Head waiter/head waitress

A head waiter/head waitress


Head waiters/waitresses manage the food and beverage service in a hospitality outlet or unit. They are responsible for the customer’s experience. Head waiters/waitresses coordinate all actions involving customers such as welcoming guests, ordering, delivering the food & beverages and supervise financial transactions.

Head waiters/waitresses are also senior members of the food service team and are responsible for training junior staff.

Head waiters/head waitresses typically do the following:

  • Train and supervise waiters and waitresses to give high standards of service in terms of time, quality and personalization.
  • Supervise the mise-en-place of the assigned station to ensure a smooth service during operation.
  • Inspect table layouts in the station ensuring that they meet the standards set.
  • Check and ensures the serviceability of equipment and furniture. 
  • Sell food and beverage so as to meet restaurant budgets. 
  • Take food and beverage orders correctly. 
  • Give wine service according to international practices. 
  • Prepare flambe items, if offered by the restaurant, with showmanship and authenticity in preparation 
  • Control the inventory of cutlery and service equipment allotted to the station. 
  • Assign duties ensuring equity of work. 
  • Ensure that staff meets hygiene and discipline standards. 

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to head waiter/head waitress:

table service manager
waiter service manager
chief waitress
chief waiter
head waitress
front of house manager
head waiter

Minimum qualifications

To become a head waiter/head waitress, an extensive experience as a waiter/waitress is required.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Head waiter/head waitress is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Head waiter/head waitress career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to head waiter/head waitress.

quick service restaurant team leader
head sommelier
restaurant host/restaurant hostess

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of head waiter/head waitress. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of head waiter/head waitress with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

venue director
restaurant manager
camping ground manager
rooms division manager
head chef

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of head waiter/head waitress.

  • Quality assurance methodologies: Quality assurance principles, standard requirements, and the set of processes and activities used for measuring, controlling and ensuring the quality of products and processes.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of head waiter/head waitress.

  • Inspect table settings: Control table settings in order to ensure a correct table setup, including cutlery and glassware.
  • Coach employees: Maintain and improve employees’ performance by coaching individuals or groups how to optimise specific methods, skills or abilities, using adapted coaching styles and methods. Tutor newly recruited employees and assist them in the learning of new business systems.
  • Ensure tableware is ready for use: Guarantee that plates, cutlery and glassware are clean, polished and in good condition.
  • Monitor billing procedures: Oversee that the billing procedure after a service is handled correctly.
  • Maintain relationship with customers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with customers in order to ensure satisfaction and fidelity by providing accurate and friendly advice and support, by delivering quality products and services and by supplying after-sales information and service.
  • Greet guests: Welcome guests in a friendly manner in a certain place.
  • Handle customer complaints: Administer complaints and negative feedback from customers in order to address concerns and where applicable provide a quick service recovery.
  • Supervise the work of staff on different shifts: Oversee the activities of the employees working in shifts in order to ensure continuous operations.
  • Advise guests on menus for special events: Offer recommendations to guests on meal and drink items available for special events or parties in a professional and friendly manner.
  • Manage health and safety standards: Oversee all personnel and processes to comply with health, safety and hygiene standards. Communicate and support alignment of these requirements with the company’s health and safety programmes.
  • Recruit employees: Hire new employees by scoping the job role, advertising, performing interviews and selecting staff in line with company policy and legislation.
  • Assist vip guests: Help VIP-guests with their personal orders and requests.
  • Plan menus: Organise menus taking into account the nature and style of the establishment, client feedback, cost and the seasonality of ingredients.
  • Attend to detail regarding food and beverages: Perform great attention to all steps in the creation and the presentation of a qualitative product.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Check prices on the menu: Control the menu in order to ensure that prices are correct and up-to-date.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Measure customer feedback: Evaluate customer’s comments in order to find out whether customers feel satisfied or dissatisfied with the product or service.
  • Supervise food quality: Oversee the quality and safety of food served to visitors and customers according to food standards.
  • Maximise sales revenues: Increase possible sales volumes and avoid losses through cross-selling, upselling or promotion of additional services.
  • Schedule shifts: Plan staff time and shifts to reflect the demands of the business.
  • Brief staff on daily menu: Inform staff on changes to the menus to ensure they have a good understanding of the dishes, their ingredients and possible allergens.
  • Store kitchen supplies: Keep delivered kitchen supplies for future use safely and hygienically according to guidelines.
  • Assist clients with special needs: Aid clients with special needs following relevant guidelines and special standards. Recognise their needs and accurately respond to them if needed.
  • Process payments: Accept payments such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. Handle reimbursement in case of returns or administer vouchers and marketing instruments such as bonus cards or membership cards. Pay attention to safety and the protection of personal data.
  • Manage restaurant service: Oversee the entire process of running the restaurant establishment such as managing employees and the mise-en-place.
  • Monitor work for special events: Oversee activities during special events taking into account specific objectives, schedule, timetable, agenda, cultural limitations, account rules and legislation.
  • Apply foreign languages in hospitality: Use the mastery of foreign languages orally or written in the hospitality sector in order to communicate with colleagues, customers or guests.
  • Control of expenses: Monitoring and maintaining effective cost controls, in regards to efficiencies, waste, overtime and staffing. Assessing excesses and strives for efficiency and productivity.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
  • Execute opening and closing procedures: Apply standard opening and closing procedures for a bar, a store, a restaurant or a marketplace.
  • Manage stock rotation: Oversee stock levels, paying attention to expiry dates to diminish stock loss.
  • Check dining room cleanliness: Control dining areas including their floor and wall surfaces, tables and serving stations and ensure appropriate cleanliness.
  • Monitor customer service: Ensure all employees are providing excellent customer service in accordance to company policy.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of head waiter/head waitress. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Sparkling wines: The varieties of sparkling wines and their match with food products.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of head waiter/head waitress. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

5131 – Waiters

  1. Head waiter/head waitress – ESCO
  2. Head Waiter Resume Example + Work History – Job Hero
  3. What are the duties of a Captain (Head Waiter)? – HotelierLifestyle
  4. Featured image: Photo by Rene Asmussen
Last updated on November 9, 2022

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