Chipotle and the Full-Court Hiring Press

If at some point today you feel overwhelmed, take a second to consider what hiring managers at Chipotle Mexican Grill are up to at the moment.

As you might have heard, the Denver-based casual eatery chain has declared its intentions to bring on 4,000 new employees today, as part of its first-ever National Career Day. According to the company, management teams at each of its 1,800-plus restaurants in the U.S. will hold open interviews for up to 60 applicants between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. this morning, with interested candidates invited to register for a sit-down at the Chipotle of their choice by visiting www.nationalcareerday.com.

Most of the openings are for entry-level crew jobs, which primarily entail taking orders and preparing food, Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold recently told USA Today.

Nevertheless, the people who ultimately fill these positions will have opportunities to grow and advance within the organization, according to Arnold, who points out that Chipotle promoted more than 10,000 of its people into management roles within the last year.

“When we hire crew, we look to identify individuals that we think have the motivation and the capability to move into management or leadership positions,” Arnold told USA Today, adding that this is the first time Chipotle has attempted hiring in such large numbers in such a short timeframe.

It’s certainly an ambitious undertaking that may net Chipotle scores of valuable new employees. And, from a PR perspective, it could be a tremendous (if short-term) boon for the company. But the initiative may wind up having some unintended consequences as well, says Claire Bissot, HR consulting manager at Leawood, Kan.-based CBIZ Human Capital Services.

By offering an extreme number of open positions, “[Chipotle has] the potential to attract individuals from other restaurants who are not currently looking for a job, as well as individuals looking to apply for Chipotle, resulting in a significant increase in their hiring pool.”

At the same time, mass hiring “may also cause individuals who wouldn’t normally make it through the recruiting process to be hired and later terminated.”

The problem with this approach, she says, “is the lost resources for training and onboarding these individuals, causing low retention and high turnover cost. Ultimately, what they are trying to achieve may be counteracted, and what looked like a quick solution could financially impact the company in the near term.”

Marketing would seem to be “the key focus” of a hiring effort like this one, continues Bissot, noting that many organizations could stand to be more efficient in their recruiting and onboarding processes, and more creative in positioning their companies as great places to work.

All that said, however, “adding volume is not always a good solution, and while forcing mass hiring of this volume appears to provide short-term results, doing so could end up hurting companies more.”