My First Employee To Hire!

Business By loriemoms Updated 28 May 2009 , 10:30pm by loriemoms

loriemoms Posted 27 May 2009 , 12:53pm
post #1 of 36

Its been a crazy nutso year and after a few months of living on no sleep, no days off and no time for myself, my DH and I have finally decided it was time to hire some help. I am going to hire someone to come in on thursdays and fridays to help torte, filing, ice and maybe even decorate cakes. I am going to pay them based on experience (I asked around other bakeries and have a good idea on what the going pay is) and my DH is working with my accountant on paychecks and taxes and all that fun stuff.

My question is I have NEVER interviewed anyone before! I have put an ad on my web site and have gotten a ton of people who are going to come in and talk (I tell you, the kinds of resumes I have gotten have been hysterical...and who applies for a job with an email that says "I wd lk to wrk 4 u, cn u call me?" I wasn't even sure what it said at first! hahaha)

Anyway, I am going to ask them general questions about cake decorating and if they can stand for long periods and pick up 50 lbs and stuff like that, but I was wondering would it be too much to maybe have them ice a 6 inch chocoalte cake? (I figured if they can do that, they can ice anything) or something like that? I just dont want to hire someoen based on their word, I dont have time to teach anyone how to ice a cake!

Any other hints would be appreciated! I am so excited to be getting some help!! (and some sleep..I litterally did a wedding cake in my sleep last week..I dont remember doing it but when I got up the next day, it was sitting there done! hahahaha)

35 replies
crazyteach Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:07pm
post #2 of 36

If I were coming in for an interview on cake decorating-- I would not at all be surprised if you asked me to frost a cake- I actually think that it is a good idea. Anyone can say that they can do it-- but to make them prove it would be wise!

Maybe you should let them know that you are planning to have them do that-- that might cut down on how many people you have walking in to the interview process.

robinscakes Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:11pm
post #3 of 36

I actually had my first interview for an assistant a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately she didn't work out. I gave her an extra 10" cake and an order for a Mother's Day cake that I had. I figured if hers was good I could use it to complete the order. If it was ok, I could put it in the case to sell for a walk-in, and if it was bad the guys in the bakery could eat it and I'd just fill the order with the other cake I had. Well, it was bad. So, there wasn't much sense in interviewing her, other than the fact that I needed to learn how to do it. I think some of the good questions that I asked her were 1) What do you think you're best at? 2) What areas do you struggle with or what things make you nervous to do? 3) How available are you for last minute things--can you work odd hours (very early or very late in the day)? 4) Can you free-hand things (I do a LOT of free-hand designs)? 5) Have you looked at our website to see what we do here (you'd be surprised at how clueless some people are..."You have a website?")? I would definitely have her frost a cake and decorate it for you, and do it in front of you. You'll want to see how neat she is while she works and how sanitary she is. Even see how she holds a pastry bag. Some people never really learned the right way to do things (I know everyone has their own way to do certain things which is fine as long as it works, but sometimes you just know that someone is struggling with something because they never learned the right way to do it). Also, you'll want to see how long it takes her. The girl I interviewed took forever to make a lopsided very "homemade" looking cake. I agreed to interview her based on the recommendation of a friend of a friend of the bakery owner. Which just goes to show that you really can't take anyone's word for it.

Good luck! I hope you get the help you need. I'm still waiting and graduation season is here! Looks like I'm flying solo again!

cupcakemkr Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:15pm
post #4 of 36

I think it is a great idea for them to have to frost a cake - make it a 6 inch square chocolate cake with a border and a couple of roses. I agree, let them know there will be a skills test when you ask them to come in, that way they are not wasting your time if they can't really do it.

loriemoms Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:27pm
post #5 of 36

Thanks guys! That is a big help, especially the questions to ask! I never thought about asking what they think they are good at and if they think the could do the cakes on the web site!!

