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Hosting Skills for Restaurants: 6 Skills your Host/Hostess Needs

The most memorable feature of your restaurant may not be your food or even your décor. The host or hostess who greets your customers makes a powerful first impression and can make or break your success. But finding the right host for your restaurant isn’t something to leave up to chance, and not everyone is an equally good fit for each role.

You want to do more than just collect applications from inexperienced teenagers and select one at random, hoping to get a stellar employee. Look for these top personality traits of restaurant hosts or hostesses to find the best candidate.

What are some hosting skills?

A good host or hostess is responsible for greeting guests in person and over the phone, taking and organizing reservations, among other things. Pertinent skills required for succeeding in this position include:

  • excellent customer service skills
  • positive attitude
  • telephone etiquette
  • organizational skills
  • people skills
  • teamwork
  • time management
  • problem-solving

Having a good fit for your host/hostess is a crucial part of the fine dining experience and worth taking the time to hire the right person. Let’s dive further into what to look for in your future host/hostess.

Top 6 traits to look for in a host or hostess

There are many positive traits to look for in any employee you hire, but here we’ll go over host and hostess specific qualities that can set your team up for success.

1. A hostess should be friendly and personable

As the first point of contact most customers will have with your business, the host or hostess should be welcoming and outgoing while seating guests. Let the quiet, shy team members work behind the scenes. Personality traits of restaurant hosts and hostesses include friendliness, sociability, and communication skills.

After all, they’re greeting people at the front entrance. Find a cheerful person who loves people and let him or her be the one to welcome your guests. You can generally get a sense of your potential hostess’ personality during the interview. Even if they’re nervous, they should still be charming and personable.

This would also include likability amongst co-workers. Having someone in the host/hostess position that is liked by the rest of the staff is critical to company culture.

2. Being calm under pressure should be in the hostess job description

Any restaurant will have stressful moments, especially when there’s a busy line of customers who want to be seated, the bussers are busy, and the wait-staff are in the weeds. Your ideal host or hostess won’t be rattled under that kind of pressure. You want someone who keeps their cool under stress, can multitask effectively and can convey that sense of calm to customers and fellow staff alike.

Ask during the interview about how the candidate handles difficult situations or unhappy customers to get a sense of their personality.

3. Look for compassion and understanding

The human element is the heart of the hospitality industry. Your hostess should be able to empathize with customers and express genuine understanding and regret about unexpected delays. Customers waiting in restaurants can often get impatient, hungry, and even a bit cranky.

The hostess should be able to smooth over those tensions and keep customers calm and happy, which they can help to do by managing expectations of how long the wait times will be. In addition, the hostess needs to be aware of the customer’s needs, accommodating special requests and seating arrangements.

4. A host/hostess needs to be a true team player

The host isn’t just the first face your customers will see: he’s also a crucial member of your hospitality staff. So your ideal host should be willing to get out from behind the front desk and pitch in wherever else they’re needed. The host might need to help with rolling silverware, taking drink orders, bussing, or preparing to-go orders.

Ask them during the interview process what they might do during downtimes between customers or about how they would respond to being asked to work on other tasks.

5. Look for a well-spoken and confident individual

The right hostess should be comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people. You want someone who is well-spoken, with a clear speaking voice and good grammar. People who mumble or who might slip up and use profanity when under stress aren’t the best fit for this highly visible role. You want to choose someone who is poised and composed, who can convey professionalism and confidence with excellent communication.

6. Your host or hostess should grasp the big picture

The host or hostess is not just the person who welcomes guests as they arrive; they’re also the coordinator of the wait-list and all the tables. The hostess has to keep track of how long customers have been seated and when the tables are expected to turn over. They may have to occasionally walk around the dining room to see when customers may be finished with their meals.

The host essentially manages the flow of traffic and makes sure customers are rotated evenly among servers. A good hostess is the key to making sure your restaurant’s operation runs smoothly.

The hiring manager has a lot to look for in a host or hostess, but the rewards for properly hiring can be monumental. Whether your candidates have food service work experience or are looking for something entry-level, the traits above are what you need to look for and are not usually found on a cover letter or professional resume

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Homebase also provides restaurants and fast casual eateries with free staff scheduling, time sheets, and more.

Hostess & host skills FAQs

What qualities make a good hostess?

A restaurant hostess position is responsible for greeting guests, answering phone calls, taking and organizing reservations, among other things. Important skills required for being a hostess include:

  • excellent customer service skills
  • positive attitude
  • organizational skills
  • people skills
  • teamwork
  • time management
  • problem-solving
  • multitasking

What are the duties of a hostess?

A host/hostess primary responsibilities include but are not limited to: welcoming restaurant guests and making them feel comfortable, understand what they are looking for (if they need a big table, want to sit at the bar, or make reservations), organizes the seating of guests effectively, helps with customer service inquiries, helps restaurant staff during busy hours.

What should a hostess put on a resume?

A potential host/hostess should have a list of relevant skills and work experience related to the job. Some relevant skills include exceptional interpersonal and customer service skills, as well as organizational skills. As far as work experience goes, any relevant work experience in a restaurant setting, banquet, or catering service is always a plus.

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