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CareerPath: How to get a job as a waiter at a New York steak house

Scott Gould, general manager of Del Frisco's Steak

Scott Gould, general manager of Del Frisco's Steak House. Photo Credit: Nancy Borowick

Working as a waiter is often just a day-job for aspiring performers and creative-types in New York City. However, for Scott Gould, general manager of Del Frisco's Steak House on 49th Street near Sixth Avenue, working in fine dining is basically a career in hospitality. The full-service, upscale restaurant has been open for 15 years and has a staff of 250. It hires about five to eight servers a month, Gould said. For those who are passionate about food and taking care of people, Gould shares how to get a job as a waiter at Del Frisco's:


What does the job entail, specifically?


[Waiters] all have their own two- or three-table sections. The ability to run their own little business every day and every night is one of the most rewarding things for them. They're getting their tables to be informed about the menu and things that we're offering on a daily basis. They're responsible for [serving appetizers and salads]...and the maintenance of their tables.


What kind of experience do people need for the position?


Experience is really subjective. Yes, you want people to have great knowledge of wine, great knowledge of the spirit side of things and the ability to really walk people through food. I just start out asking people, 'Tell me about your favorite condiments? What are your favorite restaurants you've been to and why? When you cook what are you proud of?' Because once you get people to start answering questions about food they're familiar with, it gives me a much better idea of what they'll be like at work.


What kind of candidates do you look for?


I would take somebody right off the street that has outstanding hospitality in their soul. You can always teach people the fine-dining components; you can't teach people to be hospitable. We have a full team of food runners that are part of the process with them, but they're responsible for taking the guest through the experience from start to finish -- appetizers, main course, dessert, cocktail and wine service, et cetera.


Should job seekers email you cover letters and resumes?


We like to have people come in. I like to sit across the table from somebody when I interview them. We have a full management team and we're always looking for good people. Typically we ask people to come in between lunch and dinner.


What personality traits do you look for in an interview?


A genuineness that comes across; I don't want anybody that appears to be a fast talker. I want somebody that truly likes taking care of people, and I think that's the most important part and I think that's what separates us and differentiates us from other restaurants and other steak houses in the city. We truly take pride in the level of hospitality that we deliver to our guests.


How should someone dress to apply?


Obviously you always want someone to come in professional. I'm not so caught up in what they're wearing. When they walk in I'm more concerned with how they present themselves as an individual than anything else.


What should someone be prepared to answer?


I ask questions such as, 'What was your biggest frustration with regards to the kitchen at your last job?' I think that gives you a good indication, when people start to talk about their good days and their bad days. And I'll say, 'Tell me about your best day at work' -- I don't mean financially -- and 'Tell me about your worst day at work.' And you typically get a good idea of people when they answer questions like that, whether or not they're going to blame others for their problems. I try to see if people assume responsibility when they make mistakes and get them to elaborate a little more on that.

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