Sign Up
How to Hire Great Restaurant Staff

How to Hire Great Restaurant Employees: 6 Key Tactics

How to Hire Great Restaurant Staff

The restaurant industry is experiencing a shortage of workers. If you’re a restaurant owner or operator, it’s likely you’re strapped for reliable staff members.

So, how do you attract and hire great? By considering your restaurant’s culture and needs, creating specific job ads, expanding your recruitment tactics, and truly making the most of interviews.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 6 key tactics and techniques restaurant owners and operators can use to hire great restaurant employees, including:

  • Write specific job ads
  • Expand recruitment tactics
  • Make the most of interviews
  • Double up on interviews
  • Offer incentives
  • Check references

Write specific job ads 

In order to attract the very best employees to your restaurant, it’s critical to create highly specific job ads. But, before you scribble down an ad or post a “Help Wanted” sign in the window, it’s important to take some time to think about the positions and the people your restaurant needs to thrive. 

To start, you’ll need to consider how many roles you need filled (i.e 3 new servers), the major responsibilities of each role, and the type of personality that would best fit each role. Additionally, for more experienced positions, like managers, consider qualifications like leadership skills, experience in the restaurant industry, or other work experiences that could be helpful for managing staff or operations.

“As a general rule, you should look for people with customer service orientation. Because hospitality is all about delivering the ultimate experience, it’s important that your employees are naturally in tune to customer needs and inclined to ensure they’re met. Then, you can look for more role-specific characteristics and define benchmarks on what you’re looking for in candidates,” explains

Once you’ve created a list of positions and what’s needed for success in each role, sit down and craft your job ad. Be sure to keep your ad professional, polished, and to the point.

Your restaurant job ad should include key information like:

  • Job title 
  • Main responsibilities of the position
  • Hours / schedule desired
  • Style of restaurant (i.e. fast casual)
  • Your restaurant’s culture (fast paced, family-friendly, caters to the tourist season, etc.)

Expand recruitment tactics

Next, in order to find, attract, and hire the absolute best employees for your restaurant, it’s time to expand your recruitment tactics beyond the “Help Wanted” sign in your window.

Instead, try posting job ads or conducting open interviews at places like:

  • Culinary schools reach out to career services counselors at local culinary schools to recruit students or recent graduates to your restaurant’s open roles.
  • Colleges, community colleges – post job ads in student newspapers or on student websites to attract potential candidates. Consider posting physical ads or posters on campuses in high-traffic areas like the student center or the library bulletin board.
  • Job fairs – find new staff members by setting up a booth at a local job fair.
  • Social media – post job ads on your social media channels and include important details, like a link to an application or open hiring times. Use localized hash tags to find the candidates in your area.
  • Email and e-newsletter – include a “We’re Hiring” banner or button in your next e-blast, along with information about open interview times or a link to an online application.
  • Referrals – ask high-performing staff if they know any great candidates for open positions. Chances are if you have an A+ staff member, their friends, family, or former co-workers could also be a good fit for your team.

How to Hire Great Restaurant Staff

Make the most of interviews

If you want to hire great restaurant staff, it’s crucial that you conduct great interviews. To begin, create a standardized list of questions to ask potential candidates during an interview. This will help you or your manager be efficient and effective in interviewing.

Basic interview questions to ask potential candidates include:

  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What is your previous experience in the restaurant industry?
  • How fast was the pace of your last job?
  • How many customers / orders did you typically deal with each day/night?
  • What’s your availability?
  • Are you able to work nights, early mornings, and weekends?
  • Talk about a time you were involved in a challenge in the workplace and how you worked to resolve it.
  • What is your definition of customer service?

Additionally, be sure to clock body language during the interview. If the candidate is a front of the house position, does the interviewee seem friendly and comfortable interacting with strangers? 

Regardless of the position you’re hiring for, always consider the disposition, attitude, and past experience of the candidate. How will this person fit in with the rest of your team? How could a candidate’s past experience improve your operations or customer service? 

Double up on interviews

Also, to find the best employees to join your restaurant’s team, consider having multiple managers interview potential staff members. This gives you a better shot to ensure the best person for the job – and for your restaurant – will be selected. 

A candidate’s attitude and personality can make or break the daily operations of a restaurant and impact customer service. Multiple interviews is a good way to test the waters before hiring anyone and to make sure you’re truly selecting the best candidate for your entire team.

Remember, after interviews, managers can and should link up to discuss which candidates are the best fits for your restaurant.

How to Hire Great Restaurant Staff

Offer incentives

Another home run tactic to attract great new restaurant employees?

Offer incentives to potential employees to make your restaurant stand out from the crowd and sweeten the deal to candidates.

A few incentives to consider:

  • Full time hours – a 40 hour work week, with the pay to match, will appeal to candidates with long-term employment in mind
  • Provide benefits – if your restaurant is able, benefits like health care will entice more bites on job ads. The National Restaurant Association offers a healthcare marketplace for owners and operators to shop plans.
  • Meals or discounts – If your restaurant offers any kind of staff meal or shift meal or drink, be sure to mention it during interviews!
  • Higher wages – offer a wage system where employees have the opportunity to earn more the longer they work at your restaurant. Or, consider offering wages slightly above your competitors. 
  • Company culture – does your restaurant staff really connect? Do they spend time together outside of work and cover shifts when needed? A friendly, inviting company culture is always an incentive.

Check references

Finally, there is one more key step to hiring great restaurant staff: always check references. To simplify the process, before an interview, ask the candidate to bring in two to three professional references.

Then, if an interview goes well, follow up with the candidate’s references immediately to ensure a potential team member is actually as great as they seem.

Good luck!