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Hiring

interview questions

I have recently noticed a lot of food trucks across the country have been looking for window service staff and even some discussion in message boards where vendors are seeking insight on how to hire top performers.

Coming from my time as a recruiter (aka headhunter) in the automotive industry, I can tell you that the best answer to this question is in asking the right questions to determine the skills that the server is bringing to the table.

These interview questions will help you determine whether the applicant you are interviewing has the talent and personality to be a top performer in your food truck. What you can learn from the answers to these questions will help you avoid poor hiring decisions and enable you to build your staff with the best servers in town.

Here are four interview questions that should be included in every window server interview:

Describe Your Favorite Meal.

This will give you insight into an applicant’s ability to sell and their passion for food. If they cannot describe their favorite meal in a way that makes you salivate, how are they going to describe your food truck specials? Any applicant that fails to impress you with their description will require a great deal of time and effort to train. This should not result in an immediate rejection, but should serve as a red flag.

What Do You Like About The Mobile Food Industry?

The answer you are looking for here is one that shows a passion for the industry. Be cautious of a server that loves the ability to work with friends, get off for their band’s gigs, or make a bunch of money. These servers are looking at the industry as a means to an end, but not passionate about it. Loving the pace of the business, impacting the guests’ experience, or contributing to a team are all great answers that come from top performers.

What Would You Change About The Food Truck Industry?

This question works in much the same way as the previous one, but measures something different. The answer to this question will uncover the level of frustration and burnout a server may already have with the industry. This gives them a chance to vent their frustrations to you, before they vent them on the guest. Be wary of any answers that are critical of guests or former managers. A hostile response may indicate a server who will lower morale.

Why Do You Want To Work Here?

This question is commonly asked, but the answer is often misinterpreted. The answer to this question will give you a great idea of how they view your food truck. If they cannot tell you why your food truck excites them, then they are probably just looking for a job. While all applicants are looking for a job, those that do not hold your mobile food business in high regard will often jump ship at the next opportunity. Finding employees who are excited about your food truck will significantly decrease turnover and help insure that your new employees bring a sense of excitement to your staff.

None of us should be naive enough to believe that an applicant will be completely honest in their interview. There are always going to be exaggeration and positive spin placed on their responses. One of the best ways to avoid this is to ask questions that they are not expecting or that actually test their skills.

Responses that have not been rehearsed will provide more accurate information than those that are carefully planned. If you want a more accurate answer, you need to ask a better question. These are five great questions to start with.

If you’ve found interview questions for your window servers we’ve missed, you can share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

food truck employees

Most food truck kitchens require more than a single set of hands to keep up with customer orders. Because of this it’s almost a necessity for most starting a food truck business to hire food truck employees before you hit the streets.

These steps will help you start the hiring process and ensure you are compliant with key federal and state regulations.

Food Truck Employees: How To Employ Your First
Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Before hiring your first first employees, you need to get an employment identification number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The EIN is often referred to as an Employer Tax ID or as Form SS-4. The EIN is necessary for reporting taxes and other documents to the IRS. In addition, the EIN is necessary when reporting information about your employees to state agencies. You can apply for an EIN online or contact the IRS directly.

Set up Records for Withholding Taxes

According to the IRS, you must keep records of employment taxes for at least four years. Keeping good records can also help you monitor the progress of your food truck business, prepare financial statements, identify sources of receipts, keep track of deductible expenses, prepare your tax returns, and support items reported on tax returns.

Below are three types of withholding taxes you need for your business:

Federal Income Tax Withholding
Every employee must provide an employer with a signed withholding exemption certificate (Form W-4) on or before the date of employment. The employer must then submit Form W-4 to the IRS.

Federal Wage and Tax Statement
Every year, food truck employers must report to the federal government wages paid and taxes withheld for each employee. This report is filed using Form W-2, wage and tax statement. You will need to complete a W-2 form for each employee who you pay a salary, wage or other compensation.

Employers must send Copy A of W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration by the last day of February to report wages and taxes of your employees for the previous calendar year. In addition, you should send copies of W-2 forms to your employees by Jan. 31 of the year following the reporting period.

State Taxes
Depending on the state where your employees are located, you may be required to withhold state income taxes.

