First and foremost, I love burritos and I love Chipotle. So, when I hear that Chipotle is planning to hire 4,000 workers in one day, my heart simultaneously jumps (more burritos!) and sinks (stunt hiring is not productive). Here's why hiring like this is bound to backfire.
Publicity is good, but…
Yes, this stunt will cause people who weren't otherwise thinking of applying to Chipotle to show up and apply. This is a good thing--recruiting is often difficult and attracting people can be hard. However, just who is going to show up?
Well, that remains to be seen, of course, but a one-day hiring spree means that people who are already working will be less likely to apply. Why? Because instead of saying, "Chipotle plans to expand its workforce by 4,000 over the next three months," they are promoting this as a one and done event, even though it's unlikely to actually be like that. The result is, the publicity will make people who are currently employed less likely to apply if they are working on September 9. While I always advocate hiring the unemployed, it is true that employed people are great hires as well.
You can't do quality screening in one day.
I've eaten at Chipotle a million times (this may or may not be an exaggeration), and I know that scooping beans onto lettuce (black, please) and listening when the customer says no rice (I'm watching my carbs) is actually pretty easy. I've also worked fast food in my time and in customer-facing roles in my career and know that the actual scooping of food onto a plate is the easy part (though, I would need training to roll the burritos the way they do).
The hard part is customer service, anticipating needs, keeping the dining room clean while serving a line full of customers, and making sure that the next pot of beans is going to be ready when this one runs out. Anyone can scoop beans, but not just anyone can do the whole package correctly.
If you're doing a stunt hiring where you try to bring 4,000 people on in one day, the individual hiring managers are going to feel pressured to hire people just to hire people. The end result is you'll get new workers at Chipotle who aren't the same caliber of people as the current employees. Sure, you'll get some fabulous people, but you're also likely to get duds. They'll hire people they wouldn't normally hire just to meet the numbers. It's better to hire right the first time than to have to fire people.
How are you going to handle training?
Training is my passion. I love it. But would I want to be a restaurant manager with an influx of new people all at the same time? Probably not. Adding one new person to your line can be easily absorbed. Co-workers can help train that person easily, and in a short amount of time that one person can be up to speed. Add three or four to one restaurant on one shift and the customers will start to suffer.
I've rarely eaten at a Chipotle that didn't have a long line. They always move quickly, but when you've got a bunch of trainees, that's going to slow things down. Chipotle isn't the only Tex-Mex place in most towns, and the last thing you want to do is hire a bunch of people only to lose your customers to your competitors. I hope Chipotle has a training plan in place that will keep customers happy.
What they should do instead.
Hiring 4,000 people is awesome. It's a great sign that the business needs the workers. It's even good for other restaurants as it makes the labor market tighter, which will, in turn, raise wages across the board. Fantastic. But, instead of trying to do a stunt hiring, they should plan to hire across several weeks or even months.
Sometimes, like when you're opening a new store, you need to hire a bunch of people in rapid succession. However, most of the time you'll be better off going a bit slower and getting the best possible people on board. I'd hate to see the next headline be "Chipotle fires 3,000 of its new hires for incompetence." Slow down a little and you'll get better results.