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How to get a serving job

How to get a job as a serverSo let’s go over some points of attack when it comes to you applying for a serving position. First you should decide on what type of restaurant you want to work at. Is it a cafe? a hotel restaurant? a fast food joint? a pub? function or banquet venue? on a cruise ship?. There are many more different variations of serving jobs and each different one should have a resume tailored to give you the best chance of getting the job. So let’s get to the beginning of how to get a serving job.

Applying for a server position.

If you’ve never worked as a server before you will be better off to look for a restaurant which will provide you with well structured training. These are places such as Boston Pizza, Applebee’s, TGI fridays etc. These types of restaurants will generally consider hiring people with little to no experience as it allows their training to be taught to someone who hasn’t been corrupted by other places “sloppy” or “wrong” standards. However with these places you may have to start off as a busser or host/hostess before starting as a server.

If you have trouble getting a serving job with these places you may need to start somewhere like Mc’Donalds or Burger King or something like a fast food chain. Although you’re not really “serving” in these places they do have amazing and precise training (which will benefit you later when serving tables) and will help you with your people interaction skills. Even just a few months working for one of these fast food chains will look good to an employer at one those entry-level restaurants mentioned above.

(be sure that when applying for a serving job you avoid the peak times of a restaurant. Lunch is generally between the hours 12pm – 3pm and dinner between 6pm – 9pm. It looks very bad when someone tries to apply for a job during these times)


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If you would prefer to start at a higher level like I mentioned above you can always apply at a restaurant as a busser or host/hostess. This way you can observe and learn the ways of the restaurant your working in and then after some time show your interest in wanting to serve, and be sure to let your manager know that you would like to work towards being a server, they don’t know and won’t consider you unless you make them aware of it.

Important aspect (You!)

Now for most places it’s going to be your personality which will play a big role in getting the job or not. You have to be relaxed and yourself, don’t feed them the answers you “think” that they want to hear and don’t try to be someone who you’re not because it will be revealed eventually if you do get the job. Skills and procedures can be taught but you and your personality cannot be.

You’re better off trying to speak with a manager.

You want to try speak directly with a manager if you want the best chances of getting the job. Simply handing your application or resume to a host/hostess, bartender or server can end up in the trash, in a pile with the other applications or simply just lost. Your time with the manager gives you your moment to shine and to give them a good first impression.

The kinds of questions you might be asked in an interview are:

  • Why should I hire you?
  • What do you know about us?
  • Do you work well in a team?
  • What’s your favorite dish here? (Quickly browse a menu before an interview)
  • The kitchen ran out of fish. What would you suggest as an alternative? (another reason to browse a menu quickly before)
  • What alcohol would you offer to two men in a business meeting?
  • A guest is angry, what do you do?
  • Another servers table asks you for some water, do you tell their server or do would you bring it to them?
  • A guest orders an alcoholic beverage and shows their Student ID and bank card, do you serve them the drink?
  • Someone gives you a fake ID, how would you approach this situation?
  • Another servers table is complaining about that server to you, what do you do?

Now these are just some examples that I have seen and heard over the years. Interviews are always different, you might have to fill out a questionnaire, submit an application online or sit down with someone in person. Regardless of which one it is it’s good to be prepared for any of the above.

Your resume.

If you haven’t got a resume together then I suggest you get on top of that pronto because without it you won’t even be looked at. If you don’t know how to write a resume then I suggest you grab a template and input your information in the spaces. You can download a free resume template from here

Oh and one final tip I can give you is to dress nice. Don’t go in with a mini skirt (boys or girls) or in a pair of shorts and a shirt. Once again your first impression is the thing that could get you the job or not. 

If you have any questions on how to get a job as a server then please send me an email through the “Contact Nathan” page”. Or you can comment directly to this post.



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 Featured image by Jerry Bunkers

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5 Comments to “How to get a serving job”

  1. morgan williams says:

    This is good advice thank you. I am transitioning out of a desk job and would like to work in fine dining. I would love it if you gave example answers to the questions above as well as a sample server resume. Thanks for your blog!

    • Nathan says:

      You’re very welcome, and thanks to you Morgan. The reason I didn’t put example answers in this blog post is that there is no real right or wrong answers (okay there may be a few wrong ones). You just have to answer honestly and with your own opinion behind it. It’s best to stick to your gut and answer truthfully, otherwise if you try feeding them the answers they want to hear you may come off as trying too hard to please them, and scripting interviews can turn around and bite you.

      I would much rather get hired because they liked me and what I had to say, if they don’t hire me then maybe the place wasn’t a good fit for me.

      If you would still like to hear what I would respond to the questions in this post, then feel free to email me or leave another comment here.

      Best of luck Morgan.

  2. John says:

    Great post! I saw the templates but do you to have any examples of server resumes?

  3. Jessica says:

    I really enjoyed this blog. I have just recently moved from the east coast to the west coast and sad to say I have not yet found a job. Serving for me though is just not a job but a passion that I dearly enjoy. Thank you again for helping me on what I need to do to get that perfect job.

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