Job Description, Small Business, Talent Acquisition

Hiring Restaurant Employees: The How-To Guide

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The restaurant hiring process is similar to most other small businesses, but the restaurant industry experiences much more turnover than businesses in other industries.

To reduce turnover and get the talented hires you need for your restaurant, you need to engage hires in the idea of working for your restaurant and make sure that new hires are well supported as they start working for you.

How to Hire Restaurant Staff

The way you hire restaurant staff sets the tone for their relationship to your restaurant, so make sure that this relationship starts off on the right foot.

Evaluate Your Online Presence

Hiring skilled employees and staff for your restaurant is easier when you have lots of great applicants, and most applicants decide whether or not to apply based on what they see about your company online.

Applicants will use your website, your social media presence, reviews from current and former employees and other online information to evaluate you — especially engaged applicants, who want to know more about your restaurant.

Make sure you like everything you’re reading as you perform an audit of your online presence. A reputation for great service and delicious food will help you hire and retain talented employees, but hiring good staff members also depends on your online presence.

[Related: Employer Branding for Dummies®]

Use Targeted Job Advertising

When you write your job description and advertise your job, make sure that you are using the full and accurate job title for the position, the area your restaurant is located and other important keywords that will help you get better placement on job boards.

You should also use a variety of platforms to advertise your open jobs. By using job boards like Glassdoor and social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter you will be able to attract more candidates and make higher quality hires.

Use Your Personal and Professional Networks

Using your personal and professional networks and the networks of your restaurant’s staff can be a goldmine when hiring for chef, server, host, administrator and other positions.

Make sure that all of your employees know when you’re hiring, and, to drive engagement, try some incentives for successfully hired referrals. A referral hire can help to promote good morale and a more familiar work environment in your restaurant.

Hiring Front of House Restaurant Employees

Having finalist candidates come in for a “stage,” or working interview, is a great way to see the skills of a potential hire in action, as well as a good way to identify red flags before you make a hire.

Hiring Hosts

Your host is the first person that your customers will encounter when eating at your restaurant, so be sure that the candidate you choose is a friendly, welcoming person who has the poise and the enthusiasm to give your customer a good first impression of your restaurant.

Restaurant Host Example Job Description

“We are seeking friendly, enthusiastic hosts to greet guests as they arrive and make sure that they leave happy and satisfied. First impressions are important so it’s imperative that you make it a good one! The Host/Hostess will manage seating charts and systems as well as relay pertinent information regarding guest requests to servers & management.

The Restaurant Host/Hostess supervises and coordinates the activities of the dining room staff to ensure fast and courteous service to our guests. He or she accommodates special seating requests for guest whenever possible.” —Goode Company Restaurants

Hiring Servers

Skilled servers are responsible for keeping customers happy, served quickly and coming back regularly. Servers can also cause problems with customers and other members of your staff, so evaluating the professionalism and attitude of candidates is essential.

When deciding on the right server, choose candidates who support their fellow servers during stage interviews, who are proactive and who have the happiest tables.

Restaurant Server Example Job Description

“As a Food Server, you would be responsible for serving food and/or beverages to guests in the hotel’s continuing effort to deliver outstanding guest service and financial profitability. Specifically, you would be responsible for performing the following tasks to the highest standards:

  • Respond to guest requests in a timely, friendly and efficient manner
  • Ensure knowledge of menu and restaurant promotions and specials
  • Take guest food and/or beverage orders and input orders in appropriate point-of-sale system
  • Retrieve and deliver food and beverage orders in a timely manner
  • Ensure guest satisfaction throughout the meal service
  • Serve alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages in accordance with federal, state, local and company regulations
  • Ensure serving station is well-stocked at all times” —Boca Raton Resort and Club

[Related: How to Hire Waiters and Waitstaff]

Hiring Back of House (Kitchen Staff) Restaurant Employees

Back of house kitchen staff employees are responsible for one of the most important, if not the most important part of getting a high volume of customers: the food.

Hiring Dishwashers

Dishwasher can be a high turnover position since it is typically lower-paying than other positions in restaurants.

When you post a dishwasher ad online, leveraging the benefits of working for your restaurant, like getting a portion of tips from service, will help increase the number and quality of applicants interested in your dishwasher jobs.

Restaurant Dishwasher Example Job Description

“The Dishwasher provides guest service by assuring that all tableware, glassware, chinaware, and cooking utensils are sanitary and clean. The Dishwasher is the person most responsible for making sure that guest health is protected by always using the highest standards of cleanliness in all areas of the restaurant. Although the Dishwasher rarely serves guests directly, the work done by the Dishwasher is critical to every guest and the people who directly serve guests.” —Cracker Barrel

Hiring Prep Cooks

Though prep cook positions don’t require as much experience as other positions in the kitchen, the prep cook you hire needs to be reliable, precise and ready to learn the demands of your kitchen.

Restaurant Prep Cook Example Job Description

“This cook position is responsible for daily food production. Must have above average food production skills with ability to perform tasks error free and meet quality standards. An ideal candidate for this position will be organized, efficient, and have excellent communication skills. Cooking experience in a fine dining environment is a plus! One year of previous experience as a prep cook is required.” —Leisure Care 

Hiring Line Cooks

Skilled line cooks will ensure that customers are served promptly with delicious food and that quality remains high even when your restaurant is very busy.

Line cooks should have experience at restaurants of quality and should have the proven ability to work cleanly and efficiently in a high-volume kitchen.

Restaurant Line Cook Example Job Description

“We are seeking a professional line cook to prepare food to the exact chef’s specifications and to set up stations for menu. The successful candidate will play a key role in contributing to our guests’ satisfaction goals by: Setting up and stocking stations with all necessary supplies, preparing food for service, cooking menu items in cooperation with the rest of the culinary staff, cleaning up station and take care of leftover foods, stock inventory appropriately, ensure that food come out simultaneously, in high quality and in a timely fashion, comply with all nutrition and sanitation regulations and safety standards.” —Performance Hospitality

Hiring Chefs

Whether you are looking for an Executive Chef, a Sous Chef, or a Chef de Cuisine, the responsibilities of the chef position you’re hiring for should be clearly defined when you hire a new chef.

Restaurant work can involve wearing many hats, but you want to be sure that you aren’t springing any administrative or other duties on chefs who are not interested in this work and will, eventually, find a new job that suits them better.

Restaurant Chef Example Job Description

“Responsible for producing high-quality meals and overseeing the kitchen operations in our Villa community. Sous Chef will utilize professional skills to guide the nutritional team to the new national standards of restaurant quality food in the skilled nursing industry while still maintaining superlative sanitation. Re-design the menu often based off resident preference and compliance to all nutritional considerations established by regulatory sources and maintaining all established budgets.” —Uintah Basin Medical Center

Onboarding and Training New Restaurant Employees

Once you’ve hired your new restaurant employee, it’s important that they get the onboarding and training they need to reach their full potential.

Onboarding and Training Restaurant Staff

Companies with longer onboarding programs have higher rates of retention and engagement, because employees are more engaged when they are fully prepared and supported as they learn the ropes of your restaurant.

[Related: New Hire Onboarding Checklist]

Monitoring Performance of Restaurant Staff

After employees have been fully trained, you should watch as they prove their abilities or reveal that they are not as good of a hire as you suspected.

Employees should be allowed to learn from mistakes, but problem employees should be let go, no matter how long they have been working for you. If allowed to stay, employees with toxic behaviors or attitudes can cause good employees to quit or completely ruin the familiar work environment your restaurant staff once had.

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