I will let y;all know how it goes! (and of course, if anyone out there is reading this and is in my area and is looking for a job, drop me a line!!)

jaybug Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:28pm
post #6 of 36

I think having applicants ice a cake is a great idea. Gives you a chance to check out their technique and timing. I would also have to ask them,"From your past experience , what would you bring to the table? Why do you think I should choose you over the other apppilcants?" Good luck ! I hope you get the rest that you so deserve. icon_smile.gif

Mike1394 Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:38pm
post #7 of 36

Have them do simple borders, and such. Have it all set up on a bench, and tell them what you want, then show them where it's set up. If thier first move ISN'T to the sink to wash thier hands don't hire them. If they won't wash for an interview they won't do it when your gone.

Mike

brincess_b Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:38pm
post #8 of 36

have you looked online at job searching websites? they usually have guides on what to expect in an interview - turn that into questions you can ask! questions on things like skills and weaknesses, team work, ability to work alone, use inititive, over come problems.

icing a cake is a good idea, but remember that great decorators can get nervous, so might not do their best work, so its a good idea to ask them to bring a portfolio if they have one.

make sure you know what you are looking for too. its the 'maybe even decorate cakes' bit of your post that makes me say that. either they do or they dont (and the pay reflects that) - somewhere in the middle might be harder to define, and pay.
to add: if you dont need/ want a proper decorator, its a bit of a waste of time having them do a cake nicely, what you ask them to show you would depend on what you need them to be able to do, so maybe just ask to see them do the pre-icing bits.
xx

Texas_Rose Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:38pm
post #9 of 36

I've never interviewed a cake decorator before icon_biggrin.gif but I have interviewed people for other jobs. It's good to ask how long they're planning to work for you if you hire them, and if they've ever been fired before. It's also very good to make yourself call and check their references, even just the last one. There's a limit to what you can ask and what the former employer can tell you. The best question to ask is, "If this person walked in today and asked you to rehire them, would you?"

Another good idea is to ask people to go for a drug test. The drug users who I had as employees (the company I worked for didn't drug test) were unreliable and often dishonest. You'd be surprised at the kinds of people who do drugs too, you can't tell by looking at them.

Caralinc Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:41pm
post #10 of 36

Too funny about the resume. That is so embarrassing for them. Too much texting I think they forgot how to spell things out. Just remind them when writing on a cake everything must be spelled out. ahahaha

Okay, got that out of the way. I think you are on track with the interviewing process. I have interviewed just not in this business. I like your questions on: can they stand for long periods of time, lifting and the cake icing. That is great. How about maybe having them bring in some pictures of cakes they have done independently as well. I also like what a PP said about not just icing the cake but to make a simple pretty cake with roses and a border.

A few other questions maybe to ask to find out about how easy they may be to manage: are they a self starter; self motivated; why are they interested in this position; how do they feel about feedback- did they ever receive feedback they did not agree with and how did they handle that? tough question but it will help you understand whether they are easy to manage or not.

Remember this is your business/vision and you have a reputation you want to uphold and this new person will want to work with you.

I wish you all the best of luck. icon_smile.gif

Caralinc Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:49pm
post #11 of 36

Too funny about the resume. That is so embarrassing for them. Too much texting I think they forgot how to spell things out. Just remind them when writing on a cake everything must be spelled out. ahahaha

Okay, got that out of the way. I think you are on track with the interviewing process. I have interviewed just not in this business. I like your questions on: can they stand for long periods of time, lifting and the cake icing. That is great. How about maybe having them bring in some pictures of cakes they have done independently as well. I also like what a PP said about not just icing the cake but to make a simple pretty cake with roses and a border.

A few other questions maybe to ask to find out about how easy they may be to manage: are they a self starter; self motivated; why are they interested in this position; how do they feel about feedback- did they ever receive feedback they did not agree with and how did they handle that? tough question but it will help you understand whether they are easy to manage or not.

Remember this is your business/vision and you have a reputation you want to uphold and this new person will want to work with you.

