Ashley Wilson
Posted August 18, 2021

What does a host or hostess do?

Read about their top responsibilities, salary, and resume tips to become a host or hostess!
Ashley Wilson
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What does a host or hostess do?
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There are 316,700 host and hostess jobs in the U.S. If you like working with people in a fast-paced environment, a job as a restaurant host or hostess could be a perfect fit.

Let's talk about the things you can expect in a host or hostess job description and the skills you need for the job. You'll learn about the top job responsibilities and where you can find a position near you.

What is a host or hostess?

A host or hostess is someone who greets customers in a restaurant, cafe, or lounge. They're usually the first person customers see when they enter the premises.

They work closely with other members of the team to make sure customers have a positive dining experience.

A host or hostess shows patrons to their seats, takes bookings over the phone, and accepts payments via cash or credit card.

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They may also tell customers about any special menu items.

If you get a job as a host or hostess, you may need to work part-time, full-time, or seasonally.

What skills do you need to be a host or hostess?

To be a host or hostess, you'll need a high school diploma or equivalent. Jobs are often entry-level, and most restaurants will have on-the-job training.

But to be successful in this industry, you'll need to have a few key skills. For example, you'll need excellent customer service skills, a positive attitude, and good listening skills.

You'll also need to be confident speaking on the phone and working as part of a team.

Hospitality workers often need to be on their feet for the entire shift, so you'll need to be physically fit. You may need to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends.

The work environment can be busy during lunch and dinner, and hosts and hostesses need to be adaptable.

Additionally, you'll need to have good communication skills to handle customer complaints.

What are the top host and hostess job responsibilities?

Let's take a look at the most common host and hostess duties:

1. Greeting guests

Hosts and hostesses greet restaurant visitors. First impressions matter, and all restaurant employees need to be warm and friendly.

They check bookings and show customers to their seats. Depending on the venue, they may give the guests a menu, drinks list, and silverware.

Hosts and hostesses answer questions and need to be familiar with the menu and restaurant facilities.

​2. Managing the waiting list

​If the restaurant is busy, there may be a waitlist. Hosts and hostesses need to monitor how many people are in the dining room. And they need to give guests accurate wait times.

If the venue is at capacity, they may need to direct patrons to the bar or waiting area. Or, if the restaurant is full, they may need to turn customers away.

Some restaurants host private events such as weddings and birthday parties. If this is the case, the host or hostess may need to manage the seating chart.

3. Answering phone calls

The host or hostess may need to answer the phone and speak to customers. They take bookings and reserve tables.

Bookings are often in advance, especially when they are for large parties. A host or hostess may need to give customers information about hosting private events.

And they may need to write down details of any special dietary requests.

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4. Helping wait staff ​

If the restaurant is busy, the host or hostess will need to help other members of the team. For example, they may assist by taking drink orders, cleaning the bar area, and bussing tables.

They may help the wait staff with food service and give customers their silverware and napkins.

Helping the wait staff can give the host or hostess valuable restaurant experience. They can add this work experience to their resume.

5. Taking payments

When the customers have finished their meal, the host or hostess may be responsible for taking payments.

They may use a point-of-sale system to accept payments by cash or credit card. Sometimes they may need to split bills. You may somtimes need to honor gift vouchers and discounts.

How much do hosts and hostesses make?

The wage can vary depending on the location, restaurant type, and your experience.

If you work as a host or hostess, the median annual salary is $24,800, or $11.92 per hour.

At the top end of the scale, some workers make $32,360 per year.

Top host and hostess resume tips

Want to apply for a host or hostess position? Here are our top resume tips:

  • List any previous hospitality experience

  • Address your cover letter to the hiring manager

  • Include soft skills, such as interpersonal skills and customer service skills

  • Add any relevant courses you've completed, such as barista or mixology training

  • Provide examples of when you've worked in a team environment

  • Highlight your availability to work nights and weekends

  • Check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors

Be ready for the next step and prepare your answers to these common interview questions.

Where to find a job as a host or hostess

When you’re ready to start your job search, you can browse host and hostess positions on Jobcase’s job board.

Can't find what you're looking for? You may also be interested in bartender jobs or server jobs in your area.

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Working as a host or hostess

Restaurants, cafes, and lounges rely on hosts and hostesses to give customers a positive dining experience.

Don't forget — you can browse hundreds of jobs on Jobcase’s job board. We also have a database of resume and interview tips in our resource center.

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