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How to Hire and Onboard Great Employees for Your Restaurant

You found a list of potential employees who fit your restaurant’s needs. Great! But in the middle of your celebratory cartwheel, you think, “What’s next?”

To create a cohesive team that fulfills your restaurant’s vision, an effective hiring and onboarding process is key. The right process can affect employee turnover and commitment to your business.

Your staff is the most impactful factor to take your guests’ experience from good to outstanding, and will keep those patrons coming back again and again. Inspiring your employees to go the extra mile begins with your initial contact in the hiring process. Here’s how do to it effectively.


By now, you have created a pool of applicants to choose from with assistance from our guide on the subject. Your toughest task still remains: narrowing the pool. Consider these tips as you enter the hiring stage.

Knockout questions

Asking knockout questions regarding certain qualifications needed for the position helps narrow your choices by filtering out unqualified applicants. These questions are nonflexible and strengthens the quality of your applicant pool as you move to the interview process.

Strategic interviews

Interviews should be beneficial for both parties. The interviewee should be able to evaluate your restaurant and leadership, while you gauge his or her experience and personality traits. When interviewing a candidate, it’s important to use two types of questions: job-related and culture fit.

  • Job-related: “Tell me about the most valuable skill you gained at your last job.”
  • Culture fit: “What’s one time you had a conflict with a co-worker? How did you handle it?”

Keep your questions open-ended to assess whether this person is able to contribute to the existing culture.

Complete the process

After an applicant impresses in an initial interview, steps must be taken before an offer can be made. Consider if a background check or referrals are needed and ensure your staff has weighed in on the decision.

Make the offer

When offering the position to a candidate, it’s important to communicate every detail of the job offer, including starting pay, day and time of the first shift, and any other useful information.

With salaried positions, an offer letter is generally used in case of negotiation of pay or benefits, while hourly workers can be notified by phone or email. It is imperative employers know when and where you can offer flexibility with each type of employee and position.



Give your new hire paid time to fill out important paperwork, such as Forms W-4 and I-9, and review your employee handbook. Be available to answer any questions the employee may have.

Formal and informal training

Training is critical to success. Around 40 hours of instruction is given to any new hire, no matter the type of restaurant, and proficiency takes between seven and 11 weeks. HR training, opening and closing procedures, guidance on seasonal specials and more should be covered. (Newly hired managers also should be given supervisory skills training.) Ensure your instruction is compliant with state and federal law.

Time to get to work

Once prep work is finished, your new hire can be added to the mix. Consider training, personality and skills to match him or her best with an existing employee to shadow. Introduce your new hire to his or her team members, as these are people they can go to for help and allow the employee to find their role within your overall staff.

A positive hiring and onboarding process boosts employee engagement from the start and reduces turnover. Creating a cohesive team willing to go the extra mile gives your diners an experience they won’t forget — and keeps them coming back for more. Isn’t customer experience what it’s all about?

To dig deeper into producing a successful hiring and onboarding process, check out our free guide.