Answer provided by: Denise Tran, Founder of Bun Mee – gourmet Vietnamese sandwich eatery with two locations in San Francisco.
Previous Employment: Corporate Transactions Attorney for 5 years at Aoki Sokamoto Grant.
I founded Bun Mee in May 2011. We have over 65+ employees with annual sales of $3.5 million+. Attracting top management candidates in a competitive hospitality market such as San Francisco has required me to get creative with recruiting, have a “hands on” approach to interviewing, understand the type of talent needed at each stage of my business, and clearly communicate Bun Mee’s selling points.
Although, I do rely on traditional channels to recruit talent such as recruiters or placing online ads, I prefer to lean on my industry network. This includes industry vendors who typically have recommendations of people looking for new food and beverage opportunities.
The best candidates come from professional introductions. My business is a fast, casual restaurant operating in a competitive hospitality city. I often compete with fine dining establishments or established restaurant chains for top management talent. Other than the basics – a competitive salary, vacation, medical, and bonus benefits – I can’t offer any additional perks such as: the ability to learn from a known chef or an experienced front of the house manager. With minimal corporate structure, Bun Mee is still in our startup phase and requires employees that can wear many hats and is attracted to learning on the job with minimal training. I seek out candidates with intangible qualities such as a strong emotional intelligence and aptitude, who can excel wearing many hats, and who have an entrepreneurial bent willing to take a risk with a young company.
After narrowing the field down to a few candidates, I take a hands-on approach to interviewing my candidates, multiple times, in different settings. This also includes meeting their spouses or significant others over dinner or in a more casual setting. Taking on a new job opportunity is often a family decision, this approach allows me to sell Bun Mee not only to the candidate but also to someone in their lives who is an important part of their decision making process. Meeting the spouse or significant other also allows me to understand my candidate better from a personal standpoint, which is critical when assessing culture fit.
My approach when interviewing potential candidates:
- I provide background on myself, my family, my values and why I started Bun Mee and what it means to me personally.
- I share my dreams and vision for the business both from a strategic perspective, opportunity for growth, financial opportunity, and how I want Bun Mee to be a great company beyond what it is today.
- I highlight accolades, awards, and investor interest we have received to validate the vision and to show the candidate that they have an opportunity to be a part of something at the ground level that has great potential to expand nationally.
- I tell each candidate how they would fit into the vision based on their background, talents, and experience and how it would be mutually beneficial to work together.
No matter the approach, an honest, sincere, and passionate pitch from the company founder is most effective in recruiting top talent.