Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tides: The Interviews

For the past few months, I've been regularly meeting Liberians who profess to be interested in working for me at Tides. I've been keeping notes of the people I meet and what I think of them, and it's time to share them with you now.

The first batch of women I met looked like they were dressed to in a brothel instead of a bar. There is a difference. I found myself trying not to stare as I attempted to elicit answers to my basic interview questions, but it was difficult. There was so much cleavage! Spandex! If I hired these women, how would any work get done? Unfortunately, we'll never get to tell. The spandex vixens were totally incompetent, unable to answer even the most basic questions (like "where do you live?") without blushing, looking down shyly (at their cleavage), and generally looking totally confused. It was sad.

The other curious thing I've noticed as I interview women for bar, kitchen or front of the house positions is that everyone wants to be waitress. I've unblinkingly told women that I have plenty of waitresses, that I really need someone in the kitchen, and then asked them in the next sentence where they'd like a position. The answer, 85% of the time? "I'd like to be a waitress." At one interview, the man who silk-screens our t-shirts had brought his girlfriend in and interjected, "No! She'd like to work in the kitchen!" I wish I could hire him, but then who would make our shirts?

There have been some winners, like Annie, who used to bartend at Pepperbush, a now-closed nightclub (that has been replaced by the rather forwardly-named '69'). Annie was smart, quick to answer, and seemed totally capable of managing a 30 meter-long bar. Hopefully she's won't find another job in the large gap between her interview and Tides actually opening, because she's hired.

Also hired is T-Girl, a future chef I'm poaching from her job as supermarket stocker. I met T-Girl on my first night in Mamba Point at a bar called CeCe's Garden that two weeks later doubled its beer prices and lost my business. T-Girl was working on spec, not yet getting paid, and as we tipped her, her face lit up and she smiled at me. She was smart, got my number, called me later that week, and I immediately hired her to buy women's t-shirts for us. Now, with her full-time job, she organizes her friends to do the same. How's that for entrepreneurialism?

But then there was Nana. Two friends independently asked if I'd interview her and she's the weekly cook for another. However, it took her seven calls to find the interview spot even though I'd given her directions a week in advance. She was late, didn't smile, and although she's the only one I've interviewed whose ever read a recipe, she picked her nose the entire interview. She was picking her nose at the same time as she was telling me she wanted to work in the kitchen. I cannot hire her.

Other highlights include meeting someone named Specialean, pronounced "special-lin", and getting a follow-up call from someone at midnight on a Saturday asking when the job would start. Training should be interesting...

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