How to hire the right hospitality staff


Hospitality is fuelled by the people who work in it, so it is essential that operators hire the right hospitality staff for their businesses to ensure they run effectively and ultimately are successful.

Yet, for many reasons, recruiting and retaining the right talent is one of the most challenging aspects of running a restaurant.

Recruitment issues in the hospitality industry may not have been as high on the list of concerns for operators since the arrival of COVID-19 and the subsequent rules to stop its spread. The closure of sites and loss of jobs has led to the job market being more saturated than usual.

However, this won’t last forever, and during the recovery period and beyond, it will be more important than ever to hire restaurant employees who will help make your business a success. Here’s our checklist for hiring the right hospitality staff.


1. Hire on personality

Hospitality is as much about customer experience as serving quality food and drink so when hiring staff – particularly for front-of-house roles – focus on their personalities and qualities as much as their experience and skills.

Within hospitality, the behaviours your people display are the most important parts of your brand, so you need people who can positively represent it. Hire and interview for specific behaviours like problem solving, teamwork, friendliness and empathy first and foremost, and then input strong learning and development programs to upskill if necessary.


2. Work on your appeal

Attracting employees - particularly those classed as Millennials and Generation Z - into the hospitality industry has been a big challenge for employers over the years. Many have (unfairly) perceived the industry to be one associated with long hours and low pay making it harder to promote hospitality as a career of choice. Those working in and running hospitality businesses know this isn’t true - hospitality can be highly rewarding - but work will need to be done to convince them otherwise.

To present your business as an attractive option to candidates, therefore, you’ll need to highlight this and work extra hard on your appeal – demonstrating that your organisation is a forward-thinking company that offers a great working environment, as well as the right pay and benefits.


3. Be flexible

The fact that hospitality requires most of its workforce to sacrifice personal social lives to work long nights, or other unsociable hours, can make it less appealing to potential candidates. However, this can also be an attraction for some, especially if employers are flexible with their shifts and hours. A growing number of employees are looking for better work/life balance, so if you’re hiring for a new restaurant and have identified talented future employees, build some flexibility into your restaurant recruitment plan and consider tailoring shifts around them and their lives. Any employee has the legal right to be considered for flexible working, so ensure you genuinely consider any requests and make yourself the employer of choice. 


4. Offer a career path

While it’s true that many workers within hospitality are there for a specific period of time and usually enter it to leave, there are equally as many who are looking to forge long-term careers within the industry. To ensure you’re capturing the best talent, show your candidates the opportunity and growth positions that could arise if they stay with your business. Opportunity is a compelling method of attrition.


5. Check the legalities

Once you have selected your chosen employees, check that they are eligible to work in the UK and ask for references from previous employers. When you are certain of their credentials, issue a contract of employment to them. By issuing contracts of employment to all employees, whether they are full time, part-time or temporary, you’ll be ensuring that everyone knows where they stand. Employees will also expect fair and ethical treatment from employers, so act legally and fairly by meeting the National Minimum Wage and respecting hours. Having a fair, ethical working environment will leave your employees happy and engaged, and it will protect you against potentially time-consuming and costly legal proceedings.


6. Use technology

The recruitment process is time-consuming, so consider adopting hiring and hospitality management technology to help automate employee management. This includes sickness and absence software, expense management, payroll, screening and specific recruitment software.

Implementing the right hospitality recruitment and onboarding technology can help automate the entire recruitment workflow, manage and review candidates, as well as the ability to on-board new employees quickly and efficiently. In an industry that is time poor with candidates moving quickly from role to role it’s important that your technology is helping you run fast, keep up and give you much needed time back.


7. Offer training and development

As mentioned in point one, it is more important to hire on personality than skills. However, to retain promising staff within the industry, they will need to be supported with training and development.

One of the main questions on any young candidate’s lips at interview stage will be around training. Just like apprenticeships, training schemes to attract 18-24-year-olds need to have a focus on how this development will help the organisation to grow and move forward. This will couple their desire for personal growth and a sense of actively contributing to the success of the company.


8. Practice candidate experience

A good candidate experience isn’t reserved only for the hiring process, but in fact should continue long after an employee leaves your business. How you treat them afterwards is as important as how you treat them during their time with you, especially since there’s a strong likelihood you may work with them again.

Talent within hospitality act in a boomerang effect, scaling up and down according to their own event calendars as well as the cyclical yearly calendar. Maintaining constant communication and positive relationships allows you to continue a consistent conversation with talent giving you the ability to hire fast when you need to with leads that are already warm and, in some cases, past employees that can easily slip back into the business with little to no extra training.

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