Create a Great Team: 11 Ways to Drive the Best Job Candidates to Your Restaurant

By James Riddle, Contributor

The cost of staff turnover can cost restaurants almost $150,000 annually and the average restaurant employee only stays at their job for 57 days! So it’s imperative to be able to work on staff retention. However, before you can retain the best restaurant staff in your area, you need to be able to hire them first. And if nothing else, it’s always good to review and rethink your hiring policy.

Here are some tips for attracting the best people to your restaurant.

General Advice on Hiring the Best People for Restaurants

Tips for hiring the best restaurant staff.

The restaurant industry needs a wide pool of talents, and your approach to waitstaff and chefs has to different. However, some tips work across the board.

Know Who You Need

Knowing what kind of skills and personalities you need in a position is the key to success. What you need will vary on many things, including your management style and the type of business you run.

If you have a small bar that’s not overcrowded in the evenings, you need a talkative bartender who turns one-time guests into regular patrons. If you’re a chic restaurant, you need waiters who look like they’re on a catwalk while juggling three trays in one hand.

A small-town restaurant needs an administrator who can treat the regulars well. A Manhattan establishment may need a revolutionary chef who’ll drive people in just to try his menu.

Decide on what type of employee you need, and you’re halfway to success.

Look for Achievements

Experience in the industry is great, but it doesn’t tell you everything about the person. If you want to hire the best, look for achievements instead. 

Did a waiter receive the largest tips on their previous job? Did an administrator increase the number of visitors by striking a deal with a jazz band? Then they may be the kind of people you want to see in your team.

Prepare for the Interview

Browsing through resumes is only one part of the puzzle. You have to talk to the applicant to understand whether they fit in.

Don’t focus on their personality, however. Test the skills as well, if you can. You can make the skill check more attractive to potential employees by providing compensation.

This is the part where many talents shine. Your ideal sous chef may not be able to sell themselves in a resume, but once they start cooking, you know you want them in the team.

Ask Your Employees

You may think that hiring friends is bad practice, and it can certainly be this way. But if your chefs know people in the industry, they may be able to offer a candidate who’s perfect for the role. 

Sometimes, your ideal employee is not looking for a job but can be tempted to switch jobs for a good offer. If they know one of your workers, it will be easier to talk them into doing so. 

This works well with hiring seasonal waitstaff as well. They may not be as fast to leave without notice since their friend works there. 

Simply asking your employees to share the vacancy on social media may be enough to find a talent.

How to Hire the Best Waitstaff for Your Restaurant

How to hire the best restaurant waitstaff.

Turnover is high in the restaurant industry, but waitstaff specifically has trouble sticking around for long. Here is how to hire people to profit from your time together.

Value Talent Over Experience

If you own a high-end restaurant and pay over $15 an hour, many waiters will stay with you for a long while. In this case, you should definitely look for experience.

For most other places, five years of experience as a waiter means the person may soon move up the ladder and leave you.

Some things cannot be acquired with experience, however. Go for a nice person who can establish a connection with a guest quickly over a bad waiter with years of experience.

Find a Quick Learner

Many people pick a service job as the start of their career. Granted, they will make a lot of mistakes in their first month. You should hire a person who learns from their mistakes.

You can teach anyone the basics of taking orders, plating, operating HR software, and cash register in a week. If they’re a fast learner, they’ll only get better at it.

Hire for Attitude

Some people regard waitstaff work as a chore. They’ll hang around, talk to coworkers, do anything to avoid work. You don’t want them in your restaurant.

Hire a people-person who enjoys the rush of serving people in the peak hour and thinks the job is fun, not tedious. This ensures you won’t have problems with turnover and employee theft.

How to Hire Professionals For Your Restaurants

How to hire the best restaurant professionals.

Bookkeepers, managers, and executive chefs stay with you much longer but are harder to come by. Here’s how to find the best for the job.

Talk to Their Previous Employer

This should be a no-brainer for hiring any professional. Do you feel excited about a resume, but can’t decide whether to ask the applicant for an interview? Talk to their employer to learn what kind of person they are.

Be careful, though. If the person didn’t tell their current employer they want to change jobs, they may end up in trouble. If the employer is mentioned in the referrals, however, give them a call.

Test Their Skills

A great resume doesn’t always mean a great worker. Chefs and line-cooks, for instance, can only show their talent in the kitchen

Check the applicant’s skills to see if they’re good enough for you. You may ask them to prepare a meal themselves or involve your current team to create a course. This will check their leadership abilities as well.

You may want to consider compensating applicants for this. They won’t feel they’ve wasted their time and may refer a friend if they don’t end up working for you.

Consider Poaching a Talent

Does it feel like all the great employees are already taken? Convince them to change jobs. 

It takes more than sending emails to people who work in nearby restaurants, however. You have to know the person before you make the offer. Work on your connections in the industry, and if a great chef feels they’re undervalued on their current job, they may switch.

Find out why they’re not happy at their current place. This will help you craft an offer that’ll speak to them. As a bonus, you can evaluate your own working environment to see if there are ways you can improve, too.

Make the transition seamless to avoid starting a grudge with the business they leave.

Monitor Performance

Any new hire is a risk. Keep a close eye on them in the first month to ensure you made the right choice.

James Riddle

About the Author
James Riddle is a freelance writer with a passion for new technologies, marketing trends, and branding strategies. He is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth and is convinced that it’s always important to broaden horizons. That is why James develops and improves his skills throughout the writing process to help and inspire people.