Front of house skills for CVs: Definition and examples
Updated 11 April 2023
Front of house staff work at various types of establishments, such as restaurants and cafes. They greet customers, take orders and relay them to kitchen staff. If you want to work as a member of the front of house staff, knowing good skills to develop and add to your CV can help you get the job you want. In this article, we explain what front of house staff skills are, list key front of house skills, explain how you can improve and develop these skills in the workplace and describe how you can highlight them for jobs.
What are front of house skills?
Front of house skills (FOH) are the skills, traits and competencies that front of house staff require to do their job. These are the staff who interact with customers at establishments that serve food and drink. They might therefore work in a restaurant, hotel, cafe, bar, pub or similar such establishment. Front of house staff can include waiters, servers, bartenders, food runners, sommeliers, front of house managers, general managers and other customer-facing roles. The front of house itself can include multiple areas, such as the dining room, lavatories, bar, waiting area, entryway, parking area and outdoor seating areas.
This is different to back of house areas and staff. These are the aspects of an establishment for preparing food, storing supplies and performing administrative tasks. Back of house staff include head chefs, sous chefs, line chefs, back of house managers, dishwashers, kitchen managers, maintenance staff and delivery drivers. These professionals have far more limited interactions with customers and therefore require different skill sets.
Front of house skills
Here's a list of skills that can be useful for members of the front of house staff. These skills are useful to develop and include on a CV or other parts of your application:
One of the primary skills of front of house staff is customer service, as they interact with customers the most. These skills allow them to provide a pleasant experience for customers throughout their interactions with the establishment. Customer service is about how staff interact with customers and make them feel appreciated and respected. A key aspect of this is professionalism, whereby staff maintain a respectful and accommodating demeanour regardless of the customer. Another is patience, as there might be customers who are more demanding or delays from the back of house staff.
Remaining patient is key to ongoing professionalism and satisfied customers. Another aspect of customer service is a 'customer-first' approach. This means demonstrating to customers that their needs are the most important and doing whatever is possible to meet these requirements.
Point of sale skills
Point of sale (POS) refers to the place or system where customers make payments, another name for which is point of purchase. This usually involves some sort of software and hardware whereby staff can process transactions electronically. Being familiar with different point of sale systems is therefore a useful skill for many front of house staff. POS systems exist in many forms, such as a mobile POS system, a terminal or through the use of tablets that connect to the establishment's system.
Guest service is somewhat similar to customer service, but refers to a different approach. Interactions based on customer service involve those for which a customer pays, such as food and drink. Guest service is more related to hospitality and involves services that are free to the customer or guest. For example, helping a customer select their meal, serving it, retrieving the bill and taking their payment is an example of customer service. Greeting a customer, taking their coat, showing them to their seat and offering complimentary refreshments is an example of guest service, since these are not chargeable.
Guest service can have a greater role in establishments like hotels. Front of house staff who know how to demonstrate both can therefore keep their guests or customers happy and eager to return. Good guest service can also be positive for the establishment's reputation.
Coordination and multitasking
Certain front of house staff like waiters may be responsible for multiple customers or tables. To effectively satisfy multiple customers and relay their requests accurately to kitchen staff in a timely manner requires good coordination and multitasking. For instance, even if a member of the wait staff has taken orders from multiple tables, another customer may request something unexpected. An effective waiter can attend to various and unexpected requests without forgetting their immediate tasks, ensuring that all guests receive the consideration they expect. Possessing a good memory also helps with this.
Teamwork and communication
Front of house operations are often a collaborative effort, with multiple professionals carrying out complementary tasks to keep customers happy. One person may greet customers and show them to their table, one takes their orders, another may set the table and various other staff like sommeliers might offer specific items. Throughout this, it's necessary to track all of the customers' orders to give them an accurate bill and ensure they don't wait too long for food or drink.
To coordinate between these various priorities and roles, good teamwork is vital. Front of house staff also interact with back of house staff like chefs to relay orders and give feedback. A key contributor to this is effective communication, enabling the entire team to work together and understand what's necessary.
How to improve FOH skills
If you want to improve your FOH skills, consider the steps below:
1. Assess your current skill set
To improve your skills, it's useful if you have an accurate assessment of your current skill set. Using lists like the one in this article, identify the most important skills for FOH staff. You can then compare this list to the list of skills you already have. You can sort these into categories like skills you have, skills you lack and those you'd like to improve.
2. Seek learning opportunities
Once you know which skills you want to learn or improve, you can look for opportunities to do so. There are two broad categories, one for soft skills and another for technical skills. Technical skills can include knowing how to use a POS system. Look for guides, tutorials and other materials that enable you to learn how to use them. For soft skills, practising them is often the best approach.
For example, remaining coordinated in an FOH environment with lots of people talking can be a challenge. Practise giving short, clear messages to others to make your communication more effective. If you have trouble remembering what others say, consider making a habit of repeating them out loud to confirm.
3. Request feedback
There are two types of feedback to seek, namely that from other staff and feedback from customers. You can ask customers for feedback verbally or through customer feedback forms. Consider speaking to your supervisor about including categories that reflect skills you want to improve. From other staff, ask more experienced members or your supervisor for assessments on skills you want to improve. This information can help you determine how successful you've been and what can help you improve further.
Highlighting FOH skills
There are a few ways you can highlight these skills when you're applying for an FOH job. Here are some opportunities:
On your CV, you can list your FOH skills. An effective CV usually has a skills section that allows you to list these skills. Compare your skill set to that listed in the job advertisement to determine which are most important for that particular role and employer.
Many job applications include a cover letter, which is a good opportunity to write about your FOH skills. Rather than a comprehensive list like that on your CV, identify those that you're best at and which align with the requirements of the role. When writing about these, consider giving examples of your skills in practise from previous experience.
During the interview process, you may find multiple opportunities to talk about your skills. For instance, an interviewer may ask you to talk about your main strengths. You can then list a few skills you have that align with the requirements for the role. Interview questions about how you handled previous situations are also an opportunity to highlight your skill set in the context of in-work scenarios.
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