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Temporary Restaurant Staffing: How to Hire Quality Employees

Temporary Restaurant Staffing: How to Hire Quality Employees

When you’re running a foodservice business, employee turnover and temporary restaurant staffing is something you’re going to need to effectively manage—and that comes with its own set of challenges.

The way you approach finding, interviewing, hiring and training your temporary restaurant workers will absolutely determine the quality of your applicants and whether or not they’re successful in their role.

Use this guide to ensure that your temporary restaurant staffing hires are a good fit for your business and that they have a positive experience during their time with you. 

In this article we’ll cover:

Service at full speed

Empower your staff with the tools they need to give personalized, efficient to each guest.


Restaurant staffing statistics

The average cost of turnover for a front-of-house worker is $2,000 and for a manager, it’s a whopping $14,036. Yet, there’s no way around it—the restaurant industry has one of the highest turnover rates of any industry, growing from 4.8% to 6.9% from 2020 to 2021 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Restaurant owners and operators will constantly need to address staffing needs for their front-of-house, kitchen and management staff.


How to attract great restaurant candidates

Before we cover how to determine whether or not a candidate is a fit during the interview, let’s cover how to attract great candidates.

The general rule for hiring temporary restaurant staff is to not start your search too far in advance. Candidates for temporary roles see the role for what it is: temporary. They aren’t heavily invested and won’t be looking for temporary roles months in advance. Start your search no earlier than a couple of months before you need the role filled.

Note: If you’re hiring for a full-time role, however, you should start looking as soon as possible. Candidates are more invested in the process and it might take time to find a rockstar full-time hire that stays onboard long-term.

Write a killer job ad

You need to draft a compelling job ad to attract as many candidates as possible during the temporary hiring process. Once you have a decent pool of prospects, you can filter through them and determine which ones will make it to the interview phase.

A solid job description should be two things: honest and accurate.

Ensure that whoever reads your job description effectively communicates the role’s responsibilities and the timeline of the contract. It needs to be clear enough that potential candidates know what to expect, but not too long. A lengthy job description can turn off a lot of quality temporary restaurant hires. Here are the basic things you should include in your job ad:

  • A few sentences that describe your establishment, highlighting what makes it unique
  • No more than four sentences describing the role
  • A list (bullet points are easier to scan) of the role’s day-to-day responsibilities
  • A list of the required qualifications and bonus skills
  • A link or email address where the candidate can send their resume

Be clear and honest with your job description. This helps candidates make an informed decision, which ultimately increases your pool of serious potential hires.

Additionally, mention whether or not there’s an opportunity to be hired in a full-time role after their temporary contract expires. Great candidates may see a temporary role as a gateway to a longer-term gig.

Post your job ad

Next, post your job ad on relevant sites. We suggest starting with these:

If your establishment has Facebook and Instagram accounts, consider publishing a post or story to let your followers know you’re hiring. They’re your biggest fans and might be interested or know someone who’s interested. Make sure your posts can easily be shared and let your followers spread the word for you.

Ask for referrals from your employees

Good employees know other good employees. Ask your staff if they know people that are qualified and might be interested. Encourage your staff by offering a referral bonus if the candidate they refer sticks around and is a good fit.


How to screen your temporary restaurant staffing candidates

Drafting and distributing a solid job ad is only the first step. The next stepscreening your candidatesis the most important. To find a candidate that’s both competent and a strong cultural fit, you need to formulate a game plan and listen to your intuition.

Next, look through resumes and applications for relevant work experience and any extracurricular mentions that give you an idea of what kind of person they are. Once you’ve got a list of potential candidates, it’s time to move to the interview process.

Cater your interview to the role you’re hiring for

The personality traits and skills needed vary from role to role in the restaurant industry. Whether you’re hiring a chef, bartender, server, host or manager, you should structure your interview so that you get a clear idea of how the candidate will perform in that role.

