Restaurant Recruiting During and After COVID-19

Restaurant Recruiting During and After COVID-19
Ana Cvetkovic

By Ana Cvetkovic

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has impacted the restaurant workforce. According to data from 350,000+ restaurants that use 7shifts at the time of publishing, while overall shifts being scheduled are still sitting 24% below pre-COVID levels, shifts for delivery-related roles have increased 38%.

According to CareerPlug, three in 10 restaurant workers are currently unemployed, and of those who are working, 56% are looking for new positions.

Restaurant recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic can be advantageous for restaurants because so much restaurant talent is looking for work. Restaurants must be picky, however, to ensure that new hires are good fits for the long term and that they’ll work safely alongside existing staff.

It’s important for restaurant hiring and training processes to reflect new COVID-19 safety measures. When hiring restaurant employees, it’s also important to find staff that will take these measures seriously. In this guide to COVID-19 restaurant recruiting you’ll learn:

  • How to adjust your restaurant recruitment process including:
  • Rewriting your “Careers” page
  • Adjusting job descriptions
  • Learning how to interview restaurant staff during the pandemic
  • What to look for when hiring restaurant staff during and after the pandemic
  • How to safely train new hires

How to adjust your restaurant recruiting process during COVID-19

Bringing on employees in the new climate of COVID-19 needs to change—just like your roles, restaurant, and the industry itself have over the past few months.

“Your job postings and hiring process should look different today versus pre-COVID,” explains CareerPlug’s director of HR, Natalie Morgan.

“Revise your job descriptions to include details about how you're keeping them safe on the job and during the hiring process — what social distancing guidelines are in place? What PPE will you provide? Will any of the hiring or training be conducted remotely? Provide answers to these questions upfront to stand out and build trust with candidates” she says.

Here’s how to implement those restaurant recruitment changes to keep your current staff safe and give job candidates peace of mind.

1. Update your careers page with a safety section

Let job candidates know what your restaurant is doing to keep employees safe during the pandemic, and what its expectations are for staff. If job candidates think your safety measures are too strict, their values don’t match yours and they won’t be good long term fits for the team anyway.

Are you making wearing PPE mandatory? Are you providing staff with PPE? Are you conducting daily health checks and making results available to the whole team through a notice? Are you offering paid sick time to ensure that staff don’t worry about missing a paycheck? Share your protocol with job candidates on the restaurant hiring page of your website.

“For bonus points, tell the story of how your company reacted to COVID-19 on your careers page (or at least be prepared for this question),” says Morgan. “If you were able to support employees, what did that look like?"

2. Add safety measures to job descriptions

When it comes to COVID-19 restaurant recruitment, pandemic-related safety measures need to make it into job descriptions, as keeping customers and fellow staff healthy is now an important part of every restaurant role.

Here’s a sample server job description with requirements for upholding safety measures and valuing the safety of staff and customers:

Server Job Description

Customer-facing duties:

  • Informing guests of COVID-19 protocols and making sure that guests follow them
  • Teaching guests how to use contactless ordering technology
  • Recommending menu items to guests
  • Upselling menu items
  • Bringing orders to tables
  • Professionally handling complaints and feedback from guests

COVID-19 safety duties and expectations:

  • Maintaining social distancing measures and enforcing guest social distancing
  • Wearing PPE and holding staff and guests accountable for doing so as well
  • Maintaining sanitization procedures
  • Participating in daily temperature and symptom checks
  • Holding fellow team members accountable for adhering to COVID-19-related safety measures

Use this sample job description for hiring restaurant staff by customizing it for different roles.

3. Adjust your interviewing practices

Adjust your interviews by reducing or altogether eliminating in-person meetings with candidates and adding new restaurant interview questions around health and safety.

Want to know how to interview a restaurant manager, server, or cook remotely? Stick to phone or video interviews until it’s absolutely necessary to bring candidates into the restaurant. When candidates come in for restaurant interviews, conduct temperature and symptom checks.

Use 7shifts’ Manager Log Book to ensure that all restaurant recruiting managers understand and follow the new restaurant interviews process.

Restaurant hiring in a pandemic: What to look for in job candidates

There’s a new layer of qualities you need to look for while hiring restaurant employees that you either haven’t had to think about before, or need to emphasize now.

For all roles, it’s important to ask how strictly job candidates adhere to COVID-19 safety measures in their personal lives. If they understand the importance of slowing the spread of the coronavirus, they’ll take pride in doing that at your restaurant too.

Here are other qualities you should look for while hiring restaurant staff based on role:


  • Not afraid to enforce safety measures.
  • Will report rule violations.
  • Able to swiftly adjust staff schedules if staff members fail health checks.
  • Able to carry out traditional restaurant manager skills and responsibilities.


  • Care for customer wellbeing.
  • Can maintain appropriate distance from customers.
  • Not afraid to hold fellow staff accountable for following COVID-19 safety measures, like  wearing PPE.
  • Not afraid to enforce COVID-19 safety rules for customers.
  • If you’re considering asking FOH staff to work as delivery drivers, make sure they have valid drivers’ licenses, access to cars that are in good condition, car insurance, and clean driving records.


  • Care for customer wellbeing.
  • Not afraid to hold fellow staff accountable for following COVID-19 safety measures, like  wearing PPE. Wearing masks is of utmost importance for food handlers, even if it’s hot in the kitchen!
  • Able to maintain strict hygiene standards, including ensuring up-to-date food handling certification.

Candidates will also be curious about how your restaurant reacted to and fared through COVID-19, so be ready to answer questions about that.

How to adjust new hire training during COVID-19

You should aim to complete as much new staff training remotely as possible. Conduct a virtual training with all new hires that covers general procedures, like your COVID-19 protocol, employee handbook, rules and expectations, and shift scheduling. With 7shifts’ chat and announcement functions, you can share procedures and organize training sessions with staff quickly and efficiently.

Conduct in-person training on an as-needed basis.

  • Keep cooks-in-training safe by staggering training times, doing one-on-one sessions, and conducting them when the restaurant is closed to ensure the kitchen isn’t crowded.
  • Keep servers-in-training safe by conducting one-on-one shadowing trainings and asking trainees to maintain 6 feet/2 meters of distance between themselves, their trainers, and customers.

Once employee training has been completed—whether onboarding new employees or providing more training to existing ones—you can use the Manager Log Book to keep track of which employees have been trained on what and when. That way, any manager or owner can search the log at a later date to find which employee has what training to schedule or further train accordingly.

Wrapping up: recruiting during COVID-19

Hiring restaurant employees during the coronavirus pandemic presents new challenges for restaurants. However, it also presents an opportunity to find candidates that are great long term fits for your restaurant’s team.

Update your job descriptions, restaurant interviews process, and training process to reflect COVID-19 safety measures to find new staff who are as serious about the health and safety or your team and guests as you are. You can easily weed out candidates who object to your new way of doing things.

Book a demo of 7shifts’ new Hiring feature, and start finding new team members today.

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Ana Cvetkovic
Ana Cvetkovic

Ana Cvetkovic is a freelance writer. She is also the CEO of BLOOM Digital Marketing, a creative marketing agency that helps the hospitality and tourism industries reach millennials online.