The Waiter Rule

My good friend Rick Frishman, publisher, author, international speaker, and a general all-around genuine guy publishes a Monday morning newsletter that is at the top of my Monday to–do list.  On February 22, 2016, he wrote a fascinating hiring tip.

In it, he said, “I have hired more than 500 people in my career. All PR people. If you are going to hire a PR person, or anyone for that matter, after they pass your interview in the office, take them to lunch. That is where you can see what kind of person they are. 


See how they treat the waiter or the waitress. Are they nice to them? Treat them with respect? That is the real test of someone’s character. How are they to the “little people”?

It got me to thinking about one of my soap-box hiring rules – Hire for fit.  If the individual doesn’t fit into your culture or doesn’t play by the values you and your company hold dear, they are not a fit.  But after reading Rick’s message, I realized it goes way beyond that, and it’s often over looked in our race to fill vacancies.

What is it? 

It’s basic respect for our fellow human beings. When the person exhibits disrespect for those they interact with, whether it’s “above their station or below,” you can bet your booties that over time it will manifest in your work environment.

The ability to do the job…even if they’re great at what they do, is not enough.  People must treat others with respect and with courtesy, regardless of who they are or what type of work they do, for a company to operate smoothly and show a profit.  AND most importantly, not waste tons of time and money trying to smooth feathers and keep everyone playing nice.

So, how do you determine if that candidate sitting in front of you has what it takes to be respectful to everyone without taking them to lunch?  Here’s a couple of quick ideas:

  • Ask your receptionist or whoever meets them at the door, how the candidate responded to them and how they were treated.
  • Take the candidate to your break room during a time when co-workers are there. Do a quick introduction and then “get called away” for a few minutes. Get feedback from those who were in the room with the candidate.
  • Ask the candidate how they would react if they were dining out and a wait staff person spilled something on their favorite outfit.
  • During your behavioral interview questions…ask them to describe a time when a close co-worker was demoted and how this changed the relationship. Do they display an uncomfortable feeling around those below them? Watch for the clues.

These are just a few tips that will help reveal your candidate’s true colors when they are not wearing their party manners for your review.