So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Be careful during the initial interview

My buddy Steve, from the informative blog, “Waiter Extraordinaire”, wrote the following post:

A very good point, Steve.

And that got me thinking of things that you should either take with a massive grain of salt when interviewing for a new restaurant:

When the interviewer says the following, you should either disregard, or be very cynical about it:

“I don’t schedule according to tenure. I only schedule according to performance”.

Yeah, right. What are you – borg? To be fair, some managers actually believe this. And a smaller percentage of those might actually put this into practice.

“Our PPA is $75 per person”.

It might very well be. But, unless they are willing to show you monthly sales reports, take this with a grain of salt.

“We don’t want salespeople, we want people people”.

If you fall for this, shame on you. They all want salespeople. Unless they have a strict prix fixe menu. And, even then, they’d still like you to sell wine and alcohol.

“I can accomodate your school schedule/other work schedule/certain days off that you need/weekends off/lunches off/religious holidays off/etc. off.

Seasoned waiters take this with a grain of salt. Non-seasoned waiters fall for it every time. I don’t care if you are the lead singer of Styx and you need your summers off so that you can go on the “Grand Illusion Reunion Tour” – you have to always watch your schedule because someone (GM/AGM/schedule flunkie) is going to forget when Fleetwood Mac comes to town and your GM needs an extra body and forgets his promise from 4 years ago (speaking from personal experience here, although I’m certainly not the lead singer of Styx).

“We don’t do Sunday brunch”.

Maybe not now.

“We don’t play favorites here”.

A variation of statement #1. Unless your interviewer has glowing eyes and is issuing little wisps of steam from around his artificial gills, beware. As Depeche Mode once sagely said, “People are people”.

The main thing that you should do when going into an interview is to have done your homework first. If you are trying to get a job at Chili’s or Applebee’s, the only thing you need to know is “Am I willing to be more aggressive that anyone else? – Because I’m willing to stay late and pick up the tables that no one else is willing to” or “I hope I can slide out early because I want to go get fucked up with my friends”. Or, in the case of a restaurant that has a serious rep – see if your initial impression of the joint matches what you’ve been told. Are the carpets a bit ragged? Does everything shine? How are the bathrooms? Does the manager have the bearing that you expected? Is she just a little too glib? Is he just a little too green? Is she a little too jaded/faded/distracted?

If you are pretty green, unfortunately, you’ll have to take some things on faith. If  you’ve been around the block a little, trust your instincts.

You won’t be sorry.

2 responses to “Be careful during the initial interview

  1. waiterextraordinaire October 3, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    A lot of times during the interview you know if it is going to be a good spot without asking a bunch of questions. My point is if you are good , whatever the interviewer says the cheque average is or how many you get in your section a night you can expect to surpass that once that manager sees what you can do. I was thinking minimums and as well the interviewer will know he is hiring no dummy. You will give the impression as well you need to make money. You are not there for the beer. Chances are he or she will already be comtemplating getting rid of lazybones and giving you his or her spot. I hope I am clear on that.

  2. PurpleGirl October 3, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    “What are you, Borg?” LOL 🙂

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