How to Be a Server With No Experience

Written by Kadence Edmonds

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Serving and waiting on tables can be a lucrative role, especially for those just starting out in the workforce. It can be even more fulfilling when you are interested in learning and progressing further in the foodservice industry.  

But there is no denying that working in the hospitality industry and waiting tables is a tough gig - especially if you are entering this line of work for the first time, which can be an added challenge. Experience is usually preferred in a lot of roles, particularly those in service, so how is it possible to become a server with no experience?

Fortunately, in preparation for making this step, there are a few server tips and tricks you can learn to get ahead of the game. 

Tips for first-time waiters and servers

Smile and be friendly

A crucial aspect of the hospitality industry is making guests feel welcome. Any interactions with staff that are anything less than pleasant will likely be remembered by guests long after their visit.

This is why it is so important to smile and remain friendly. As a server, you want your guests to feel warm and welcome, and a smile is the easiest way to achieve this. It’s important to remember that your attitude will set the tone for the meal.  

Know what’s expected of you

Regardless of the restaurant style - whether it’s fast food or fine dining - as a server you a key actor in the overall experience. To guarantee that you create an experience that matches your customers’ expectations, it’s important to know exactly what your guests are looking for when they come to dine.  

At a fast-casual restaurant, diners may only be expecting servers to take their orders promptly and assist them with a warm smile. While at a fine dining restaurant, expectations will be considerably higher, and guests will require constant monitoring to ensure glasses remain full, and courses aren’t skipped.  

Being assertive and attentive is the key to achieving this. Be assertive and notice when a customer may have an issue, and ask them if you can help by checking in, refilling water, or taking additional orders when needed.  

Anticipating needs 

Another beneficial skill when it comes to serving tables is to always think one step ahead. If your customer orders a steak dish, promptly reset their cutlery to include a steak knife. Or, if your guests are dining with children or a baby, preempt the mess and supply additional napkins when they are seated.  

Put yourself in the diner’s shoes, and think about what you would need in the same situation.  As time goes by, these actions will become second nature, and are key to providing next-level service for guests.  

Showcase your previous experience

If you have previous work experience, it’s crucial to talk about these roles during your interview. It’s likely that the skills learned in previous workplaces can be transferred to this new role. Any kind of experience working in a customer service job, like a receptionist or shop assistant, can link to working as a waitress or waiter.  

If you don't have any previous work experience, then simply talk about why you’re interested in the role, and make mention of hobbies and interests that may be relevant to the role.  

Do your research on the venue 

One method for standing out during a job interview is doing your research.  

Since you will be applying for a job with no experience, you need to prove to the employer that you understand the expectations and the responsibilities of the role. Read blog articles on the subject and re-read the job ad so there aren’t any misconceptions about the position. Check their social media so you know the style of the venue and get a feel for the menu.  Next up, visit the venue and dine in observing how the staff interact with customers.  

Practice at home

There are many things that waiters and waitresses are expected to do. Quickly clear tables, reset tables, collect plates, take orders, serve food, serve drinks, and carry at least 2-3 plates at a time. Practicing at home will give you some insight into how these tasks are performed.  

While most restaurants will give you training on these duties, it looks good to have a handle on some aspects by training at home.  

Be professional 

When you attend your interview it is important to dress professionally. In a customer service role, it is extremely important that you dress appropriately. Not only will this demonstrate to your potential employer that you understand the job role, but that you can also follow a dress code.  

While experience may be preferred for server roles, there is no harm in applying for the job and showing up to an interview with confidence. Preparation is key, so knowing what you are in for will help you impress the interviewer.  

A tough part of the hospitality industry on top of learning all these new skills is navigating the point of sale system.  Some hospitality POS systems can be quite tricky to get the hang of, and when that’s coupled with learning everything else about daily operations it can be a bit much.  

Epos Now is an intuitive cloud-based Point of sale system that is easy to use and learn.  With the Epos Now hospitality POS system, you can:

  • Staff can be trained in as little as 15 minutes.
  • Connect with hundreds of business tools to help boost your online ordering, marketing, customer loyalty, and accounting
  • Accept all kinds of payment types like credit, debit, gift cards, and contactless payments
  • Manage your business from anywhere on any device with 24/7 cloud access

Contact a consultant to learn more about Epos Now!

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