An interview with James Tamlyn, Recruitment Partner for Five Guys (for candidates)

06 Feb 2023

06 Feb 2023

This month we caught up with James Tamlyn, Recruitment Partner for Five Guys. James talks career progression, flexibility, and what he's most excited about for 2023. 

Tell us about your first job in hospitality?

I was quite late into hospitality as I had a background in retail early on in my career and my love for connecting with people got me into recruitment which is where I first stepped into hospitality as a Recruitment Advisor for wagamama. After a few shifts FOH and BOH to learn the business, culture and everything in between I quickly realised that hospitality was a sector with endless opportunities. After 2 years with wagamama, I joined Five Guys as a Recruitment Partner in 2017, spent a week cooking burgers and fries in Charing Cross and loved every minute – the time spent in the restaurant was key to help me understand what it takes to be successful at Five Guys and really appreciate how hard people in hospitality work!

6 years on, I haven’t looked back!

Has there been anyone who’s stood out as being a major influence on your career?

Without naming names, there have been a number of people but to keep it short, after being at a crossroad in my retail career, I wasn’t sure what direction to take until I was presented with the opportunity to take the leap into a recruitment role. I interviewed for the position and was certain I’d been unsuccessful, thanks to his very honest feedback of ‘You interviewed terribly but I like you and you have potential’ I went on to work with him for two years and learned a lot, albeit not within hospitality but he set me on the path to end up in hospitality and I learned the importance of not just spotting potential in people but helping it.

Aside from that, the endless people I have seen grow their careers within Five Guys – really inspiring to see!

What skills do you think you need to be successful in hospitality?

Hospitality is all about the people and the personalities they bring to work – being able to engage and connect with customers and the people you work with is really important! The skills to work in hospitality can be taught to anyone with the right attitude.

What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in people’s expectations of working within hospitality?

Flexibility! This seemed to have been changing just before the pandemic but coming out of Covid, there has been a big shift in terms of people wanting flexibility and getting a healthier balance between work and life outside of work, which is something hospitality can offer. There is also a bigger focus on wellbeing, which is great as it tended to be something that was never really spoken about in hospitality until recent years, but seeing businesses now focus more on the wellbeing of their people is really encouraging to see – we want our people to come to work happy and full of enthusiasm and this is something we can influence directly.

Why should someone choose your business to work for?

Five Guys has endless opportunities for people starting out in their career, maybe not knowing what direction they want to take, or for someone with years of experience in hospitality. It is a business where our people have the room to learn and grow with support from all directions. The culture at Five Guys is all about looking after our people and rewarding success, the growth has been incredibly fast since 2013 up to now but the culture is just as strong now as it was then.

It takes a lot of hard work to be successful at Five Guys things move so quickly, but if you are willing to put the hard work in you’ll surprise yourself with how far you can go.

What advice would you offer to someone coming to interview for a job in your business?

It sounds cliché but be yourself and be honest – we hire people for who they are, we know that when it comes to applying to work at Five Guys we need to be as right for you as you are for us.

What are you most excited about for the year ahead?

More openings! We have lot’s more exciting openings to come in 2023 UK wide which means we will be bringing in lots more talented people!

What’s your worst vs best experience working in hospitality

My worst moment in hospitality was Covid and the uncertainty, not just for Five Guys but for the hospitality industry as a whole and the amazing people in the sector – the guidelines were ever changing and not knowing what was ahead made making decisions on hiring people really tricky. But one of the best moments has come from coming out of the pandemic and being able to help those affected with career opportunities at Five Guys. Also seeing the resilience of the hospitality sector – no matter what happens we know we are in it together!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone working in hospitality who wants to be successful?

Be prepared to work hard, be yourself and the opportunities will come your way!

Browse the latest opportunities at Five Guys here.