Last Updated:
December 12, 2022

How to hire the best restaurant staff

Hiring for a restaurant is more than just finding someone who fits in with your company culture. This guide provides 7 tips on how to find your perfect hire.
 How to hire the best restaurant staff
By
Bogdan Patynski
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DISCLAIMER: Please note that this information is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You're responsible to comply with all applicable laws in your state. Contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.
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Working in a restaurant is not easy. You're on your feet all day, dealing with customers, and often under immense pressure to get food out quickly and efficiently. Because of this, a seafood restaurant owner for example should take the time to find workers that fit well into their restaurant's team dynamics.

It's undeniable that the success of any restaurant largely falls on the shoulders of its employees. However, many people don't realize that it takes a specific skill set to work in a restaurant setting, even for entry-level tasks like greeting customers and taking orders. So it would make sense to hire hard-working and smart individuals to staff your restaurant. But many recruiters don't know how to find or hire these excellent restaurant staff.

In this post, we'll explore how important it is for restaurants to find employees that work well in a fast-paced team environment. Furthermore, if you're a restaurant hiring manager struggling to find good employees, then we'll give you some tips on how to hire the best restaurant staff for your business.

The challenges in hiring employees in the restaurant industry

A labor shortage is one of the most common issues a restaurant faces when it comes to staffing. By 2029, the National Restaurant Association predicts there will be over 1 million worker shortages in the hospitality industry. And this number could continue to grow due to the current state of America's workforce.

The restaurant industry in general also suffers from high turnover rates, preventing any opportunities for developing or implementing company culture improvements. Multiple restaurants like fast food chains are cited as examples of businesses with high employee turnover rates. The industry average for turnover is about 75 percent, but it can be as high as 300 percent at some restaurants. This creates challenges for restaurant owners, who must constantly train new employees and deal with the negative impacts of a transient workforce.

Unmatched job skill sets and unrealistic expectations are among the reasons in the restaurant industry. Oftentimes, it is difficult to find employees in the food industry who are passionate about their work and committed to providing excellent customer service. This can make training them in your company culture more complicated than necessary. Even though having great customer service or products and services are important assets for restaurant owners, hiring quality team members that will work cohesively together is one of the hardest parts of owning a business.

With that being said, to combat the labor shortage and turnover rate, it's important to hire the right employees from the start. But how can restaurant managers or recruiters find great candidates and new hires? How can they discern who will work well and who won't be a good fit? Implementing the right hiring practices for restaurant employees will not only provide you with quality food and services. It will also save you time and money in the long run.

5 tips for a restaurant to hire restaurant employees

If you're looking to hire new employees for your restaurant business, here are a few tips that can help:

(1) Be specific when identifying what roles your restaurant needs

Defining what roles you actually need to fill will help you focus your hiring efforts and ensure that each restaurant employee you bring on board is a valuable asset to your team. You must be clear about the open positions' specific duties and responsibilities as well as the essential qualities when hiring. This way, you can ensure that the restaurant workers you're considering hiring are actually good fits for your business. Jotting down some notes about your ideal employee will help get you started with this process.

Job tasks analysis can help

If you want to improve your hiring practices and better manage candidate expectations, figure out which skills gaps you have. Doing a job analysis helps you understand the responsibilities of each role before breaking them down to a more specific level. In this manner, you can manage and monitor their workflow much better. Therefore, invest the time to pen a more precise job description by completing a job task analysis instead of heedlessly copying and pasting the same general one from the past year.

(2) Creating an alluring job description

Too much detail in job descriptions confuses job seekers, so find the balance between offering enough information and keeping your description of the role concise. So, a well-written job advertisement will include the necessary information to attract top talent. By following these best practices, you can create a compelling advertisement that will help you find new hires for the job.

  • Choose a job title that is both accurate and eye-catching.
  • The location of the job is important to potential employees who may be looking for a shorter commute or considering relocation.
  • Relevant qualifications include licenses, skills, education, and experience.
  • Promote the role by mentioning its perks, benefits, and work hours
  • Describe the duties of the position and how to measure success, including examples.
  • The company's mission and values should be listed, as well as the position's impact on them.
  • Include the following for applying: directions for references, cover letters, etc.

(3) Decide on the most effective method to advertise the restaurant job opening

To make sure that your jobs reach the widest possible audience and attract the best candidates, you'll need to promote them in a variety of ways. Utilizing social media, online job boards, and your own website are all great ways to get the word out.

Post your job ad in close proximity to your establishment

Make sure to post your job ads in places where potential applicants are likely to see them. You can put up flyers in local businesses and post them in community centers.

Advertise your job opening on your company's website and social media channels

You'll want to post job openings on your website's career page as well as share them across your company's social media channels to reach the largest number of interested candidates.

Utilize online job boards

While online job boards are not the only way to find potential restaurant workers, they are a great tool for companies. This is due to the fact that there may be individuals who would be interested in your position but are not actively seeking employment.

