Employees at the restaurant chain don't need a college degree to succeed at the company.
Gastronomically speaking, TGI Fridays is perhaps best known for its unlimited appetizers, drown-in-them margaritas, and bourbon-soaked ribs. To its 100,000 global employees, it's the workplace that gives them tuition reimbursement, travel opportunities, and the potential to climb the job ladder, no matter the starting point.
Fridays also puts an emphasis on diversity, with a largely female management force. "Fridays is very focused on recruiting women and minorities," says Andrew Robinson, senior vice president, chief people and culture officer. "Currently about 64 percent of our restaurant managers are female. Among our general managers, there is about a fifty-fifty split of women and men."
Robinson explains what it takes to join the next generation of employees.
Where are most of your jobs located?
Fridays Corporate is based in Carrollton, Texas, outside of Dallas. We have more than 900 restaurants in 60 countries worldwide, with about 500 here in the U.S. We're constantly evaluating our portfolio and growing our business. Next year, we're aiming to open up more than 30 new restaurants globally.
How often do you hire new people?
We are constantly recruiting new team members for our restaurants and take everything from walk-in candidates who frequent their neighborhood Fridays to online applications via our website and social media platforms. We hired approximately 67,000 employees last year.
Where do you recruit candidates?
Most of our candidates are guests who love our restaurants. As we continue to evolve our recruitment practices to target a variety of ages, we want to be places where younger generations are, meaning online and on social media channels. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, candidates can learn more about the Fridays culture on Tumblr and Instagram.
Do you tend to hire locally for restaurants?
About 95 to 97 percent of our restaurant employees live within 5 miles of their Fridays locations. We often partner with local community organizations for recruiting purposes.
Is the application process different for restaurant and corporate employees?
Candidates for restaurant jobs [can visit] our careers site, Facebook, and Twitter. We have also adopted our recruitment and benefits packages to target [younger workers]. For example, we have found that these age groups really spark to some of the philanthropic opportunities Fridays offers [such as sponsoring hunger-relief charity Feeding America, and offering an employee relief fund that benefits workers in times of emergency or tragedy]. For [franchise] restaurants, we train the management teams how to recruit and hire. As for executive recruiting, the restaurant industry is small and we track top talent. I'd say that about 95 percent of executive-level position [candidates] comes from word of mouth and relationships.
Do you attend conferences or college career events where candidates might have a chance to network with you?
We partner with groups like the Women's Foodservice Forum, an organization that focuses on providing leadership skills and tools; Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, a resource that helps us focus on workforce diversity; and ProStart, a nationwide, two-year high school program that gives students exposure to restaurant and foodservice leaders.
Do you have an internship program?
We do not have a formal internship program at the corporate level, but we often hire candidates when we find the right young talent while they are in school. For instance, we often have second- and third-year law students who want to clerk and learn about corporate law, and we attract a lot of [undergraduate] marketing and product innovation talent as well [who are hired part-time throughout the year].
Do you have a management training program?
We offer an eight-week associate manager program for those with an associate degree or above, or some management experience. We see candidates who didn't go to college but have worked in their family's restaurants since they were teenagers. We welcome those candidates as well. Many people, even at the executive level, have been at Fridays for many years and have worked their way up the ranks from entry-level positions.
What questions should candidates always ask you in an interview?
I recommend that candidates be interviewing me as much as I'm interviewing them. Candidates should demonstrate a knowledge of the brand, and I really like when they can include an example of a recent restaurant experience or brand experience they've had, and provide feedback.
Is it OK to bring up salary?
While it's OK to ask about salary further along in the interview process, don't open with salary questions. We ask about salary requirements on the application, so we already know what range we are looking at. Candidates should also remember that compensation is the entire benefits package, not just base pay.
What's unique about your interview process?
We [engage in] role-play so we can evaluate how they respond to a myriad of issues on their feet. We want to see how they respond under pressure and their ability to make a quick decision. For executives who are interviewing, we often give them a business problem to solve and they have two days to come up with a solution.
What is the interview dress code?
We don't care what someone looks like as much as we do about their capabilities and competencies. You don't have to wear a suit to get the job, but you do need to demonstrate that you understand and embrace the Fridays brand.
Do thank-you cards or emails matter to you?
Personally, I think a thank-you note, whether it's a card or email, is still very important. What people should understand is that that follow-up note is your last chance to sell yourself and tell me why I should hire you. It can be the difference between getting the job and not.
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By Heather Wood Rudulph | Cosmopolitan