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Restaurant Interview Questions and Answers

By
Matthew Krimmel
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Good restaurant interview questions and answers should tell you everything you need to know about a potential candidate. You might be hiring a restaurant manager to run your operation, a new server to interact with guests, or a hostess to greet and seat people.

No matter which positions you're looking to fill or add, you want to ask the right questions. The candidate's answers should reveal the vital information you're looking for to hire the best candidate for the role.

Your questions need to dive beyond the answers you'll find in a bartender cover letter or resume, to really learn if the candidate will be a good fit. Let's cover some common restaurant interview questions and answers.

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Recruit the Best Candidates

It's necessary to recruit the best candidates for your team to ensure that your restaurant operates optimally. You want to employ staff who are committed to providing a memorable dining experience for your guests.

Knowledge of the hospitality industry, front of house, and restaurant operations, along with some basic restaurant lingo is essential. Preparing the right questions to ask candidates and what makes a good answer is a key to hiring excellent staff members.

General and Behavioral Questions

Interviewers ask general questions to learn about personality and work ethic. They want to gain information about a candidate’s background and experience.

Behavioral questions provide insight into the personal qualities of a candidate. The answers will reveal how they handle difficult situations in the workplace.

Who's the Best Fit?

A combination of good questions with appropriate responses should reveal who’s the best fit for an opening in the restaurant. Here’s a list of common restaurant interview questions and answers for restaurant managers, servers, and hosts or hostesses. We tell you exactly what to look for in a candidate's answer to each question to gauge their fit for your restaurant.

 

Restaurant Manager Interview Questions

Managing a restaurant can be a challenging role. When interviewing a candidate for a restaurant manager position, you want to find someone with excellent management and leadership skills. The right candidate should have plenty of experience in the hospitality industry.

Good communication, organizational skills, and knowledge of the food and beverage industry should be listed in the restaurant manager job description.

Question 1: Why do you want to work at our restaurant?

Answer: Interviewers like to hear positive feedback about their establishment and some restaurant improvement ideas. If the candidate has previous experience managing a restaurant, they should give examples of their contribution to its success.

A candidate should mention a few ideas for improving the restaurant for employees and guests. It shows their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Question 2: What would you improve about our restaurant?

Answer: If they don’t include some ideas for improvement when answering the previous question, follow up with this one. The candidate should’ve conducted some research and become familiar with your restaurant operations. They should offer specific ideas for improving each restaurant position or tasty dishes to introduce to the menu.

If the restaurant already operates at a very high standard, the candidate should aspire to maintain a successful operation. Hopefully, the candidate has experience conducting swot analysis for restaurant improvement. This would demonstrate that they know how to transform a struggling restaurant into a successful one. They might also know a bit about social media and restaurant SEO strategies, which is a big bonus.

Question 3: How would you motivate the restaurant staff?

Answer: Emphasize your intention to oversee a professional but enjoyable working environment. If you have satisfied employees, they'll enjoy coming to work. They'll also contribute to higher productivity in the restaurant.

One strategy for motivating employees is to connect their achievements at work (higher salary, benefits, and goals) to their enjoyment during their free time.

Question 4: Which methods would you use to minimize the costs of operating a restaurant?

Answer: All restaurant owners want to operate a profitable establishment. It means that restaurant managers should minimize expenses and remain within the allotted budget.

A candidate for a restaurant management position should demonstrate knowledge of cost reduction strategies in restaurants. Ask about their history of working with vendors to get the best possible prices for restaurant supplies.

Question 5: How did you manage an issue with one of your employees in the past?

Answer: A restaurant management candidate should demonstrate awareness of the staff’s performance and ability to solve problems. It's an opportunity to display confidence and good knowledge of workplace protocol.

An interviewer should ask about a specific example of an issue with a past employee. Elicit a detailed description from the candidate about how they resolved it and the eventual outcome.

