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How to Hire & Keep Restaurant Staff

A restaurant’s success may hinge on its cuisine and ambience but the staff it employs is often the difference between a smashing enterprise and a sinking ship. From sous chefs to bussers, your team is the real makeup of a thriving establishment.

So, what’s the best way to hire restaurant employees and the type of talent that not only boosts your eatery’s reputation but also defies the industry’s high turnover rate?1

With strategic planning and smart execution. Here’s our guide on how to hire restaurant staff to help ensure your operations are nothing but smooth sailing.

Crafting a Hiring Strategy

A tight labor market, coupled with the fact that hospitality jobs have one of the highest rates of attrition, have compelled restaurant owners and managers to revamp how to recruit restaurant staff and take a more calculated and creative approach to the endeavor.2

Restaurant staffing or building a quality restaurant staff can be time-consuming. Rather than lose time interviewing potential employees who don’t align with your company’s culture, or fail to attract promising applicants altogether, consider these tactics:

Identify Staffing Needs and Roles

Understanding precisely what skills for working in a restaurant you deem essential to building your dream team. Putting pen to paper (or, rather, fingertips to keyboard) will enable you to view your restaurant from a holistic stance and pinpoint shortages in front of house (FOH), back of house (BOH), management, administration, and communication functions.

Creating a list of how many people you’ll need for each role is also vital. It will keep you from having to ask employees to work double shifts or overtime (bear in mind that burnout is one of the main reasons for high employee turnover rates and why restaurant workers walk away from their jobs), or providing too few shifts for your non-salary staff members to make a living.

Ideally, you should determine the staffing needs you have now and those you anticipate in the future. Take into consideration, then:

  • Seasonal changes
  • Impending terminations
  • Upcoming resignations
  • Economic shifts that may affect business

Define Role Requirements and Qualifications

Regardless of whether you’re looking to hire new employees, from kitchen staff to front of house staff, characterizing role requirements and qualifications does double duty: It clarifies the gaps in skills and responsibilities you may be presently dealing with while also providing potential employees with a crystal-clear understanding of their obligations.

Our advice? Examine the roles you’re hiring for from both a big-picture and granular perspective. 

If you’re hiring a server for your fine dining restaurant, you likely want a candidate who exudes that appealing combination of warmth and professionalism, yes, but also has the high-end serving experience and the wine knowledge that goes with it. (Alternatively, you could conduct a job tasks analysis (JTA) to make sure your bases are covered, particularly for salaried positions.)3 In sum, the more specific you are about your needs, the higher your chances of finding skilled workers who will fulfill your expectations.

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Optimizing the Recruitment Process

It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to hire restaurant employees and another 10 days to 30 days to successfully onboard new hires.4 In other words? Bringing new employees on board can be a time-consuming process.

Save time and maximize your efficiency with these steps:

Craft Compelling Job Descriptions

You may already know that it’s crucial to outline the primary details about the position you’re hiring for in your job listings, such as the job duties you identified above, the starting wage, and benefits.5 But it’s just as critical to make a powerful impact that will urge candidates to apply. This may entail giving job seekers a peek into your:

  • Company culture
  • Restaurant concept
  • Service style
  • Required skills
  • Desired characteristics
  • Opportunities for growth

Streamline the Application and Screening Process

While there may be roles in your restaurant that require little more than friendliness, a desire to learn, and the capacity to be a team player, other positions—from executive chefs to private events managers—typically require a highly specific skill set and ample experience.

Regardless of the role, instead of sifting through resumes and applications, you may want to streamline and expedite the hiring process by using an applicant tracking system (ATS). This can be used to6:

  • Gather candidate information
  • Monitor applicant progress
  • Securely share data with other team members

Best of all, you can curb hiring times by 60 to 80% in the process.

Enhancing the Interview Experience

At times, there’s a noticeable difference between the person presented on the page and the person that appears in, well, person. You know that employee dynamics are imperative—and that chemistry and collaboration are everything in a restaurant.

Your first step in securing the right candidate is to conduct a phone interview. This could be as simple as making a follow-up call to confirm their interest. A negative or indifferent attitude, a resistance to answering questions, poor phone etiquette—all can help you weed out contenders who will detract rather than add to your establishment.

But if someone does sound promising? Schedule an interview promptly.

Conduct Effective Interviews

You may have your plate full and elect to perform an interview off-the-cuff, but this may do a disservice to both your restaurant and the candidate.

For the best chance at hiring the right new employee or building the right staff, consider:

  • Plan and come up with interview questions that are unique to each role you’re shooting to fill.
  • Instead of asking theoretical questions like “How would you handle an angry customer?,” inquire about real-life scenarios: “Could you tell me about a time you had to deal with a rude customer?”
  • Introduce the candidate to other key members of your team to see if they would “mesh”

Lastly, remember that your most experienced and gifted candidates may have other options. To that end, understand that they’re interviewing you as well—and should be given the time and encouragement to ask you questions. 

Elevate Your Back of House Operations with Restaurant Technologies

The people you employ serve as the face of your restaurant—and a tight-knit, diligent crew that enjoys camaraderie with each other can make every work day feel like something of a party.

But your restaurant staff is only one part of the package—and what happens behind the scenes is just as central to your success. From automated cooking oil management to hood to flue cleaning, Restaurant Technologies offers a suite of BOH solutions to keep that celebration going.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today to get started 

For even more information, read our tips for managing a restaurant and how to improve restaurant ROI.


  1. Daily Pay. Turnover and retention rates for QSR businesses. https://www.dailypay.com/resource-center/blog/qsr-and-restaurant-turnover-rates/
  2. Notch. How to fix high restaurant employee turnover. https://notch.financial/blog/restaurant-turnover-rate/
  3. Edsi. Mastering job task analysis: a proven 7-step blueprint for workplace excellence.  https://www.edsi.com/blog/seven-steps-to-a-solid-job-task-analysis
  4. Workstream. What to know when onboarding a new restaurant employee. https://www.workstream.us/blog/what-you-need-to-know-for-onboarding-a-new-restaurant-employee
  5. OpenTable. How to hire the best staff for your restaurant. https://restaurant.opentable.com/resources/how-to-hire-the-best-staff-for-your-restaurant/
  6. Restaurant365. Hiring restaurant staff, part 2: develop a hiring process. https://www.restaurant365.com/blog/hiring-restaurant-staff-part-2-develop-a-hiring-process/
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