Hiring a Dishwasher: How Much to Pay & Interview Tips

Dishwashers play a pivotal role in the success of any kitchen. Here are best practices to keep in mind as you look for your next back-of-house superstar.

Hiring a Restaurant Dishwasher

When dining at a restaurant, patrons interact with several different members of the staff. From the host/hostess that greets them at the door to the server who waits on them throughout their meal to the bartender who serves up their drinks to the busser who turns over tables between each diner.

But let's not forget about the back-of-house crew that is essential to ensuring everything in the front-of-house can go off without a hitch. Among these essential team members is the dishwasher, often unsung but undeniably vital to the functioning of any kitchen.

Whether you're a seasoned restaurateur or a first-time business owner, finding the right dishwasher for your establishment can make all the difference in maintaining efficiency and upholding hygiene standards.

However, the process of hiring a dishwasher goes beyond simply filling a position. In this blog, we'll share the key considerations to take into account - such as compensation, job expectations, and candidate experience - when hiring your next dishwasher.

What are a Dishwasher’s Responsibilities?

In a restaurant, a dishwasher is responsible for cleaning and sanitizing dishes, utensils, glassware, pots, pans, and other kitchen equipment used throughout food preparation and service. A dishwasher’s role is more important than one may realize as it’s crucial to maintaining cleanliness and hygiene within the kitchen and the availability of dishes for use.

Typically, the duties of a dishwasher in a restaurant include: 

  • Preparation: Line cooks are responsible for preparing and portioning ingredients for their assigned station. This involves chopping, slicing, and marinating ingredients as needed.
  • Loading: Placing dirty dishes, utensils, and cookware into the dishwasher racks or conveyor belt system, making sure to maximize space and arrange items properly for effective cleaning.
  • Operating Equipment: Starting the dishwasher or dishwashing equipment, selecting appropriate settings such as water temperature, detergent, and cycle duration, and monitoring the operation to ensure dishes are cleaned thoroughly.
  • Unloading and Inspection: Removing cleaned items from the dishwasher, inspecting them for any remaining food particles or stains, and ensuring they meet cleanliness standards before stacking or storing them in designated areas.
  • Maintenance: Performing routine cleaning and maintenance tasks on the dishwasher and related equipment, such as removing debris from filters, unclogging drains, and replenishing detergent and rinse aid supplies.
  • Organization: Maintaining orderliness in the dishwashing area, keeping floors dry, disposing of trash and recyclables, and organizing clean dishes for easy retrieval by kitchen staff.
  • Communication: Communicating with kitchen staff and servers to coordinate the flow of dirty and clean dishes, ensuring a steady supply of clean items during peak service times.

How Much Does a Dishwasher Make?

ZipRecruiter reports that the average hourly wage for a dishwasher in the United States is $14.43. 

The hourly rate a dishwasher makes can vary greatly depending on the business they work for, their skill set, and the level of experience they bring to the job. According to ZipRecruiter, hourly rates for a dishwasher in the United States range from $8.17 to $18.51, although the majority of wages fall between $12.50 and $16.11.

Data from Indeed reports that the highest-paying U.S. cities for dishwasher roles are:

  • Queens, New York - $18.54/hr
  • Los Angeles, CA - $17.32/hr
  • Chicago, IL - $17.09/hr
  • Phoenix, AZ - $16.19/hr
  • Columbus, OH - $15.32/hr
  • Atlanta, GA - $15.08/hr
  • Orlando, FL - $14.10/hr
  • Philadelphia, PA - $14.09/hr
  • Las Vegas, NV - $14.06/hr

The average annual salary for a dishwasher, according to Indeed, is $34,130.

10 Dishwasher Interview Questions You Should Ask 

Although dishwashers work behind the scenes, they play an instrumental role in the efficiency of a restaurant. 

When interviewing candidates, be sure to get an understanding of their work history, years of experience, work ethic, and skill level. Finding someone who checks all of your boxes can be the difference between running a well-oiled machine or an inefficient, backed-up kitchen.

Consider these questions ahead of your next interview:

  • Can you share your work experience as a dishwasher and provide some examples of the types of kitchens you have worked in?
  • How do you prioritize tasks when faced with a high volume of dirty dishes during a busy period?
  • How do you ensure that dishes are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to meet hygiene standards?
  • What actions would you take if you felt you were falling behind on dishes?
  • Have you ever worked in a fast-paced environment? How would you describe your ability to work in this type of kitchen environment?
  • What safety precautions do you take when handling kitchen equipment and cleaning chemicals?
  • What are some cleanliness rules you operate by in the kitchen?
  • How would you describe your communication skills?
  • How do you handle broken plates/bowls/cups/glasses/etc.?
  • Do you have experience rectifying dishwasher jams?

Resources for Hiring a Dishwasher

  • Online Gig Platforms: Consider posting the job opening on online gig platforms as they cater to individuals seeking short-term or freelance work. Leveraging a gig economy solution may attract candidates looking for temporary or part-time dishwasher positions.
  • Local Job Postings: Put up flyers or posters advertising the dishwasher job opening in high-traffic areas around your restaurant, such as community bulletin boards, grocery stores, laundromats, or local cafes. Include tear-off tabs with contact information for interested candidates to take.
  • Social Media Groups: Use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join local community groups or industry-specific forums where you can share the job posting and engage with potential candidates.
  • Restaurant Associations and Networks: Reach out to local restaurant associations or networks to see if they have job boards or mailing lists where you can advertise the job opening. These organizations often have connections to individuals seeking employment in the restaurant industry.
  • Job Placement Centers: Contact local job placement centers, vocational schools, or community colleges that offer culinary programs. They may have students or graduates who are looking for dishwasher positions and can connect you with potential candidates.
  • Employee Referral Programs: Incentivize your current employees to refer qualified candidates for the dishwasher position. Offer rewards such as cash bonuses, gift cards, or extra paid time off for successful referrals that lead to a hire.
  • Job Fairs and Hiring Events: Attend job fairs, hiring events, or career expos in your area to network with job seekers and promote the dishwasher job opening. Bring informational materials about your restaurant and be prepared to conduct on-the-spot interviews.

Finding a Dishwasher Made Simple

Like many back-of-house positions, the dishwasher is a role that goes unseen by diners, but that doesn’t make it any less important to the success of a business. As with every other role in a restaurant, your dishwasher has an impact on the efficiency of your operations as well as the guest experience.

When looking to fill a part-time, seasonal, or full-time dishwasher role, it’s key to find a candidate who can help your business operate at the highest caliber of excellence and cleanliness. As you review applicants for your next opening, consider the skill sets, experience, and interview questions discussed throughout this blog.

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