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TOPIC: What to wear to a server interview?

 
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January 9, 2013 10:57 AM
I'm wanting to pick up some extra hours of work, and am applying for a serving job at a restaurant. Never done this kind of work before, so: what to wear? It's a mid-level restaurant, I guess - casual urban dining (not a franchise, but not 'fine' - no specific cuisine).

Business casual? All black? Skirt or pants? Am female. It's cold. Thanks!
January 9, 2013 11:05 AM
I am a vocational counselor and I tell all of my clients to dress "business dress" (imagine you work in an attorney's office). Not only will your potential employer be impressed at how "together" you look, but you will naturally have more confidence if you dress well. Skirt is not necessary, a nice pants suit will do. Make sure your hands and nails are clean and trimmed too.
Also, be prepared with some detailed questions about the job. You are interviewing them, too, so finding out what a day in the life of a server at that restaurant looks like will help you decide whether or not you even want the job.

Once, in an interview I asked "So what about this job is going to make me WANT to work here?" LOL! I don't recommend asking that specifically (I did NOT get the job) but I DO recommend somehow getting the answer to that question.

Good luck!!
January 9, 2013 11:14 AM
Aw, thanks for your reply, Andrea!

I'm comfortable interviewing for office work sorts of roles, but wondered if the hospitality industry might have different norms. I guess most servers are probably young, and/or have always worked in that field. Not really sure how to position myself, to be honest. I'm in my 30s.

In brief, though: I will die if I have to spend one more minute than is absolutely necessary in a cubicle. I've gone back to school to avoid just that, but the end goal is a long way off. I love food & people. Am mindful of aesthetics, great at 'establishing rapport', & driven to make people feel comfortable, and am fast. What I'm missing is the reality of running a restaurant, which I know is hard work and requires efficiency that can only come with experience; will have to convince them I am trainable, I guess.

(Long-term goal: working in allied health)
Edited by upgetupgetup On January 9, 2013 11:15 AM
January 9, 2013 11:18 AM
I worked at Banana Republic through college - I'm a pro at interview outfits!

Dress a step above what you'd normally wear to work. If they wear jeans, wear dress slacks or khakis or something. You can go with a business casual top under a cardigan or blazer, doesn't have to be button up - like this: http://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=34610&vid=1&pid=352214012 ... it's fun to show a little personality and have a pop of color. Especially for a server position, since you'll be showing your personality to your guests all the time.

Just find something that makes you feel confident and comfortable, because that's ultimately what'll help you get the job!

Good luck!
January 9, 2013 11:52 AM
Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.
  20833821
January 9, 2013 12:00 PM
QUOTE:

Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.


she said it was not a franchise and Hooters is.
  32059001
January 9, 2013 12:01 PM
I would dress the same as you would any other interview. At the end of the day it is a job, no matter what the job duties are.
  1909470
January 9, 2013 12:03 PM
QUOTE:

Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.


If a person does not take the interview serious enough to dress nice then that tells any potential employer everything they need to know about the candidate. If the interview is not taken serious then you can for sure figure that the person will not take the job as a whole serious.
  1909470
January 9, 2013 12:10 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.


If a person does not take the interview serious enough to dress nice then that tells any potential employer everything they need to know about the candidate. If the interview is not taken serious then you can for sure figure that the person will not take the job as a whole serious.


Your job if you were to actually be working at one of the places I listed is to look slutty. Yes you serve food but they definitely aren't hiring their staff based on that capability alone.
  20833821
January 9, 2013 12:43 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.


If a person does not take the interview serious enough to dress nice then that tells any potential employer everything they need to know about the candidate. If the interview is not taken serious then you can for sure figure that the person will not take the job as a whole serious.


Your job if you were to actually be working at one of the places I listed is to look slutty. Yes you serve food but they definitely aren't hiring their staff based on that capability alone.


do you know based on experience?
  32059001
January 9, 2013 12:54 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.


If a person does not take the interview serious enough to dress nice then that tells any potential employer everything they need to know about the candidate. If the interview is not taken serious then you can for sure figure that the person will not take the job as a whole serious.


Your job if you were to actually be working at one of the places I listed is to look slutty. Yes you serve food but they definitely aren't hiring their staff based on that capability alone.


Oh... I'm sorry. They never calle dyou back for an interview, did they?
January 9, 2013 1:00 PM
Why is this not common sense? As somebody who has interviewed HUNDREDS of people it should be understood that any interview should be attended in business attire. I don't care if you're applying to give happy endings in a shady massage parlor.

I can't count the number of people I've declined to hire because of them showing up wearing casual clothing. It's not rocket science...and it doesn't need to be hard. You don't have to show up in a tuxedo looking like james bond. But a nicely pressed shirt, tie, and slacks as well as a good 10 minutes of brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and putting on some deoderant can really go a long way.
  32807058
January 9, 2013 4:20 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.


If a person does not take the interview serious enough to dress nice then that tells any potential employer everything they need to know about the candidate. If the interview is not taken serious then you can for sure figure that the person will not take the job as a whole serious.


