5 Smart Tips for Hiring Wait Staff

Hiring front-of-house staff is a significant part of managing a restaurant. This is why we’ve compiled 5 smart ways to hire wait staff, a guide for any food business.

It’s difficult for any business to have high turnover rates among employees. And aside from the fact that training new people isn’t easy, customers also like it when they feel a sense of familiarity between them and the restaurant, café, or diner. Waiters and waitresses are the faces of the establishment.

1. Don’t Wait, First Impressions Lasts

In hiring wait staff, take note of how eager the candidate is from their first interview—or even from their resumé. Those who give more effort from the start are more likely to be more determined in keeping the job.

If the candidate gives a neat resumé, that’s a good sign. More so if they show up for the interview well-groomed and prepared. Being a waiter might be a messy job at times, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t prioritize presentation.

Their sense of time is also important, especially that they’re applying for a customer service job. Take note if they come in even just five minutes earlier than the scheduled interview. This is an indicator of how much they value people’s time.

2. Prefer People-Persons

Treat your candidates as an audition. These people may be the face of your business.

The wait staff is the ones who customers will mostly interact with, and this means that you have to pick candidates who are naturally amiable and cordial with people.

If a job seeker can’t even interact well with you, think twice about hiring them. Good signs that show your interviewee is a people person include, offering a handshake, making regular eye contact, speaking clearly and firmly, and maybe even slipping in a good joke during the interview.

3. Evaluate Expectation and Experience

Experience is very important. But if the wait staff you employ can’t provide for all the expectations of the job, that’s a major oversight.

First off, you might want to ask how they knew about your business, and what else they know about it. Are they aware of what kind of restaurant you own? Have they ever eaten in one? You, on the other hand, already know their experience, thanks to their resumé. Now you need to assess what else they can do.

You can do this through sample-scenario questions like, “What would you do if a customer accidentally dropped his plate on your clothes?”, “How will you tell a customer that an item on the menu is out of stock?”, “What would you do if a customer asks for an extra chair, only for you to find out it’s only for them to put their personal belongings on?” It’s up to you to evaluate if they can satisfy your expectations.

4. Focus on Teamwork

Skills can be trained, but personality can’t be changed overnight. It’s your responsibility to provide your employees with a good work environment, but it’s not your job to teach them the basics of good manners and teamwork.

Aside from knowing they do well with meeting people, make sure they can work well with people too. Besides, you won’t only employ one waiter—you need a whole team to run your food joint.

How do you do this? Ask about their work references, ask about what they think of their previous coworkers, and how they used to handle scheduling conflicts. Asking about what they know about or think the kitchen staff does is also a good idea. These will give you an idea of how they collaborate with people in the business.

5. Initiate a Working Interview

Writing one’s experiences on a piece of paper and answering questions one-on-one are easy ways to evaluate a potential employee. But like they say, to see is to believe.

Be smart and ask if your interviewee if they can do a trial run. Put them center-stage and ask if they can take a sample customer’s orders. This way, you can measure how well they perform and multitask.

This way, you’ll see if everything on the resumé and all interview answers hold true. It’s still a controlled environment, but you’ll definitely detect any discrepancies.

Giving your customers a good dining experience entails making them feel like home.  What better way to do this than with a familiar face, who may even joke with them and call them your resto’s “regulars”, right?

In which case, willingness to work long-term, competence, and friendliness, and are all very important in assessing who to hire as your new wait staff. Be smart and wary of taking in new employees.