Best Practice In Hiring New Wait Staff – What You Need To Know

Best Practice In Hiring New Wait Staff - What You Need To Know

Your wait staff has your customers’ happiness in their hands.

Waiting tables is a tough job and requires a person with a certain mindset.

According to scientists, being a waiter or waitress is more stressful than being a neurosurgeon.

The same group of scientists also found that wait staff have a 22% higher risk of stroke than people with lower stress jobs, and that figure jumps to 33% for women.

Perhaps these are just a few of the reasons that turnover in the hospitality industry is so high.

There are ways to fight the turnover trend and hire employees who’ll excel in your restaurant. The best way is to hire your staff right the first time.

To help you, we’re going to look at the best practice in hiring new wait staff and what you need to know to hire your new employees right.

Make a Plan

Your first step in hiring new wait staff is to make a plan. Create a list of what you’re looking for so you can hire the best people for the job. Let’s look at a few things to consider when making your hiring plan.

  • Think about who you want to hire. What characteristics are you looking for? Consider the rest of your staff and the traits that make them successful at your restaurant.
  • Define the culture of your restaurant and write it down. Don’t know? Ask your staff. Ask them what they like best about working at your restaurant and what they like least. Find out what characteristics are important for an employee to be successful at your restaurant.

Identify Character Traits

You made your plan, so you should have identified the skills and traits you find essential for your new wait staff.

If you have a mission statement or a set of core values, this can help you identify the right person for your open position. (tweet this)

Look at what makes your restaurant great. When interviewing, ask yourself, “Will this person help me my restaurant succeed?”

To identify the right person, you also want to have a very detailed job description at the ready. Look at your high performing wait staff and list the skills and traits that make them good employees. Use them as a role model when fine-tuning your job description or creating interview questions.

Refine the Interview

If you’re like many small business owners, you may throw out some job postings and call a few people in for an interview.

You ask the standard questions and try to make a decision.

Yet, there is a better way to go through the interview process to find just the right wait staff for your restaurant. Here’s a list of how-tos when it comes to the interview process:

  • Conduct a dual interview. Have two managers interview each candidate. This means you have two people to weigh in on the potential of the interviewee. This also ensures that all of your managers are on board with the decision to hire.
  • Create a set of interview questions. Sit down with your team and brainstorm a set of interview questions. Then, standardize them so each candidate is asked the same questions. This helps you avoid the haphazard interview process and keep it professional.
  • Take notes. You’ll never remember everything, so this is a good plan for all of your  interviews. Afterwards, each interviewer can compare notes in case something was missed. Taking notes also helps keep you from getting the candidates mixed up.
  • Watch for attitude during the interview. You can teach a person how to be a good member of your wait staff, but teaching a person how to have a positive attitude is nearly impossible. A perfect resume is great, but if the interviewee doesn’t fit in with your company culture or has a bad attitude, they won’t be good for your restaurant.
  • Look for physical cues. Teach your managers what to look for. Eye contact and an open interview posture are usually positive signs.
  • Ask candidates how they feel about customer service and why they think it’s important. If they have experience, ask them how they handle upset customers. While it can be taught, you’ll find out how empathetic or nurturing your candidate is with questions about service.
Hiring New Wait Staff

Doing a test run gives you insight into your candidate’s strengths.

Check References

Do not neglect this step.

For every candidate you are seriously considering, ask them for three professional references. This doesn’t mean mom or Aunt Jane.

It means three respectable professionals.

Let your potential new hire know that you’ll need to hear back from two-three of them in order to move forward.

Again, check references every single time so you don’t miss a red flag.

Additionally, background checks are always a good idea in the restaurant industry.

Give Personality Tests

After the first interview, you can consider giving your most impressive candidates personality tests.

You may catch core competencies as well as areas of weakness. These tests help you identify honest, hard-working employees. If the candidate passes the personality test, then it’s time for the second interview.

Do a Second Interview

Yes, that’s right. Do a second interview.

Involve other members of your staff.

Hiring right the first time can help boost your restaurant profits, so invest the time to do it correctly. By interviewing a second time, you’ll also let the candidate know how important their position is to your restaurant.

Have a Test Run

This is a terrific way to see your candidate in action.

If your potential new hire has made it through the second interview, assign them to one of your top performing wait staff for the day. Let them wait on tables and work with your top employee. Watch them in action.

You’ll soon find that their strengths and weaknesses are revealed. You’ll get a chance to see how they interact with your employees and your customers.

Final Thoughts

The best practice in hiring new wait staff involves hiring competitively and finding winners for your open positions. (tweet this)

Your goal is to attract and then retain the top wait staff.

To do this, work on your company culture. Be warm, fair and inviting. Treat your staff well and foster an atmosphere of open communication and team work.

Consider the benefits and incentives you can offer to attract the top talent. While insurance or tuition reimbursement may be out, get creative and come up with some smaller perks. Here are a few ideas:

  • Monthly massage
  • Comfortable athletic shoes to work in
  • Monthly drawings
  • Membership to athletic club
  • Free meals

When it comes to what you need to know when hiring, you can use this article as your guide to hire the right wait staff for your restaurant. Conducting a thorough, well-thought hiring process can also decrease your turnover rates and increase the happiness of your employees.

How do you go about hiring new staff? Do you have any tips and tricks for finding the best wait staff? We’d love to hear your comments below.

Images: Alex Robert and Toronto Eaters

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