Your job if you were to actually be working at one of the places I listed is to look slutty. Yes you serve food but they definitely aren't hiring their staff based on that capability alone.


do you know based on experience?


No I prefer to not serve food while slutting it up. ;)
  20833821
January 9, 2013 8:55 PM
QUOTE:

Why is this not common sense? As somebody who has interviewed HUNDREDS of people it should be understood that any interview should be attended in business attire. I don't care if you're applying to give happy endings in a shady massage parlor.

I can't count the number of people I've declined to hire because of them showing up wearing casual clothing. It's not rocket science...and it doesn't need to be hard. You don't have to show up in a tuxedo looking like james bond. But a nicely pressed shirt, tie, and slacks as well as a good 10 minutes of brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and putting on some deoderant can really go a long way.


Thanks, but I've got the toothbrushing thing down. I have four good-looking suits I could throw on. My cuticles look amazing. My hair's groomed. Here's the issue: I've approached two managers dressed like that, both of whom looked at my resume, which is made up of 100% office work, and asked, "what are you doing here?"

There are definitely differences in work cultures, and they do vary according to industry.

I want managers to look at me, and be able to easily picture me working at their restaurants, instead of seeing an office worker.

Emily, thank you!
Edited by upgetupgetup On January 9, 2013 8:56 PM
January 9, 2013 8:59 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Depends.... like if you're applying at Hooters or Tilted Kilt I'd advise you dress slutty.


If a person does not take the interview serious enough to dress nice then that tells any potential employer everything they need to know about the candidate. If the interview is not taken serious then you can for sure figure that the person will not take the job as a whole serious.


Your job if you were to actually be working at one of the places I listed is to look slutty. Yes you serve food but they definitely aren't hiring their staff based on that capability alone.


I understand that this is true. I don't know about slutty, but looking reasonably attractive and welcoming is good for business.

One of the managers I spoke to even admitted he trotted out 'the young blondes' - basically saying, yeah, you're not one of those, lol - and was looking at me for management down the line, but starting in the back office, which I don't want.
January 9, 2013 9:06 PM
I worked for a local restaurant with zero serving experience. I made sure to have a nice, clear resume and was extra friendly. I wore dress pants and a nicely colored top...dressy but not too much so. Dressing/looking nice is important, but I feel in the people industry, it is more about showing your inner qualities rather than just listing them.
  7352376
January 9, 2013 9:17 PM
Once upon a time, I thought I could do anything so I applied for a job at Chili's and got it.

I wore nice jeans and a blouse to the interview. It was during the regular scheduled interview time and the restaurant manager asked me 3 questions before he hired me.

1) Had I waited tables before? No, but it looked fun and I had never failed at anything before so I assumed that I would pick it up.
2) Why Chili's? It's close to school, I like the food, and it has a lot of flexibility with scheduling.
3) What was my availability? Open for evenings from 6 PM on, and all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Really I think this is what helped me win the job.)

I was offered the job on the spot. I will let you know that if the restaurant is like Chili's, you will be expected to memorize abbreviations for the entire menu. They will test you on these and you will not wait tables on your own and therefore make tips for at least 1-2 weeks while you master these. There was also a lot of cleaning associated with waiting tables that I didn't really realize when I applied. It's a high stress job and pay because of tips is very subjective. You may do excellent but wait on ppl all day that don't tip or tip like 5% and if you don't record like a 10-15% tip rate on what you tab out at the end of the night, you are likely setting yourself up for an audit. Sunday church crowds are the worse tippers and AA meetings and drinkers are the best tippers, at least from my experience. Also there is typically a lot of drama going on with the staff.

ETA: I was a horrible waitress for 4 of the 6 months that I worked there. I cried at least once a week for the first 2 months and had customers throw things at me and yell in my face. I finally got the hang of it around 4.5 months in but I never loved it. I felt like I was often pushing/selling things to customers and that a lot of nights were bad. Also, I wasn't allowed to bring in outside food so that was when I first started putting on weight. I got a job at Dillard's and left to go work there instead.
Edited by Deedsie On January 9, 2013 9:22 PM
  11808486
January 9, 2013 9:19 PM
Business casual. Nice dress pants with a simple dress top, nice shoes and a blazer or cardigan.
January 9, 2013 9:41 PM
Wow, great responses all, thank you!

@samantha: perfect, thank you!

@ashlin: that's an excellent point, I'll remember that :)

@Deedsie: ****, haha! Really appreciate you sharing your experiences, both in landing and leaving the job :)

I don't mind selling too much, as long as it's soft sales, and I think it might be like that at this place and another two I'm looking at. These are smaller, independent restaurants, none of them with more than 6-10 tables. I am thinking the kind of service wanted here is maybe more time- and attention- intensive (am thinking the upselling might be more about booze?) and not so much about volume or turnover (maybe?). The menus look pretty short as well. Not that that would necessarily protect me from forgetting things, I guess!

I don't know, I think I could do it, even enjoy it.. I'm very space-aware and have good reaction times, lol. Cleaning = free calorie burn :) Though of course it's very possible I'm underestimating how difficult it might be. But I can only try, I guess.

