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21 Must Ask Restaurant Interview Questions in 2020

Restaurants

21 Must Ask Restaurant Interview Questions in 2020

December 04, 2019

restaurant-interview-staff

While restaurant operations change and advance over time, it’s safe to say that restaurants will always need employees to run smoothly and successfully. 

Just think, how many times have you been in a restaurant annoyed at the slow service only to find out the restaurant is short staffed? If you work in a restaurant, how many complaints have you received due to a simple staffing issue?

What Are the Best Restaurant Interview Questions To Ask?

    1. Tell me about yourself?
    2. Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?
    3. What is your experience working in this role?
    4. Why do you want to work at our restaurant versus others?
    5. Have you dined at our restaurant before?
    6. What are your career goals?
    7. What does hospitality mean to you?
    8. Tell me about a time you gave excellent customer service
    9. Tell me about a time you when you had to deal with a demanding customer and how you resolved the situation?
    10. What are your greatest strengths?
    11. What are your greatest weaknesses?
    12. Can you tell me what you think are the most important skills for a server to have?
    13. What kind of environment are you comfortable working in?
    14. What does being a team player mean to you?
    15. How do you deal with conflicts involving co-workers?
    16. Do you use any mnemonic devices to remember orders?
    17. How do you feel about sharing tips?
    18. Are there any people who you refuse to serve?
    19. Do you have any food allergies?
    20. What hours are you available to work?
    21. What questions do you have for me?

You may not want or need to use all 21 questions, but choosing the most relevant ones for the role you’re looking to fill can help lead to a more honest and revealing interview.

Are you opening a new restaurant and interviewing candidates for the first time? We have you covered. Download our restaurant interview template to help run a well-structured restaurant interview.

Restaurant-interview-template

21 Must Ask Restaurant Interview Questions 

Below are 21 questions the inspire both experience restaurant management staff, as well as new restaurant managers and owners when preparing their interview questionnaires to find the most suitable candidates to join their restaurant staff.

1. Tell me about yourself. 

If you’ve ever interviewed someone or been interviewed, you know that this is the most asked question during interviews of all kinds.

Why?

It’s simple: It gives the interviewer a chance to gain a general understanding of who the interviewee is and what brought them to the establishment. It also gives the interviewee a chance to share their story and give any notable information about themselves they would want an employer to know.

Use this question to note any follow-up questions specific to the interviewee’s background you may want to ask later on in the interview. 

2. Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?

This question is a good indicator of the candidates main motivation for interviewing at your establishment. 

Are they looking for something to pay the bills? 

Do they enjoy working in fast-paced restaurant customer service environments? 

A lot of insight can be gathered from the interviewee’s motive for applying, including the very important detail of just how committed they will be to your establishment and providing optimal customer service. 

3. What is your experience working in a restaurant? 

This purpose of this question is fairly obvious – it will give you an idea of how developed the interviewee’s skills are working in the restaurant role they’re applying for. It’s a great question when looking to see which candidate has the most experience in addition to the charisma they show during the interview. 

Restaurant managers should ask if candidates have experience with any restaurant POS systems (bonus if they’ve used the system your restaurant uses) as well as other tools and services your business may use.

4. Why do you want to work at our restaurant versus others? 

This question offers another opportunity to understand not just why the candidate applied, but why they specifically want to work are your restaurant. 

Are they loyal customers? Do they feel comfortable with the restaurant’s vibe? Do they have experience in a similarly styled and run restaurant? 

Asking this question will also show how much research the candidate has done on your restaurant or if they are just looking for a job anywhere.

It’s also your chance as a hiring manage to determine if the candidate fits with your restaurant’s mission statement and overall culture.

5. Have you dined at our restaurant before?

While this question may not give the most insight, the candidates response can be a good indicator of how likely they are to talk up the food on and off the job – and word-of-mouth is one of the best, free forms of marketing there is. 

6. What are your career goals?

Similar to the previous questions, directly asking a candidate’s career goals can allow you to gauge their interest in and loyalty to your restaurant. It also allows you to learn more about who the candidate is as a person and their aspirations in life. This is important, as it shows employees you aren’t just looking to fill your employment gap, but care about who you fill that gap with – which makes for a better run and managed business. 

7. What does hospitality mean to you?

This question gives a bit of foreshadowing into how the candidate would behave toward customers on the job. 

Does their definition include being friendly and generous to guests? If it’s too far off from your idea of hospitality, then they may not be a good fit for your restaurant.

8. Tell me about a time you gave excellent customer service

Asking this question can offer insight into what level of going above and beyond for customers the candidate considers to be great customer service. It can also show how much the candidate enjoys the work they’re applying to do by the excitement they show while telling the story and how detailed the story is. 

9. Tell me about a time you when you had to deal with a demanding customer and how you resolved the situation?

It’s no secret that working in a restaurant can be stressful, and there are always times demanding customers can add to that stress. 