Employee Eligibility Verification

Federal law requires employers to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. Within three days of hire, employers must complete Form I-9, employment eligibility verification, which requires employers to examine documents to confirm the employee’s citizenship or eligibility to work in the U.S. Employers can only request documentation specified on the I-9 form.

Employers do not need to submit the I-9 form with the federal government but are required to keep them on file for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of the employee’s termination, whichever is later.

Employers can use information taken from the Form I-9 to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees by registering with E-Verify.

Register with Your State’s New Hire Reporting Program

All employers are required to report newly hired and re-hired employees to a state directory within 20 days of their hire or rehire date. Visit the New Hires Reporting Requirements page to learn more and find links to your state’s New Hire Reporting System.

Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance

All businesses with employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis or through their state’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.

Post Required Notices

Employers are required to display certain posters in the workplace that inform employees of their rights and employer responsibilities under labor laws.

File Your Taxes

Generally, employers who pay wages subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes must file IRS Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

If you do not have an accounting background or do not feel confident in filing your food truck business taxes, be sure to reach out to an accountant for some assistance when hiring your first food truck employees.

If you have any steps we may have missed for hiring food truck employees, please feel free to add them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

bad interview questions

Working in the mobile food industry is much like any other restaurant industry job which means there can be a lot of turnover. Whether you are new to the industry or just need to fill a recently vacated position, you need to know what cannot be asked when you are involved in the hiring process.

Bad Interview Questions

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, as well as federal and state laws, prohibit asking certain questions of a job applicant, either on the application form or during the interview.

So what are some bad interview questions that you should you stay away from? Basically, you can’t ask about anything not directly related to the job.

13 Bad Interview Questions Or Topics To Avoid
  • Age or date of birth (if interviewing a teenager, you can ask if he or she is 16 years old)
  • Sex, race, creed, color, religion or national origin
  • Disabilities of any kind
  • Date and type of military discharge
  • Marital status
  • Maiden name (for female applicants)
  • If a person is a citizen; however, you can ask if he or she has the legal right to work in the United States

Other questions you should avoid include:

  • How many children do you have? How old are they? Who will care for them while you are at work?
  • Have you ever been treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist?
  • Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?
  • Have you ever been arrested? (You may ask if the person has been convicted if it is accompanied by a statement saying that a conviction will not necessarily disqualify an applicant for employment.)
  • How many days were you sick last year?
  • Have you ever filed for worker’s compensation? Have you ever been injured on the job?

We hope this list helps keep you from getting in trouble for asking bad interview questions to applicants who are interested in working for your food truck business.

RELATED: Post You Food Truck Jobs With Mobile Cuisine

Do you have any additional tips or suggestion? If so, please share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

first food truck employee

If you have big ambitions for your mobile food business, eventually (perhaps even at start up) you’re going to have so much to do that you can’t do it all yourself. When that day comes, it’s time to hire your first  food truck employee.

3 tips to help you manage hiring your first food truck employee:

Knowledge First

You can’t just hire people, pay them with a wad of cash every two weeks and then lather, rinse, repeat. Start by learning everything you need to know about becoming an employer.

The Small Business Administration outlines the steps you need to take and everything you need to consider, like getting an employer identification number (EIN), tax withholding, wage and tax reporting, employee eligibility verification, workers’ compensation insurance, quarterly federal taxes and record keeping requirements.

There’s a lot to think about, but it’s manageable.

Now that you have the government’s blessing, it’s time to work on a hiring strategy.

Define Roles

When making your first official hires, it’s better to go with clearly defined roles.

That means taking stock of the tasks that you need a hand with and creating a position in support of those needs. Are you going to be working in the kitchen or working directly with your customers?

The answer to this question will help you to determine what type of skill set you are looking for in your first food truck employee(s).

Mind you, a little flexibility doesn’t hurt and helping employees spread their wings can help you nurture your food truck staff.

Food Truck Business Culture

Another important factor to consider before making your first hire is your food truck’s culture.

What values, traditions and practices do you want to shape your mobile food business? Once you’ve figured out what kind of workplace and culture you want, the better your chances of finding someone who shares that vision.

Once you’ve determined what defines your food truck as a workplace, look for hires that fit the bill. If your employees share your vision, they’re more likely to excel in their jobs and all stick around long enough to help you succeed.

