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Hiring a Waitress: Job Description Template

By Ammar Ahmed

Published:

The success of your restaurant depends on the staff you hire, and drafting the right waitress job description is the first step. But what happens when that description is unclear or incomplete?

You might find yourself overwhelmed by unsuitable candidates, wasting hours interviewing those who simply don’t fit. The frustration builds as the perfect hire seems just out of reach.

This guide offers a lifeline, providing detailed insights into crafting the ideal job description. Discover how to pinpoint exactly what you need, attract the best candidates, and turn the hiring process from a chaotic struggle into a well-orchestrated dance.


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Responsibilities & Role of a Waitress

When considering the hiring process, understanding the core responsibilities and role of a waitress is crucial, even though it may seem familiar to many in the hospitality industry.

  • Taking Orders: Accurately recording food and drink requests from customers.
  • Answering Menu Questions: Providing information about ingredients, preparation methods, and special offerings.
  • Maintaining Cleanliness: Keeping the dining area clean and well-organized.
  • Customer Interaction: Serving as the face of the establishment, making the first and last impressions.
  • Enhancing Dining Experience: Contributing to a pleasant atmosphere and customer satisfaction.
  • Maintaining Cleanliness: Keeping the dining area clean and well-organized.

How to Hire a Waitress

Hiring a waitress is an important decision for any restaurant owner or manager. The right waitress can make a big difference in the customer experience and the overall success of your business.

Here are some tips on how to hire a great waitress:

1. Understanding Your Waitress Needs

Before you even begin to sift through resumes or schedule interviews, it’s crucial to clearly identify what you’re looking for in a waitress. This isn’t just about filling a vacant position; it’s about understanding the unique needs and demands of your establishment

Whether it’s a busy sports bar, an upscale restaurant, or a cozy café? Do you need someone who can juggle multiple tasks efficiently during high-volume hours? Or perhaps you’re looking for someone with wine knowledge to upsell to guests in a fine dining setting?

Understanding your needs not only helps you ask the right questions during interviews but also ensures that you’re aligning the skill sets of your candidates with the roles they’ll be expected to fill. For instance, if your restaurant specializes in a unique type of cuisine like sushi or tapas, having a waitress who understands the nuances of these dishes could enhance the customer experience immensely.

Once you’ve pinned down your specific needs, make sure they align with your broader business goals. A waitress is often the face of your establishment to customers, so consider how this role can contribute to customer satisfaction, repeat business, and overall profitability.

By honing in on these factors, you stand a better chance of hiring a waitress who isn’t just a stopgap but a valuable, long-term addition to your team.

2. Search for the Top Talent

Reaching out to the right candidates begins with crafting an attractive job advertisement and posting it across various platforms:

  • Online Job Portals: Job boards like Hospitality Online and Poached Jobs are dedicated to hospitality careers in the food and beverage industry. You can find qualified candidates who have been specifically trained in this field.
  • Social Media: Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can help to create a buzz, especially among younger candidates. Sharing a post about the vacancy on your restaurant’s official social media page could reach potential applicants who follow your brand.
  • Local Newspapers: Local daily or weekly newspapers are still an effective medium, especially for attracting candidates within the community. For example, a small family restaurant might place an ad in a community bulletin or local newspaper to attract nearby residents.

3. Look for Professional Qualifications

When searching for the ideal waitress, it’s important to focus on qualifications that are highly relevant to the food and beverage industry. For example, in a fine-dining environment, you may want a candidate who has formal training in wine pairing and gastronomy. A TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) Certification is crucial if your establishment serves alcohol, as this ensures your staff can serve responsibly and handle difficult situations involving intoxication or underage drinking.

If your restaurant has a specialized menu like vegan or ethnic cuisine, look for candidates with familiarity or training related to these specific food items. Some restaurants even value language skills; for instance, a basic understanding of French or Italian can be a strong asset in a French or Italian restaurant, as it adds authenticity to the customer experience.

In high-volume restaurants, a candidate who is trained in the usage of specific Point of Sale (POS) systems used in your establishment can get up to speed much faster. Additionally, proficiency in customer management software or reservation systems like OpenTable can be a big plus.

The takeaway is to go beyond generic qualifications and look for skill sets and certifications that are directly applicable to the unique demands and offerings of your restaurant.

4. Analyze Their Work Experience

Experience in the service industry can speak volumes. When assessing a candidate’s work history, go beyond the number of years they’ve been in the field.

Consider the following factors:

  • Type of Establishments: Evaluate where the candidate has worked before. If your restaurant is a fine dining establishment, experience in similar settings is often more valuable than general waitressing experience.
  • Roles Held: Has the candidate only been a waitress, or have they also taken on supervisory roles? Someone who has worked as a lead waitress or shift manager likely has additional skills in team management and leadership.
  • Specialized Experience: Check if the candidate has experience in areas that align with your restaurant’s focus. For instance, if your restaurant specializes in sushi, a waitress experienced in Japanese dining can be a significant asset.
  • Length of Service: Consider the duration they’ve spent at each job. Long stints can indicate commitment and reliability, whereas frequent job-hopping might be a red flag.
  • Reasons for Leaving: When possible, find out why the candidate left their previous positions. Was it due to relocation, better opportunities, or were there performance issues?
  • Training Experience: Note if the candidate has had experience training other staff. This can be a sign of both expertise in waitressing and potential leadership qualities.

