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How to Write a Host/Hostess Job Description (Duties, Responsibilities)
As the first person a guest sees when they walk through a restaurant’s doors, a host or hostess is the public face of a restaurant. The primary duties of a host job description are managing reservations, greeting guests, and escorting them to tables. However, their responsibilities go far beyond that. Hosts make important decisions that set the tone for the guest's entire dining experience. They’re the ones whisking you to that coveted booth or telling you to wait. They determine whether a restaurant can accommodate walk-ins and large groups. At fine dining restaurants, hosts can hold a position of power as the arbiter of who gets the most desirable seats. And they play an essential part in health and safety, ensuring that customers comply with any masking and vaccination policies upon entering.
Though the position is typically entry-level, there are many tricky aspects to being a good host. Candidates should possess strong interpersonal skills and have a warm, friendly disposition. The best hosts can deliver bad news (a 30-minute wait, for example) with a smile and enforce restaurant policies without ruffling feathers. The position also requires excellent time management, communication, and organizational skills.
List of Duties for the Job
There’s truth in the saying: You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The job’s perch at the front of the restaurant gives the host/hostess position extra importance. A friendly and professional greeting as you walk in sets the tone for the entire dining experience. The ideal candidate will have outstanding customer service skills and maintain a positive demeanor under pressure. The hostess works closely with everyone in the restaurant and therefore should be an overall team player.
Take and Manage Reservations
A lot is going on behind that little podium. On any given day, hosts juggle a matrix of reservations, walk-ins, special requests, and the occasional blowback from cranky customers. But first and foremost, hosts must constantly monitor the wait list and provide accurate wait times to guests. To do this, they must communicate with servers to gauge when tables turn over. When the restaurant is booked solid on busy days, the hosts often work with managers to create a floor plan and seating arrangements. All the while, they’re fielding phone calls and giving bags of to-go orders to waiting customers.
Seat guests and provide menus
There’s much more to hostessing than escorting guests to tables and distributing menus. Hostesses map out seating arrangements so that all the servers get their fair share of customers. During the busiest hours, this means not overworking one waiter. On the flip side, when it’s slow, the hostess must spread the customers across different sections, so every server has tables. Even on top of this, hostesses must remember returning guest preferences. The best hostesses understand the flow of traffic and make guests feel welcomed and cared for during all interactions.
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Host/Hostess Job Description Sample
To make it easier to create a Host/Hostess job description, here’s a sample you can use.
Job Title: Host/Hostess
Tip Income: No
Schedule: Full-time (40 hours per week). Tuesday–Saturday
Role: We seek a Host or Hostess to join our restaurant team as guests' first point of contact. The job responsibilities include greeting guests, providing clear and accurate wait times, and guiding customers to their tables. A passion for customer service and strong communication and organizational skills are required. You are the first impression of our restaurant that will help provide a pleasant and smooth dining experience for our guests.
Greet all guests and treat them with excellent hospitality
Willingness to learn computerized reservation and table management system
Initiate and maintain wait lists
Coordinate with waitstaff about available seating
Guide customers to tables and provide menus
Cater to guests who require special attention (e.g., the elderly or children)
Answer incoming calls and address customer questions
Distribute to-go orders
Additional requirements: Able to walk or stand for long periods.
Tips for Writing Effective Job Descriptions
Talk to the employees who do the job, finding out what has changed over the past year and how the job description aligns with their day-to-day role.
Be sure to write in a voice consistent with your restaurant’s personality or culture. If the restaurant is casual and fun, and the job description is overly formal, you might attract the wrong candidates or lose people.
Explain how the role will contribute to the restaurant’s success and any opportunities for advancement.
Under that calm and cool demeanor, the hostess controls the flow of the restaurant and knows what is going on at all times. For great hostesses, it’s not just “hello” and “goodbye.” There is a genuine desire to accommodate guests and provide hospitality throughout the entire meal.
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