I wish you all the best of luck. icon_smile.gif

Caralinc Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:51pm
post #12 of 36

Too funny about the resume. That is so embarrassing for them. Too much texting I think they forgot how to spell things out. Just remind them when writing on a cake everything must be spelled out. ahahaha

Okay, got that out of the way. I think you are on track with the interviewing process. I have interviewed just not in this business. I like your questions on: can they stand for long periods of time, lifting and the cake icing. That is great. How about maybe having them bring in some pictures of cakes they have done independently as well. I also like what a PP said about not just icing the cake but to make a simple pretty cake with roses and a border.

A few other questions maybe to ask to find out about how easy they may be to manage: are they a self starter; self motivated; why are they interested in this position; how do they feel about feedback- did they ever receive feedback they did not agree with and how did they handle that? tough question but it will help you understand whether they are easy to manage or not.

Remember this is your business/vision and you have a reputation you want to uphold and this new person will want to work with you.

I wish you all the best of luck. icon_smile.gif

all4cake Posted 27 May 2009 , 1:54pm
post #13 of 36

Even experienced decorators may have difficulty icing/decorating a cake when working with product they're not used to. If they have difficulty with the cake...possibly ask them what type/consistency they're comfortable working with and if your icing/cake/tools/whatever will present an ongoing problem or if they'd be able to adapt....(just a thought as I reflect on a recent experience with a bakery and stiff as pie dough buttercream...I won't elaborate further...)

oneyracing Posted 27 May 2009 , 2:09pm
post #14 of 36

i think icing a cake will help out with the "career interviewers"...i use to do interviews for a very well known chain store and had alot of these people come in...we was supposed to go by the "guide" they gave us...they already knew the answers they was going to give me before they came in...so listen very carefully as to what they are saying...if it sounds "rehearsed"..it most likely is... thumbsdown.gif

also remember NOT to ask any of the age, religion, etc questions...and good luck... thumbs_up.gif

mmdiez10 Posted 27 May 2009 , 2:23pm
post #15 of 36

The "icing a cake" part of the interview is a great idea. Even if it is just basic stuff like crumb coating or simple borders and of course if they can do a basic buttercream rose, then you have a good helper. You might just need someone to do the basic stuff and leave the more detailed work to you, but just knowing that they are capable of more is good to know. Plus another good idea is that they must maintain confidentiality with regard to customer information. Make it clear to the applicant if you want them to be a behind the scenes helper or will have some customer contact. Whoever works with you must represent you well. good luck.

EatSomeCake Posted 27 May 2009 , 4:18pm
post #16 of 36

loriesmom-
where are you located?

Misdawn Posted 27 May 2009 , 4:25pm
post #17 of 36

I think you should present them with a 6" cake, a few decorating tools, and some icing and tell them to decorate this in any way they like. This way, you get to view their :

1)cleanliness
2) ability
3) creativity
4) knowledge of proper tool use, etc.

I would if I were interviewing someone for my business (not that I actually have one...yet.)

krissycupcakes Posted 27 May 2009 , 4:31pm
post #18 of 36

i would say ask them to write happy birthday and happy anniversary on a cake!!

ccr03 Posted 27 May 2009 , 4:35pm
post #19 of 36

Definitely ice a cake. As a writer, I always had to take writing and editing tests on interviews. Before interview anyone though, ask for a portfolio. Again, writers usually have to provide 2-3 writing samples.

Some questions to consider:
What's the biggest cake you've decorated?
Someone else said it - what kind of frosting do you typically work with? (NOt everyone uses buttercream.)
How good is their math?
Will they also be dealing with customers?

LittleLadyBabyCakes Posted 27 May 2009 , 4:43pm
post #20 of 36

I think the interview should last 3 days...in those three days, they work for minimun wage and do whatever you need them to--if it doesn't work out (and they will know if it doesn't)--they can go, you will have certainly enjoyed the help (or company) and they will have made a few bucks! IF it does work out, you hire them full time and all are happyicon_smile.gif

ccr03 Posted 27 May 2009 , 5:03pm
post #21 of 36

3 days? I'm sorry but that is crazy! I would never go on a 3-day job interview. No offense littleladybabycakes.

