How to Hire Restaurant Employees in 4 Steps

Alexis Bryan
Alexis Bryan23 Aug 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on the restaurant industry. As states continue to open up, restaurant owners and managers are looking for ways to restore their workplace. The competition for employees is as fierce as ever, so in this article, we detail how to go about hiring employees to get your restaurant back on track. 

Finding and offering employment isn’t enough to attract the best talent in today’s market. You can attract employees to return to work by providing essential health coverage to help you stand out from the competition. Mira for Employers can get your employees to access to urgent care visits, lab testing, and up to 80% savings on prescriptions for the low cost of $45 per month per employee. 

How to Hire Restaurant Employees in 4 Steps

Hiring restaurant employees can be a daunting task, especially in the current climate. Below we outline four steps to take for a seamless process to restore your restaurant workforce. Each of these steps is important to make sure you set yourself up for the most amount of success in attracting, finding, and closing the deal on the talent you need. 

The steps to hire restaurant employees are:

Step 1: Identify Workforce Gaps

Before hiring new restaurant employees, it is important to identify where gaps exist in your current staff. Do you need new chefs? Waitresses? Hosts? Create an organized plan for how many people you need to hire and what their role is. Having a concrete, succinct job description is imperative so that you can attract the right people.

Questions to consider when looking at your workforce gaps: 

  • How many positions do I need to fill?
  • How quickly do I need to fill these roles?
  • How important is it to retain these workers?
  • What is my budget for these employees?

Step 2: Begin a Hiring Campaign

Determine where you will list job descriptions and search for restaurant employees. There are different types of platforms including job boards and neighborhood chat groups. Actually, there are many ways to begin hiring new employees, which include:

  • Online job search engines like Indeed and Monster are popular places to list your openings. On these sites, your job description is very important and needs to be tailored to attract the type of person you are specifically looking for.
  • Social media can also attract the right employees. Who better to employ than a dedicated customer looking for work? They already know your restaurant, the food, and probably the staff as well. Many managers find that their loyal customers are also loyal employees. You can try LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or other local media outlets.
  • Physical signs around your restaurant. Some restaurant owners find success in advertising their openings on signs near the restaurant location because restaurant employees often live close to the restaurant where they work.
  • Word of mouth can be a good way to recruit new trusted employees. By going through an employee you already know, you can ensure they will be cognizant of who they refer to you.
    • As a bonus tip: you can offer employees a reward for recommending potential employees. A common referral program provides a reward (usually monetary) to an employee who suggests a candidate who is hired and stays with the company for a certain amount of time.
  • Local culinary schools often have placement programs for chefs. Some of these programs even pay the wage to help low-income students leverage their culinary skills in the workplace.

Step 3: Review Applications and Interview Candidates

By this point, you should have received plenty of applications for restaurant employees. Invite stand-out applicants to interview and assess if they would be a good fit. Create great interview questions to get a feel for whether this person’s goals line up with your needs. 

Some things to look for during the interview process include:

  • Friendliness: Working at a restaurant requires A+ customer service and conversing with strangers regularly. No one wants a stand-off, grumpy waiter or waitress while enjoying a night out. This trait should be a given when hiring a new restaurant employee. Try asking the interviewee to tell you about themselves. Are they hesitant or ready to share? Do they smile while talking with you?
  • Motivation: Restaurants are fast-paced, hectic places. You need someone who is a hard worker and doesn’t shy away from a challenge. The ideal candidate will be good at multitasking and should thrive in a high-stress environment.
  • Intention: Why does this person want to work in the restaurant industry? It is unlikely this person has always dreamt of working in a restaurant, although they should have a desire to work in a people-facing role. You want a worker who enjoys being part of a team and derives satisfaction from pleasing customers.
  • Experience: Working in a restaurant is not easy. It requires a specific set of skills to be an efficient restaurant employee. Even if this person has not worked in a restaurant, jobs in retail can prepare people to excel in customer service positions. This also determines how much training your new employee will need.

Step 4: Onboard and Train

Once you send an offer and the new employee accepts, the paperwork begins. Your HR team will set up the necessary contracts, obtain proper documentation, and familiarize the new employee with your policy and procedures. Usually, you will need proof of two forms of identification in order to complete the process.