However, following the rule everyone has heard before – the customer is always right – this question can give you an idea of how well the candidate can handle the most stressful points of the job while maintaining excellent customer service. 

10. What are your greatest strengths?

Working in a restaurant often requires a lot of grit and confidence. Asking a candidate what they believe their greatest strengths are can help determine how confident they are and in what area they are most confident in. For instance, working in customer service, a candidate who shows confidence in their people skills and how personable they are is a good sign. 

11. What are your greatest weaknesses?

Similarly to the question above, asking a candidate’s greatest weaknesses can hint at any issues that may arise if they’re hired. 

Do they have issues with time management and will show up late? 

Do they lack patience and may not handle demanding customers as well? 

Whatever the answer is, it can show the humility of the candidate, as well as their honesty. 

12. Can you tell me what you think are the most important skills for a server to have? 

Asking this question gives an interviewer the opportunity to gauge how well the candidate knows what it takes to provide successful customer service in the role they’re applying for. Look for answers that involve positive communication tactics and being personable and patient. 

13. What kind of environment are you comfortable working in?

Restaurants are fast-paced environments. When working in one, employees must be happy and comfortable in that quick-moving setting. If a candidate is easily stressed out in high-pressure situations and freezing during rush hour upon getting hired, them working in your restaurant may cause more stress than help.

14. What does being a team player mean to you?

Working in a restaurant, no matter your position, means being part of a team. All employees must communicate and work together to ensure the customers experience smooth sailing service from start to finish. 

Asking a candidate their views on working within a team can give insight into how well the candidate will join and blend into the team you currently have in your restaurant – which is important, because you don’t want one person to disrupt the flow of your current fully-functioning team. 

15. How do you deal with conflicts involving co-workers?

While restaurants require excellent staff teamwork, conflicts can always arise within a team. This question can show how adaptable a candidate is with team members who may not work the exact same but offer equally great customer service. 

This question ties well into the previous question, as it gauges how well the candidate works within teams – which is a notable trait for team members working in stressful environments. 

16. Do you use any mnemonic devices to remember orders?

On a more technical level, if you’re interviewing candidates for a waiter position, this can be a good tell of how experienced the candidates are. It also gives candidates an opportunity to showcase their memorization abilities or share other tactics they find useful and plan to use upon being hired. 

17. How do you feel about sharing tips?

If your restaurant shares tips, it’s important to ask a candidate how they feel about that to prevent any miscommunication or disappointment on both sides after hiring. 

Sharing tips can be a great benefit for all staff members in the front and back of restaurants, but it is certainly something to inform potential employees about prior to on-boarding them and finding out they are not okay with it.  

18. Are there any people who you refuse to serve?

Although and unfortunate question to have to ask, it is one that could prevent you from hiring any candidates who may hold any prejudices and cause poor customer service reviews at your restaurant. 

This question may be awkward to ask, but it’s better to know and get an honest answer than find out during a busy shift and have chaos erupt from either a scene between your staff and customers or servers having to switch assigned tables or areas.

19. Do you have any food allergies?

It’s important to note that food allergies have no indication of a candidate’s hireability or not. However, it is an important question to ask if you are planning to hire a candidate simply as a safety precaution to note. 

That way, once that candidate is hired, if a dish has an ingredient the employee is allergic to, you or the employee can implement that team player mindset and ask another staffer to carry the dish to the customer

20. What hours are you available to work?

Another technical question, but a very important one. Being a restaurant, it’s likely you’re only open during certain hours of the day – and maybe even only certain days. Therefore, it’s important that whoever you hire is available to work and possibly cover shifts during those shift times. 

You can also ask about their willingness and availability to work holidays as a follow-up question to this one, which could be helpful when scheduling staff for busy holidays. 

21. What questions do you have?

It’s always a good sign when a candidate comes with questions prepared. It shows that the candidate has not only looked at the job application and requirements, but that they have done their research and are interested in something you have not yet covered in the interview. 

If a candidate says they don’t have any questions, then it can be a sign that they are not very invested in the role and may not stay for the long term.

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Free Restaurant Interview Template

For those restaurant managers hiring employees and staff for the first time, interviewing will not come natural at first. It will be awkward and sometimes unpleasant – but over time you’ll become an interview pro.

To help you on your journey, we’ve created an interview checklist template to use when conducting a restaurant interview to keep your interviews structured, on topic, and timely.

Restaurant-interview-template

Time to Start Interviewing Restaurant Staff

Finding the right person to fill an open position at a restaurant can be tricky. It requires a lot of vetting and finding someone with a mindset and attitude that fits well into the rest of your already established team. 

Using the 21 questions above as a guide can better help you find the right candidate to join your restaurant staff without finding out any surprises after on-boarding. 

You may not want or need to use all 21 questions, but choosing the most relevant ones for the role you’re looking to fill can help lead to a more honest and revealing interview.

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