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Three Tips for Recruiting Restaurant Employees

Restaurant jobs often include first jobs for students and entry-level positions for people lacking employment skills. Many restaurant owners don’t check references, and pay rates are often close to the minimum wage. Statistics show that the highest turnover rates are in the Northeast and Midwest according to

The average cost of training a restaurant employee is $3,500, but 42 percent of front-of-the-house employees leave within the first 3 months, and 43 percent of restaurant managers leave within a year. According to, an astonishing 72 percent of restaurant employees leave within a year of hire.

That’s why it’s so important to hire restaurant employees more strategically based on strong evidence of loyalty and the right skill set. Recruiting technology helps by making it easy to search past resumes, but these usually have a short shelf-life in the restaurant hiring process. Start recruiting for your restaurant the right way by using these best practices for restaurant hiring.


Sourcing Candidates

Recruiting technology and management software gives you a competitive edge when hiring local talent. Traditional methods still work for hiring in restaurants — such as hiring people whom you know, employing the kids of regular customers and interviewing walk-ins, and word of mouth.

Here are some often-overlooked strategies to source candidates:

  • Advertise Openings in All Your Marketing

    According to CareerPlug, 8% of applicants come from careers pages, but careers pages account for 52% of restaurant hires. You should include a link to your careers page on your restaurant website, digital advertising, and even neighborhood flyers. List all available areas so that casual browsers know what might be available.


  • Use the National Restaurant Association to Attract Restaurant Professionals

    The National Restaurant Association sponsors a popular job board for restaurant jobs. This is an ideal place to advertise for top-level restaurant jobs.


  • Other Digital Marketing Forums

    More restaurants advertise restaurant jobs on Craigslist than they do in local newspapers. It’s a cheap way to reach your local audience without the high costs of newspaper advertising.


  • Social Media Marketing for Restaurant Hiring

    Social media pages are great places to connect with your customers, manage hiring referrals, and pre-qualify job candidates for interviews. You can encourage your followers to share links with their friends who might be interested. Another option is to sponsor a cooking or recipe contest to gauge interest in your cuisine and brand. The MGM Grand, which was looking for a new head chef, ran its own version of “Iron Chef”.

    The contest featured 16 contestants working in different company-owned eateries who were given a secret ingredient and 60 minutes to prepare a four-course meal. The winner, a 32-year-old sous chef, became head chef at the new restaurant and increased restaurant sales by 400 percent.


  • Contacting Community Resources

    You can contact local schools, colleges, and work-study programs to offer entry-level jobs for highly motivated students. You can also post flyers at local coffee shops, malls, employer bulletin boards, and community centers. Each contact person will remember your efforts and recommend your restaurant to qualified job seekers, which can generate a steady supply of applicants.


  • Third-party Hiring Services

    Third-party hiring services — such as, Simply Hired, Career Builder, or Shiftgig — can provide access to thousands of resumes when you’re looking to fill key management and chef positions.


Managing Applications

One reason restaurants lose top talent is delayed response time. In the restaurant industry, someone may be applying for a server position at up to five restaurants at once. They are likely to take the position for whichever restaurant gets back to them the quickest.

To narrow down the applications you receive (and improve your response time) you should clearly define the job, the qualifications you’re looking for, and what candidates need to do to apply. The more detailed your job description, the better fit your applicants will be.

Using a pre-hire assessment also helps to easily and quickly sort through applicants to see who is worth bringing in for an interview. At Sprockets, our Applicant Matching System shows which candidates make a good match for your restaurant based on cultural fit and mental makeup. 


Interview with Intent

Candidate attitudes are critical when hiring for restaurants. Although many candidates don’t have lots of experience or training, you can still gauge their work attitudes. In an industry with high turnover rates, it’s often beneficial to take a chance on a promising candidate. Here are some great questions to ask prospective employees:

  • What does working on a team mean to you?
    This question allows you to gauge whether a candidate is a team player. Acceptable answers might show a willingness to pitch in on a task outside his or her responsibilities or work in an unfamiliar position.
  • What’s your favorite part of waiting on customers?
    Even inexperienced candidates can demonstrate their knowledge of the food industry when they answer this question. Does the candidate use the right terminology and show a grasp of restaurant service concepts?
  • What hours are you available?
    The greatest candidates in the world won’t be a good fit unless they can cover a necessary shift.
  • What is your greatest strength and weakness?
    This is a common question that generates strange answers. Some people choose a weakness that’s really a strength, but that’s a red flag. An honest answer that shows a willingness to improve is the best response.


Overall, hiring and retaining employees in the restaurant industry has proven to be difficult. But, with the help of innovative technologies and creative strategies, we’re confident the landscape can change. Learn more about how Sprockets can help you make great hires and reduce turnover or get started with a free account.


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