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The Jimmy John’s Menu-Method for Finding Better Employees

I love hearing about creative ways businesses find and hire new employees. 

Although unrelated to mattresses,’s candidate-focused content is a great example. They have a dedicated website full of resources for prospective hires, such as blogs, videos, images, and infographics, that answers common candidate questions and offers tips on how to ace the interview. 

The idea is that if the candidate uses the resources, they’re more likely to excel in the interview. But it also shows that they’re excited about the potential job.

And that got me thinking about this one time in college…

As a student at UNC Asheville, I was in need of a part-time job to help supplement my beer purchases and concert tickets, so I applied to the chain sandwich shop Jimmy John’s. 

After getting my first interview, they sent me home with a menu and told me to memorize the entire thing. And I’m not talking about, “number 9 is an Italian Night Club.” We had to memorize every ingredient on each sandwich. And if I got more than three answers wrong, I could kindly see myself out.

(Full disclosure: I reached out to Jimmy John’s about this hiring practice and they said it’s not a company-wide thing. In fact, it was just the store that I applied to, which has unfortunately since changed management.)

At the time, I absolutely hated this method. But thinking back, there are parts of this process that are pretty smart. And maybe you could use a version of it to help find great salespeople. 

Think about if you implemented this hiring filter in your store. If the applicant took the time to memorize a few simple product specs—regardless of if they aced the test—you’d know they were serious about the job. This level of dedication is an important attribute for salespeople, and if you can see it in a person from the start, you can hire more dedicated people with the ability and desire to absorb and regurgitate product information. Sure, we don’t want salespeople vomiting spec-speak at every shopper, but solid product knowledge will help them be credible with customers who have questions. 

The Jimmy John’s  method will show you who’s truly motivated to do the work, and it can also help you get an idea of how the person retains and then relays information to a customer. At the same time, it weeds out people who are just looking for a paycheck and have no motivation to do the work.

Finally, even if the applicant doesn’t ace the test, you’ll see how each person reacts to this type of pressure. If they flub the components, but do a great job asking questions about how to improve, you may have found someone who is curious and teachable. For salespeople, asking open-ended questions and truly listening to customers are some of the best attributes and the Jimmy John’s menu-method might help you find people who display the type of reaction needed to excel.

What do you think? 

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