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How to Get a Job in a Restaurant

Updated on January 21, 2013
Employment Application
Employment Application | Source

Working in a Restaurant

Many people have either worked in a restaurant at one time or another or they know someone who has.

Restaurants can be a perfect place to work for students, parents, someone needing to supplement their current income, people looking for their first job or performers who need their days free for other things.

There are people in many different stages of life working in restaurants. The flexible schedules and income that can be made in a service position is unmatched by most other entry level jobs.

What Employers are Looking For

Although service positions don’t require any former schooling or professional training, the employer is looking for certain traits and characteristics in their future employees.

The following application and interview tips will help show potential employers that you have the traits they are looking for.

No Gum Allowed
No Gum Allowed | Source

Tips To Follow When Applying For Any Job

There are standard guidelines to follow when applying for any new position, whether it is restaurant related or in a completely different field.

  • Don’t chew gum
  • Don’t wear jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, open toed sandals, flip flops or shorts
  • You must apply in person, never call on the phone or simply email your resume to a potential employer
  • Be ready to interview that day

Tips Specific to Applying For a Restaurant Position

Each industry needs specific qualities in their employees and first impressions speak volumes.

When To Apply

Don’t show up during the busy hours.

The only times to apply for a restaurant position are between 2pm and 4pm.

When an applicant inquires about a job outside of these hours, the chances of getting hired decrease significantly.

Apply In Person

If the company accepts applications on their website, fill that out as instructed.

When you are done, go to the restaurant and ask to speak to a manager to make sure they received it and allow them to associate a face with the name on the screen.

Look The Part

Wear black dress pants and a black or white top.

Although many restaurants have their own uniforms or dress codes, the traditional restaurant colors are black and white. The point of this is to look like you are ready and eager to work.

Remove any facial piercings.

There is certainly nothing wrong with self-expression but it is important to recognize that there is a time and place for everything.

A potential employer is looking to pay someone who is willing to represent their restaurant in the image that they have created.

Bring Important Information With You

Write all of your necessary information down on a piece of paper before you apply so you don’t leave blank spaces on your application.

Specific dates and phone numbers of previous jobs or reference information can be hard to remember when you are on the spot so arrive prepared.

Bring A Pen

Bring your own pen. It might be a good idea to bring two pens just in case one runs out of ink.

When filling out an application, something as simple as needing to borrow a pen is already telling the potential employer two things:

1. That you aren’t very prepared

2. That you probably don’t want the job that badly. It may appear as though you were just walking by and impulsively decided to pop in and apply.

The Application

Fill out the application right then.

Many people come prepared with a resume when they are searching for a job and those can be helpful but they aren’t necessary when applying for a restaurant position. The company will ask you to fill out an application in full regardless of whether you brought a resume or not.

Do not skip any portion of the application or write, See Resume.

Speak to a Manager

When you are done filling out your application, request to speak to a manager.

If the manager isn’t available to speak to you right then, ask for their name so you will know specifically who to ask for when you return to check up on your application status.

The Interview

Some restaurants will conduct just one interview and some will have you return for two or more. The same rules apply for interview one, two and three.

Why Should They Hire You?

Come prepared to explain why you want to work there.

As stated above, there are many different types of people in different stages of their lives who seek employment in a restaurant. Keeping that in mind, there isn’t one right answer to that question. The point of asking it is for the employer to get to know you a little and see if you can look them in the eye and articulate what your needs are.

Clearly state what positive attributes you can add to the team.


Don’t be shy about asking questions if you have any.

How do they determine who gets what hours?

Is there room for advancement?

Do they encourage cross training?

Can they work around a school schedule?

Stay Positive

This is probably the most important advice regarding an interview.

When talking about your former employer, always stay very positive. Be careful to be honest without being bitter.

If you tell a potential employer what a horrible manager you had at the last restaurant, complain about the schedule or side work, they will be hesitant to hire you.

The fact is, although all restaurants are slightly different in the way they approach things, they all generally have the same means to the end. Managers, rules, schedules and side work are part of every restaurant and bar everywhere. That is something to consider when leaving one restaurant to go to another one. The names and faces may be different but the basic principles will be the same.

If you have a really hard time adapting to those issues then it may be possible that restaurant work simply isn’t for you.

Show Them Your Best Side

Be energetic and smile, show them the side of you that you will show their guests when you work there.

Schedule Flexibility

Be as flexible as possible. If you have school or family obligations it is certainly advisable to state those time restrictions up front, but make sure they know that you will be completely committed to your work schedule as well.

Let the interviewer know that you are willing to start as soon as possible. If you don’t have another job at the time of the interview, tell them you can start today!

If you are currently working, it is important to give your employer two weeks’ notice so they can replace you. This is not only a responsible way to leave any position but it will show your new employer that they can trust you to do the right thing.

Everyone Wins

Every restaurant goes through periods where they have a high turnover rate of employees and the goal is to avoid that. Replacing and training employees costs the company money, time and in the worst case scenario, valued guests.

The application and interview process is an important step in the quest to find positive, energetic and hardworking employees.

When great employees are paired with a great company, everyone wins.


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    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Thank you teaches12345! Your input is always greatly appreciated :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      Your ideas make sense to me. I have never worked in a restaurant for pay, just volunteered at one for awhile. You have listed some really good suggestions, such as the apply between 2-4 when business is slower. Very interesting post.

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Thank you so much fpherj48! Knowing your background, that means a lot. :)

    • fpherj48 profile image


      5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York a product of a Family of restaurant owners, I've worked every inch of every position from the back of the house to front the administration office, from age 16 and on........

      I want to tell you that you have hit a home run, with this hub. It is positively complete, with all that anyone needs to be advised of, when hoping to be hired as a restaurant employee.... Bravo!...UP+++


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