Drama, yeah, I can see it, ha! I hope, though, that I might stay outside of it if I keep my head in the work, given my age. I'm not going to want to date their boyfriends or anything, and I don't want career progression... it'll be about the scheduling, won't it..
Edited by upgetupgetup On January 9, 2013 9:42 PM
January 9, 2013 9:49 PM
It's an interview.

Suit up.

(Lady equivalent)
  9711248
January 9, 2013 10:00 PM
Business casual should be fins- slacks and a nice shirt.
  17923062
January 9, 2013 10:00 PM
QUOTE:


I don't mind selling too much, as long as it's soft sales, and I think it might be like that at this place and another two I'm looking at. These are smaller, independent restaurants, none of them with more than 6-10 tables. I am thinking the kind of service wanted here is maybe more time- and attention- intensive (am thinking the upselling might be more about booze?) and not so much about volume or turnover (maybe?). The menus look pretty short as well. Not that that would necessarily protect me from forgetting things, I guess!



It seems like the smaller places are better to work at and yes, they usually require soft sells (our big things were desserts and gift cards). I also worked at a chain (Texas Road House) and that is a disaster. The girls were full of drama and pretty b*tchy and they claimed you got better tables depending on your check average. The menu wasn't too bad, but when I introduced myself, I had to try and sell liquor and then an appetizer and then when they ordered, I had to upsell extras like mushrooms and onions on a steak or loaded baked/mashed/sweet potatoes and then I had to try and sell dessert. It was awful, but eventually I had the third highest check average out of 40 people. I had this for 3 months straight, but still kept getting the worst sections (usually 2 3 tops and a 2 top or 2 6 tops where they'd only seat 4 people or a family with 3-4 kids which usually meant awful tips). They definitely play favorites and it was terrible.

Honestly, I never would have left my job at the local restaurant if my boss didn't treat me like crap. The customers were great and I made really good money. The work was hard because I was the server/barista/cashier from 7AM-3PM Wednesday-Sunday and didn't have help. Once I broke my foot at work and the boss refused to fill out an accident report, I had to quit.

There's a good and bad side to every job and if you make the best of it, it won't be bad at all. I'd rather be serving than working a desk job any day and as you said, it is while you finish school for what you really want to do :)
  7352376
January 9, 2013 10:03 PM
I worked as a server while going through both undergrad and graduate school. My mom has been a server all my life and so has my aunt. I can tell you that I've never had experience like Deedsie's; it was always fun and a nice job because the stress doesn't follow you home. I made more money waiting tables than I do as a teacher...by a lot, and I never worked at high end restaurants.

As for your questions: I always wore nice shoes, slacks, and a dress shirt (usually colorful) for the interview. I want to say that I always at least pulled my hair back. I think this helps them be able to see you as a server since you have to have it back for work. Bring your own pen...that used to annoy our manager. Be friendly, but also show that you can be serious and dependable.

Be prepared, they may ask you if you're willing to be a hostess first; it's quite common. Good luck!
  15958622
January 9, 2013 10:47 PM
These are hugely helpful insights guys, thank you! It's really good to hear about positive experiences.

@Ashlin: You gave me a really good sense of what things were like for you, thank you :) Good to know what to expect around dynamics with coworkers (and money). That stuff happens in offices, too, though maybe in a quieter way :/

@melonclarinet: Very encouraging indeed to hear about money potentially being good. Thanks for the tips on key traits to get across, that's great. Love your idea about putting hair up!

I can hostess, no problem with that :)

For shirts: I've got boring cotton button-ups (pink, grey, white), or else silk blouses and tees (cream, tomato red, peach). The red looks best on me (have dark hair) - too much?
January 10, 2013 9:59 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Why is this not common sense? As somebody who has interviewed HUNDREDS of people it should be understood that any interview should be attended in business attire. I don't care if you're applying to give happy endings in a shady massage parlor.

I can't count the number of people I've declined to hire because of them showing up wearing casual clothing. It's not rocket science...and it doesn't need to be hard. You don't have to show up in a tuxedo looking like james bond. But a nicely pressed shirt, tie, and slacks as well as a good 10 minutes of brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and putting on some deoderant can really go a long way.


Thanks, but I've got the toothbrushing thing down. I have four good-looking suits I could throw on. My cuticles look amazing. My hair's groomed. Here's the issue: I've approached two managers dressed like that, both of whom looked at my resume, which is made up of 100% office work, and asked, "what are you doing here?"

There are definitely differences in work cultures, and they do vary according to industry.

I want managers to look at me, and be able to easily picture me working at their restaurants, instead of seeing an office worker.

Emily, thank you!


Maybe re-work your resume to show the skills needed for the waitress. Im not saying change the jobs or exclude but highlight the skills- customer service in the office world is different than a food chain BUT its not because you are still making sure the customer is satisfied. You still multi tasking at both places. im not sure how you could list those but im sure it might help solve some of the issue you said above :)
Edited by JustANumber85 On January 10, 2013 9:59 AM
  32059001

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