How to Hire Employees: 7 Tips for Building a Robust Restaurant Team

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Gabriela Tan
February 28, 2024
Three restaurant employees with their manager, who learned how to hire employees.

In a customer-centric industry, like the restaurant industry, your staff are the heart and soul of your business. Creating a strategic plan on how to hire the best employees should be high on your priority list. With the average cost of hiring a new hospitality employee being $5,864, getting hiring right the first time can directly affect your bottom line. While hiring restaurant staff can feel challenging, having a robust plan in place can ensure a consistent and streamlined hiring process. 

In this guide, we’ll go over tips on how to hire restaurant staff to bring you one step closer to building your dream team. Let’s get started!

What Staff Do You Need for a Restaurant?

To ensure your restaurant runs smoothly and your customers get the best possible dining experience, you’ll want to have the key restaurant positions:

Front-of-House Staff:

  • Front-of-House Manager: Oversees the overall front-of-house operations, such as ensuring customer service standards are met and managing the front-of-house team, including scheduling staff hours. 
  • Host/Hostess/Greeter: Greets and seats customers, manages the waitlist and reservations, and answers basic questions. 
  • Servers/Waitstaff: Takes customer orders, serves food and drinks, and assists customers with their questions. 
  • Bartenders: Prepare and serve beverages, maintain the bar area, and engage with customers.
  • Food Runners: Deliver food from the kitchen to the dining room. 
  • Bussers: Clear and reset tables, refill water glasses, and assist servers.
  • Cashier: Handles payments, orders, and transactions at the register for fast food or fast-casual restaurants that don’t offer table service. 
A server who recently went through the restaurant hiring process serves a dish to a customer.

Back-of-House Staff:

  • Head or Executive Chef: Leads the kitchen, creates menus, and oversees overall back-of-house operations.
  • Sous Chef: Second in command to the head or executive chef and assists them with menu planning, ordering supplies, and supervising kitchen staff. 
  • Cooks: Prepare and cook dishes according to recipes and chef instructions. 
  • Dishwashers: Clean dishes, utensils, and cookware. 
A chef who went through restaurant hiring process is cooking in the kitchen after landing the job.

Keep in mind that more or less staff may be required depending on several factors like the type, size, hours of operation, and budget of your restaurant. For example, a fast food restaurant that offers in-house delivery will need to hire cashiers and delivery drivers, but wouldn’t need hosts, servers, bartenders, food runners, or bussers. 

Where Can I Hire Restaurant Staff?

When people think of hiring, the first type of platform that might come to mind is a general online job board, such as Indeed or Glassdoor. However, there are other hiring options beyond that. 

For restaurant managers who are looking to narrow down their search, niche hospitality job boards, such as Culinary Agents and Poached, could help you attract candidates who are specifically looking for jobs in the restaurant industry. If you’re looking to cast a wide net for a low cost, social media can be another great channel to hire restaurant staff. 

Lastly, asking your network for referrals can be an easy way to get high-quality applicants. Referrals are 55% faster to hire than employees from job boards, and they reduce the average cost of hiring by $3,000 or more per employee. 

7 Tips on How to Hire Employees to Build a Robust Restaurant Team

1. Determine Your Needs

Before making any hiring decisions, you should determine key roles for a top-tier dining experience. Since every restaurant is different, think about your restaurant’s operational needs, considering each role, typical demand, and hours of operation. Once you have the basics down, another factor to think about is the personality types that you’d like to hire. Certain personality types work better together than others, and having a balance of them can make a well-rounded and efficient team. Putting your business’ hiring needs on paper will lay the groundwork for building your dream team. 

Two restaurant employees are working together after being hired recently.

2. Create Clear Job Descriptions

Now that you know what roles you’ll be hiring for, you’ll want to create clear job descriptions for each one. While you may be thinking it’s as easy as copying and pasting an old job description, think again. Taking the time to carry out a job analysis for each role will allow you to write more accurate job descriptions. This way, you can manage candidate expectations right off the bat while also maintaining fair hiring practices. Accurately reflecting the nature of the role will help you attract qualified candidates who are a good fit. 

3. Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits

There’s no doubt that turnover can be costly. To incentivize loyalty from the start, consider offering new hires a competitive wage and benefits package. Offering competitive wages not only helps you to attract top candidates — who won’t be tempted by competing offers — but it also shows that you value your employees’ well-being and contributions to the team. On top of compensation, benefits like paid time off and health insurance encourage work-life balance, resulting in a more positive work culture. Invest in your business by investing in your employees, who are ultimately the face and backbone of your restaurant. 

4. Use Multiple Recruitment Channels

While it may be tempting to just use one recruitment channel for simplicity, consider using a multi-channel approach to widen your reach. Sourcing quality candidates can be challenging when you’re competing with other local restaurants within the same talent pool. Using multiple recruitment channels, such as physical and digital job boards, social media, and referrals to hire restaurant staff can significantly increase your chances of filling your roles. Another option to consider is promoting from within if you’re hiring for higher-level roles like a supervisor or manager. Internal promotions are a great way to motivate staff and show that you prioritize their career development.

An applicant has an iPad open to a job search platform, hoping to find restaurants hiring employees.

5. Screen Applicants Efficiently

In any industry, leaving candidates waiting too long for an answer can be off-putting. When you’re looking for top talent, you need to be ready to find them as soon as possible. Taking too long to screen your candidate pool gives competitors a chance to get to them first, leaving you with whoever’s left — if there’s anyone at all. 

Rather than screening candidates manually, consider using a digital hiring platform that offers automated applicant screening, like Push’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS). You can set customized questions for candidates when they apply, and the platform will automatically filter out any applicants who don’t meet the minimum requirements. Although it’s important to screen applicants carefully, there’s a delicate balance of being diligent while still being mindful of applicants’ time. 

6. Conduct Structured Interviews

Rather than coming up with questions on the spot, using a standardized set of interview questions ensures a fair and consistent hiring process. Asking each candidate the same questions allows you to compare their role-specific skills and experiences with less unconscious bias. Additionally, consider assessing candidates’ soft skills and cultural fit to see if they could work well with your existing team. Ask candidates to describe past experiences demonstrating teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills. Explore how they’ve handled stressful situations and managed disagreements. Once you’ve narrowed down your top picks, don’t forget to conduct a reference check to verify each candidate’s work history. 

A manager is in the process of hiring an employee through a structured job interview.

7. Provide Comprehensive Training

Remember that hiring a solid restaurant team is an investment, which includes providing new hires with comprehensive training. When new hires don’t feel properly equipped to do their job well, they’ll quickly get frustrated and feel demotivated — especially when tips are a key component of their compensation. This can result in lower morale for the entire team if the new hire expresses their thoughts and frustrations with other staff. Not only that, but you run the risk of them quitting shortly after they’re hired. Giving your new hires the tools they need to succeed gives them the chance to meet your expectations and serve your customers well. Essential restaurant training should include:

  • Restaurant policies and standard operating procedures
  • Food safety and sanitation
  • Menu knowledge
  • Customer service standards
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) system

While this list gives you a starting point to develop your training program, keep in mind that additional training may be required depending on the role and the unique needs of your restaurant. 

Start Building Your Restaurant Dream Team Today

Let’s face it — hiring in the restaurant industry can be time-consuming and expensive. Having your dream restaurant team can feel unattainable at times due to turnover and a tight labor market. Despite turnover in the restaurant industry decreasing since the pandemic, 89% of restaurant operators still worry about labor expenses. 

However, laying a good foundation by creating a strong hiring plan is the first step to bringing together a top-tier restaurant team. Step by step, you can begin to incorporate new and more efficient ways of hiring. 

Hiring restaurant staff doesn’t have to be difficult. Book a demo with Push today to see how we can help you automate your restaurant’s hiring — saving you time and ensuring you hire the best staff for your restaurant’s needs!

Table of content

February 2024


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