By dissecting a candidate’s work experience in this manner, you can develop a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to make a more informed decision.

5. Conduct a Comprehensive Interview Process

information you’ve gathered from resumes but also gives you invaluable insights into the candidate’s personality, professionalism, and suitability for your restaurant’s culture. 

Here’s how to make the interview process more comprehensive and focused:

  • Pre-interview Screening: Before calling candidates in for a face-to-face interview, consider conducting a brief phone screening. Ask a few key questions to gauge their enthusiasm and availability, like their preferred work schedule and why they’re interested in working at your restaurant.
  • Skill Testing: Once you’ve shortlisted candidates, prepare a few practical exercises to test their skills during the interview. This could be as simple as asking them to take a mock order or describe how they would handle various customer scenarios. For fine dining settings, you may even want to test their wine knowledge or ability to articulate the specials with finesse.
  • Behavioral Questions: Incorporate behavioral interview questions to assess how a candidate might handle real-world situations they’d encounter as a waitress. For example, you could ask, “Describe a time when you had to deal with an extremely difficult customer. How did you handle it?”
  • Trial Shift: Finally, if all goes well, offering a trial shift can be an excellent way to see the candidate in action. This can confirm whether they have the skills you’re looking for and if they fit well within your team.

By adopting a comprehensive, multi-faceted interview process, you’ll gain a 360-degree view of each candidate, thereby increasing your chances of hiring a waitress who is not only competent but also a strong match for your establishment.

6. Cross-Verify Their References

Reference checks offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the candidate might perform in your specific setting. It is a step that goes beyond the resume and the interview, allowing you to validate your impressions and make a well-informed hiring decision.

Here are some important considerations: 

  • Work Ethic and Reliability: By inquiring about punctuality, attention to detail, and overall professionalism, you can gauge how responsible and dependable the candidate is.
  • Interaction with Team and Customers: References may shed light on how the candidate interacts with both team members and customers, vital for a role that requires excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Legal Considerations: Ensure that your reference checking complies with legal regulations and that you obtain the necessary permissions from the candidate.

These are some of the most important questions we recommend you to ask:

  • Can you describe the candidate’s ability to handle stress and high-pressure situations?
  • How well did the candidate work with team members and interact with customers?
  • Was the candidate punctual and reliable? How often did they miss shifts or come in late?

Whether you’re looking for a waitress for a casual diner or a high-end restaurant, these insights can be instrumental in ensuring that you find the perfect match for your team.

Tips for Avoiding Red Flags During the Hiring Process for a Waitress

When hiring a waitress, red flags can surface at various stages of the hiring process—sometimes subtly and sometimes glaringly. Being aware of these warning signs can save you time, money, and potential headaches down the road.

Here’s how to spot and avoid these red flags:

  • Lack of Menu Knowledge: During the interview or trial shift, assess the candidate’s ability to understand and describe menu items. Whether your restaurant specializes in a specific cuisine or has an extensive wine list, a good waitress should be able to learn quickly. Failure to do so is a red flag.
  • Struggling with Multi-tasking: Waitressing often requires juggling multiple tasks at once, like taking orders, serving food, and managing customer complaints. Watch for signs of struggle during the trial shift or inquire about such experiences during the interview.
  • Unfamiliarity with POS Systems: In modern dining establishments, familiarity with Point of Sale (POS) systems is almost a given. A candidate who is not comfortable with basic tech tools specific to the waitressing job may not be the best fit.
  • Ignoring Customer Service Norms: Whether it’s basic etiquette like making eye contact and smiling or more nuanced skills like reading customer cues (when to chat, when to leave them alone), failure to understand these can be a clear red flag.

By being mindful of these red flags when hiring a waitress, you can ensure that you’re bringing on a team member who not only has the necessary skills but is also a good fit for your restaurant’s unique needs and challenges.


A new hire's first day checklist

Waitress Job Description

A well-defined job description is paramount in the recruitment process, acting as a vital bridge between employers and potential candidates. Did you know that clear and comprehensive job descriptions can lead to more targeted applications, saving both time and resources. 

Here’s the description template you can use to attract the right candidate:

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Position Title: Waitress 

Location: [Location, City, State]

Restaurant: [Restaurant Name]

Salary: [$XX,XXX – $XX,XXX]

About Us:

At [Your Restaurant Name], we take pride in offering a unique dining experience to our customers. With a commitment to excellence, we have become a staple in the [City/Area] dining scene. Our team of dedicated professionals strives to create memorable moments for our guests every day.

