How to Get a Job as a Waiter

Couple dining, paying server with digital tablet credit card swiper at restaurant table
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Interested in a job as a waiter? Working as a waiter or waitress can be a part-time job or a way to start a career in the food industry. Here's information on job requirements, finding job listings, applying, and acing an interview for a restaurant position.

Waiters and waitresses at food establishments carry out a function that is very familiar to most of us. Servers help patrons to understand menu choices and make recommendations about selections based on the preferences of their patrons.

A good waitress will positively engage patrons and set a pleasant tone for their meal. Servers should inspect the food presented by cooks prior to delivering it to the table to make sure that the order is complete and cooked to specifications.

Waiters check with customers regarding their satisfaction with their meal and advocate on their behalf if there are any complaints. They receive and process payments for meals.

Servers work for the food service component of a variety of establishments including hotels, resorts, bars, and restaurants. Many servers work part-time on evenings and weekends to supplement their income from other jobs.


Good waiters enjoy serving others and are comfortable interacting with a broad range of individuals. You will find having a pleasant disposition with a ready smile will help you establish a positive connection with customers.

It is important to know how to communicate. From the minute you walk up to the table, your communication skills can make or break your ability to be a good server.

Once in a while, you will get a customer who is critical or demanding. Even in difficult situations, waiters should be patient and have the ability to tolerate challenging people. You will have to be able to listen to complaints without reacting negatively or defensively.

You must be able to multi-task. There will be times you will be expected to keep track of many customers simultaneously and to have good memory recall of menu choices and customer orders.

Are you able to present a clean-cut image? Not only will it help during your interview, but the way you look can also bolster customer confidence about the quality of the restaurant and the safety of the food being served.

How to Find a Job

Many restaurant jobs are filled informally through personal referrals. Start looking for a job by asking people you know if they are aware of any job openings. Your best chance of getting introduced to restaurant managers and owners will be through members of your family and friends network. Reach out to everyone you know and ask if they know anyone in the restaurant business.

Ask any friends who are already working in restaurants if there are any open positions where they work. Have a copy of your resume handy.

If you do find someone with a job lead, you can pass your resume on to them so it will get to the right person quickly. If you do not know anyone looking to fill a restaurant position, there are other ways to find an opening.

Visit restaurants in your target location and ask to speak with the manager. Stop by during lull times in the restaurant's activity when managers might be more available to meet you. Bring a copy of your resume to offer to the manager and be prepared to fill out a job application.

Remember to interact with these managers as you would a customer. Show off your warm smile and bubbly personality. It is a good idea to review the menu in advance and note experiences you have had with that type of food or clientele.

Search job sites like and using keywords like food server, waiter, and restaurant to generate job listings. If you're interested in working for a restaurant chain, check the website to see if they accept online applications.

Keep in mind that waiters often start their careers as bussers or hosts and then move up in the same restaurant or the restaurant hierarchy from casual chain restaurants to more upscale establishments. Consider accepting a job that may not be what you are looking for to start. It could be a way to get started on a restaurant career.

How to Interview

Restaurants are concerned about the image they project to the public. Make sure that your appearance is appropriate for the position you are interviewing for.

What to Wear

Choose clothing that would be considered business casual. It should be on the dressy side yet not overly formal unless it is a very high-class establishment. If you can visit the restaurant ahead of time, check out how the waiters are dressed and wear an interview outfit that is comparable.

Personality is everything for servers, so the interview is the time to exude positive energy. Greet your interviewer with a warm smile and a firm handshake. Listen carefully and articulate clearly. Interviews for server jobs are often more about how you interact and communicate than what you say to show your expertise. Be ready to share examples that highlight your ability to be reliable, outgoing, and well-organized.

Start by showing your reliability, arriving about 10 minutes early. You may want to do a test drive to the restaurant beforehand to make sure you are familiar with where it is. Don’t forget your resume and a list of references. Even if the interviewer does not request them, offer them, and encourage him to contact your past employers.


Review some of the interview questions you'll be asked for a waitstaff job.

  • What jobs have you worked that required you to be in a fast-paced and crowded environment? How did you maintain quality standards in this environment?
  • What do you consider to be good customer service?
  • Describe a time when you had to deal with a particularly difficult customer/table. How did you handle the situation? Is there anything you would have done differently?
  • Have you ever taken charge in a restaurant in an emergency?
  • How do you handle fast-paced work environments?
  • How do you entertain customers as a waiter?
  • What is the most difficult part of being a waiter?
  • Imagine a customer asks for an item on the menu that is not available at the time. How do you convince him to select something else?
  • What would you do if a customer sent his meal back?
  • If a customer asks for a suggestion, what would you say?
  • What is your favorite item on our menu?

Say Thank You

After your interview, compose a handwritten thank-you card expressing your keen interest in the job. Briefly mention why it is a good fit and express your thanks for your interview. It is best to hand-deliver it to the restaurant as soon as possible after your interview.