Depending on their past experience, this is also when you will need to begin training before they can officially begin. Make sure this person has the qualifications to serve alcohol in your restaurant if applicable. Then you can have them train in various positions or just the position for which you hired them. Sometimes it is useful to have all restaurant employees familiar with all aspects of the operation.

Onboarding an employee correctly can be the difference between having a rockstar employee and heading right back to the interview pipeline. Turnover is high enough in the restaurant industry so you should find ways to tighten that number, and correct training and onboarding is key to that effort.

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Making an Attractive Offer to a Potential New Employee

There are various ways to entice new restaurant employees aside from the job offer alone. It is likely this person has applied to more than one restaurant and therefore you might need an edge if you really want this person to work with your team.

Other benefits to offer employees applying to your restaurant include:

Health Benefits

Many restaurant employees have fear around health insurance. It is uncommon that a restaurant job offers any type of health insurance which can leave employees at a financial disadvantage. If they are not feeling well, they are left to either go to work sick or stay home and forfeit their income. Fortunately, there are alternative options to traditional health insurance.

With Mira, you can offer health coverage for a fraction of the price of an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Your employees will be able to make a same-day appointment for lab tests or go to urgent care for a small copay instead of choosing the lesser of two evils. Nobody should be left to choose between their health and their job.

Paid Time Off

Another option is to offer paid time off to your restaurant employees. Since working in a restaurant can require extensive hours and inconsistent schedules, offering paid time off can help eliminate stress. Working in a restaurant can be taxing, so prioritizing mental health is more important now than ever as we return to normal life. Paid time off can incentivize employees to accept your offer knowing they can care for themselves if need be.

Access to Gym Membership or Other Discounts

For a nominal fee, you could get access to discounts for your employees. These are often included with your partnership with a particular payroll provider or health coverage provider without costing you anything extra. Your employees can get discounts for going to the gym or for other local things that interest them. This could be a good differentiator when attracting top talent. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Hiring Restaurant Employees

Hiring new restaurant employees is a complex undertaking. Below we list and answer a few of the most popular questions to ease the process for you and your new employees.

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How do I hire restaurant employees?

We have simplified the process of hiring restaurant employees into four steps. Each step is an important part of the process and requires planning, but if you follow these steps you will find the help you need. The steps include:

  1. Identify workforce gaps
  2. Begin hiring campaign
  3. Review applications and interview candidates
  4. Onboard and train

What types of employees do I need?

Restaurants require a slew of employees to make an efficient team. A dining experience is so much more than just the food itself. Depending on the size and capacity of your restaurant, your employee needs will differ. In order to create the best work environment, make sure all your bases are covered and consider hiring for the following positions:

  • Waiter/waitresses
  • Bartenders
  • Chefs
  • Hosts/hostesses
  • Dishwashers
  • Front of House managers
  • Back of house managers

What are some potential challenges?

As discussed, hiring new restaurant employees is a cumbersome task and there may be bumps along the way. Before beginning, it could be helpful to survey the competition in your area. See if restaurants nearby are also competing to hire new employees and how you can make your restaurant more attractive to those looking for work.

Additionally, as seasons change, hiring needs to change as well. It can be difficult to predict when you might need extra staff vs when you do not. Look at past years' performance to estimate the number of employees you need instead of guessing. It is not free to hire and train new staff, so this is necessary to save money and time.

Bottom Line

The Department of Labor refers to bartending as one of the country’s most stressful professions. Day in and day out, restaurant workers are exposed to countless customers and high-pressure situations. As you hire new restaurant employees, there are many aspects to take into consideration to find the right person.

Show your employees you care about their health by providing low-cost health coverage through Mira. When your staff feels ill, they can get same-day lab work or go to an urgent care clinic for only $99 and return to work in tip-top shape. Sign up today.

This post was informed with help by George Santos, Director of Talent Delivery at 180 Engineering.

Alexis Bryan

Alexis Bryan MPH, is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about increasing access to care to improve health outcomes. Outside of work, she loves to travel, read, and pay too much attention to her plants.