Good question. Your success starts not with you, but with who works for you. Finding a good hire is, unfortunately, a minefield and sometimes a crap shoot. That beingx said, I have a few things I've looked at over the years that have been successful for me. I say this not knowing what kind of operation you have, but I assume a line cook for you must not be an entry level position, but a skilled leadership position.
1) Hire for attitude, not menu knowedge. You can teach them your menu, you can't teach them to have a positive frame of mind. In this regard ask them about the worst night they've had on a cooking line ( and how they handle it) Ak about the worst chef's they have had ( and how they handled it) ask about the worst co-workers they have had ( and how they handled it). Ask about the wost servers they have worked with ( and how they dealt with them).
In their responses did they quit their jobs because of these issues? Did they ask to be transferred to another area of responsibility? Or did they talk to their supervisors and let their issues be known? Did they stick it out and continue, while learning all they could to get skills that would enable then to apply for a better position elsewhere? (yours perhaps?). Look for quitters and avoid them ( they will quit on you) and notice who tried to rectify the situation by communicating. If their previous employer didn't apprerciate someone who would communicate issues and try to work through workplace stresses like a reasonable person (the emphasis on reasonable here), then the better for you. Understand the difference between a complainer and a communicator.
2) Seriously, find out how they plan on getting to work. Sounds silly, but when I hear " I take a bus... ( I know they don't run on weekends, so how is he going to be consistently there on saturday night?) then when I ask them what happens when the bus doesn't run? I get " My friend will give me a ride, or I will take a bicycle, etc...." I know that his "friend" doesn't work for me so how can I hold his friend accountable for him not showing up to work on time? Unless the candidate can *****strate that he can handle the employees basic responsibility ( getting to work) I pass on the guy.
3) Ask the candidate some serious, in-depth culinary questions. Once again, this sounds like a no-branier, but we don't really ask detailed cooking questions. I actually have a written test I give candidates. My company loves it, because then I'm unbiased and don't end up with a descrimination suit. I ask some basic ones like: Name me seven different types of salad dressings. Name me two basic emulsified sauces. What are the mother sauces? What is saute' mean? (Show the candidate a boning knife and a chef's knife) and ask what are these generally used for? What is a marinara sauce? A Demi-Glace? An Italian Buffet ( BBQ, French , Asian, Greek, etc.) might have what on it for appetizers? Soups? Entrees? Desserts? Sides? etc.
These types of questions pertain to my operation, but I think you get the idea. Make it relevent to your op.
Next, get serious. Ask him, okay, now you've told me that you know what a Marinara is ( Demi, Alfredo, Reduction, fish fumet, whatever) ask him to tell you EXACTLY how he has made it. You will find out quickly if he has made it himself, or "watched " someone else do it. If he implied that he knew, but can't come through on the EXACTLY question, then he is a liar. Or, at best overconfident, and hopes you're enough of a schmuck that he can snow you too. That being said, rule four:
4) It is better to have a bad truth than a good lie. A candidate that is honest about their shortcomings is worthy of consideration (assuming the shortcomings are reasonable) more so than a candidate that is trying to pull one over on you. Why? Because, you will at least start your relationship based on him being honest with you. He will be more likely to tell you important information and not hide it from you ( I'd rather hear "Chef, I don't think this looks right." at the start of a shift,than hear " Oh, yeah, I was gonna tell you, I thought it looked kinda funny," at the end of the shift. He will have less tendency to respond to your direction with "attitude". And at least, if it doesn't pan out, you will have a more open relationship within which you can discuss your porblems with him.
5) If you don't think the candidate is right for you, tell them. This is the hard part. Either send them a note in the mail, a phone call, at the end of the interview, whatever, but tell them. They need to know so they can continue to look for work elsewhere without hoping you will come through. It is the right thing to do.
" I see that you have a good work history, but, I am sorry, I am not sure you have the kind of experience that would fit in my operation. " Or however you may phrase it.
This is tough, but you must do it.
6) I know that ther are many opinions across the board on this, but I notice if the candidate has job hopped a lot without a reasonable explanation. Reasonable is for you to define, my friend, but to me, I think that just based on statistics, they couldn't have had that many "bad gigs". Maybe THEY are in some way connected to the problems that led to them leaving their jobs. I dont' want someone with too much baggage. People don't really change in life, they don't, regardless of all the touchy-feely phsyco drivel that Dr. Phil oozes to Oprah's audience everyday. You character is what it is, forever. So, I look at unreasonable job hoping as a character issue. This is your call.
I'm sorry if I've gone on long here, I apologize, but I get excited about some of these issues and I just wanted to expound on it a bit.
Good luck. Let me know how it works out.
Bye, for now.
We must be strong in the broken places--Ernest Hemingway
We must be strong in the broken places--Ernest Hemingway