Back in 2003, Chili’s Grill & Bar was having a challenging time with the amount of employee turnover and wanted to find a better solution in weeding out candidates for its management positions. To help with the problem, it teamed with OutMatch (originally known as Assess Systems/, which provided assessment and other tools to find employees more suited for the positions.

Carol Jenkins, OutMatch’s chief science officer, notes OutMatch improves the candidate experience, shortens time to hire, reduces employee turnover, boosts customer satisfaction, builds an employment brand, and ultimately grows revenue and profitability.

“We may put in a pre-employment assessment on the front end that’s going to give them a good indication of job fit, whether a server role or Heart-of-the-House role. We help with selection and development as well,” Jenkins says. “Assessments can help early turnover where the candidate isn’t necessarily a good fit, and are useful in understanding someone who has the right characteristics to be successful.”

Over the past 13 years, Chili’s has seen huge success in selecting and developing team members at various levels of the organization, including executives, management, and hourly. It started using OutMatch for its server positions about five years ago.

“We believe it is critically important to use an assessment tool when understanding competency, skill set and the development of our talent, which is why we first began working with OutMatch,” says Jennifer Hartley, vice president of PeopleWorks for Chili’s Grill & Bar. “OutMatch challenged us to think differently about our talent and helped us create a customized tool that truly meets our needs, from hourly to management to executives, to help build our differentiated workforce.”

In fact, Chili’s has increased its bottom line by more than $34 million through the use of assessments to improve candidate selection and predict the success and longevity of new hires. Additionally, the company has saved approximately $21 million annually through reduced turnover and generated an additional $13.5 million in sales through improved server selection.

“In reducing turnover and driving engagement, it is a cost avoidance of doing business. We have been able to continue to invest in our brand and people through development of team members,” Hartley says. “The tool has been a beneficial retention and engagement platform because it helps us place the right people in the right positions that align with their competencies. Additionally, we use the tool to help further develop and grow our team members.”

The OutMatch assessment is customized to Chili’s and validated for cultural fit to ensure candidates have strong competencies related to hospitality, which ultimately drives an excellent guest experience. OutMatch also offered the chance for video assessments, automated reference taking and developmental feedback.

“We believe hiring talent is part art and part science, and the assessment is the science behind the art,” Hartley says. “Talent is critically important and it’s a differentiator for the brand. The tool has helped our managers better identify talent that aligns with our culture and the experience we want to deliver at the table so they can spend more time in the interview versus the pre-screening process.”

The process was simple. Jenkins explains OutMatch came in, assessed the company’s top performing individuals, and created an assessment based on the findings. As a result, the tool strengthened Chili’s candidate pool because they were able to ensure the right cultural fit and hospitality-driven mentality.

“It’s important to note that we are constantly updating and revalidating tools based on business needs and trends within the hospitality industry to ensure we’re screening for the right talent,” Hartley says. 

By Keith Loria

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, Labor & Employees, Chili's, Chili’s Grill & Bar