My Recent Interview Experience As a Waiter

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As a comedian, as a host, as a writer, who has worked in many random entertainment jobs, it’s inevitable that at some point I’d be asking “Do you want soup or salad with that?”.

It’s not easy. You go from being hailed on stage, to walking into work the next day only to be ripped apart by the Chef because you forgot there are lentils in the Salmon dish.

It should be simple at a restaurant job: Be in a good mood to your guests, and get each person their food and drink as quick as possible, while being somewhat knowledgeable about the food. That’s it. It shouldn’t go further than that. No one has ever written a Yelp review on how their waiter didn’t bring their cocktail on a tray or how their sleeves were rolled up (this is mandated at many restaurants).

Guests only care about what they want, wanting it now, and enjoying it. That’s it.

I’m currently in the middle of getting a job at a fairly high profile restaurant. When it comes to being interviewed, I’m an expert. I smile, I show enthusiasm, and always make sure to say straight out “I’m awesome at what I do”, I actually say this. They eat it up.

Restaurant interviews should be simple -fine dining or not…overall it’s the same: People ask for things, you bring it with some enthusiasm and give a suggestion here and there. No one goes to a restaurant for the service. PERIOD.

I’m in no way saying waiting tables is easy. I’ve had News jobs that were easier than trying to make the public happy.  The public is NOT easy to please. The kind of public that is shocked that you can’t make something that’s not on the menu.  Our Chef is not Mary Poppins and doesn’t have a magic bag back there. This is why we have a MENU. You can look at it before you arrive.

Again, I’m a professional at these interviews: Just sound passionate, be able to name three red wines and three white wines (if you can’t do that you shouldn’t even be there), say how much you LOVE making people happy and you won’t let them leave until you do so. I have my script and it works well.

Anywho, just today, after not the first interview, not the second interview but after my THIRD interview I now have a FOURTH interview with the Director of Operations: A person who will probably forget my name the second time he sees me.

I’m a great proponent of gut impressions. If you’ve read the book, “Blink”, you’ll agree. It talks about how on a date or an interview, you should know instantly if you like the person. Without the person even talking,  without even looking at the resume you should know. Reading a piece of paper will never give you that gut reaction. A good interviewer should be able to weed people out just by a handshake.

This doesn’t mean these people will for SURE work out, but having three more interviews won’t tell you that either. Top priority in any restaurant…in any customer service should be a great attitude. Well trained managers should be able to spot that in an instant. Countless interviews will tell you no more. With a great attitude, knowledge can be learned and skills can be honed. If the person doesn’t have a great attitude, they won’t WANT to do a good job.

You want the person who WANTS to do a good job.

Countless interviews will not tell you: if the person will be constantly late, if they’ll call in sick a lot, if they’ll screw up orders or even if they’ll drink on the job. Probably the four main reasons people get fired at a restaurant.

SO here I am…two weeks later. Going onto my fourth interview. Only to be asked the same questions. Only to provide the same over-the-top answers. Only to smile even more. My on-camera hosting job didn’t have this many interviews.

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