I don't know where the OP is, but in Missouri we have this law/regulation that the first 90 days of the job are kinda considered a 'trial' for both the employee and employer.

mmdiez10 Posted 27 May 2009 , 6:25pm
post #22 of 36

Three days might be a bit much to ask, unless they are a recent pastry arts graduate with nothing else to do anyway. But, maybe a one day "audition" of their skills might work. This gives the candidate an idea of what a "day in the life of..." might be like and what you would of expect of them in a typical day. And thinking of recent graduates or current students, that might not be a bad idea. It gives them on the job experience and you might just get someone who is eager to learn everything you have to offer.

LittleLadyBabyCakes Posted 27 May 2009 , 6:28pm
post #23 of 36

I was joking about the three days... icon_smile.gif)

kizzy_100 Posted 27 May 2009 , 7:02pm
post #24 of 36

Excellent interview questions! And definitely icing/decorating a cake -- the bakery I work for automatically has every prospective decorator do such, as well as writing "Happy Birthday" or something similar.

Another bakery I worked for years ago would have those who had done well on the interview "trail" us for a day. It really did separate those who knew something about the business vs. those thinking it would be a fun-all-the-time position. Many of those in the latter category either didn't finish out the day (their choice) or finished and said they were no longer interested.

(this is my very first Cake Central post!)

chassidyg Posted 27 May 2009 , 7:10pm
post #25 of 36

I think you should have them decorate a small cake for a try out, they may be the best interviewee in the world, doesnt mean they can actually decorate though!

snarkybaker Posted 27 May 2009 , 9:39pm
post #26 of 36

It is pretty common in the culinary world to " bench test" someone. I do an interview, asking them what their favorite thing is to make or do in the kitchen, get a feel for what they liked about their other kitchen jobs and what they didn't ( if they say " the boss" or something like that...run!! they are likely to be the type that never takes any responsibility for their mistakes) how often they change jobs and why .

If I like them, I invite them to bench test, which is a three hour test ( I pay them $10 an hour for the bench test) and I have them do three things, without much instruction during those three hours. One is ice build and ice a cake, one is make a basic recipe ( scones or brioche for cinnamon rolls for example) and one is make buttercream.

It is important for them to do it without much instruction, because their value is really dependent on what they can do without supervision. If you have to watch them all the time, you have just made two jobs for yourself. One is the work you are already doing. The other is watching your new employee so they don't screw up.

indydebi Posted 27 May 2009 , 11:13pm
post #27 of 36

Flat out ask them if they have kitchen experience. I'm finding that "dining room" people can't transfer to kitchen work very well, but kitchen people can do dining room work. Let me give you my example......

during a recent very busy week, I had one of my staffers come in and work with me all day long for a solid week. She was relatively new and I wanted to see what she could do, as she had told me she'd been a supervisor in a catering facility.

Oh. My. God. what a nightmare. icon_eek.gif

She thought all the food in my refrigerator was there for her to munch on. I had to keep pointing out the difference between the (big walk in) refrigerator and the (2-door) freezer. I had to keep telling her that we don't rinse out dishes in the hand washing sink and we dont' wash our hands in the dishwashing sink!

Simple tasks that I thought ANYONE could do and she couldn't: Scoop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. I had to keep explaining over and over and over how to do this!

I had her dip strawberries. As a friend of mine said, "That doesn't sound hard", to which I replied, "you'd think so, wouldn't ya?" I had to redip them a total of 3 TIMES before they looked ok! BTW, the order was for 50 and she tells me LATER that "....I'd never had one of those before so I ate a couple and they're pretty good!" Uh, darlin', it's ok to have the leftovers WHEN THEY BECOME LEFTOVERS! If I haven't delivered them yet, then it's an outgoing order!!

