It's easy to take servers for granted when you're at a restaurant, but waiters and servers have a challenging task. Their jobs involve plenty of multitasking, advanced interpersonal skills, and grace under pressure in a high-stress, fast-paced environment. Getting a job as a waiter means that you're the link between customers and the chef, and that's not always the easiest place to be when the restaurant is busy, the chef is stressed, and the customers want their food as fast as possible.
Learn the Tricks of The Trade
1. Charm the patrons. Concise communication and a friendly, approachable demeanor are incredibly important for servers. Customers don't want a "Chatty Cathy," but they do need someone who's cordial and attentive. An essential skill for a successful server is the ability to be a "people person."
2. Hone your multitasking skills. Table 4 wants an extra ramekin of ketchup, table 7 needs a refill on a happy hour beer, and someone at table 2 said the food was cold. Servers must prioritize all those requests as well as interacting with customers to ensure a pleasant experience. You must rise above the chaos and handle many tasks at the same time.
3. Practice that penmanship. Some restaurants have transitioned to a fully digital order-taking system. However, most servers don't yet have the opportunity to take orders with an iPad, which immediately blasts the order right into the kitchen. Don't make it tough for the kitchen to read the order. Practice writing clearly and legibly.
Write a Resume and Practice the Interview
Different restaurants will have different methods of interviewing staff. Some restaurants may want to set up an appointment and talk for several minutes about your goals and experience. Other establishments might approach the hiring process informally and offer you a temporary position that will turn into a permanent job after initial training is complete.
Finding Restaurants That Fit Your Experience Level
It might seem easy to get a job as a waiter, but certain establishments won't train you and will expect that you already have experience as a server. Expensive establishments that sell more liquor than food often require a certain caliber of wait staff, and will only hire people who have worked with wealthy clientele.
Places where you'll have the easiest time getting into the restaurant business might include large nationwide chains, restaurants with limited serving requirements, and new establishments looking to build their staff. Start with these types of restaurants and you’ll have a better chance of getting hired faster.
Becoming a waiter or server is a good stepping-stone to careers that require multitasking, friendliness, and efficiency. Waiting tables is also a terrific way to prepare to own a business or manage a restaurant.