BONUS: We now provide food truck employers and those looking for food truck jobs a great way to meet. Food Truck Jobs at Mobile Cuisine is the perfect solution for employers who want people who have specific food truck experience. Post your food truck job today!!!

If you are an old hat at hiring, what tips would share with vendors looking to hire their first food truck employee? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

now-hiring-highway sign

If you haven’t noticed, over the past five years there has been consistent growth within the mobile food industry. Food truck owners across the country are succeeding to the point in which they are able to bring on more staff to expand their businesses.

If you happen to be in this situation, you may want to consider these traits as those to look for in your next hire, no matter what position they hold. Hiring can be difficult, especially in the food service industry. Candidates may have great cooking or customer service skills…but they just don’t work out. Why?

You’ll find that some individuals try to get by doing as little as possible, while others seem to possess a drive that leads them to give their all each and every shift. It those with that drive that you need to look for, and this article will provide an inside look into specific traits they’ll possess that tend to guide their work behavior, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently and without the need to prod them to stay on task.

Dedication

Those with a good work ethic are dedicated to their jobs and will do anything they can to always perform at the highest level. One sign of this will be seen in their resume, it will show that they change jobs less frequently than industry standards. They also often work as long as it takes to get a job done, showing that they are someone truly dedicate to their job.

Reliability

Reliability goes hand in hand with a good work ethic. If individuals with a good work ethic say they are going to show up or start at a certain time, they do. Individuals with a strong work ethic often want to appear dependable, showing the boss that they can be relied on.

Character

Those with a good work ethic often also possess generally strong character. This means they are self-disciplined, push themselves to complete tasks instead of requiring others to complete them. They are also often very honest and trustworthy, as they view these traits as part of who they are.

Productivity

This trait is key due to the speed in which a food truck is run. These individuals work at a consistently fast pace, with high productivity. They will typically get huge amounts of work done faster than others and don’t quit until they’ve completed the tasks they are given. They want to appear to be strong workers so they feel that the more productive they are, the more beneficial to your business they are.

Cooperation

Coming from a military veteran, I can tell you that a cooperative work environment can be highly beneficial for your food truck business. Being cooperative leads to stronger teamwork throughout the truck due to the fact that they often put a lot of effort into working well with others. They will respect you enough to work with anyone they are teamed with, even if they do not enjoy working with specific coworkers.

While it may be difficult to find someone who holds these traits and are capable of completing the tasks you give them. It’s important for food truck owners to do the best they can in building teams with these types of individuals. It has been shown time and again that the most successful trucks always seem to be staffed with this type of crew.

10 hiring mistakes to avoid

Hiring staff members for your mobile food business is hard work. When you are a food truck owner and you don’t have an HR department to help there is a lot of opportunity to make a lot of hiring mistakes.

Here are 10 that you should avoid:

Hiring friends

This is actually two mistakes rolled into one. Usually when you hire a friend you don’t really consider whether the friend is the best person for the job. The first mistake is to hire without getting as many candidates to apply as possible (more candidates means a higher chance that at least one of them is great). The second mistake is that since your friend may not be the most qualified, you may have to fire them someday. Not only will you lose an employee but in many cases also a friend.

Reviewing each resume

If you’ve done the first thing right and properly advertised to fill a position, you’ve attracted a pool of great candidates, which could end up as 25 to 50 resumes. You certainly can’t screen all 50 of them quickly; there just isn’t enough time in the day. If you don’t have any other employees to help you, explain in your ad how long you expect the process to take.

Skipping the phone screen

Once you’ve finally screened all of the resumes, you will likely still have 5 – 10 good candidates; too many to efficiently meet face-to-face for a busy food truck owner. Your next step should be a phone screen. A 15 – 20 minute phone conversation will help you see if this is a person you’d like to meet. What have they really done? Do they care about the things you care about? Are they on time? The phone screen is a great way to eliminate some folks that you don’t want to even spend 5 minutes with face-to-face.

No written questions

If you go into the face-to-face interview without questions that you plan in advance and write down for yourself, the interview has as much predictive value as a coin flip. Instead, write some questions down. Ask about the candidate’s actual experience (what did you do in that role?) and some behavioral interview questions. Ask each candidate those same questions to get an apples-to-apples comparison.

