Conflict of Interest???

Joined Mar 2, 2002
Be as candid as you want with this, because I'm really looking for some input.

I'm not sure about which way to go with someone I am considering hiring, and I am a little bit gun shy lately. Individual seems qualified and is available for the part time hours I am looking for. Personality seems fine, and all that - not knock your socks off, but acceptable. But, person has another job at a restaurant that has similar menu to mine, although they do not deliver (Yet????). The plan is to work both places. Now, this other restaurant has been open a lot longer than I have, and the owner has just gobs more experience than I do. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone over there could possibly have anything to learn from me - except maybe the delivery end of the business. Even though what I do could be considered "fast-casual" ( a term I am already getting tired of hearing!) and they are more along the lines of a Chili's type place, we are both Southwestern, and our market consists of the same folks. So, they are kind of a competitor, I guess, even though they are sit down & drink and I'm delivery/take-out. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel having someone work for me who also works for a competitor, no matter how many miles ahead of me that competitor may be. Am I just being weird?

Another thing that causes me a little concern, and I'm wondering if anyone else ever runs acsross this, is that I practically had to beg him to completely fill out the application. I actually see this a lot on the level I'm at - what seem to me to be cooks sort of working the local circuit, making a lot of lateral moves. Many of them hand me half filled out applications, like they are so sure they can just get a job anywhere, any time, that it doesn't matter. Maybe I make to much of it, read too much into it, I don't know. Another applicant came by with a meticulously filled out application. Student in the honors program. Responsible work history. Outstanding demeanor. Zero restaurant experience. I'm thinking of hiring that one instead. Thoughts?

I should point out as well that my shareholders are not too crazy about the idea of me hiring someone who works for a competitor. They first brought it to my attention when I mentioned the applicant. I have the final say, but there are concerns.

Joined Nov 21, 2001
dear rita,
go with your "gut" instinct, hire the second applicant. chances are if the person is fairly bright and willing to learn they'll do ok. you can train them to do things your way, and you won't hear "at the other place i work, we do it this way." and you won't have to worry about conflicting work hours.
just my 2 pennies.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Reread your post. The answer to your question is right there. Take a big PASS on that one. I have encountered the half-as-ed application and I file it immediately. I think it speaks volumes to thier work ethic and personality. 1/2 application=1/2 want the job.
also me 2 cents.
Zero restaurant experience means you won't have to break someone of bad habits.
Joined Oct 28, 1999
Panini said it!
1. Your shareholders aren't too happy w/hiring a competitor's employ
2. The second candidate is eager & willing
3. The first applicant gave a half-hearted attempt at his 'first impression' - the application

You really did answer your own question, right?
Joined May 26, 2001
Yes, yes, yes, YES! What everyone else said. Hire the second one. You can always train him/her. S/he has shown more interest, and FOLLOWED DIRECTIONS BETTER in filling out the whole application. The first one may or may not be capable of stealing information from you; but the second will be a sponge who only absorbs YOUR way of doing things.
Joined Mar 2, 2002
Thanks for the input! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who sees so much in that initial application. I have been told that I make too big a deal of it. But, twice I've hired a sloppy applicant, and twice I've been sorry. I think I'll not make the same mistake again. At first, part of me wanted to convince myself that the first applicant's experience might make for easier training, but, as you all pointed out, that experience might have ended up being more of a pain than anything.

I called the second applicant (actually, she called me to politely follow-up on the application), later this afternoon. I have to say, I was even further impressed by the sincerely enthusiastic response I received when I made the offer. It was refreshing. Like I said, I'm a little gun shy lately. I've had a series of duds. I believe things are looking up, though. And if I can remember what I liked and didn't like (and trust my own hunches!) when comparing these two applicants, perhaps the hiring process will be even smoother next time!

Thanks again. Youv'e been a great help


Joined Feb 13, 2003
Actually Rita, there's nothing illegal about hiring the first person.

What you do, is write up an "non-compete" contract, and make the guy sign it. This protects you in the event he decides to bolt with your recipes, etc.

Make the "non-compete" clause a lengthy one, too. 5 years is not unusual for something of this nature.

Joined Dec 1, 2002
The biggest problem too is that the first guy won't be as comitted to you as the second. This would also impact his quality of work, if he doesn't really care too much about the job. The student will have study conflicts, but won't just quit the first time he doesn't want to work. Thats the main thing to consider I think when employees have a second job. We used to have several employees from two very alike concepts, basically their PM shift was our AM and vice versa. (Dave and Buster's- Jillian's if you guys are familiar with them then you know how alike they are) You could also explain your concern to him, and watch his reaction. Then follow it up with the contract mentioned in the other posts.
Joined Feb 23, 2001
just another 2cents-

if they cant follow your direction to fill out the entire form- what
other directions will they not follow- as my little nephew says- 'it's my room and my rules!" - to me they are already showing insubordination by not recognizing your wishes for a complete form (work history etc)

you can teach technique but you cant teach attitude- i always go for the less experience and train them my way- i look for attitude, willingness to work, be part of the team-

just always watch your back no matter who you hire

as far as a non- compete clause- i have all my bakers sign those too- more for the idea (threat) of it- really- how well, can you enforce it- how can you really prove that a particular recipie or idea is yours and that it was stolen- and if you can- the legal costs and follows ups are staggering and not entirely realistic for a small business owner - i went through that with a copyright infringement suit

hiring from a competitor- no way!

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