There are a number of job listings sites that can help you reach a wide audience of potential candidates for different restaurant positions. Some popular job boards include Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Monster. Other websites that might be relevant to your industry include:

  • Poached Jobs - Poached Jobs is a widely-used restaurant job board and employment marketplace. With their vast audience and partnerships with job websites, including Indeed, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter, they will help ensure your listings are seen by as many people as possible.
  • Culinary Agents – is a website that helps match hospitality professionals with the right career opportunity.
  • Hospitality Online - is a specialized hospitality job board that provides U.S. employers with recruitment services and allows job seekers to browse for jobs.

Encourage your employees to give referrals.

You can access a bigger talent pool for your restaurant by having your employees use their social networks. Ask your employees to promote and refer friends and other people they know to help fill any open position in your restaurant.

Attend Networking Events

You're more likely to meet qualified candidates if you attend industry-specific events. And while you're there, take the opportunity to also promote your openings and network with others in your field.

Host an Open House or Job Fair

To connect with potential employees, many restaurants hold job fairs and open houses. Use this opportunity to also highlight your company culture and hire the best-suited people for the restaurant jobs.

(4) Design a successful hiring process

Efficiently sort through numerous applications by conducting screenings to help identify which applicants are qualified for the food service industry.

Sort through applications and conduct screenings.

The first crucial stage of hiring in the food service industry is screening applicants. This includes evaluating their educational background, skills, and experience to see if they suit the job opening.

It's important to be thorough in your screening process to ensure that you only interview the best candidates. After all, taking the time to interview somebody who is not a good fit for the job is a waste of time and resources.

Conduct initial interviews with promising candidates.

The screening process will ask questions largely related to experience, skillset, and availability. It's incredibly concise, only taking 30 minutes at most, and can be done over the phone. Whittling down the number of applicants is crucial so that you're not bogged down by unqualified individuals -- phone screenings are an excellent way to do this. Those who continue to pass your screens should be invited for final interviews.

Conduct in-person & final Interview questions

In-person interviews help you get to know the candidates on a personal level and see how they would act in customer-facing or employee-interaction situations. When recruiting, it is important to focus on specific experiences and accomplishments as well as work ethic and attitude.

Here are the five key questions to ask yourself about a candidate before you offer them a role:

  • Does the candidate have the necessary qualifications?
  • Are they driven to do the job?
  • Would the candidate be interested in acquiring new skills?
  • Is the candidate willing to be trained?
  • Would the candidate be an asset to the business?
  • Do their values align with your company's culture?

Reference check

This process will give you the chance to speak with people who have first-hand experience working with the candidate and can provide insights into their work ethic, skills, and abilities.

  • Credit check: For positions that involve handling money, it's a good idea to do a credit check to ensure that the candidate is responsible for finances.
  • Criminal background check: This is important for positions that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. When it comes to screenings, it's important to be consistent with all candidates. Check each candidate's references and follow up with any questions or concerns you may have.

Assessment, evaluation and make your final decision

Take some time to fully assess and evaluate the essential qualities of the candidate. You will make your final hiring decision during this process, so it is important that you consult with others and take your time to make the best decision for your new hires.

Offer attractive employee perks and benefits

After you choose the best candidate, it's time to make them an offer. If they accept your proposal, then great! You've just found a new team member. However, if they decline especially after you thought they would be a perfect addition to your establishment, don't let that stop you from looking for someone else. The right workers are out there; keep searching until you find them.

There are many ways to attract workers, but one of the most effective is by offering competitive wages, and employee benefits.

Most workers are interested in a company that offers good pay and benefits. This may include health insurance, paid vacation days, flexible work hours, and more. When you pay great benefits to your employees that improve their well-being and show appreciation for their work, you can create better morale and motivate them more in the workplace.

Ace onboarding process and training

After a candidate has accepted your offer, it's time to focus on the onboarding process of the new hire. This is when the new restaurant staff learns about your company's culture, values, and policies. It's important to make sure that they feel comfortable and welcome during this time so that they can hit the ground running on their first day. To help with this, you can create an onboarding checklist and schedule regular check-ins with the new employee. You should also provide them with a mentor or buddy who can help answer any questions they may have.

Once the onboarding process is complete, it's time to focus on training. Training will help the new employee learn about your restaurant's menu, operations, and procedures. It's important to make sure that they understand your expectations and that they are comfortable with the job before you let them loose on their own. You can provide training through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on experience, and shadowing other employees.

The Staff Members a Restaurant Must Employ

No matter the size of your restaurant, big or small, you need to ensure that you're hiring for these key positions if you want any chance at success.

  • Restaurant manager
  • Server
  • Food runner
  • Busser
  • Host/hostess
  • Bartender/bar manager
  • Front-of-house staff
  • Back-of-house staff
  • Head chef/kitchen manager
  • Sous Chef
  • Line cook
  • Dishwasher

Focus on your recruitment effort

The recruitment process of a business can be challenging and time-consuming, especially for restaurant managers who are not professional recruiters. Managers not only have to manage the recruitment process but also other daily tasks that take up their time, from creating weekly schedules to handling disgruntled customers.

Efficient recruitment is key to finding the right people for your restaurant. By seeking out guidance from other sources, such as corporate headquarters or online resources, you can learn best practices that will save you time overall. Additionally, utilizing a user-friendly and affordable alternative for screening candidates, writing job descriptions, and managing expectations can streamline the hiring process even further.

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