How ChatGPT can optimize restaurant staffing

By Matt Parkin

As a restaurant manager, one of the key challenges is hiring and training staff efficiently and effectively, and ChatGPT is a tool that can help. In today’s fast-paced restaurant industry, finding ways to save time while preparing staff to handle various situations is crucial to success. One innovative tool that can greatly support these efforts is ChatGPT, a language model developed by OpenAI. In this article, we will explore three ways restaurant general managers can leverage ChatGPT to streamline their hiring and training processes.

Generating interview rubrics

When interviewing potential candidates for restaurant positions, it’s important to have a rubric to fairly evaluate all candidates from the same criteria. ChatGPT can be used to generate these criteria for scenario-based interview questions. Here’s how this works:


“I work as a hostess at a restaurant. Someone was 2 hours late to their reservation and was angry that we didn’t have a table available for them. What should I have done in that scenario?”


Remain calm and professional: It’s important to stay composed and professional, even if the guest is upset or angry. Take a deep breath, maintain eye contact, and use a calm and friendly tone of voice to address the situation.

Apologize and acknowledge: Start by apologizing for the inconvenience and acknowledging the guests’ frustration. Let them know that you understand their disappointment and that you would have liked to accommodate them if possible.

Explain the reservation policy: Politely explain the restaurant’s reservation policy, including the importance of arriving on time to secure a table. You can mention that the restaurant may release tables if guests do not arrive within a certain timeframe, and that it’s done to ensure fairness and accommodate other guests.

Offer solutions: Offer solutions based on the availability of tables and the guests’ preferences. If there are no tables available at the moment, provide alternatives such as waiting at the bar, suggesting a later reservation time, or checking for availability at nearby restaurants. Be helpful and accommodating within the constraints of the restaurant’s policies and procedures.

Show empathy: Express empathy towards the guests’ situation and convey a genuine desire to assist. Let them know that you understand their disappointment and that you are doing your best to find a solution. Avoid being defensive or argumentative, as it can escalate the situation.

Seek assistance from a manager: If the guest continues to be upset or if the situation becomes difficult to handle, it’s okay to seek assistance from a manager or a more experienced team member. They may have additional strategies or authority to resolve the situation.

Follow-up and follow-through: Once a resolution is reached, make sure to follow through on any promises or arrangements made with the guests. This could include checking on their table availability, updating them on wait times, or ensuring that their next reservation is properly noted.

Document the incident: It’s a good practice to document the incident, including the guests’ names, reservation details, and any actions taken. This can be helpful for reference in case of any further inquiries or issues.

By using ChatGPT to generate interview rubrics, restaurant general managers can ensure that their interviews are structured and equitable, and they can evaluate candidates on their responses as they relate to the rubric.

Using ChatGPT as a reflection tool for staff

Restaurant staff may encounter challenging situations during their shifts and need guidance on how to handle those situations. ChatGPT can be used as a reflection tool to support staff when they ask how to handle a specific occurrence. A similar prompt to the one used for the interview rubric can be used for onboarding and training scenarios, as well as helping staff to develop the skills they need to handle most situations.

Screening applicants for transferable skills

When reviewing the resumes of potential applicants, it’s important to look beyond their past restaurant work history and consider transferable skills that may not be immediately obvious. ChatGPT can be used to explore these transferable skills, for example:


“I’m looking to hire a server for my restaurant. When I’m reviewing the resumes of potential applicants, which past work experiences might showcase transferable skills that I won’t have considered?”


Customer service: Any past work experience that involves direct interaction with customers, clients, or guests can showcase customer service skills. This could include roles in retail, hospitality, call centres, or any other customer-facing positions. Look for candidates who have demonstrated strong interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, and have handled difficult situations with professionalism and grace.

Sales or upselling: Roles that involve sales or upselling, such as in retail, can indicate that the applicant has experience in promoting and selling products or services. This can be a valuable skill for a server, as they may be responsible for suggestive selling or recommending menu items to guests.

Multi-tasking and time management: Jobs that require juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities, such as event planning, project coordination, or administrative roles, can showcase strong multi-tasking and time management skills. Servers often need to handle multiple tables, take orders, serve food and beverages, handle cash transactions, and provide excellent customer service, all while maintaining a fast-paced environment. Look for candidates who have proven experience in managing their time effectively and handling multiple tasks simultaneously.

Teamwork and collaboration: Any past work experience that involved working as part of a team, such as in team sports, group projects, or collaborative roles, can showcase teamwork and collaboration skills. Servers need to work closely with other front-of-house and back-of-house staff to ensure smooth operations and provide an excellent dining experience for guests. Look for candidates who have demonstrated the ability to work well in a team environment and can effectively communicate and collaborate with others.

Problem-solving and adaptability: Roles that require problem-solving and adaptability skills, such as troubleshooting technical issues, handling customer complaints, or resolving conflicts, can indicate that the applicant is capable of handling challenges and adapting to changing situations. Servers may encounter unexpected situations in the restaurant, such as handling difficult customers, resolving order errors, or accommodating special requests. Look for candidates who have shown the ability to think critically, problem-solve, and adapt to changing circumstances.

Communication skills: Any past work experience that involves effective communication skills, such as roles in sales, marketing, public relations, or customer service, can showcase strong communication abilities. Servers need to communicate with guests, kitchen staff, and other team members, both verbally and in writing. Look for candidates who have demonstrated clear and effective communication skills, including active listening, verbal and nonverbal communication, and the ability to convey information accurately and professionally.

Using ChatGPT to look beyond just the job titles and consider the transferable skills that an applicant may have gained from their past work experiences can help you find the best fit. By considering these transferable skills, you may uncover valuable qualities in potential server candidates that can contribute to their success in the role and ultimately benefit your restaurant.

Moving forward

ChatGPT can be useful to improve and speed up the hiring and training process, but it isn’t a replacement for human interaction. Use this tool to gain more time to spend with your team, focusing on that human connection that’s so vital for restaurant success.

Matt Parkin is the Business Development Lead at FindWRK. He helps employers quickly connect with hourly employees without needing a job posting.