The complete guide to hiring staff for your restaurant

Running a restaurant is more than running a business. It’s providing an experience for your customers that hopefully builds loyalty and trust.

Your employees help create that dining experience—from your hosts to your wait staff to your cooks and bartenders, your employees are the face of your restaurant.

Hiring can be tough for any small business, especially restaurants. Not only is finding great new employees a challenge but keeping them around in a high-turnover restaurant industry can be even harder. Restaurant recruiting is not easy.

Building a great restaurant staff and creating a hiring plan involves a few factors: Marketing your business as a great place to work, creating job postings that bring in quality employees, and following a hiring process that attracts staff that’s ready to jump in.

How to hire restaurant staff in 3 easy steps

1. Market your restaurant as an employer

Technology has vastly improved restaurant recruitment and hiring methods. Today, you can do more than place a Now Hiring sign in your front window.

The first place to market your jobs is your website. Not only can your restaurant website serve as a great place to attract customers, but it can also communicate open positions.

Your website is also a static location to list your general employee benefits and information. What’s it like to work at your restaurant? What do you offer your employees that other restaurants don’t?

(Psst! Offering an employee management software like Homebase benefits both you and your employees. Not only is scheduling a breeze, but simple timesheets, team communication, and payroll make life much simpler for your team. Check it out now to give candidates another reason to apply for your jobs!)

Secondly, leverage your social media for hiring. Alongside posts about your new menu and current events, share updates on new positions and employee culture. Again, you never know which customers may also be looking for jobs.

Lastly, check out dedicated recruitment sites for yet another place to post your jobs. The websites below all have job boards on which to share new positions.

Also, network locally by joining your local American Culinary Federation chapter. Most ACF chapters are full of great students and recent graduates ready to work.

2. Write restaurant job postings that attract quality employees

Managers in all industries struggle with the issue of hiring quality versus quantity. When you post a job, you want a lot of people to apply. But at the same time, the application review and interview processes can feel tedious if you’re merely crossing off worthless applicants.

When you’re faced with less-than-quality candidates while recruiting for your restaurant, it can be tempting to hire just to get it done.

But moving forward with poor candidates can actually cost your business money. In fact, replacing “bad” hires can cost your restaurant up to $20,000 per manager and $2,000+ for hourly employees.

Avoid talentless turnover by positioning your open jobs to attract quantity and quality.

Take a look at your job listing. Is the job description detailed enough to tell candidates precisely what they’ll be doing day-to-day? Do your qualifications include specific numbers instead of general wants? (For example, it’s better to say “Served as a waitress for 5+ years” instead of “Experienced waitress.”)

Lastly, review your section about company culture. Nowadays, more people in the workforce care about the environment in which they work. Use your job listing as another place to market your restaurant as a place of employment. It’s not only about you attracting employees; it’s also about making employees be attracted to you.

Another way to leverage your job listings to weed out unqualified employees is to ask a few questions. Depending on which position you’re looking to fill, you may ask questions like “What’s your approach to dealing with a rude customer?” or “How long does it take to cook a steak to medium rare?”

Not only will these questions give you an idea of a candidate’s knowledge and experience, but they will also turn away applicants that are too lazy to answer.

3. Conduct interviews that reveal the best staff

So, you’ve marketed your restaurant as a great place to work and attracted a long list of quality applications. These folks may look great on paper, but how do you assess and discover the very best candidates? The goal here is simple: Hire to avoid turnover.

Interviews are crucial when hiring restaurant employees

A candidate with numerous skills on paper may not be friendly or outgoing enough to greet customers as a hostess. Likewise, an applicant with little to no experience may have the perfect attitude for a bartender. You never know if someone is a good fit to work at your restaurant until you meet them in person.

Review your interview and onboarding process

Firstly, are you asking the right questions for the job? Sure, you may ask everyone the standard questions on hospitality, conflict resolution, and customer service, but make sure most questions are relevant to each position. For example, if you’re hiring a server, inquire about greetings, entree delivery, and menu memorization. If you’re hiring a head chef, ask about food preparation, menu planning, and team management.

Secondly, are you conducting the right “tests” for your candidates? It’s one thing to ask questions, but it’s another to put each applicant on the spot as a pretend hostess, server, or bartender. Seeing each candidate in action may give you an idea of who’s qualified and passionate…and who’s not.

Lastly, make sure your onboarding process is informative and accommodating. Hiring the right people is important, but so is your training. Making sure new hires are comfortable with their job and your procedures can help things go smoothly over time. Cross-training employees can also help reduce employee turnover in the long run. 

Bonus tip: Restaurant workers and staff members can be a great resource for new hires. Encourage referrals among employees to find more qualified candidates.

Final Thoughts

Your employees are the face of your restaurant. Regardless of your menu, they can make or break a customer experience. To cultivate a quality customer experience and excellent employee culture, you should hire for attitude as much as you hire for skill.

Make your restaurant hiring process easier by marketing your jobs widely, writing your job postings correctly, and interviewing your candidates thoroughly. Following this game plan will help your restaurant succeed through your staff!

How to hire restaurant staff FAQs

How can I hire employees fast? 

Having a pre-thought-out interviewing, hiring, and onboarding procedure can help reduce the amount of time it takes to hire. Hiring fast can be important, but hiring the right employee can be more important. Ask your staff if they know anyone looking for a job, and display a job posting on your website and social media. That way, when you have a potential new hire, you already know the questions you need to ask, the documents you need to complete, and the training that needs to take place to get them hired and working asap!

How do I find the best employees?

  • Marketing your business not only for customers but as an employer, because every customer might need a job or know someone who needs a job.
  • Writing quality job postings can help attract the right employees.
  • Become good a conducting interviews that can help show who the right employees are.

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