To Avoid Hiring Mistakes

It might not be politically correct to dub your underperforming employees LUZIRS (Lazy, Undisciplined, Zero-Interest, Irresponsible, Rude, Slackers). But there are plenty of LUZIRS in the workforce, and they extract a high toll when one or more works in your restaurant. The key is avoidance: Don’t hire LUZIRS in the first place. Employment attorney Dave Whitlock tells you how to make sure you don’t.

First, look at your current work force and recent history and ask, “Who are my really good workers?” and “Who sucks?” Then, ask yourself the more important question: “Where did I find them?” The answers will tell you where to look for workers; in other words, where you should devote your recruiting resources.

Second, use a good employment application. Always. Every time. Without exception. A good application will ask the questions and get the answers you really need, e.g., education, experience, basic background information, references, etc. It will also have important legal information that you want the applicant to know: this is “at-will” employment; there will be a background check, drug test, credit check, and/or motor vehicle record check; lying on the application or hiding material information will result in termination; an arbitration agreement or jury waiver provision applies to any disputes; as well as required legal disclaimers such as “Equal Employment Opportunity” employer.

Don’t ever accept a resume in lieu of a complete employment application. Don’t accept entries on the application stating “See resume.” Why? Well, consider who decided what questions to answer on a resume. In contrast to a well-drafted employment application, a resume is the applicant’s “spin” on his/her background and qualifications. Statistics show nearly one-third of all resumes contain some material misrepresentation or outright lie. Because LUZIRS are generally lazy, they frequently put “See resume” on their employment application. Don’t fall victim to their trap!

Third, analyze the application carefully. Look for gaps in employment. Look for a progression of diminishing responsibilities or pay. Look for vague, unspecified reasons for leaving a job. Be wary of these classic reasons:

  • “Disagreed with policy” = fired for rules violation.
  • “Personality conflict” = couldn’t get along with coworkers, supervisor, or customers.
  • “Poor working conditions” = fired for poor performance.
  • “Mutual agreement” = found out s/he was one of the LUZIRS.

You should also look for incomplete or blank responses. If your application asks about criminal convictions (it should) and the applicant doesn’t answer, then guess what that means? There probably is a gap in employment in there, too. If the applicant’s answer is “No” to each request to contact a prior employer, odds are the applicant is hiding something. While it might be appropriate for an applicant to not want you to contact a current employer, previous employers should be fair game for reference checking.

Fourth, once you have narrowed the applicant pool to a handful of candidates, interview them carefully. Do this in private where you won’t be interrupted. Prepare for the interview; don’t review the application while the candidate is sitting in front of you. Ask open-ended questions that get the applicant to talk, and follow the 80-20 rule: Let the applicant talk 80 percent of the time. Ask about likes and dislikes with respect to current or former job duties, supervisors/managers, companies, customers, etc. Do spend your 20 percent of the time “selling” your restaurant and the job. You want the candidates you don’t select to say good things about your restaurant, too.

Before you make a job offer, check the candidate’s references. Always do this. It is often a good idea to talk to personal references, too. Try not to get stonewalled by a response limited to job title and dates of employment. At least ask if the candidate is eligible for rehire.

Fifth and finally, end the hiring process on the right note by giving the new hire a proper welcome and orientation. This is a wonderful opportunity to impress upon the new hire the importance of your restaurant’s key values and principles. Let the new hire meet other supervisors besides his or her own early in the orientation process and make all levels of management part of the orientation process. This helps the new hire feel truly welcome and sets the stage for good communication later.

If you follow these steps carefully, you’ll be doing everything you can to avoid the LUZIRS. Oh, every now and then, one will slip through the process, but you will have screened out most of them long before they get on your payroll.

Dave C. Whitlock is a partner at Atlanta legal firm Elarbee Thompson. He has more than 24 years’ experience in business immigration, compliance, employment counseling, and training. Dave has extensive experience handling employment-related visa work, including both temporary and permanent visa cases, as well as advice regarding compliance with the I-9, discrimination and document abuse provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and litigation arising under that statute. He is a frequent lecturer and presenter on immigration and compliance topics and best practices in employment. He can be reached at [email protected] 404-582-8468.