how to get a job as a waiter or waitress

If you’re good with people, love food, enjoy working in busy environments and value camaraderie and teamwork over sole endeavours, working front of house in a restaurant could be the perfect career.

Perfect, but challenging, mind. For every nice customer, there’s a difficult one who demands every green bean to be cut to the same length; for every busy night there are those that seem to drag on forever due to a lack of covers, and, for every brilliant colleague who turns into a life-long friend, there’s the challenging one with whom you’d prefer not to share any rota time.

So, you need a thick skin and a solid working ethic, but if you’ve made the decision that a job in the restaurant trade is for you and you want to be front and centre within the operation, let’s consider the simple steps you’ll need to take to land that job as a waiter or waitress.

1. Start with your personal brand

What’s that? Brand? Yep! As boringly-commercial as it may sound, you need to start your search for that ideal job by building your personal brand online.

If you’re not on there already, get yourself on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Note in your profile that you have a love of restaurants, food and working with the public and share your experiences of eating out.

Comment on news articles relating to the restaurant industry and connect with those people already working within it. These days, your online persona is often far more important than a CV.

2. Don’t forget your CV

You’ll still need something to give to prospective employers, so build a CV that clearly displays your educational achievements and provides an insight into who you are as person.

3. Shortlist the restaurants at which you’d most like to work

Pick four or five restaurants at which you’ve long harboured a desire to work. If you’re unsure of one or two of them, pay the restaurant a visit and get a feel for the ambiance and type of clientele.

4. Approach your shortlist

Time to pop that brave pill. You won’t get a job in a restaurant by waiting for the positions to become available. Go and speak to the manager. If they’re the right type of manager, they’ll give you five or ten minutes to sell yourself.

Before you approach your shortlisted restaurants, just make sure you note down three or four reasons you want to work as a member of a waiting team. Include ‘teamwork’, ‘a love for dealing with people’ and just how much you love the restaurant trade.

5. Become a regular

By the time you’ve made your way around the shortlisted restaurants, you’ll likely develop a fondness for one in particular. This step requires some investment, but its worth it – become a regular.

Dine at the restaurant as regularly as your budget allows in order for your face to become known and to give you the perfect opportunity to quiz the waiting staff on what it’s like to work at the place you’re gunning for.

6. Get an interview

Sometimes, step 4 will result in an interview, immediately. You may have entered the door at just the right time, after all.

Conversely, it might take a few days (or even weeks) to receive any kind of interview invitation, but you need to be prepared, whatever the timeframe.

Set aside answers to the most common questions:

  • “Why do you want to work here?”
  • “What can you bring to our waiting team?”
  • “Where do you want to be in 5 years time?” (Yep, they’ll probably go down that route)
  • “Tell us the biggest challenge you’ve overcome”
  • “What would you do if a customer complained that their food was too cold?”

Make sure you brush up on the restaurant itself, too – learn the history and general ethos of the place and ensure you know it like the back of your hand (you should find that kind of detail on their website).

That’s it!

That’s right – no surprises or clever tricks, just good, old-fashioned common sense.

Enjoy your job search – it can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. If you fail at an interview, pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and crack on; the right waiting job is out there.

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