restaurant server walking by tables

What to Look for When Hiring a Host or Hostess

The restaurant world is already a high-turnover industry, but hosts and hostesses are among the workers who can come and go more quickly than others. They tend to be paid less and enjoy fewer tips, and their skill set isn’t as training-intensive as that of a server or cook. They may also be given schedules that change more frequently.

But hosts and hostesses are an important part of any restaurant or café. They set the tone when customers walk in and manage the flow of clients so that servers and kitchen staff have a smooth amount of work. A million little fires are put out by hosts and hostesses, but at a good establishment, you’d never notice.

How do you know when you’ve found the right applicant for host or hostess?


It’s as simple as having a warm smile. Hosts or hostesses don’t need to be chatty or funny or fake, they just need to convey a genuine warmth when customers walk in the door. Clients should be paid attention immediately when they enter, and a host is that client’s first impression — and last impression, when they say goodbye. Regulars are more likely to become regulars if the first person they see at a restaurant appears happy that they arrived, every time.

Good at fielding questions

When customers enter a restaurant, they need information. How long is the wait? What are your gluten-free items? How much does the parking cost around the corner? How far is it from here to the museum? Can I bring in three strollers? Is your special pasta from three weeks ago still available?

Some people treat the host stand as an all-in-one information center — for better or worse. A good host or hostess knows the answers, is quick to find them, or is able to say whether they don’t have the information (like how late the bar in the hotel two blocks away stays open). A candidate who is confident and conveys intelligence is a good choice.

A duck paddling underwater

When a host or hostess walks through the dining room, they’re not just looking around. Often they’re counting which tables have been served the main course, which ones are on dessert, which have paid the bill, and which are empty. In the midst of that, they may be yelled at by a frustrated customer, or may help clear debris if something breaks on the floor.

Like ducks paddling underwater, hosts and hostesses should have the ability to appear calm above the surface, even if they’re working furiously to handle problems out of sight. They’re also important liaisons between servers, managers and kitchen staff, since they’re able to move about the restaurant and share information. Those who can compartmentalize stress — and approach the chaos of a restaurant with a bit of humor — could make great hosts and hostesses.

Whether you have a restaurant, retail shop or other business, Sling can help you schedule employees, improve internal communication, and issue company-wide announcements in a well-designed all-in-one platform.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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