restaurant interview questions
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Behind every successful company, there is an excellent team of employees. Hiring the right people to work in your restaurant is essential to ensuring its success.

As a restaurant owner, manager, or chef, you must find the best employees to keep your business running smoothly.

The interview process is one of the best ways to assess whether a prospective employee is a good fit for your company.

The right questions can help you determine whether a candidate is the right fit for your team or not. However, coming up with restaurant interview questions can be a challenge.

You want to learn about the applicant’s experience, work ethic, and skills, but you also don’t want to bore them or make them feel uncomfortable.

Additionally, interviewing is a 2-way street, as in 2020, the number of employees in the restaurant industry decreased by 2.23 million, and finding talent is more challenging than ever.

To help you out, here is a list of 18 great questions to ask during a restaurant interview. With these questions, you’ll get a better sense of who the applicant is and whether they would be a good fit for your team!

8 Types of Restaurant Roles

To run a successful establishment, you need a great team in place. But what types of positions should you be looking to fill? Here are a few key roles that are essential for any restaurant:

1. General Manager

The restaurant manager is responsible for the overall operation. They oversee the front-of-house and back-of-house staff and ensure everything is running smoothly.

A restaurant could have a general manager, assistant manager, or procurement manager.

You might also like: 12 Restaurant Management Tips for Happy Employees & a Successful Business

2. Head Chef

The head chef is in charge of the kitchen and all the cooks. They create the menu, design the dishes, and ensure the food’s perfection.

3. Sous Chef

The sous chef is second-in-command in the kitchen, beneath the head chef. They help with menu planning, food preparation, and cooking.

4. Line Cook

Line cooks are responsible for cooking the food ordered by customers. They work in the kitchen on the line, where they prepare and cook dishes to order.

5. Server

Servers are responsible for taking orders from customers and serving them their food and drinks. They also handle payments and provide customer service.

6. Bartender

Bartenders mix and serve drinks to customers. They also need to know how to make various cocktails and have a good knowledge of wine and beer.

7. Dishwasher

Dishwashers clean and sanitize all the dishes used in the restaurant. They also keep the kitchen clean and organized.

8. Host/Hostess

The host or hostess is responsible for greeting customers as they arrive. They place them at their table and help them with their needs during their meal.

10 Ways to Attract Top Restaurant Talent

Now that you know what types of roles you should be looking to fill, it’s time to start thinking about how to attract and hire the best candidates. Here are a few tips:

1. Use Job Postings

To attract candidates, you need to let them know you’re hiring. The best way to do this is by posting job openings on your website and job boards like Indeed.com. This could be a great way to raise your brand awareness.

2. Offer Competitive Wages

Recently, the restaurant labor shortage has become an issue. The majority of operators have stated that they lack a workforce. Unfortunately, the situation isn’t expected to improve any time soon.

As recruiting new workers has become challenging, offering more benefits and incentives is the best way to attract top talent. To hire restaurant staff, you should provide competitive wages, among other things.

3. Provide Benefits

In addition to offering competitive wages, you should also provide benefits like health insurance and paid time off. It will help you attract and retain the best employees.

4. Offer Training

To attract candidates with little to no experience, you need to offer an on-the-job training program. That will show them that you’re willing to invest in their development and help them learn the skills they need to succeed.

Learn more: How to Develop a Highly Effective Restaurant Training Manual

5. Promote from Within

When possible, promote from within. It shows your employees that there are opportunities for advancement and helps build morale.

6. Be Selective

It’s essential to be selective when hiring for positions in the hospitality industry. Take your time and ask the right restaurant interview questions to find the best candidates. Don’t be afraid to turn away applicants who aren’t a good fit.

7. Use Social Media

Social media is a great way to get to know the customers and reach new candidates. Use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to post job openings and share information about your business.

8. Host an Open House

An open house is a great way to let candidates know about your brand and what it’s like to work there. That is also an excellent opportunity to meet candidates in person and get to know them better.

9. Participate in Job Fairs

Job fairs are another great way to reach candidates. Set up a local job fair booth and hand out information about open positions. It is a great way to make connections with potential employees.

10. Conduct Interviews

Once you’ve found some qualified candidates, it’s time to conduct interviews. With the right restaurant interview questions, you can better understand and analyze the candidates and see if they fit well for the position.

18 Best Restaurant Interview Questions and Answers

Here are 18 of the best questions to ask when interviewing potential employees:

Interview Questions Around Background & Experience

1) What experience do you have working in a restaurant?

A question like this will help you understand the type of experience the candidate has and whether they’re a good fit for the position.

When answering, the candidate should discuss any relevant experience working in a similar environment, including their duties and responsibilities. If they have any customer service or food and beverage experience, they should mention it.

2) What position did you hold?

This is an important question. It will tell you the candidate’s role in their previous positions.

The candidate should discuss any management or supervisory roles they held. Any front-of-house or back-of-house positions are also relevant.

3) Describe a time when you had to go above and beyond your job duties.

