A friend of mine just came back from a trip to Austin. Home of SXSW, live music and a thriving indie scene. But what did she come back raving about?

Fast casual dining.

As a mother of two young kids, she couldn’t get enough of Austin’s booming fast casual dining scene. From Italian to Indian, Tex-Mex to Asian fusion, fast casual dining was a perfect fit for her family. The fast, healthy, convenient – and good-for-you – food had her family lining up on the street to sample.

Fast casual dining is one of the hottest trends in the restaurant segment. According to The NPD Group, due to a challenging economic climate, fast casual is the fastest growing segment that’s growing right now.

With major fast casual chains experiencing double-digit growth over the last three years, hiring for fast-casual dining is on the rise too.

Here are just a few tips to keep in mind when hiring for the fast casual market:

  • Fast & courteous: Service is minimal at fast casual dining, but customers are still looking for an experience that’s a step above the average chain. That means you’re looking to source for talent that is efficient, capable and courteous. To pinpoint fast and courteous applicants, consider adding assessments  to your application process. You’re looking for new hires who are socially outgoing and have a positive service attitude. A behavioral assessment only adds 15 minutes to your interview but it can provide key answers to the kind of applicants you want to keep.
  • Keep tech savvy in mind: A major attraction to fast casual restaurants is atmosphere: upscale, comfortable, chic décor and free Wifi. Keep that in mind when you’re hiring. Try to look for talent who are tech savvy and can help trouble-shoot when you have Wifi issues. Not every new hire needs to be a Wifi wizard, but having a few on staff can save you time and money in service calls.
  • Know when to say when: Many fast casual restaurants serve alcohol. How will this affect the average age of your new hires? Check your state laws governing alcohol sales. From state to state, the age limit typically varies from age 18 to 21 to serve alcohol.

Fast casual dining has its own set of unique challenges. But if you can pinpoint your distinctive needs and tailor your staffing to suit them, your hiring process should be smooth sailing.