A restaurant server is the first point of contact that a customer will have when they visit the restaurant, and they are the person responsible for ensuring that the diners have everything they need during their visit.
Restaurant servers need to be able to work well under pressure, giving great customer service when the restaurant is busy and there are a lot of things going on. The server will look after the diners throughout their meal, taking their orders, delivering their food, and ensuring that they are happy with their experience.
For a restaurant, hiring the right people to be restaurant servers means finding staff that is customer-focused and able to make decisions on the go. There are certain skills and abilities that a successful restaurant server should have, and these are the things that a recruiter should look out for.
This article will discuss the daily tasks of a restaurant server and look at the specific skills and abilities that are needed to complete this role. We will also look at the different pre-employment tests that could be used by the recruitment team to find the right candidates for an advertised restaurant server role.
What should a restaurant server be able to do?
As the first point of contact for a customer, the restaurant server is usually the person that receives bookings and reservations for diners. They need to be able to record these accurately, ensuring that the restaurant has the required space for everyone to eat.
As a guest arrives, the restaurant server will greet them and take them to their tables, providing them with menus and taking any initial drinks orders. If there are no tables available, or the guests are early, the restaurant server may show them to a waiting area or a lounge, providing information about when a suitable table will become available.
Once guests are seated, the restaurant server will describe any daily specials or features. They will take orders for meals and sides, offering extras where necessary and appropriate to ensure that the guests are well taken care of.
The restaurant server will liaise with the kitchen staff, giving any information about things like special dietary requirements or menu adaptations. Once the food is prepared, the server will take it to the table and present it to the diners.
After the meals are complete, the restaurant server will operate the cash registers to compute payment.
Alongside ensuring that the diners are happy, the restaurant server will also need to perform regular inspections of the dining area and the restrooms, keeping them clean.
In some cases, the restaurant server will take and prepare orders for takeaway, and they might be responsible for training and supervising other staff according to their seniority. The restaurant server will work with other members of staff to plan parties and special events.
They might also need to complete marketing activities like advertising on social networking sites.
Skills to look for in a restaurant server
A restaurant server needs several different skills to be successful, and the level of skills that an applicant has is not always obvious from reading a CV or an application form. Some of these skills include:
Active listening: to give great customer service, the restaurant server needs to be able to listen to what the customer wants. This skill of active listening is something that can make the difference between customer satisfaction and complaints.
Speaking: a restaurant server needs to give important information clearly to customers. They have to be able to speak to different people in different ways.
Service orientation: finding an applicant who has a natural skill in being service oriented is important; they will be able to provide excellent service because it is part of their normal behavior.
Social perceptiveness: by being socially aware, the restaurant server will be able to understand and predict the behavior of the diners, so that they can provide the necessary service.
Social media: a restaurant server might be required to post social media updates for the restaurant, including special offers, images of the menu items, and sharing reviews from satisfied customers.
Useful abilities for a restaurant server
There are certain abilities that are part of the knowledge and experience of a restaurant server, and these are also not easy to gauge during a typical recruitment process. Some of these abilities include:
Oral comprehension: to be able to give a customer the food and beverages that they want, in the right way, the restaurant server has to be able to understand what the diner says.
Oral expression: the restaurant server has to be able to talk about the menu and describe the food that is available. For the best results, the restaurant server needs to be able to express themselves accurately.
Near vision: the restaurant server needs to be able to see clearly up close to ensure that the food is presented in a proper way.
Problem sensitivity: A successful restaurant server is able to notice and even preempt problems that a customer might have, and in some cases, they will be able to solve the problems before they get worse.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a restaurant server?
Soft skills can make the difference between a successful restaurant server and a hiring mistake - and soft skills are very difficult to assess in a candidate without using tests. The below soft skills tests could be useful in finding the right person to take further in the recruitment process:
Teamwork: the successful operation of a restaurant business requires all members of staff to work in a team. The teamwork assessment allows the candidate to demonstrate how well they can work as a team.
Communication: being able to work with a number of different people to provide excellent customer service depends in large part on communication skills. This assessment demonstrates if candidates can solve problems using communication.
Time management: smooth operation of a busy service time in a restaurant comes from excellent time management. The prospective restaurant server needs to be able to demonstrate that they can work accurately on multiple things at the same time.
Leadership: while not all restaurant servers will need to supervise other employees as part of their role, leadership skills can help make for excellent customer service as the restaurant server will be able to deal with complaints through negotiation and compromise.
Interpersonal: interpersonal skills show how well a candidate can get on with other people in different social settings, and these skills are essential for developing positive relationships with colleagues, management and customers.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a restaurant server?
While some of these technical skills and competencies come from experience, the right candidate for a restaurant server has some inherent skills that can be tested through different aptitude tests. Some of these tests include:
Numerical reasoning: a restaurant server needs to have skills in using mathematics, to ensure that they can calculate the costs of the meals and give the right change. The numerical reasoning assessment shows that a candidate can use basic calculations in a work-related way.
Verbal reasoning: in the verbal reasoning assessment, the candidate can demonstrate that they are able to read and understand written information, analyze it quickly and get the right information.
Situational judgment: in the situational judgment assessment, the candidate is presented with different work-related scenarios and needs to use their best judgment to decide on the right course of action.
Error checking: a good eye for detail is needed by a restaurant server - checking to make sure that the food is presented properly and the records of what the customers have ordered are correct.
Logical reasoning: a restaurant server needs to be ready to solve problems for customers, and this needs calm and logical thinking. In the logical reasoning assessment, the candidate can demonstrate their ability to spot patterns and make reasoned decisions.
Our recommended test battery for a restaurant server
While all the above tests are great for hiring a restaurant server, it might be difficult to manage that volume of assessments for every single applicant - a big workload for the recruitment team, and an off-putting process for the candidates.
For a more streamlined approach, we have selected the following assessments as a good test battery for a restaurant server:
Teamwork: the teamwork assessment puts the candidate into work-related scenarios, where they need to find the best course of action from the provided options to solve the problem that is presented, using their teamwork skills.
Communication: in the communication assessment, the candidate has to find the right solution for different situations that might be found in the workplace, demonstrating how they prefer to communicate.
Error checking: in the error checking assessment, the candidate is presented with two seemingly identical pieces of information and they need to spot the differences. This might be in lists of addresses or a series of numbers.
For more information about the best way to hire a restaurant server, we have compiled a restaurant server job knowledge test page, which gives details about the specialist test that is designed to help recruiters find the right candidate for the job.