10 Characteristics In Hiring Front-of-House Service Workers

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Monday, October 30 2023

When folks walk by your restaurant they have but a moment to decide if yours is the place they want to eat that night. Putting the best of your business right up front where they can see is one of the most effective ways to draw in new customers. Your best foot forward starts with your front-of-house staff. 

Your front-of-house employees are the everyday face of your business. They greet customers as hosts, take orders with ease, remember the regulars, and maintain a clean and inviting dining space. Hiring the right people for the front-of-house sets you up for untold success. 

We at Culinary Staffing have got your back! Our network of ready-to-work front-of-house workers is a phone call away, 24 hours a day. We know the service industry from the front of the house to back and side to side. Make use of our extensive staffing network to curate your front-of-house team. Explore these tips for hiring in the front-of-house sphere. 

10 Fundamental Front-of-House Hiring Tips 

Your front-of-house employees provide your clientele with the satisfying feelings they need to return to your business again and again. These 10 hireable skills in front-of-house staff will propel your business in the right direction, ensuring customer loyalty. Some of these are trainable skills, and others are innate ways of being. They all come together to make the perfect front-of-house experience.

1. Product Knowledge Learning Experience

Your front-of-house staff won’t just have to know your food and beverage options. They’ll also have to answer questions, read the customer, and discuss adjacent topics like wine pairings, menu recommendations, and perhaps even specialty cocktails to start the night. 

Provide your employees and future hires with training tools to support your restaurant’s aesthetic, like websites, guidebooks, and community review sites, so they can go above and beyond to familiarize themselves with your menu and clientele.

2. Measured Professional Presentation

You’re going to have to establish, develop, and portray the standard of professionalism you want your front-of-house staff to exude in order to hire for those talents. From everyday habits like how to carry oneself to specialized tasks like uncorking wine bottles, professional presentation skills can lead to a prosperous career in top-grade front-of-house service. 

3. Experience with Time Management In a Crunch

The food service industry runs on speed. From coordinating with kitchen staff to checking in on guests and managing orders and requests, time management is a critical component and responsibility for front-of-house staff. 

Every aspect of front-of-house responsibilities requires employees to be in a state of constant motion. Great time management will ensure your new hires contribute to the team as soon as they are hired. 

4. Comfort with Sales Techniques

Sales techniques are an integral part of restaurant success. Servers and other front-of-house staff need to be able to share premium options with customers in a way that allows for upselling and raising profits, highlighting the very best of your restaurant’s finest offerings. 

By teaching sales techniques to new hires early on, you’re ensuring consistent incremental revenue for the entire team. The best way to match sales techniques across your team is to have set guidelines in your employee handbook emphasized early on in the onboarding process.

5. Exemplary Customer Service

The most important job of any front-of-house employee is providing every guest with a positive experience. Exemplary customer service should be the foundation of every task your front-of-house staff completes. 

A firm grasp of customer service skills gives your staff the ability to manage even the strangest customer situations. Cultivating those skills will help your future hires and current employees rise to the top of service industry expectations.

6. Quick Problem-Solving Skills

Emergencies can arise in front-of-house work at the drop of a napkin. For front-of-house workers, being able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner is a critical skill involved in keeping customers happy. You can test for quick problem-solving skills in interviews by presenting hectic hypotheticals and asking for their solution for what could otherwise be a service industry disaster. 

As for dealing with problems as they arise and making sure your employees are able to act under pressure, the best solution is to host regular training sessions. These can be a mix of hypothetical situations and team-building activities to build your front-of-house team rapport.

7. Awareness of Hygiene and Food Safety

Hygiene and food safety are major players in your back-of-house work, but they’re equally important in front-of-house situations! On its journey from the kitchen to the table the quality of your dishes is in the hands of your front-of-house staff, which makes a significant difference in the customer experience. Making sure those hands are capable of managing food safety and hygiene needs can boost your offered dining experience to the top! 

Your front-of-house candidates should already have their food handler certifications, as a part of your needed hiring criteria. To keep up with standards, be sure to keep your team up-to-date on any recommended training in the food safety and hygiene arena. 

8. Companionable Teamwork Ability

Companionable teamwork abilities are of supreme importance for front-of-house staff for two reasons:

  1. When customers see your front-of-house staff being friendly with each other, it adds to the overall warmth and all-inclusive feelings of happiness in your restaurant.
  2. When your team works well together on a social level, they’re better able to handle the daily hiccups of front-of-house work. From dinner rushes to impromptu large guest parties, they’ll have it managed.