No testing

There are some things that are easy to assess in an interview and others that are hard. If you are hiring line cooks, you should ask them to cook something for you. Ask service window staff to sell to you. You want to see someone demonstrate their skills. Good candidates will leap at the chance to show their stuff.

Doing it alone

You need some other eyes and ears on the candidate too. Some truck owners do tandem interviews, where you have one person asking questions and another listening. Others let the candidates’ future peers have a crack at them.

Hiring too fast

When you have an open position on your team it can be debilitating. You can’t keep doing your job, their job and the job of hiring. I can almost see food truck owners thinking, “I hope this is THE ONE.” When you go into an interview with that thought process you can easily overlook warning signs. You may not probe in areas where you see potential weakness because you don’t want to find weakness. You want this person to be THE ONE.

Not understanding pay

It can be tough to figure out what the market rate for a job is; but you have to know that going into a hiring process. Do some research, look at other food truck job postings or ask other local food truck owners what they pay their staff so you know what to expect.

Not selling your business

It’s easy to be critical of the candidates and you should. But if you’ve got a good candidate you need to also sell them on your mobile food business. They need to know that you want them and that this position has exciting possibilities for them.

Not closing the deal

When you’ve found the right candidate, it’s time to make a solid offer. Don’t try to low-ball them; make an offer that they will feel good about accepting. Be prepared with all the information they will need to make a decision, such as benefits and vacation time. Show enthusiasm that you really want them on the team and you can see them making a big difference in your food truck business’s performance.

Hiring staff members for your mobile food business can be hard, but if you avoid these mistakes you’ll have a better chance of success.

Can you train someone for that open position on your food truck staff? This is an important question that food truck owners need to ask themselves while going through the hiring process. While other questions are certainly relevant, this question can significantly impact the bottom line of your mobile food business. Whether you need to fill the role of a drive, server, cook, chef or manager, each can require a substantial amount of time to get someone up to speed to actually help you.

Employee-Development training

A Wealth of Questions

You can narrow the field during the interview stage by asking the right questions. Add in some loaded questions so you can gain a real sense of a candidate’s strength and weaknesses. These questions may not seem relevant to that of a food truck owner, but hiring the right people will likely ensure the success of your truck.

Most of the questions involve the candidate. However, asking yourself the right questions can set the correct framework. Start with a couple of essentials:

  • Need: Answer the important question of need – what needs the position will require from you. From training to the character traits you can only get from “loaded questions,” these questions can help you prepare for the hiring process.
  • Source: Where will you look for your next candidate? Studies have shown that external hires receive “significantly lower performance evaluations for their first two years on the job…,” though they have more education and get paid 18 percent more than internal candidates. (hint hint: try to hire from your existing staff)

Once you have these essentials met, you can move on from there. From the starting point of the hiring process to post-interview, it pays to ask yourself the right questions to ensure you’re taking the right steps. Hiring mistakes can have an unmistakable and negative impacts.

The Decisive Question

You think you have the right candidate. He or she has all of the characteristics on paper, and there is much to like regarding the candidate’s aptitude, likeability, and interactivity. Yet, one question remains: Can you train them?

In some cases, everything seems to be right – but that person is unable to make the transition to the job. Due to a need for him or her to start right away, it just might not work out. Situations like these can be unfortunate, especially when the hiring decision isn’t well thought out.

This decisive question is incredibly valuable in many situations. Ultimately, the “right” candidate for the job may not seamlessly integrate into the new position. Training them may be too much trouble.

Can you train the applicant? Or would it be too much of a hassle for the position?

Every job is different. And every candidate is different as well. Yet, this question could be the litmus test for your business and the position. Someone who has never cooked inside a cramped food truck kitchen before may have some trouble acclimating to a hectic environment. However, you may find that you or another employee can train them during the slower times of the day. One other question you may want to ask yourself is if the candidate will have the ability to “catch up.” In this case, a trial period may not be a bad idea.

Overview

The barrage of questions is bidirectional in the hiring process. In order to spare your mobile food business of a costly mistake, the important questions must be asked and answered – and applied – by you.

Look at the applicant’s range of skills and qualities that aren’t found on paper. From the basic to the tough questions, the subsequent answers can be used to gain an understanding of what an applicant can bring. However, there is always a practical and important question with regard to training.

