The hospitality sector is known for pretty high turnover and therefore hiring wait staff is usually a very frequent process. Working in restaurants, hotels or bars, is for many young people a great job during their studies to earn some extra money but something that they will do for a couple of years. Of course, there is more permanent staff as well but compared to other sectors the industry knows a relatively high turnover meaning that hiring happens much more frequently.
However, even if turnover is usually higher, you can make sure you are optimizing your recruitment practices in order to find great wait staff. So what can you do to ensure you find the best possible staff for your business?
- Use your network and your people´s network
Good people know good people. So use the network that you have access to. If you have great wait staff on board already, why no ask them if they know someone suitable for the vacancy you´re currently trying to fill? You will probably have access to a pool of great candidates within your network, that will most likely also be very pleasant co-workers since they are already having a good relationship with some of your staff.
- First impressions do count
Where for a back-office job first impressions might not be very important, in the hospitality sector it is key. Your wait staff is the face of your business to your customers and a bad first impression can make a possible customer enquiring for possibilities to have dinner turn right back around. If during the interview you have doubts related to personal skills, first impression or personal care, it is usually better to follow your gut and keep looking because your customers will experience the same doubts.
- Personality over experience
This one is related to first impressions but personality is key for great wait staff. Therefore, if you have the choice between someone that has many years of experience as a waiter or someone with a much better personality and stronger personal skills, go for the second candidate! The hard skills can usually be taught much easier than the soft skills.
- Behavioral interviewing
During your interview process, make sure to focus on behavioral interview questions. Instead of merely asking about previous hard experience, ask about examples of how they reacted and behaved in certain situations. Dig deep so the candidate really needs to describe the actions he or she took in that situation. How did they deal with difficult customers? How did they deal with customers that received a very bad service, like finding a piece of paper in their dish?
- Include trials in your recruitment process
Make sure you include a trial run in your interview process. If the candidate convinces you during the interviews, invite them to work for you for a day or an evening (or a few days or evenings) so you can see them in action. Nothing will give you better insights on how they will fit in the team, how they treat your customers and how well they sell your place, as doing a trial run. So if you have a restaurant, make the candidate work a shift before you make a decision. If you have a hotel, have the candidate join you for a day. If you have a bar, let the candidate man the bar for a night. Of course, you can pay them so they don´t feel like you´re using them for free work but before making a hiring decision, make sure to see them in action.
What are your best tips to hire the best wait staff?