The specific duties of a restaurant hostess can vary depending on the restaurant in which she works, but in most scenarios, the hostess is the public face of the restaurant who greets guests when they enter the facility. The term "hostess" refers to a female member of a restaurant team, though men can also do this job; when a man takes the position, he is known instead as the host. The job is identical regardless of the employee's sex, however. A restaurant hostess may be responsible for managing the seating arrangements within the restaurant as well as answering questions about the menu or other concerns a guest may have.
Other duties the restaurant hostess may have include taking reservations over the phone or in person, accommodating large groups, making special arrangements for children or disabled people, and in some cases even operating a cash register. Some restaurants will hire a hostess who can manage all of the money from the evening's business, and the restaurant hostess will therefore be responsible for doing some basic to moderate bookkeeping. Other clerical duties may also fall on the shoulders of the hostess, though her primary duties are usually more focused on accommodating guests.
When guests enter a restaurant, the restaurant hostess is usually the first employee they will see. This means the hostess must be friendly, professional, well-dressed, and ready to greet the guests immediately. The hostess will often dress differently than the rest of the wait staff to distinguish herself from them and make sure she is easily recognizable should a guest need her services. The level of formality a restaurant hostess must adhere to can vary depending on the type of restaurant. In very formal settings, the hostess may be required to dress a certain way and exhibit specific manners in keeping with the restaurant's overall decor.
Before an employee can become a restaurant hostess, it is likely that she will need to undergo some training in order to prepare for the job duties. Most restaurants do not require the candidate to have any specific level of education, but the hostess must be able to exhibit exceptional manners, do basic to moderate math, and have impeccable communications skills. Training may involve use of a cash register, managing a ledger, managing tables and wait staff, or other duties relevant to a specific restaurant setting. The best hostesses will be prepared to discuss the menu and be able to make wine recommendations or other drink recommendations.