9 Tips for a Waiter/Waitress In Training

The Italian Wine and Food Advocates Alfresco DinnerSo, you’re getting ready for your first day of training at a new restaurant, huh?  Whether you’ve been working as a server for years or just starting out, there are a couple of things that you should always take into consideration before starting your first day of training.

If you need tips on HOW to train a waiter or waitress, read more in our article “8 Tips on How to Train a New Waiter/Waitress”.

If you’re a new server, don’t forget, be prepared to work…and to work hard! Training is all about seeing what you’re made of and testing your limits.  Serving tables is in a league all on its own!

Here are 9 tips that might just help you land the job.

TIP #1  Be on time.

Better yet, show up early.  Yes, I know it’s incredibly obvious and trust me, it feels completely ridiculous saying it, but I cannot stress this enough.  Punctuality is essential when starting a new job.  It’s one of the first impressions your employers and coworkers will get of you.  Show up late and they’ll all think that a) you’re disrespectful and b) don’t really care about the job.  If anything happens and you can’t make it on time or can’t show up at all then pick up the phone and call them.

TIP#2  Listen to your trainer.

Even if you’ve seen it all and you are highly qualified for the position, listen to what your trainer has to say.  Different restaurants work with different systems and you really need to pay attention to the differences between this job and your previous ones.  The whole “Yeah, yeah. I know.” attitude should be left at the door.  Let your trainer explain things first and then ask questions later.

TIP #3   Pick up the pace.

When starting at a new restaurant, some servers have a hard time picking up the rhythm of the restaurant and the speed of the service.  When changing to a busier restaurant, it’s time to get your ass into gear and pick up the pace. Walking around the restaurant like you’re taking a nice stroll in the park is not going to work.  Keep in mind – your trainer will push you, and rightfully so.  Keep up with their pace and don’t waste time.  If you find your trainer moving quicker than you then you’re the one who needs to adjust your rhythm.

TIP #4  Be ready for grunt work.  

You’re new, right?  So you’ll have to a do a lot of the crappy jobs that people hate doing like preparing linens, silverware and glassware, filling condiments, restocking napkins, etc.  Your trainer will make you clean their section, run their plates, and do any other cleaning duties or tasks they may have in store.  You’ll have to really prove yourself, so don’t ever slack off or sneak off in back for a cigarette.  Get rid of that cellphone and concentrate on working and working hard.  Don’t even think about complaining.  Your trainer and employers may be testing your limits to see how much you want the job and how much you can take.  Also, you may get all the crummy shifts and hours that nobody wants.  Be ready to take whatever shifts/sections/tables they give you.

TIP#5  Remember: Staff members will be hard on you.

Because you’re working in an industry where your coworkers rely on tips as their income, other waiters and waitresses will be hard on you if you make mistakes at their tables or if you’re in their way.  It’s very possible that you’ll get snide comments or brushed off so be prepared for that.  If you’re doing something wrong, chances are someone is going to tell you.  Whether you’re garnishing a beverage with a lime instead of a lemon or bringing plates to the wrong table, someone will voice their disapproval and it may not be in the nicest way possible.  Be ready to have a thick hide and learn from your mistakes.

TIP#6  Avoid asking questions that make you look bad.

I don’t mean don’t ask questions.  You should be asking a lot of questions to show a genuine interest in learning the job and the correct way of doing things.  What I mean is you should avoid asking questions that make it seem like you don’t care about the job or don’t even want to be there.  Questions like:

  • “What time do I finish?”  This is my most hated question.  You’ve barely been working 5 minutes and you’re already thinking about when you’re leaving.  If you need to know for important reasons, that’s different, but find a way to make it seem like you don’t want to get out of there as soon as possible.
  • “Do I really have to do that?”  Your trainer is telling you that you need to do something. Just do it!  They wouldn’t be telling you “You have to clean the chair legs before every shift” if you didn’t need to be done.
  • “Can I eat something?”  Um, you’re at work.  You’re supposed to be working, not eating.  Eat before or after your shift, not in the middle of training.
  • “What kind of discount does the staff get?”  This one isn’t as bad, but don’t ask it in the middle of training.  You have more important things to learn other than the bonuses of working at that restaurant.
  • “Can I take next weekend off?”  The answer is no.  Never ask for time off when you’re starting at a new place. If it’s something of importance, ask your employer and explain the situation to them.  If it’s for your friend’s birthday party, keep that to yourself and do the hours they need from you.

TIP #7  Know your schedule.

Not showing up for a training because you didn’t know you were working is unacceptable.  It’s not only frustrating for the restaurant, but for you as well.  They will  most likely not have you back.  When getting your schedule for training, make sure you double check that you have the correct days and hours.  Get the phone number to contact the person giving you your hours so that you can call in case you’re unsure.  Be prepared.  There are no excuses.

TIP#8  Focus on your job

The worst thing you can do is start yapping away with coworkers about what you did that weekend or telling your life story to your trainer while you should be paying attention to your customers and what you should be learning.  Talking and telling stories will distract you from ordering food on time, seeing new tables being seated in your section, and remembering customer’s requests.  Stay focused.  Be friendly, but your priority is work, not socializing.

TIP#9  Smile.

It’s really important to show that you’re happy to be there and working so smile!  Also, it shows everyone that you are capable of having a good relationships with the customers, that you’re friendly, and easy to work with.  A smile can go such a long way so don’t forget to let it shine.