The Opportunity: 

As a waitress, you’ll be the face of our restaurant and responsible for ensuring an exceptional dining experience for our guests. Your friendly service and knowledge of our menu will create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, contributing to customer satisfaction and the overall success of our establishment.

What You’ll Do:

  • Welcome guests as they arrive, lead them to their tables, and provide them with menus.
  • Accurately and promptly take food and beverage orders, ensuring to accommodate special dietary needs or requests.
  • Serve meals and drinks efficiently, observing proper food handling techniques.
  • Engage with customers, answering questions, and making recommendations based on their preferences.
  • Keep dining areas clean and organized, including setting tables and clearing dishes.
  • Process payments, making sure to thank guests and invite them to return.
  • Adhere to all hygiene and safety standards to maintain a safe dining environment.

What You’ll Bring:

  • Previous experience as a waitress or in a similar role is preferred.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to multitask and work efficiently in a fast-paced environment.
  • A friendly and approachable demeanor.
  • Attention to detail and a strong commitment to service excellence.
  • Knowledge of food and beverage menu items.
  • Flexibility in scheduling, including evenings and weekends.

Our Ideal Candidate is Someone Who Has:

  • A passion for hospitality and making guests feel welcome.
  • A positive attitude and a willingness to go the extra mile.
  • Adaptability in handling various customer preferences and requests.
  • The ability to work well within a team.
  • Knowledge of safety and sanitation standards.
  • A high school diploma or equivalent.

Benefits and Perks:

  • Competitive hourly wage with tips.
  • Employee meal discounts.
  • Opportunities for career advancement.
  • Ongoing training and development.
  • A supportive and friendly work environment.

How to Join Us:

Interested candidates should [insert application process, such as sending a resume to a specific email address or applying through a company website].

Closing Date: [Insert closing date for applications]

Note: Take the time to tailor the job description to reflect the unique requirements and expectations of your restaurant. Consider the specific tasks, responsibilities, personality traits, and qualifications that align with your establishment’s culture and values. 


How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Waitress?

Hiring a waitress involves various costs, including hourly wages, potential benefits, training expenses, and other related fees. These can vary widely depending on the location, establishment type, and level of experience required.

Here’s a breakdown of some specific examples and stats to give a clearer picture:

Salary

  • Minimum Wage: The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour as of 2021. However, individual states may set their own minimum wages, often higher than the federal rate. For instance, California has a two-tiered system, where the minimum wage is $15.50 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $14 per hour for those with fewer. Washington State has its rate set at $15.74 per hour. These variations can significantly impact the cost of hiring waitresses in different regions.
  • Tipped Wage: In the U.S., the federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour, provided the employee earns enough in tips to meet the regular federal minimum wage. This system, known as the tip credit, allows employers to pay a lower hourly wage, as long as the tips make up the difference. It’s worth noting that not all states follow this system. For example, California, Washington, and seven other states require employers to pay the full state minimum wage before tips. This can lead to considerable variations in earnings for waitresses between states.
  • Upscale Restaurants: Upscale Restaurants: Waitresses working in higher-end or upscale establishments often command higher hourly wages, reflecting both the level of service expected and the generally higher prices of the menu items. In these settings, wages may range from $10 to $20 per hour, excluding tips. These wages may be higher in major urban centers or tourist destinations where the cost of living is higher.
  • Experience and Skill Level: More experienced or skilled waitresses might command higher hourly wages, particularly in fine dining establishments where a high level of expertise in food and wine is required.

Benefits

  • Health Insurance: Many restaurants offer health insurance as part of the benefits package. This can include coverage for medical, dental, and vision care. The cost to the employer will depend on the coverage level, and it could range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars per employee per month.
  • Paid Time Off (PTO): PTO, including vacation, sick leave, and holidays, is another common benefit. This can help in retaining staff and improving overall job satisfaction. The cost of this benefit can be calculated as a percentage of the hourly wage, often ranging from 5% to 10%.
  • Other Benefits: Some employers also provide perks like meal discounts, educational assistance, or wellness programs, adding to the overall benefits cost.

Training Costs

  • Formal Training Programs: Some restaurants might conduct specialized training sessions covering areas like customer service, wine knowledge, or health and safety protocols. Depending on the complexity and duration, this training could range from $100 to $500 per new hire.
  • Ongoing Training: Continuous education to keep staff updated on menu changes, new regulations, or service enhancements should also be considered in the overall training cost.

Uniforms

  • Uniforms: Some restaurants require waitresses to wear specific uniforms, reflecting the establishment’s brand and style. Depending on the quality and design, uniforms can range from $20 to $200 per set. The employer might cover this cost or share it with the employee.

Together, these elements highlight the multifaceted nature of the total cost to hire and maintain waitstaff, going beyond just the base salary. Employers need to consider these additional expenses when budgeting for new hires, as they contribute to the overall working conditions, employee satisfaction, and service quality.


Ammar Ahmed

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