How to Hire Waiters and Waitstaff
Young african american woman waitress taking orders from clients in cafe

How to Hire Waiters and Waitstaff

Waiters, waitresses and waitstaff are responsible for keeping customers happy, served quickly and coming back for more. They are, in many ways, the face of your business and the people that your customers bond with when they experience a connection with your restaurant. But hiring the best waiters and waitstaff can be difficult. To make it easier, here are a few best practices for each stage of the hiring process.

Hiring Waiters and Waitstaff

When hiring for your open wait staff positions, it's just as important to tell candidates what you offer as an employer, as it is to tell them the requirements of the job.

Job Advertising

When advertising open wait staff positions, you should present readers with great reasons to work for your restaurant as well as the requirements of the job.

You should advertise your open wait staff positions using job boards and social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You may also want to search Glassdoor Jobs for waitstaff positions to see how other restaurants in your area are advertising these types of jobs.

You should also make sure that your job description has the right keywords, like the city you operate in, an accurate job title and any specific requirements (POS system experience, knowledge of specific food and wines, reservation management experience, etc.).

[Related: Post a Job Today]

Use References

The waitstaff that currently work for you are a great resource for finding talented servers who already get along with members of your staff.

Referred hires tend to stay longer and perform better, and making referral hires also helps to promote a sense of familiarity and community among staff members at your restaurant.

It can also be beneficial to reach out to other business owners you know in the restaurant industry. Given the high turnover at many restaurants, a fellow restaurateur may know of several employees who are planning on leaving, and can direct these soon-to-be-available employees to you.

Evaluate Waiter and Waitress Job Applications

As you evaluate waiter and waitress job applications, look for long stretches of employment and references from owners and managers as well as other waitstaff.

Evaluate Applicants for Experience

You want to hire applicants who are experienced enough to keep up with the pace of your restaurant and adequately serve the type of customers your restaurant attracts.

The hire you make should be someone who has worked at a restaurant of a similar size and customer volume as your restaurant, especially those who have longer spans of employment on their resume.

Evaluate Applicants for Fit

Finding professionals that are a good fit for your restaurant and your other waitstaff is essential to the success of new hires.

High turnover can be part of life in the restaurant business, but if you can find hires who are a good fit for the demands of the job and a good fit with co-workers, then you can decrease the number of new hires you're forced to make.

Evaluate Applicants for Warning Signs

Just because an applicant's resume is great doesn't mean that it's real. Always follow up on the claims of candidates and ask for new references if the ones they've listed aren't returning your calls.

You should also observe the behavior of candidates during stages, as you can often view warning signs of problem employees after a single shift.

Onboard and Train New Waiters and Waitstaff

Before you officially hire new waiters and waitstaff, it can be helpful to have them come in for a "stage," or working interview, so that you can see their skills in action and catch red flags that you should not hire this person.

Onboard & Train New Employees

After your new server has proven themselves in their stage, they will move on to further training as they learn the ins and outs of working for your restaurant.

It's important to properly train and onboard new hires to prevent avoidable employee errors and ensure that all new hires feel confident in their performance as they serve your customers.

Monitor Performance & Engagement of New Employees

New hires will make mistakes as they learn the ropes of your restaurant, but it's important to monitor the performance and engagement of new hires. It's also important to look out for red flags.

Whether these red flags are from a performance issue, like constantly making mistakes on orders, or a potential compliance liability, like using derogatory language toward co-workers, documenting these instances from the beginning will help you decide if you have made a hiring mistake, or if the employee just needs more training.


Employee Engagement Checklist and Calendar
Tips, templates and more for boosting employee engagement.