Getting trained to be a server at a restaurant doesn’t necessarily mean you got the job, so make sure you’re constantly doing your best.  Hopefully these tips will help give you a bit of perspective before starting your first day.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or if you have any tips of your own you can contact us  or tweet a tip to @WConfessions

The Waitress Confessions

You May Also Like:


Waitstaff Portrait
8 Tips on How to Train a New Waiter/Waitress
The Pros and Cons of Being a Waiter / Waitress

26 thoughts on “9 Tips for a Waiter/Waitress In Training

  1. Shanae April 28, 2013 / 10:31 am

    Wait?/ What? You can be trained as a Server and still not get the job? Where in the world do they do that at, except in the restaurant industry. That is crazy!! Other industries, you start training, you’ve got the job. SMH. No thank you! That is nuts and a complete waste of time.

    • The Waitress Confessions April 29, 2013 / 12:04 am

      See, that is what’s weird! What happens if you train someone and they are terrible at the job? You get hired anyways? THAT’s what’s a complete waste of time for everyone, especially the company that hired you.

      • Kyle Andrews October 5, 2013 / 4:07 pm

        Protip: Use training as a time to become adept at your new job so that you don’t do terribly at your job and don’t waste your own or the restaurant’s time by going to training, not learning, and not applying the skills you didn’t acquire.

    • V August 7, 2015 / 6:24 pm

      True! Let’s hope at least they pay you during training, right?

      • Anonymous June 17, 2016 / 8:33 am


      • Kyla July 20, 2016 / 12:51 am

        Yes, they pay you minimum wage during training.

  2. Ogbeche October 3, 2013 / 1:48 pm

    I love all the tip

  3. waiter secrets October 10, 2013 / 6:07 pm

    Great Tips, I have been in the industry for many years now. I just want to add about the training and not getting the job conversation above. You have to remember that the waiter/waitress is the face of the restaurant and not only that is the person responsible for enhancing and facilitating the diners experience, therefore the trainee is on a trial period for a while. if the waiter waitress does not make the fit. It is worthless to the restaurant. As cruel as it seems. Thanks for the Tips. Definitely helping the newcomers. keep it up.

    • The Waitress Confessions October 10, 2013 / 8:55 pm

      That’s a great way to clear things up. It’s absolutely true. Why would they keep someone who neglects tables or shows up late?

  4. Anonymous July 14, 2014 / 3:03 am

    Why is it necessary to be mean to a new person who is “getting in the way”? Sounds bitchy to me. No one is born knowing how to do a job and snotty waitresses used to be the ones “getting in the way.” Grow up and quit taking your food slinging job so damn seriously. It’s just food.

    • The Waitress Confessions July 14, 2014 / 10:08 pm

      I completely agree with you that it’s bitchy. But unfortunately it is a reality that a lot of new people have to deal with. Along with lazy people, rude people, annoying people…just like everyone does in life whether you are in the workplace or not. Any job you work at there are people on your ass who try to push you around rather than offering a helping hand for you to learn.

      Just a reality we all have to know will happen at one point in our lives.

  5. Anonymous February 24, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    As the Service and Training Manager of Northern Europe’s biggest outdoor restaurant I have a couple of inputs. First of all, we hire between 250- 450 waiters/ waitresses during one season. The restaurant/ bar sits 1200 people and therefore needs about 50 waiters during the same shift.

    With 50 people more or less running ultra focused to do their job as efficient and well as possible there are always some people that just don’t understand the pace or simply can’t keep up. To make it mathematical, if 2 people are slow, they will slow down the other 50 waiters due to simple task such as pouring beer and so on. Secondly, if someone is carrying a tray with upwards of 40 beers (20 Kg) and shout out coming behind you, and that person isn’t paying attention then not only does the business not run smoothly but drinks are lost and chaos approaches.

    Thus, normally larger restaurant hire with a 6 month trainee program, where some people are very quick learners and others aren’t. obviously time is money in the service industry so if one person just simply isn’t willing to learn or aren’t willing to become as efficient as humanly possible. They receive the same treatment from the restaurant’s side, which means we aren’t willing to have them work for us.

  6. moutie July 3, 2015 / 5:32 am

    its a good site to watch

  7. bilton January 8, 2016 / 4:50 am

    good some tips
    will be help for hotel staff

  8. Ruveena Rossitto February 27, 2016 / 9:53 am

    Training and not getting the job is the worst! I’m recently making a shift from nannying to serving, and I have precious experience at a pizzeria but the level of work there was nowhere near things I learned at places I’ve trained. I figured, each place that doesn’t hire me is free training and eventually I’ll get it. This is my third time training and not getting hired, and most of the time they pretend to hire you and then just ghost on you, which is the worst. Any tips for me, I’d really appreciate it. Oh and I know I’m a fast learner and I don’t make the same mistake twice, so hopefully any day now!

  9. Sam Fairless April 22, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    I have a problem I would like advice on. I understand not asking for time off immediately. It’s very unprofessional. But at the same time, it’s also best to ask time off as early in advance as possible right? I start training tomorrow and my mom has a trip out of state that she’s been planning to take me on for months as a graduation present. The trip is almost two months away now. When should I ask?

  10. Lanee May 12, 2016 / 5:05 pm

    Do you guys share your tip with someone you are training? Just a thought.

  11. Leroy July 26, 2016 / 2:53 am

    Just wanted to ask a question I was asked recently
    Preparing for the perfect shift should be like what?

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