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How To Hire Restaurant Staff: A Step-by-Step Guide

In the fast-paced restaurant industry, the dedicated staff behind your restaurant’s success are the unsung heroes.

From the aromas of the kitchen to the smiles that welcome guests, each team member adds a distinctive touch to your customers’ dining experience.

But how do you find the people you want and need?

Read on to discover how to hire restaurant staff and create your own foolproof way of assembling your dream team of restaurant professionals.

How To Hire Restaurant Staff

With the restaurant industry workforce projected to grow by 500,000 jobs by the end of 2023, it’s important to know the steps to get the people you need as an employer.

As you start your hiring journey, here are six essential steps to guide you through the process.

1. Identify the Roles You Need to Fill

Building a solid team starts by clearly figuring out the key positions your restaurant requires. Think of these positions like puzzle pieces that complete the big picture.

For instance, imagine your head chef as the kitchen captain, making sure all dishes are on point. The sous chef supports the captain, ensuring everything comes together smoothly.

One female cook and one male cook preparing ingredients

Now, shift your focus to the dining area. You’ll need servers, bartenders, hosts and restaurant managers, all working together like a well-oiled machine.

Servers connect the kitchen to the customers, while bartenders craft drinks that match the experience. Hosts create the first impression, and restaurant managers oversee the whole show.

As you put this team puzzle of people together, the nonhuman stuff comes next. Consider the size of your restaurant, its style and the atmosphere you want.

A smaller spot might need a versatile crew to handle different tasks, while a fancier one might need specialists.

When you nail down these roles, you’re setting the stage for a team that fits your restaurant’s style and serves up success.

2. Craft Simple Yet Informative Job Descriptions

Now that you’ve got a handle on the roles your restaurant needs, it’s time to outline them clearly. Think of job descriptions as straightforward roadmaps.

Your goal? To provide potential candidates with a crystal-clear understanding of what the job entails.

A female hiring manager looking online for talents on her personal computer

When creating job descriptions, skip the jargon and focus on being direct and clear. Describe each role with authenticity, giving candidates an accurate glimpse of their responsibilities.

Be sure to highlight how each role contributes to the overall vibe of your restaurant.

By the time candidates finish reading it, they should clearly understand the role’s responsibilities, how it contributes to your restaurant’s ambiance and the essential qualities for excelling in the position.

Here at OysterLink, we prepared job descriptions for specific restaurant and hospitality positions that you can use as templates when creating your own for your restaurant.

Check out our waiter/waitress job description, line cook job description, concierge job description and many more.

3. Tap Into Talent Networks

Now, let’s uncover the right additions to your team. Start by exploring different paths to connect with potential candidates.

With the Internet and the many job platforms available out there, you can gain access to hundreds of potential applicants.

OysterLink, in particular, has made it easier for you to tap into a large restaurant and hospitality talent pool, from entry-level to management roles, across major cities in the United States like Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. (Top jobs and talent for other cities will be added soon!)

You can also engage with the culinary community by networking and attending events like the National Restaurant Association Show, or tap culinary schools like The Culinary Institute of America for fresh talents.

By embracing these talent networks, you expand your reach, increasing the likelihood of finding individuals whose skills and values align perfectly with your restaurant’s vision.

4. Evaluate Candidate Fit and Potential

As you review applications and profiles, focus on gathering insights that can hint at candidate fit and potential. While you can’t fully gauge who’s a perfect fit from a resume, you can identify certain indicators.

Look for relevant experiences, such as previous work in similar settings or roles, that demonstrate familiarity with the demands of your restaurant environment.

Examine any volunteer work, certifications or training that aligns with your values, such as dedication to culinary excellence or exceptional service.

Additionally, consider any personalized elements in the application, such as a well-crafted cover letter that showcases enthusiasm for your restaurant’s mission and values.

Lastly, look for consistency between the candidate’s stated career goals and the opportunities your restaurant offers.

By thoughtfully considering these aspects during the shortlisting phase, you’re taking important steps toward building a reliable restaurant team.

5. Select the Right Candidates

With a clear understanding of the roles, well-crafted job descriptions and insights into candidate fit and potential, it’s time to move to the interview stage. In this phase, you find the puzzle pieces that perfectly fit your team.

During interviews, keep things conversational and authentic. Start by asking about their experiences, not just in terms of skills, but also in handling various scenarios that may arise in a restaurant environment.

Listen closely to how they communicate and collaborate, as these interpersonal skills are vital.

Don’t forget to discuss their enthusiasm for your restaurant’s mission and values. A genuine passion for the culinary world and a commitment to outstanding service are attributes that can truly enrich your team.

By meticulously selecting candidates who align with your vision and ethos, you’re shaping a cohesive team that can deliver exceptional experiences to your customers.

6. Streamline Your Hiring Process

Now that you have a clear blueprint for building your restaurant dream team, it’s time to streamline the hiring process itself.

Create a structured hiring timeline that outlines the various stages—from posting job listings to making final selections. This helps keep the process organized and ensures timely communication with candidates.

Make sure also to use technology to your advantage. Online application systems, video interviews and digital assessments can simplify the process and make it more accessible for candidates.

During interviews, ask tailored questions that provide insights into candidates’ suitability for the role and their alignment with your restaurant’s values. Check our waitress interview questions for inspiration!

