What Skills Do Waiting Staff Need?

Listed Under: Blog

Whether at cafes, pubs, restaurants or events, waiting staff are arguably the most essential part of the hospitality industry. It’s a rewarding job, as you get to work with lots of people, both other staff and customers, but it’s not for everyone though. Long hours on your feet, juggling several responsibilities at once and managing potentially challenging situations can all be a key part of the role.

However, if you’re a ‘people person’, waiting can be a great job, whether as a temporary position or as a full-time profession. It’s timely too - in the wake of Brexit, there’s potentially going to be an increased demand for high quality waiting and hospitality staff, as applications from EU citizens have dropped significantly.

We’ve taken a look at what skills go into making great waiting staff, and how you can develop these!

What Do Waiting Staff Do?

Waiting staff have quite a variety of responsibilities, including greeting customers, serving food and drinks, taking payments and cleaning up after customers. As well as being varied, the work is fast-paced, and it can be physically tiring.

The role is often popular with young people, as flexible shifts tend to be available, and working at night can be handy for those who might be studying in the day. Bear in mind that you’ll probably be required to work evenings, weekend and public holidays.

Do Waiting Staff Need Qualifications?

No specific qualifications are required to become a waiter or waitress. However, being proficient in English (you’ll be talking to people a lot) and having a decent numeracy skills will be expected.

It’s possible to carry out an apprenticeship in the hospitality industry, or get a level 1 or 2 diploma in hospitality.

What Skills Do Waiting Staff Need?  

Customer Service Skills

It’d put you ahead of the competition if you’ve worked in a customer-facing job before and can show that you were successful in this role.

Communication Skills

Unsurprisingly, great communication skills are a must for any waiting role. You’ll be speaking with a whole range of different customers every day, dealing with their various requests, and potentially managing difficult people. As well as that, you’ll need the ability to communicate well with the rest of the waiting and kitchen team!


As a member of a venue’s waiting staff, you’ll be working closely with the other waiters, as well as the staff in the kitchen.

Organisational Skills

Not only will you have to remember to keep track of all your assigned tables and their orders, you may also have to remember things like specials and dietary information. It certainly takes a good level of organisation not to get flustered by all the competing demands of the customers and the kitchen! If you can keep a level head and remain organised in fast-paced situations, waiting may be a great job choice for you. 

What’s Career Progression Like For Waiting Staff?

Waiting is often an entry level job, but for those who love their work in the hospitality industry, there’s opportunity to rise up in the waiting ranks, such as becoming in charge of the waiting shift as Head Waiter/Waitress, and maybe even working your way up to restaurant manager.

Additionally, you may choose to work in a more formal setting, in which case you’d receive special silver service training. Or, you may decide to focus on wine, and go down the route of sommelier training!

Even if you don’t choose to stay in the hospitality industry, being a member of waiting staff highlights to future employers across all fields that you’ve been able to apply the above skills in a fast-paced environment, which is nothing to be sniffed at!

Get in touch with us today if you’re interested in a temporary waiting staff position!