Why Chipotle’s hiring process is best, but most restaurants won’t use it.

Chipotle does a LOT of things right.  Beyond the obvious ways they are grabbing the market from millennials on up (high quality, natural ingredients, great marketing etc) they innovate with their music, something most restaurants blow off.  And as explained on LinkedIn Pulse, Chipotle innovates and excels in their recruiting, hiring, promotion and retention processes.  Staff is the foundation of every hospitality concept and reading how they do it can help every operator.  Here’s the problem:

It is easy to make the knee jerk conclusion that Chipotle succeeds by “treating employees well” but that’s missing the reason they succeed. It is not being nice to employees, it is excellent screening, hiring criteria, and training policies.

Most operators will read how Chipotle does it, and say “great ideas.”  And they are.  The meat of this article, “The Actual Hiring and Promoting Process,” is true genius. But most operators will balk at implementing it as it means extra time, training, money and profound changes in attitude.  Obviously it pays off, but sadly most  companies will talk the talk only, where Chipotle walks the walk and gets a good return on the investment most are unwilling to make.

The Actual Hiring And Promoting Process

Because Chipotle is looking to turn its $9-an-hour crew members into employees that garner six-figure compensation packages, they have a more rigorous hiring process for its crew members than the typical fast food place. When people apply, they are told to read the career site, and then when they come in for an interview they are asked about what they read.

Those interviews are often team interviews, where each member of the crew talks with the candidate, and they look for people who enjoy the food at Chipotle and actually did the reading they were assigned. This is smart, because now the candidate fully understands that Chipotle is looking to promote from within, and they’ll be properly motivated.

Along those lines, Chipotle cares little about experience and requires just a high school degree (after all, it is just a $9-an-hour job). Instead, they search for people who have the 13 characteristics they are looking for (which includes everything from “presentable” to “infectiously enthusiastic”), assuming that superiors will give new employees the training they need to move up.

Once hired, crew members do all the jobs at the restaurant, from washing dishes to the cashier to making the food. Again, since both the employee and the manager are incentivized if the employee is promoted, training in all these areas happens organically.

For a supervisor to get promoted to a higher-paying job, the employees who work underneath them are interviewed. If the employees speak poorly about the manager, the manager will not be promoted.


5 thoughts on “Why Chipotle’s hiring process is best, but most restaurants won’t use it.”

  1. A stringent hiring process takes care of hiring the right talent, increased productivity, customer satisfaction and increased revenue. With so much at stake, we wonder why so many companies are still shy of adopting it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (1)
      Because management/ownership has to do additional hard work and spend money upfront to have a good recruiting and training program. They fail to take a long term view of success and envision the huge eventual upside to the investment, especially if their enterprises are doing “OK.” Is “OK” good enough? Some feel it is.
      Having good personnel management systems means upper management and ownership must follow more consistent rules, more restrictive on their whims. This is the underlying issue for rich independents.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In defense of those who want to “wing it” on personnel. It’s not the best call but there are a lot of instances where companies have put a complex, well meaning system in place and it became drag on the business and did not deliver. I had one experience with that working in a larger organization. It’s a daunting undertaking to systematize and optimize your staffing methods. It’s scary to abandon your “gut,” and there’s always risk in moving beyond the tried and true.
    Also I have clients who “keep it simple” and succeed. But I believe there is an upper limit to growth if you don’t have a sophisticated system as Chipotle does.


  3. What a load of BS. Chipotle’s food may be good, but the staff in many locations lacks in courtesy and customer service. Many have been outright rude.


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