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All hospitality operators want employees who can learn their jobs quickly and have personality traits that allow them to maintain their performance over time. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to find individuals who possess all of the desirable attributes, and thus, some degree of compromise is generally required. The prevailing view is to select those with great personalities and then train them for the technical job requirements. However, strict adherence to this perspective is not advisable. The study presented in this article found that both general mental ability and conscientiousness are important for predicting the performance of restaurant employees on the front line. Moreover, it appears that these two individual characteristics are important at different stages of an employee's job tenure. Using data from 241 line-level restaurant employees, the study found that general mental ability was a better predictor of performance for new employees, whereas conscientiousness was a better predictor of performance for experienced employees. These findings have direct implications for staffing decisions, as well as new employee training and development and performance management.


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