Learn to ask yourself and the candidate the right questions. It could save you a great deal of pain in the end. Remember: Your employees ultimately reflect on you and your food truck.

Are you turning down work because you simply don’t have enough time or hands on-board your food truck to take it on? Thinking of hiring your first employee? Congratulations – your mobile food business headed in the right direction.

help_wanted

But before you advertise for a new employee for your food truck, proceed with caution. Hiring staff is a commitment to the future, and should be made with your long-term growth plan and whether you really want to be an employer in mind.

Here are some points to consider, plus some tips for determining whether you can afford to hire your first food truck employee.

Future vision for your food truck business?

When faced with too much work, food truck owners are often encouraged to hire up, but is that what you want for your business? Is it your goal to become a larger business or remain a sole proprietor?

Temporary workers might be a short term option, but be aware: many laws and regulations that apply to full-time employees also apply to seasonal or part-time food truck employees.

?Where do you need help?

If you’ve decided to bring an employee on board, your first step is to project your mobile food business workload and identify areas where you need help. What does your workload pipeline look like for the next 30 days, 90 days and six months, and which areas of work do you need help with? What are you doing now that you could offload or have an employee do? Perhaps you need a line cook, or a service window staff member or service staff for your upcoming catering jobs. Or, maybe you simply want to free up your time to concentrate on other parts of your business.

Can you manage people?

Don’t overlook this important consideration. If you’ve managed employees in another occupation, how successful were you at making good hiring decisions? How many bad ones have you made?

Can You Afford It?

Working out whether you can afford to hire is a common stumbling block. Start by building a realistic picture of the costs and overheads that your food truck business will incur if you hire an employee.

These costs should include:

  • Wages
  • Unemployment Tax – State unemployment taxes vary by state, so check with yours. Federal unemployment tax is 0.8 percent on each employee’s first $7,000 of earnings.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance – For new employers, this figure depends on your industry and the job performed. Again, check with your state about your expected rate.
  • Medicare and Social Security Taxes – Currently, Social Security tax is 6.2 percent on wages up to $113,700, and Medicare tax is another 1.45 percent.
  • Recruitment and Training Costs – These can run into the thousands, but, you can reduce them by using networking and referrals to uncover candidates.
  • Benefits – Optional.
  • Payroll Costs – It takes time and money to administer payroll and calculate taxes and withholding. Examine the cost of payroll software that can help streamline this task.
  • New Equipment – Computer, desk, other tools.
  • Insurance for Company Vehicles

Next, look at last year’s income (if there was a last year) and expenses and factor in the projected annual cost of an employee and the extra income one might make possible. Then, consider your upcoming work and cash flow. Can you afford to live with reduced profitability for a few months as your mobile food business ramps up? Calculate what you can put into generating new business if your time is freed up.

tip of the dayThe best food truck owners know they need to hear opposing voices. These mobile food vendors hire people who disagree with them so those opposing voices are with them at all times.

Here are the things to look for when hiring a food truck staff member who disagrees with you:

  • Strength of ideas. You need alternate views based on facts. Contrary ideas should be well thought-out and put in context of what’s best the mobile food business.
  • Ambition. Someone who disagrees with you shouldn’t just be there to stir the proverbial pot. Look for someone who is interested in moving up in your food truck organization and is in for the long haul.
  • Track record. Willingness to disagree with you is not enough. Be sure that the person’s track record shows an ability to follow through on ideas and get things done.

tip of the dayWhat makes a great employee? Many call them the “Four Cs”:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity

These are the kinds of skills that are not only critical for food truck ownership to have, but also the individuals you look to hire. These traits show how quickly one can adapt and innovate.

Unfortunately many employees are lacking in these critical skills. In fact, 50% to 60% of managers feel the majority of their workers are at best average in these skills.

These are skills you should look for when hiring, but remember that they can be developed in employees too.

While experienced workers are much more likely to have these skills than recent culinary graduates, it’s easier to develop them in students and recent graduates than it is to develop them in experienced workers.

One-on-one coaching and mentoring are by far the most effective ways of developing these traits in your food truck employees, so a mentoring program that pairs you or trusted senior employees with junior ones could be well worth the time and effort.

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