Top 10 Restaurant Interview Questions (With Example Answers)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated February 4, 2023
Published June 21, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Restaurant positions typically require excellent customer service and technical skills. Preparing for restaurant interviews helps to position you as a good fit for the organization. By practising potential interview questions in advance, you can emphasize your skill set for restaurant positions and leave a good impression on hiring managers. In this article, we explore common restaurant interview questions and provide example answers.
10 restaurant interview questions
Review these common restaurant industry questions to prepare for your interview:
1. Why do you enjoy working in the restaurant industry?
Interviewers ask this question to determine what motivates you to work in restaurants. Use this opportunity to describe your previous work experience in the industry briefly. Highlight your understanding of the required skills for restaurant jobs. Your response can mention skills as well as what you enjoy, like teamwork, working in a fast-paced environment, and engaging with customers.
Example: "I love being around people and meeting new personalities. Having worked at FoodShow Restaurant for a year, I discovered my personality and skill set match the requirements of customer-focused industries like the food and beverage industry. Of course, the exposure to popular foods from different cultures also motivates me, and I enjoy providing memorable dining experiences to guests."
2. What do you think are the most important skills for this restaurant role?
Restaurant workers need a combination of soft and hard skills to excel. By asking this, interviewers first want to determine whether you understand the job description. Then they want to identify candidates with the required skills for the position.
Example: "I believe everyone in the restaurant industry must be good at relating with others. In my opinion, the most important skills for this position are effective communication, teamwork, and customer service skills. After reading the job description, I realized this position requires me to switch between supervising others and serving diners occasionally. My excellent communication skills would help build healthy relationships with everyone I meet. My exceptional teamwork skills would also enable me to thrive in this collaborative environment, and my customer service qualities would keep me focused on satisfying the customer's needs.”
3. What does excellent customer service mean to you?
This question aims to evaluate whether your understanding of excellent customer service aligns with that of the establishment. Ensure your answer shows your passion for ensuring customers have a memorable experience. If applicable, use a situational example of a time you provided excellent customer service in a previous role.
Example: “Excellent customer service means meeting and exceeding the customer's expectations. It involves answering all questions, solving issues, and showing customers how important they are by being friendly and welcoming. For example, At my first restaurant job, a lady regularly came in for fish and chips. She once mentioned her birthday was the following week, so I wrote it down. After serving her usual on her birthday, I offered a piece of cake on the house. She was overjoyed by my gesture, and she promised to recommend the restaurant to more friends."
4. How do you handle conflicts with coworkers?
Working in a restaurant requires a collective effort, and conflicts may arise between workers. The goal of this question is to convince the interviewer of your ability to handle conflicts effectively.
Example: "In my experience, occasional conflicts may arise when working restaurant jobs. Especially during periods and when working under pressure as a team. I always try to deal with disagreements before they become heated, by calming all parties. I also make sure I maintain my composure and take the issue to a private setting away from customers. During conflict-resolution meetings, I listen actively and always try to find a solution that benefits everyone."
5. Describe a time you managed an impatient customer
By asking this question, interviewers want to evaluate your ability to pacify diners. Use your answer to outline your relevant character traits, such as patience and compassion.
Example: “At my last restaurant manager job, a customer came in on a busy workday and ordered a meal. I noticed he was in a hurry and was running late for a meeting. Since we had multiple customers to serve at the time, I politely went to his table and explained the restaurant's situation to him. I also assured him we would serve his meal promptly and offered a timeline. Informing the diner of the situation helped to keep him calm, and I believe my excellent interpersonal skills were vital."
6. How do you handle your mistakes?
Mistakes in the restaurant industry may be costly to your potential employers. When interviewers ask this, they want to know how you deal with your mistakes and try to correct them.
Example: “With three years of experience in the restaurant industry, I understand why preventing mistakes is important and I try to avoid them. However, if any occurs, I start by acknowledging them. Then, I apologize to all parties involved and look for ways to correct the mistakes. I also try to prevent them from recurring by setting up an action plan. Following this approach helps me resolve my mistakes and those of my team."
7. What would you do if a customer ordered a dish that wasn't on the menu?
This question enables an interviewer to assess your emotional awareness and ability to communicate with diners. In your response, explain how you would make the customer feel welcome and offer alternative options.
Example: “I'd first inform the customer that the dish was unavailable or not something we serve at the restaurant. Then, I'd politely ask why they ordered the dish to make our discussion conversational. Next, I'd suggest an alternative dish they could have. If they were uninterested in getting the second option, I'd inform the customer when they could check back for the particular dish.”
8. What's your greatest strength as a restaurant worker?
The goal of this question is to find out what your greatest strength is and whether it'd be useful for the restaurant position. When answering, make sure you sell yourself as the best candidate and be confident. Consider using an example to explain how you apply the skill-based or character-based strength.
Example: “Learning concepts quickly and working as part of a team comes naturally to me. I've always been good at fostering teamwork and working through problems. When I started a position at a neighbourhood restaurant, my previous employers had no one to manage the team. I assumed the position and enhanced the workplace while ensuring everyone provided excellent customer service to diners. This strength has helped me advance my career, and I look forward to applying it at this restaurant.”
9. What hours are you available to work?
Interviewers ask this question when they are seriously considering you for a position. They want to know your availability to determine how you fit into the establishment's working style and shift schedule. Give an honest answer and consider explaining your flexibility.
Example: "I'm available to work from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays, and I'd be happy to work additional hours whenever necessary. I'm also flexible about my end time on these days and during busy business periods. I'm a team player and like to help my colleagues by picking up shifts when they're unavailable."
10. Have you dined at this restaurant before? What makes our restaurant unique?
The goal of this question is to determine whether you researched the restaurant before the interview. Interviewers want to identify your specific knowledge of the restaurant. Consider talking about the menu items, décor, customer service, cuisine, and location.
Example: "I dined here on my last visit to Ottawa, and the meal I had was delicious. I particularly liked that you had different menu types and various dishes on each. The mood was also relaxing, and I think the restaurant's vantage location in the city's busy night-time district gives it a competitive advantage."
Tips for answering restaurant interview questions
Use these interview preparation tips when responding to questions for restaurant positions:
Emphasize your soft skills that relate to the restaurant position
Consider using the STAR interview response technique when answering questions
Be enthusiastic about the idea of working at the restaurant
Show your thought process or reasons for your answer
Refer to details in the job description and information you researched about the restaurant in your responses
Dress appropriately for the restaurant interview
Bring your interview essentials, such as copies of your resume, your portfolio, and a list of references
Practise open body language, such as maintaining eye contact, placing both feet on the floor, and keeping a smile.
Now that we've explored common restaurant interview questions and provided example answers you'll be better prepared if you choose this career path.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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