How to Hire Servers that Make Your Restaurant a Booming Success

Hire Waiters and Waitresses that Get Return Customers & Can Upsell the Right Way and Watch Your Restaurant Grow Fast!

Most restaurant owners understand that great service is a big reason customers return to your restaurant. It can even be more important than the food in some cases. So, if you want to run a more successful restaurant, you need to hire a great waitstaff. How you ask? Just follow these simple tips and advice to hire servers that can make your restaurant a hot spot.

Why You Need to Hire the Best Servers

Your waitstaff really has a big impact on how successful your restaurant is. Just ask several restaurant insiders and authors of industry publications that agree. Simply put servers may have the biggest impact on restaurant success.

Why does your waitstaff matter so much? Your waitstaff is really the “face” and personality of your restaurant. Guests respond to great service and if they don’t like how they are treated, they aren’t as likely to come back. 

As a restaurant owner, you must staff your restaurant with servers who make guests feel welcome and catered to. 

Define What Your Restaurant Really Needs in a Server

Every restaurant needs servers but not every server is right for every restaurant. A diner doesn’t need the same server as a fine dining restaurant—diners need fast service that is friendly but brief while fine dining restaurants require much more attentive waiters. 

Write a list of things you really need in a server before you write your JD.  Define both personality traits (things like honesty, friendliness, chattiness, warmth, grace), character traits (honesty, integrity, work ethic, dedication) and most importantly skills (dessert making, bar skills, POS experience). Write down what your restaurant’s top traits and skills are. Then look for these in your servers.

Write Detailed Job Descriptions for Servers

Write very detailed job descriptions for servers that include shifts, pay, skills required and all the other traits you want to have in a server. The job description can be cut and pasted from a website but be sure you add those skills, traits and deal breakers (like shift availability) in the description bullets.

Advertise Your Waitstaff Positions on Restaurant-Specific Job Boards

Use the job boards that are specific to restaurant and hospitality industries to post your job listings. These will attract servers and waitstaff that have experience or know they want a job in a restaurant. This will cut down on the “fluff” resumes you get from the big job listing boards saving time and aggravation (not to mention money). 

The big job sites often inundate you with resumes from candidates that may have little or no experience and might just be looking for something to hold them over until they get another job. 

So, you may spend more time sifting through the chaff than you do actually interviewing people if you use big job boards to find servers and waitstaff. 

Improve Your Waitstaff Interview Process

If you are finding your servers don’t perform or don’t make the grade often, you probably need to improve your waitstaff interview process. Start by asking the right questions related specifically to the role you are hiring for. Then use these waitstaff interview process tips and techniques:

The server interview process can have a big impact on how well you hire
The server interview process can have a big impact on how well you hire. Use role playing and ask the right questions to find the best waitstaff.

Use Interview Role Play and Situational Questions

Set up role playing questions and answers. A good waiter or waitress should never shy away from a role-playing opportunity. A complete service role play is a wonderful way to see how a server preforms right away.

Ask Interview Questions Tailored to Finding Servers Who Really Fit Your Restaurant

If you have defined the top traits your servers need this one should be easier. Ask questions that tell you whether the person will fit into your culture and brand. Are they friendly or warm, refined, or casual? Ask what they like to do off work, and what hours they prefer. Find out what tasks they are comfortable doing if you need servers to perform more than one task during their shift.

Ask Them Why They Want to Work for You

Today, so many waiters and waitresses are bombarded with job offers, and simply want to find their next gig. Surprise them by asking why they want to work for your restaurant. If you find servers that really like your restaurant, they are more likely to respect it and perform better for you.

Find More Energetic Servers

Servers must have a high level of energy. It’s a tasking job and you need to keep a positive attitude throughout. People who have high energy also come across as bright, fun, warm and engaging. Those are traits guests want in their server. Presenting a happy, positive face to your guests is one of the most important aspects of delivering great service.

Focus on Attitude and Character

Try to get a good sense of your interviewees character. You want to hire servers with better character because they are more likely to perform better long term and less likely to do negative things like skip shifts, present a bad attitude at work or leave for another higher-paying gig as soon as the opportunity arises. They also lift the character of everyone else on the team, so they are a great addition.

Test Servers for Competency and Skill

You can hire more competent servers by testing them at the interview. Simple tests will tell you a lot about a server’s skillset. Memorization tests are great ways to get a sense of someone’s skill and experience. If you have specific skills you require already, give them a pop-quiz on proper table settings for instance. Or, on how to handle unruly guests. Or, how to use a POS system. Don’t be afraid to test your servers you may find out they lack in some areas you truly need someone to excel in.

Align Your Restaurant Values with Your Servers

Your restaurant has specific values. They are present in your atmosphere. Whether it’s family values, or high-end dining, each establishment has a core set of values. Assess whether your server possesses these. You can find out by asking what they value. Is it family? Do they value gourmet food and finer things in life? Are they interested in specific sports and other things related to your restaurant?

Check Your Server’s References

Always, always, always check references. Ask questions of the reference to find out about their job performance. Did they show up on time? Did they handle busier shifts well.  Again, ask questions that relate to your restaurant’s key needs for servers.

We know restaurants need waiters and waitresses but many managers do not take the time to understand what exactly they need in a server. Make sure you have a list of things you need in a server up front before you write your JD and your hiring process will run much more smoothly!

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