 

Restaurant Server Interview Questions

Restaurant servers play a crucial role in daily restaurant operations. They interact with guests throughout the entire dining experience.

Diners at a restaurant aren't just looking for delicious food and refreshing drinks. They're also expecting attentive and courteous service. Restaurant servers can make a dining experience memorable or forgettable.

Question 1: Why do you want to work at our restaurant?

Answer: There are many competing restaurants out there, and all of them are looking for great employees. The interviewer should find out what makes their restaurant appealing.

This provides feedback about what's working well for the restaurant (food, employees, advertising, etc.). If the candidate is enthusiastic about the restaurant, they'll be a highly motivated employee.

Question 2: What experience do you have using restaurant point of sale (POS) systems?

Answer: The interviewer wants to know if the candidate has the experience and is comfortable using POS systems. If the candidate has ample experience using this software, they’re likely to be a good fit. Otherwise, they might be out of touch with modern restaurant tech and require additional training.

Question 3: How many customers or tables can you serve at one time?

Answer: This answer will provide valuable insight into the server's ability to multitask and prioritize. Most restaurants experience a hectic period during a typical day. It could be a "breakfast rush", business meetings at lunch, family dinners, or a special event.

A good server will remain calm and perform under pressure when facing a room filled with hungry and thirsty customers. They will also be able to communicate with the executive chef and other types of chefs to pick up and deliver food in a timely manner.

Question 4: How would you handle a customer who's dissatisfied with their food, seating, or some other issue?

Answer: Serving customers can be rewarding. You meet many people with many different backgrounds and stories to tell. However, every restaurant server has encountered an unhappy guest at some point.

The way the candidate answers this question will reveal certain personality traits, such as their level of professionalism. It also can demonstrate an ability to work under pressure and show empathy. The last thing you want is a server who is rude to a valued guest.

Question 5: Do you have knowledge of wines?

Answer: Many restaurants have bars and, depending on the style of the venue, they might offer a wide selection of wines. Guests will want to know additional information about their choices on the wine list.

It helps to have a server that can demonstrate some expertise in this area. Experience tending bar can also boost a candidate's chance of getting hired, which shows versatility and a deeper understanding of how a restaurant operates.

 

Restaurant Host or Hostess Interview Questions

A friendly and respectful host or hostess can contribute to the success of a restaurant. They often give the first and last impression to guests who visit the restaurant.

A host or hostess welcomes customers to the restaurant and accepts reservations in person and by phone. They also update the reservation list and guide customers to their table when it’s ready.

Question 1: A guest complains about the long wait for a table. How would you respond to them?

Answer: The interviewer should ask this question to learn how a candidate would manage these interactions. It's common to have a guest become impatient about the wait time for a table in a restaurant.

You'll want to know how a potential host or hostess would handle conflict and stress. The candidate should demonstrate how they would improve the customer's mood and put their mind at ease.

Question 2: Do you speak any languages other than English?

Answer: A candidate for host or hostess could earn bonus points for knowing a second language. The ability to communicate in a non-native language could help the restaurant accommodate any guests who have limited English skills. A host or hostess can be valuable for solving any issues that arise in a different language in the restaurant.

Question 3: What would you do if someone entered the restaurant as the phone began to ring?

Answer: A host or hostess must handle various tasks simultaneously while maintaining good customer service. The candidate's response should show the ability to manage and prioritize duties effectively. An interviewer will want to see a candidate's ability to prioritize face-to-face interactions over ones that happen over the phone.

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Interview Foundation

So, there you have it! It's an updated list of questions for every interview with a potential restaurant manager, restaurant server, and host or hostess. There are always good workers who have a passion for the hospitality industry. It's just a matter of finding the ones who provide the right fit for your restaurant.

You also have a good idea of what type of answer to anticipate for each question to determine the best candidate. These questions can serve as a foundation for your interview template the next time you're hiring for an opening in your restaurant.

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