How Do I Become a Restaurant Hostess?

Lainie Petersen

The qualifications to become a restaurant hostess vary by employer, as the duties of hosts and hostesses can vary significantly. Typically, though, you’ll need to have an outgoing personality, professional appearance, and the ability to quickly and efficiently seat patrons in the dining room. You may also be expected to operate a cash register, handle customer complaints and concerns, and in some situations fill in for servers during busy periods. High-end restaurants may require you to have a significant amount of experience in the food service industry before you can be hired, though you may become a restaurant hostess in more modest establishments even if you have only minimal job experience.

A hostess may introduce a restaurant's wine list to patrons.
A hostess may introduce a restaurant's wine list to patrons.

Like many food service jobs, your experience in the industry or in a related field is often more important than your educational credentials. You may even be able to become a restaurant hostess part-time while you are in high school. If you have never worked in a restaurant before, you may need to begin your search for a job at downscale family restaurants and diners. In some cases, you may be more likely to find hostess work without restaurant experience if you have held other jobs in the past, particularly in the area of customer service. If the job requires you to manage the restaurant’s reservation system, experience with computers or an employment history that includes administrative work may be helpful.

A hostess should be able to make customers feel comfortable upon arrival.
A hostess should be able to make customers feel comfortable upon arrival.

Many restaurants place a significant priority on the ability of their servers and hosts to make guests feel comfortable. This means that you should be well groomed and dressed appropriately for the type of establishment in which you want to become a restaurant hostess. You should also be able to work well under pressure, handle customer complaints with grace, and cope with the unexpected, such as people arriving late for reservations or having to find seating for large groups of people.

The head hostess at a formal restaurant typically has years of experience working at fine dining establishments.
The head hostess at a formal restaurant typically has years of experience working at fine dining establishments.

Begin your search for a restaurant hostess job by visiting local restaurants and asking if they are accepting job applications. You can also search online or the want ads in local newspapers. As with any job, particularly one that involves working with the public, you should dress well for interviews and demonstrate enthusiasm for working with the public as well as with your restaurant colleagues. Over time, you may be able to advance to a management position within your restaurant or the larger company.

At a small restaurant or cafe, the hostess may also operate the cash register and serve food and drinks.
At a small restaurant or cafe, the hostess may also operate the cash register and serve food and drinks.

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