top of page

Navigating the Hiring Process in the Hospitality Industry: A Comprehensive Guide

Image of a waiter typing an order into a POS system.

In the high-stakes world of hospitality, the quality of your staff can make or break your restaurant. Hiring effectively is essential. Like a well-orchestrated kitchen, the hiring process requires precision, coordination, consistency, and a good amount of intuition. Here, we'll outline a 6-step guide to help restaurant owners more effectively recruit and retain talent.

Step 1: Identify your needs

Know what roles you need to fill and the skills and experience necessary for each. Consider both hard skills, such as culinary expertise for a chef, and soft skills, like a waiter’s ability to manage a busy floor while remaining gracious and attentive. If you’re up north like us, take note of when seasonality will affect your business. For example, prepare to hire a lot more part-time individuals in the summer months with Patio season, and look for cooks with banquet experience come Winter for those holiday parties.

Step 2: Craft compelling job descriptions

Your job description is a candidate's first impression of your establishment. It should accurately portray the job’s responsibilities and required skills while showcasing your restaurant’s culture and values. Make it engaging and authentic to attract the right candidates.

Step 3: Use your network

The hospitality industry thrives on relationships. Reach out to your professional network for potential hires. Engage with culinary schools, attend industry events, and connect with people who can recommend or refer potential candidates. Referrals should be a strong part of your recruitment strategy, according to Zippa, 45% of hired candidates come from referrals.

Thinking outside the box.

  • Asking your competition next door if they have anyone they could send your way may seem odd, but chances are they might have someone who could use the extra hours.

  • Offer a referral bonus program to encourage future recommendations and thank your network for doing the leg work in recruiting for you

Step 4: Leverage technology

The use of technology, like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), can streamline the hiring process. Services like Clock'd provide a platform to connect employers with potential employees, while the in-house ATS, SEEN, organizes and tracks your applicants, easing the hiring burden.

Step 5: Conduct structured interviews

When interviewing, it’s essential to have a standardized set of questions that reflect the position's skills and attitude. This not only helps maintain consistency but also reduces bias. Be sure to also include behavioral questions to assess how candidates handle specific scenarios. During this time with the candidate make sure they have some one on one time with the managers they will be working with. You need to train and trust your managers to have input on these hiring decisions.

Efficiency and effectiveness are key. Second interviews are rare in our industry (except for manager roles) so if you’re lucky enough to have one hour with a skilled candidate make sure you are effective with your time.

Step 6: Follow up and onboard effectively

If the interview goes well and you're wanting to move forward, then the most important thing to do is reference check! With Clock’d all of our clients’ manager placements are vetted, and reference checking is just one of many best practices we use and encourage our clients to use as well. A 5-minute call with a fellow restaurant owner can be all you need to inform your next decision. If you have any questions about what you can or should ask in a reference check please reach out to us!

Finally, when you are ready to hire, simplified onboarding can reduce turnover and increase job satisfaction. Once you’ve made a hire, set them up for success with comprehensive training and a clear understanding of their role.


In the tumultuous world of hospitality hiring, it's about finding and keeping the right talent. Keep in mind, a fantastic team isn't just about skills; it's about a shared passion for the industry and a dedication to creating memorable experiences for your customers. Navigating the hiring process might seem daunting, but with these steps, you're well on your way to building a team that can weather any dinner rush, handle any food critic, and will pour their heart and soul into every dish they serve. Now, let's get cooking.


Marc LaPierre is a 10-year veteran of the food and hospitality industry, Certified Staffing Professional, and CEO/Founder of Clock’d + SEEN. From cooking in James Beard award-winning kitchens to opening and managing a nightclub in Mexico, he worked every job in the industry. Today he connects professionals looking to advance their careers with clients eager to find an all-star team.


bottom of page