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Waitress Job Description

Waitress Job Description

So, you’re thinking about becoming a waitress?  You’re probably wondering if waitressing is the right fit for you?  Is there money to be made?  What are the job duties involved?  How long are the shifts? What do you need to know?

Knowing what to expect is important in deciding if the restaurant industry is right for you.  There is certainly a personality that excels in waitressing and a personality that will despise it.  Which one are you?

Who Loves Waitressing?

I am sure you’ve been out to eat and had experiences at both end of the spectrum.  Excellent service from a cheerful server and horrible service from a rude server.  Which one would you be?

Excellent and cheerful servers tend to

  • Enjoy talking to people
  • Have a naturally “fun” and outgoing personality
  • Love change
  • Are great at explaining things
  • Do not take people yelling at them personally
  • Are comfortable moving fast
  • Have a lot of patience
  • Take the time to learn how to multitask
  • Always learn more–about drinks, food, wine, beer, etc.
  • Are always willing to help other servers on their team
  • Are willing to accept help from other servers without thinking that they are weak for needing it

These are natural personality traits of some of the best servers that I have ever worked with–and I have worked with the best–but, this isn’t a hard and fast list.

Use the server reference sheets to study & carry with you during your shift. They contain over 200 things that you should know as a server.

What will You have to do?  What are your duties?

  • Have a clean, pressed uniform
  • Greet guests, take drink order, know the drinks that are on the menu
  • Relay any specials using your memory. (Memory is a muscle, you will strengthen it if you use it.)
  • Put the order in the computer system correctly
  • Use your knowledge about wine, beer, spirits, food, allergies and cocktails
  • Practice table maintenance
  • Open wine for guests
  • Be prepared to answer questions of the menu, food in general, wine, beer, cocktails, etc.
  • Clean tables before service-polish glasses, silverware, clean chairs
  • Attend a pre-shift quick meeting to go over specials, out of stock items, and reservation notes
  • Run food to tables, know position numbers of table and food–never auction food


 What will you have to know?

 A lot.

The good news is that you will be trained, but the best servers take it upon themselves to learn even more.  Because they know that their amount of knowledge reflects on how much money they can make, every shift. And let’s be honest, your training is pretty stinkin’ lame.

You should know about:

  1. Service etiquette
  2. Food
  3. Wine
  4. Alcohol (it’s 10% to 30% of your sales, yo)
  5. Verbiage

Who will You work with?

home2The personalities of people in the restaurant industry are generally pretty strong.  A lot of A-type people.  Fast moving, strong personalities who all have an idea of how things should be done correctly.


Fellow Waiters & Waitresses

You will work with friendly and composed individuals; ones that always have control over even the busiest of sections.  Some waitresses (and waiters) will be there to help you, teach you, quiz you, show you better ways of doing things, water your table, and do other nice and helpful things. Others will be rude.  Some will have a hard time being composed. Some complain all the time. Some are always behind because they don’t know how to multi-task. These types won’t help you or give you guidance…but these are the types who you won’t want guidance from.


  Some chefs will have patience in explaining food when you or a guest have a specific  question about it.  Some chefs will be friendly to you and have a genuine desire to know how your shift is going.  Some chefs will sneak delicious food to you in the middle of a shift. Other chefs will be rude to you, swear at you, tell you that you make too much money. Some chefs throw towels in peoples faces, will scream, will whine and demand respect. Some chefs will watch you pick up a scorching hot plate and laugh when you burn yourself, when they should have warned you.

Why would you want to work as a waitress?

    • You will laugh, a lot, and hard, with your co-workers
    • You will make friends with all different types of people
    • You will try excellent food, often
    • You will try excellent wine, often
    • You will learn a ton about people
    • It builds confidence
    • You can sleep in
    • You burn a lot of calories
    • Cash in hand, every night
    • You will build an arsenal of excellent stories from your time as a waitress (trust me)


Lunch ($40-$100, depending on many variables)

  • The usual in time for a lunch shift  is between 10:00 – 10:30
  • You may work until 1:00 (if it’s slow or you are the opener) or 4 (if you are the closer or if it is busy)

Dinner ($80-$400, depending on many variables)

  • The usual in time for a dinner shift is between 3:00 – 4:30
  • You may work until 6:00 (if it’s slow or you are an opener) or 12:00 am (if you are a closer or if it is busy)


 You will make $24.00 to $500.00 per shift…it depends on some factors.  You should count on making $100.00 per shift, give or take $20.00.

There are certain traits of restaurants that influence your income.

Less Money


  • Tend to have a lot of servers on the floor
  • Over staffing happens when management does not know how to train servers appropriately
  • Over staffing means that there is not a lot of trust in the service teams ability
  • It is NOT team service or tip pooling
  • A server usually gets no more than three tables in their section
  • The food and drink is on the less expensive end of the spectrum
  • The service team does not help each other (that requires more servers to work)
Restaurants like this are a great place to waitress for the first time. You will learn flow, lingo, and customer expectations.

More Money

  • More knowledge is expected (food terms, wine, pairings, beer, cocktails)
  • You will be required to take care of more tables (more than 3, less than 8)
  • Either the volume is very high or
  • The food and drink is expensive
  • Part time employment is usually not permitted
  • The best restaurants in the country, where the servers make +50k per year, are team service and tip pooling

To work at a higher caliber restaurant you should: get experience, learn about food, wine, beer and spirits, teach yourself how to multitask, slowly work at better and better restaurants.




How You can find a waitress job

There are some great resources for finding a waitress job.  Take a look here…

Opentable is my favorite because you can search restaurants based on what kind of restaurant you want to work at. Do you want to sling burgers, cocktail until late, work at a pub, a lounge, a wine bar, the most expensive restaurant, a restaurant that closes early, an Italian restaurant, etc.

 When you decide that waiting tables is right for you, look at the server resume templates and get the restaurant job you want.

Check out these articles for further help

Bartender Job Description.  20 Bartenders tell you what it’s really like.

Create A Great Server Resume.  Resume templates and ideas.

20 High Impact Interview Questions. What to expect at a restaurant interview.

How To Open A Bottle Of Wine.  According to the Court of Master Sommeliers (the big guns).

or go Here to peruse more helpful articles:

Questions?  Leave a comment or contact me directly.

Jennifer, iamWaitress on Google+!

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