For example, servers typically need to be outgoing, strong multitaskers and able to work under pressure with a smile. Ray Camillo, CEO and Founder of Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting, suggests putting a potential candidate for a server role through a timed assembly test.

“Replicate Friday night pressure and see whether or not they handle it gracefully,” Camillo says. If they get flustered or frustrated, there’s a chance they can’t handle the role. If they take the pressure in stride and stay positive, they could be a fit.

Once you think you’ve found the right person, do your due diligence and run a background check. Ask for a few referrals from previous employers to get an idea of how they performed in past roles. If everything checks out, you may have just found your ideal candidate!


Things to do before extending an offer

Figure out the legalities

Each country has its own unique rules, regulations, and laws for temporary and part-time hires. If you’re not too sure of those requirements, do your research and also check out these resources:

Determine salary

Pinpoint a salary that’s competitive and that you can afford.

What are other restaurants in your region and category paying employees in similar roles? Typically, temporary staff are paid an hourly rate plus tips, which can vary based on the type of establishment you run. The more expensive your dishes are, the higher the expected tips can be.

Offer a wage that’s competitive with what others are offering to maximize how many qualified candidates you attract.

Training your temporary restaurant staffing hires

After you’ve extended your offer and the candidate accepts, you need to train them and teach them everything they need to know to be successful in their role at your establishment. Of course, training varies based on the role you hired for, but there are several commonalities with how you train the majority of your hires.

1. Education

When it comes to your establishment’s processes and workflows, fixed menu and guidelines, an educational pamphlet that your new hire can take home and study is a great tool. It enables you to standardize how each hire works and the information they know. In your educational pamphlet, focus on the following:

  • Restaurant facts: the type of food you serve, your busiest hours, most popular menu items, most profitable menu items, how and where your food is sourced, as well as the head chef and owner’s information. This helps your staff create a narrative around your restaurant that they can use when serving guests.
  • Operational instructions: This is where you can explain how the front and back of house communicate and work together, as well as the roles and responsibilities of each team member. This helps new hires know who to refer to when they need something.

2. Demonstration and shadowing

Especially for kitchen staff, servers and bartenders, having one of your top-performing staff members show them how things are done can go a long way. Assign your new hires to shadow one of your full-time hires in that role to see how things are done. Some people are visual learners, and this is a great way to get them up to speed fast during their first few shifts.

3. Learn how to use your tech

Your establishment’s point of sale (POS) and kitchen display system (KDS) are at the heart of your operations. While your newcomers are shadowing one of your more experienced employees, have them demonstrate how to use the appropriate tools.

For hosts, consider showing them how to check in a guest that made a reservation and how to pinpoint where they’re sitting in your floor plan. Additionally, show them how to adjust the floor plan to accommodate last-minute walk-ins and reservations.

For servers, show them how to input orders and fire them to the appropriate workstation, check on a table’s status and process payments.

For kitchen staff, teach them how to properly use the KDS, particularly how the color codes for a plate’s preparation status. For example, Lightspeed’s KDS uses the following:

  • Grey: new orders
  • Orange: cooking
  • Green: done

Whenever they start preparing a dish or it becomes ready to serve, their first instinct should be to change the dish’s status so that your servers know when it’s ready for your guests.

For managers, show them how to customize your menu (super useful when you launch your seasonal menu), manage inventory, tips, staff and end-of-day close. 

One of the best parts about using a restaurant POS system like Lightspeed Restaurant is that it’s so easy to use that even temporary restaurant staffing hires should be up and running in quickly and easily.


Support your staff with restaurant technology

While each establishment has different restaurant staffing needs, there’s one constant across the board: creating memorable dining experiences that wow guests starts with a customer-first approach, attention to detail and a positive attitude.

With Lightspeed’s restaurant POS and management system, you can view staff performance reports, offer tableside ordering, start a loyalty program and more. Chat with one of our restaurant experts to see how technology can help your staff work smarter, not harder.

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More of this topic: Labor