If you are fortunate enough to live near one, filling out a P.F. Chang’s application is definitely a worthwhile investment of your job search time.
P.F. Chang’s is actually a fairly new chain, having been founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, (a bedroom-suburb of Phoenix), in 1993. The founders were Paul Fleming, (hence the P. F.), and Philip Chiang, (note the slightly different spelling). Three years later, the partners bought out a group of four bistro-style restaurants nearby, converted them to P.F. Chang’s locations, and incorporated as P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc.
In 2010, P.F. Chang’s Home Menu was introduced, a line of frozen meals and appetizers sold in some supermarkets.
Within the last year, (2012), a firm named Centerbridge Partners has purchased P.F. Chang’s, and the company is no longer publicly held.
It should be noted that P.F. Chang’s does not attempt to be an “authentic” Chinese restaurant, but rather specializes in what they call “American Chinese cuisine”. They also sell sake, wine, Asian beers, and specialty drinks. For those to whom gluten is a health issue, P.F. Chang’s also offers several gluten-free options on their menu.
In addition to their namesake restaurant chain, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc also operates a small chain of more casual, fast-paced Asian restaurants called Pei Wei Asian Diner, (pronounced pay way).
P.F. Chang’s Jobs
Server – To quote from the site, “the Server position is the main point of contact our guests have with our brand. You are the person responsible for making sure the guest experience gets off to a great start. Greeting our guests with a warm smile, making menu suggestions, taking orders, working the point-of-sale registers, and ensuring our guests have a memorable experience are all part of a day’s work.”
Well, all that aside, you’ll be doing much the same things a waiter does at any restaurant. You take the order, you write it down such that you know which guest gets what when the food comes, you repeat it back to be sure you have it right, you upsell as much as possible, you suggest wines and beers to guests over 21 at every opportunity, you enter the order at the POS terminal, you bring drinks, you collect the order from the kitchen, check it for accuracy, and deliver it to the table, you ask if your guests need anything else, you refill drinks, you suggest dessert (always!), you bring the check, and when the guests depart, you invite them to return soon.
Host/Hostess – You greet the guests, you welcome them to P.F. Chang’s, you seat them immediately when possible, or add them to a wait list if not, you visually inspect the table as you approach it, making sure it’s clean and sanitary, you make sure the guests have silverware, napkins and menus, along with any current promotional materials, and you supply small children with booster seats, kiddie menus, crayons or other such items as appropriate.
Back Waiter (Food Runner) – Your basic job is to prevent food from sitting in the window getting cold because the Server is too busy to come collect it. You run orders out to the tables when this situation occurs, so that all guests always receive their food fresh out of the kitchen. You will also be called upon to help with getting drinks, refilling drinks, fetching booster seats for small children, and a thousand-and-one other restaurant tasks. You also fulfill somewhat the role of an expediter, acting as an interface between servers and kitchen, and taking charge of any orders which are sent back to the kitchen to be re-done.
A review of anonymous feedback from current and former P.F. Chang employees shows a surprisingly high level of employee satisfaction for a restaurant, one well above average. And the same anonymous feedback shows that a comfortable but unimpressive 64% “approve of” CEO Richard L. Federico.
Getting That Job At P.F. Chang’s
When you arrive at the site, (http://www.pfcb.com/careers.html), you’ll see a blurb about their home office in Scottsdale. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the picture for either P.F. Chang’s or Pei Wei. Whichever way you go, you’ll see a button marked “Search Hourly Opportunities”. That will land you on the Advanced Job Search Page. For the purposes of illustration, let’s assume you’re looking under P.F. Chang itself rather than Pei Wei. You’ll see a bunch of search field boxes, and it can be a bit confusing, but let’s walk through it.
The first way to search is just to leave the 4 keyword boxes blank, set Division to P.F. Chang’s, skip location, set Country to USA, set the range to whatever you think reasonable, (the default of 100 miles seems a bit excessive), and enter your zip code. Now go to the bottom and click the orange “Search Jobs” button. When you get to the results page, note the “Save as Agent” buttons. These allow you to save your search as a job agent, that will perform the search every day, and email you when it finds a new result. Also, note the orange link at the right of the page for “search again”.
The second way to search is to ignore everything but the Location box, and simply scroll through that until you find a nearby store, select it, and press the search button. Remember that there are only a bit over 200 P.F. Chang’s locations in total. On the up side, all P.F. Chang’s locations in the USA are company owned, so all hourly openings should be listed here.
The third option open to you is to look for the orange link at the very bottom of the page, (below the search button), that says “View All Jobs”.
Whichever option you choose, once you’re looking at the job page, you’ll see several paragraphs of yadda yadda about excitement, spirit, and dedication, (most of which is the same for every job), but very little hard information about the job and what it entails. Some career sites are just like that, I suppose. In any case, you’ll find at the bottom of the page a big orange button marked, “Submit Your Resume To This Job”.
And now for our usual collection of useful odds and sods –
- Average wage for a Server is $5.61 per hour, with reports varying from a wretched low of $2.00 per hour to a high of $15.00 per hour. Yet again, we see the deplorable effects of state laws in some east coast states which permit employees in tipped positions to be paid far less than minimum wage.
- Average wage for a Hostess is $10.50 per hour, with reports varying from a low of $9.00 per hour to a high of $13.00 per hour.
- Average wage for a Back Waiter is $6.62 per hour, with reports varying from a low of $5.00 per hour to a high of $8.00 per hour.
- Applicants report a simple but lengthy hiring process, with at least two interviews and sometimes three.
- Most applicants report being kept waiting for 30 to 45 minutes past the scheduled time of their interview; it would appear to be deliberate and a standard tactic, perhaps to test the applicant’s patience and composure.
- Sample interview question – “Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for a customer.”
- Sample interview question – “Four tables are seated at once in your section, regular customers, an elderly couple, a family with two small children, and a pair of tourists who don’t speak English. Who do you greet first, and in what order do you serve them?”
- Sample interview question – “What do you do when another employee isn’t pulling their weight?”
- Sample interview question – “Tell me about a time when you were slow to react to a pressing issue. What did you do, and what did you learn from it?”
- Sample interview question – “What is a progressive wine list?”
And that is a brief roundup of what you need to know before filling out your P.F. Chang’s application. If you’re fortunate enough to live near one of their relatively few locations, this is not at all a bad career choice.