This question tests the candidate’s willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

The answer should show that the candidate is willing to put in extra effort when needed. They should also demonstrate good problem-solving skills.

4) How do you handle stress while working?

The environment the candidate is used to can tell you a lot about their work ethic. For instance, you should learn how they cope with stress and high pressure.

The answer should show that candidates can manage their stress levels and remain productive while working.

Interview Questions Around Teamwork

5) What do you think makes a great restaurant employee?

It is essential to learn what the candidate values in a hospitality worker. It will give you insights into their work ethic and values.

The candidate should discuss qualities like dependability, customer service, teamwork, and adaptability. They could also talk about punctuality and willingness to work in a team.

6) What are the most important things to remember when working in a team?

Working in the hospitality industry is all about working in teams. Your candidate must show that they can be reliable and responsible in a group.

The answer should indicate that the candidate values teamwork. It should show the willingness to communicate clearly, help out their colleagues, be flexible, and work toward a shared objective.

7) What are the most significant things to remember when working in a fast-paced environment?

This question tests the candidate’s ability to work quickly and efficiently. It tells you how the candidate would handle working in a fast-paced environment.

The candidate should show they can maintain high-quality work even when working quickly. They could also show that they understand how to speed up processes. For instance, having experience with a restaurant management system could be a plus.

Interview Questions Around Customer Service

8) What are the most important things to remember when dealing with customers?

This question probes into the candidate’s understanding of customer service.

The answer to this question should show that the candidate values good customer service and can deal with customers professionally.

9) What do you do if a customer is unhappy with their food?

A customer unsatisfied with their food will likely return the dish. This question will show you how the candidate responds to such requests.

The answer should show that the candidate is ready to take responsibility for their actions and work to resolve the issue professionally.

Learn more: How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews to Increase Brand Loyalty

Interview Questions Around Specific Positions

10) What do you think are the key responsibilities of a (position)?

This question will show whether the candidate understands the duties and responsibilities of the position they’re applying for.

The candidate should focus on some critical duties of the position, such as taking orders, preparing food, or cleaning tables.

11) Do you have any experience with (specific task)?

If a specific task is relevant to the position you’re hiring for, it’s necessary to ask about any previous experience.

This could include using a cash register, running a dishwasher, or accepting online orders. For instance, for a financial manager, it is desirable to ask about experience in tracking and analyzing finances, making economic forecasts, or managing credit.

12) What are the most important things to remember when (specific task)?

This question probes into the candidate’s understanding of a significant aspect of the position. For example, if you’re hiring a server, you might ask them what they think is the most important thing to remember when taking orders.

The answer will show how well the candidate understands the task and how they would handle it in a real-world situation.

Interview Questions Around Workplace Challenges

13) Describe a time when you had to deal with a demanding customer.

This question tests the candidate’s customer service skills. You should know how the candidate would handle a difficult customer situation.

The answer should indicate that the candidate can remain calm and professional when dealing with a demanding customer. They should also demonstrate good problem-solving and communication skills.

14) Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker.

How the candidate would handle a difficult situation with a co-worker would show the candidate’s ability to work in a team.

The answer to this question should show that the candidate knows how to resolve conflict and maintain a professional relationship with their co-workers.

15) Describe a time when you made a mistake at work.

Failures and success mark any career; there’s no doubt about it. This question tests the candidate’s ability to take responsibility for their actions.

The answer should indicate that the candidate can learn from their mistakes and fix them.

16) Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation.

Working with people isn’t always easy. When an unpleasant situation occurs, it’s essential to approach it correctly. Staff injuries, booking errors, or property damage could happen anytime.

The answer should show that the candidate can remain calm and think clearly under pressure. They should also demonstrate good problem-solving skills. You can always ask the candidate to act out a specific scenario with you and see how exactly they would react.

Interview Questions Around the Restaurant Industry

17) How do you think new technologies are impacting the food and drink industry?

This question probes the candidate’s understanding of how new technologies impact the hospitality industry.

The answer should show that the candidate understands and follows the digital transformation. They should also be ready to adapt to new technologies and use them to benefit the company.

For example, if their job would also entail accepting online orders, ensure they’re open and willing to learn how to do that. Luckily, with GloriaFood, you can learn the entire process in no more than 10 minutes.

Teach Your Employees to Accept Online Orders in Minutes They’ll be ready to take orders by tonight

18) Why are you interested in working in our restaurant?

This question tells you more about the candidate’s motivation. It can help you understand why the candidate is interested in working in such an environment.

The answer should show that the candidate is passionate about the restaurant industry. Furthermore, they should show they have done their homework, understood your requirements, and that they have a genuine interest in your brand.

The Bottom Line

Hiring new people can be a challenging process. However, by offering a prospective position and doing the interview properly, you will find the newest members of your team quickly!

By asking these restaurant interview questions, you can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s skills, abilities, and motivations.

Soon, you’ll be better equipped to find the best employees for your restaurant.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.