What Skills Do You Need to Work in Fast Food?

Written by ilana waters
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What Skills Do You Need to Work in Fast Food?
Fast food is a staple of many American diets. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

It can be difficult to break into the restaurant business, but fast food is a good way to start. These types of jobs can be especially beneficial to young job seekers; nonmanagerial positions don't require much (or sometimes any) experience, yet they teach valuable job skills. Being a supervisor requires more expertise in the field, although many servers work their way up to manager by staying with a particular restaurant.

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Fast food isn't called "fast" for nothing. Customers expect their cuisine to be ready right away, and workers and managers must keep up with the demand. The turnover is constant, with new orders being placed every minute. Workers must prepare these orders, bag them and complete payment transactions with customers quickly and efficiently.


It helps to be good at math if you work in fast food. Although a great deal of the process is automated (buttons in the cash register often have pictures of specific foods), you still need to know your numbers. There will always be two-for-one deals, customers who receive the wrong change, or questions about receipts. Workers and managers need to know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide -- often quickly, and all in their heads.

Service Skills

Service skills come in useful in fast food work. This includes having patience with customers, using problem solving abilities, and listening and empathising with concerns. Fast food clients are often in a rush, and can be stressed out at times. It's not uncommon for workers to get yelled and screamed at for minor infractions -- or sometimes, none at all. You need to know how to work with and calm down these customers, as well as ensure they are satisfied with your services.


Finally, supervisory skills are needed if you are a fast food manager. You must be able to hire appropriate candidates, as well as weed out the inappropriate ones. You have to assist employees in performing their job functions when they fall behind, and even discipline them when their performance is not up to par. At times, this discipline can include firing workers -- something not everyone is comfortable doing. You also need to have all the other basic skills that are necessary to work in fast food. You never know when a worker will call in sick or quit unexpectedly. You may have to temporarily perform that worker's job until a replacement can be found.

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