Hiring professionals for the bar and restaurant industry has gotten a lot more complicated in the recent past. Foodie culture boom and newfound celebrity among hotshot restauranteurs has made working in service a wildly popular -- but still incredibly demanding -- job to take. And while the glitz and glamour of service life (we felt that eye roll from here) may attract plenty of applicants to your restaurant job postings, not all of them will have what it takes to help your establishment succeed when the going gets tough.
So, when hiring for your bar or restaurant, you want to make sure you’re advertising in the right places and asking the right questions to make sure your new hires will prove an asset to your business. Here’s how.
When to hire restaurant employees
If you’ve got a good crew, try your best to hang onto them. As much as possible, try to have succession planning in place and get your internal employees trained up to take on bigger roles, responsibilities and paychecks when a spot opens up. You can try your luck with hiring a general manager or mixologist from out in the world, but promoting internally is the best way to both improve retention and save on hiring costs.
Of course there are times when internal promotion isn’t going to work, and you need to source new talent externally, such as:
- When opening a new establishment.
- When expanding your establishment.
- When at the height of your season. Many restaurants and bars take on additional temporary employees during their busiest months.
- When service is suffering and you are forced to make personnel changes in the interest of your guests.
- When you’re experiencing high turnover rates and need to fill gaps in the ranks.
What positions you should hire for
Again, ideally most of your external hiring will be done for more entry-level positions so you can better control training content and support a long-lasting employee base. However during an expansion you might want to take on a new Cordon Bleu trained chef or front-of-house manager coming in with 15 years of experience. We don’t blame you. So the restaurant job title examples you might find yourself advertising for are:
Front of house
- FOH manager
- General manager
Back of house
- Executive chef
- Sous chef
- Line cook
- Prep cook
- Kitchen caller
- Kitchen manager
The positions you have available will depend on the kind of establishment you run. And it is critical that your job listings for any open role come with a comprehensive job description so applicants know exactly what they’re signing up for.
How to write job descriptions and where to post them
Be as clear as possible. It can be tempting to provide more of a breakdown of your establishment’s culture and philosophy, and that is important. But save the story piece for the interview. In your job description, use plain and direct language to clearly spell out:
- Restaurant job position name associated with the role.
- Responsibilities associated with the role.
- Skills and abilities required for performing within the role.
- Previous training and experience both required and preferred for performing within the role.
- Compensation, conditions for compensation negotiations, and time commitment.
- A BRIEF description of company culture so you can find people who will enjoy working at your establishment.
The easiest way to get the word out as far as possible is to make use of the many restaurant job boards that exist online. You can use a generic site such as Glassdoor or Indeed to post your listing, or leverage a more specialized site like poachedjobs.com.
If you’re looking to fill a more specialized role, you can also browse LinkedIn or other professional social media boards to try to recruit your new sous yourself. Consider also posting or searching on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
If you’re taking a more old-fashioned approach, word of mouth is also an effective way to find talent in the service industry. It can save you time, money and heartache to get recommendations for reliable staff from other bar owners and restauranteurs.
Sample job descriptions
Seeking JUNIOR SERVER for part-time position at small-scale restaurant.
Responsibilities include general service, accurately taking customer orders, delivering orders on-time to appropriate tables, upselling beverages, promoting daily specials, and FOH clean-up after service.
Must be able to walk/stand for 6+ hour shift, comfortably lift up to 50 pounds, able to memorize recommended beverage pairings with specials and other popular dishes.
Compensation starts at $18.50 an hour +tips. Raise negotiable after 30 days.
Our establishment is a contemporary French bistro happily serving a diverse community in the heart of Soho.
Energetic go-getter wanted for work in faced-paced restaurant setting.
Must have knowledge of top cocktails, and must love smooth jazz. Compensation depends on past experience.
Tips for interviewing candidates
The first thing to do is remember that not everyone who interviews well will be a great worker, and not every great worker interviews well. Consider offering alternate interview formats to encourage your candidates to put their best selves comfortably forward.
Here are some extra tips for a smooth and illuminating interview process:
- Use a phone interview or questionnaire first to get the basic information you need to proceed.
- Come prepared with a specific set of questions that will help you get to know the candidate and their skill sets better.
- Ask every candidate the same questions so you are better able to make a comparison.
- Ask open-ended questions that let your candidates tell their stories.
- Encourage your candidate to ask you questions about the job, establishment, yourself.
- Don’t let references go to waste: give them a call.
How to start the onboarding process
A sometimes tedious but all-important process with a lot of documents to fill out before you can get to training.
- If you’re doing multiple interviews, bring the onboarding paperwork (W2s, employment contracts, other necessary documentation) to the final interview so they can fill it out before they go.
- Have one day of orientation without training that allows your employee to get to know the layout of the establishment, their coworkers, and some basic procedures before they have to begin performing.
- Training should be comprehensive and deliberate: don’t assume your new employee knows everything, but do let them guide the process. You may be surprised by how quickly they pick things up.
Additional offerings from Provi
On top of being an all-in-one alcohol inventory solution that lets you manage, budget, and order stock from the same place, Provi also offers great content related to the day-to-day of running an establishment in the bar and restaurant industry that can help you get prepped for eventualities like doing performance reviews.