She dropped a fork on the floor, picked it up and put it in the clean stack! When I said, "If it goes on the floor, then it goes in the sink", she merely reached over and swished in around in the (3rd) sanitizing sink! When I said, "If it landed on the floor, it goes in the 1st sink, not the 3rd sink," she then swished it in the first (washing) sink! I jerked the fork out of her hand and put it in the sink to be washed!

I finally set her up rolling silverware in napkins and even that was done wrong. Of course, she could have been hindered by trying to roll silverware, text message her friend and talk on her phone all at the same time!!!

I hired her based on her resume of supervising in a catering facility. I now know to ask "do you know anything about working in a KITCHEN?"

MJoycake Posted 27 May 2009 , 11:37pm
post #28 of 36

My family runs an accommodation business (B&B's and cabins)...if we have several people interviewing for one position, I always have them each come in for an interview, then I weed out which 3 are the best out of the bunch. Those three are invited to come back for a paid day of work where I work alongside them. It's good to ask your formal questions during the first interview.....I find that in the paid day of work, if you make conversation a little more relaxed, they tend to tell you more without realizing it. For instance, why they left their last job and what the situation was leading up to their leaving. I find that people tell you key things that are really important, you just have to be listening for "cues"....they'll really tell you a lot without realizing it (both positive and negative) and it helps you to make your decision. You'll also figure out who has the best "goodness of fit". Someone might have excellent skills, but their personality clashes with your management style. I have found that I can train people to do most tasks if they have a goodness of fit that works. Best of luck finding the right person!

Misdawn Posted 27 May 2009 , 11:48pm
post #29 of 36

That's a very good point, MJoycake.

CookiezNCupcakez Posted 28 May 2009 , 12:01am
post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Flat out ask them if they have kitchen experience. I'm finding that "dining room" people can't transfer to kitchen work very well, but kitchen people can do dining room work. Let me give you my example......

during a recent very busy week, I had one of my staffers come in and work with me all day long for a solid week. She was relatively new and I wanted to see what she could do, as she had told me she'd been a supervisor in a catering facility.

Oh. My. God. what a nightmare. icon_eek.gif

She thought all the food in my refrigerator was there for her to munch on. I had to keep pointing out the difference between the (big walk in) refrigerator and the (2-door) freezer. I had to keep telling her that we don't rinse out dishes in the hand washing sink and we dont' wash our hands in the dishwashing sink!

Simple tasks that I thought ANYONE could do and she couldn't: Scoop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. I had to keep explaining over and over and over how to do this!

I had her dip strawberries. As a friend of mine said, "That doesn't sound hard", to which I replied, "you'd think so, wouldn't ya?" I had to redip them a total of 3 TIMES before they looked ok! BTW, the order was for 50 and she tells me LATER that "....I'd never had one of those before so I ate a couple and they're pretty good!" Uh, darlin', it's ok to have the leftovers WHEN THEY BECOME LEFTOVERS! If I haven't delivered them yet, then it's an outgoing order!!

She dropped a fork on the floor, picked it up and put it in the clean stack! When I said, "If it goes on the floor, then it goes in the sink", she merely reached over and swished in around in the (3rd) sanitizing sink! When I said, "If it landed on the floor, it goes in the 1st sink, not the 3rd sink," she then swished it in the first (washing) sink! I jerked the fork out of her hand and put it in the sink to be washed!

I finally set her up rolling silverware in napkins and even that was done wrong. Of course, she could have been hindered by trying to roll silverware, text message her friend and talk on her phone all at the same time!!!

I hired her based on her resume of supervising in a catering facility. I now know to ask "do you know anything about working in a KITCHEN?"






Based on what you have told us, I can't belive she has ever had a job before or was "bright" enough to write up a resume! Did she drive to your shop? That must have been a very difficult task for her if she did... I hope no one was hurt! Sounds like a real dummy if she didn't even know the difference between the hand washing sink etc.... icon_eek.gif

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