It’s hard to know if job candidates will fit your team until they’re hired, but you can get a feel for their personalities during the interview process. Ask potential hires questions about teams they’ve worked on in the past, and how they like to communicate with coworkers in different situations. 

You can vet candidates in advance without having to interview them by hiring through Culinary Staffing. Our network of service workers has been tested on job performance and necessary skills. When you work with us, you get trustworthy hires without the work of interviewing.

Any time you have available for team bonding helps in this pursuit of seamless teamwork. Promoting positive team interactions could be something along the lines of hosting a holiday party or hosting bi-monthly team-building activities. 

9. Patience and Understanding

Patience and understanding are two of the most personal traits on this list. They’re traits you should seek out in every candidate, for front-of-house and back-of-house staff. In the interview process, get a feel for the temperament of your candidates throughout the conversation. A few questions to ask are:

  • Describe a time when you were tasked with teaching a new skill to a recently hired coworker. How did you go about the teaching process, and how patient were you in ensuring your coworker understood?
  • How do you work and remain patient through tasks that are repetitive and consistently required?
  • Walk me through a time when you had a customer with multiple requests for a dish or the overall service. How did you manage their requests with patience and understanding?

Keep these traits at the top of your mind as you interact with candidates, in order to hire the best of the best. 

10. Expert Attention to Detail

Your ultimate goal for guest experiences should be perfection in every detail. Your front-of-house staff is most directly responsible for these details as they’re served up to customers by them directly. 

One way to test for attention to detail is to provide a restaurant scenario with something out of order. Ask candidates to identify what’s missing, wrong, or out of place. Their answer, and the speed at which they answer, will tell you all you need to know.

Primary Front-of-House Service Worker Positions

These 10 traits, responsibilities, and skills are important in every front-of-house worker you hire. Keep them in mind while you’re hiring:

  • General managers
  • Shift supervisors
  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Hosts
  • Bussers
  • Barbacks
  • Sommeliers

Each and every one of these positions plays a pivotal role in the success of your restaurant. From the first people customers see when they walk inside to the smiles around them as they dine, these roles make up the face (and voice) of your brand and restaurant experience.

For filling these essential roles, Culinary Staffing is here to help! Since 1999 we’ve staffed the best restaurants from Los Angeles to Orange County, Coachella Valley, and San Diego. We bring you not only the best in the business but the best for your business. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring Front-of-House Service Workers

The roles and skills of front-of-house work are nuanced in the same way that a wine would be paired with a perfect dish. There’s always something going on in front-of-house work beyond the surface of smiles and expedient service. Our responses to these FAQs provide insight into the front-of-house realm.

What Does It Mean to Work Front-of-House?

Working front-of-house means working in a guest-facing role. Front-of-house is aptly named, as these workers are the face of the business. There are many roles under the front-of-house umbrella, and all of them include tasks that define the restaurant experience for customers.

Is Working Front-of-House Hard?

Working front-of-house is demanding of time, energy, and interpersonal skills. For some, that equates to hard work, and there’s certainly an argument to be made there. That said, hard work is often the most rewarding. 

What Skills Do You Need To Be a Front-of-House Staff Member?

Some of the most desirable skills for front-of-house staff members are:

  • Quality communication skills
  • Multi-tasking abilities
  • Grace under pressure
  • Money-handling skills

These are the foundation for front-of-house hires. Other skills and techniques can be taught, but hiring for these skills first and foremost is a must. When you hire through Culinary Staffing, you can rest assured our staff network has been vetted with these skills in mind.

How Do You Train Front-of-House Staff?

There are two approaches to front-of-house staff training:

  1. Hands-on training with customers, done by shadowing other, more experienced employees.
  2. Training new employees with tailored programs, interactive activities, and mentoring through conversation and behind-the-scenes practice.

Both of these types of training are useful. You’ll find some employees jump in best with hands-on training, while others are better suited to self-paced training that can then be applied to customer situations. 

What Makes a Good Front-of-House Manager?

A good front-of-house manager is detailed and possesses strong multitasking abilities, fast problem-solving skills, and top-tier customer service. Front-of-house managers are the key component to your front-of-house atmosphere. A front-of-house manager who puts customers at ease and gets the job done is an asset to any restaurant.

Guidelines for Front-of-House Service Industry Hiring: Who Do You Want As the Face of Your Restaurant?

Seeking these 10 characteristics in hiring front-of-house staff ensures you have a team as dedicated to your restaurant as you. To ensure the best pool of candidates is at your disposal, contact Culinary Staffing to meet our team of staffing experts today.