Keep the selection process collaborative, involving relevant team members to gather diverse perspectives.

Lastly, ensure transparent and timely communication with candidates at every step, even if they’re not selected. Providing constructive feedback can leave a positive impression and maintain a good reputation for your restaurant.

By streamlining the hiring process, you create a positive experience for your team and potential candidates, ensuring that you find the right individuals to contribute to your restaurant’s ongoing success.

6-step hiring process

Qualities To Look for in New Hires

Just as each flavor contributes to a dish, the qualities you seek in new hires will define the flavor of your establishment. In the world of restaurants, certain traits define the perfect fit for your restaurant’s culture.

Remember that although skills can be taught, the following underlying qualities serve as the building blocks of a remarkable team.

Adaptability and Enthusiasm

Restaurants are fast-paced arenas. Seek candidates who thrive in change, eagerly taking on challenges like sudden rushes or new menu experiments. Their enthusiasm infuses your team with a positive energy that keeps customers and fellow staff happy.

Effective Communication

Clear communication is the backbone of seamless service. Look for individuals who can relay orders accurately, converse with customers and collaborate smoothly with colleagues. A team that communicates well ensures that everyone’s on the same page.

Team Player Mindset

Like the gears in a well-oiled machine, every team member matters. Prioritize candidates who value teamwork—i.e., working together for shared success. A team player’s mindset creates an environment of cooperation, leading to good teamwork and high morale.

Attention to Detail

Whether it’s plating dishes or maintaining the dining area, the little things matter. Look for new hires who pay attention to details, ensuring quality in presentation and upkeep. Their dedication shines through in the finer aspects that customers notice.

Calm Under Pressure

Restaurants can be intense. Look for candidates who stay composed during busy times and multitask efficiently. Those who handle pressure gracefully ensure consistent service even when things get hectic—and things almost always are.

Top qualities for restaurant workers

Questions To Ask

Interviews are important when bringing new faces on board. Although what you should ask your interviewee about can differ depending on their desired role, there are staple questions in the restaurant industry. Here are some of them.

Can you tell me about a tough customer situation you handled?

This question unveils how candidates manage challenges under pressure, showcasing their customer service and problem-solving skills. Look for candidates who can stay calm, show empathy and focus on resolving the issue while keeping customers satisfied.

How do you keep everything running smoothly in a jam-packed shift?

By answering this, candidates reveal their organizational talents and ability to shine amidst chaos—crucial for peak times. Seek answers that reveal organizational prowess, multitasking and the ability to prioritize tasks effectively to ensure seamless service during busy periods.

Can you share a time you helped boost teamwork and morale?

This question taps into candidates’ teamwork and interpersonal skills, reflecting their potential to foster a positive work environment. Look for instances where they actively collaborated, supported their teammates and contributed to a positive team atmosphere.

How do you keep clear communication with both customers and colleagues?

This question highlights candidates’ communication skills, which are paramount for seamless operations and customer satisfaction.

Seek answers that demonstrate candidates’ ability to communicate concisely, listen actively and ensure everyone is on the same page to minimize misunderstandings.

Describe an occasion when you had to handle a mistake you made. How did you address it?

This question assesses accountability and problem-solving skills. Look for candidates who take responsibility, rectify their errors transparently and learn from the experience, contributing to a culture of continuous improvement.

How To Train New Hires

Training new hires is the cornerstone of building a resilient and committed restaurant team.

To make sure your employees not only perform well but also thrive in your company over the long haul, consider a comprehensive training approach that combines the following key strategies.

Implement Hands-On Learning and Set Clear Expectations

Before anything else, make sure each staff member understands their job responsibilities and the restaurant’s core values from the outset.

This will help them grasp the importance of their role and how it contributes to the overall team’s accomplishments.

Then, immerse them in hands-on training that mirrors real-world challenges. Allow them to shadow experienced staff, engage in simulations and actively participate in tasks under guidance.

Offer Mentorship and Continuous Support

Connect each new hire with a seasoned mentor who can provide personalized guidance and answers to questions. You can also establish regular feedback sessions, both informal and structured, to facilitate continuous improvement.

It’s best to also offer opportunities for skill development through workshops and training sessions, ensuring they remain engaged and enthusiastic about their growth within the organization.

Allow Clear Communication and Regular Check-Ins

Maintain transparent communication about performance expectations, goals, and progress. Regular check-ins, for example, can make addressing concerns and making any necessary adjustments easier.

This approach promotes a sense of belonging and encourages open dialogue between new hires and management.

Encourage Autonomy and Reward Effort

Empower new team members to take ownership of their roles and make decisions within their scope. Recognize and celebrate their achievements, fostering a sense of accomplishment and motivating them to consistently perform at their best.

Find Top Restaurant Talent With OysterLink

Are you ready to build a team of exceptional restaurant staff? Discover the talent that will shape your restaurant’s success by exploring OysterLink’s extensive network of professionals in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

OysterLink is your strategic hiring partner by simplifying the process of finding, vetting and shortlisting candidates, allowing you to focus on what you do best—creating culinary experiences that leave a lasting impression.

Ultimately, a successful restaurant team isn’t just about filling positions; it’s about creating a family that shares a common vision and collaborates harmoniously.

By following this systematic hiring process guide and leveraging the resources provided by OysterLink, you’re well on your way to assembling a dream team for your restaurant.

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