33 Server Interview Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 26, 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.

When preparing for an interview, it's helpful to review the questions you can expect during your meeting. There are many areas a hiring manager may cover when interviewing you for a server position. Understanding these potential questions can help you prepare effectively for your server interview. In this article, we discuss the various types of questions to expect during a server interview, including four server interview questions with sample responses.

General server interview questions

When beginning your interview, the hiring manager often asks several general questions to open the conversation. They ask these questions to understand who you are and why you're interested in the position. The hiring manager also uses general interview questions to draw out your personality and character traits. Several examples of general server interview questions include:

  • Why are you interested in working as a server for our company?

  • What are your long-term career goals?

  • What do you most enjoy about working as a server?

  • What is the most significant challenge you find working as a server?

  • Why do you think you're a good fit for our server position?

  • How familiar are you with our menu?

  • How would your previous colleagues describe you?

Interview questions focused on soft skills

During your server interview, the hiring manager may ask several questions related to your soft skills. Soft skills are the qualities and characteristics that you develop over time with experience. Unlike hard skills, which focus on the technical understanding of a role, soft skills are transferrable and critical to success throughout your career life. Some examples of soft skills include teamwork, organization, and dependability. Here are several interview questions focusing on the soft skills needed as a server:

  • How do you build rapport with your coworkers when starting a new server position?

  • What are three essential qualities of a proficient server?

  • As a server, how do you manage stress in the workplace?

  • During peak times in the restaurant, how do you handle a rush of customers?

  • How do you handle demanding customers?

  • Do you enjoy working in a team?

  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with the kitchen staff.

Interview questions focused on hard skills

A hiring manager also asks questions related to your hard skills, or technical knowledge, that allow you to perform the position's duties. For example, as a server, hard skills can include food and wine pairing, ingredient knowledge, the ability to handle food allergies and sensitivities, and the physical requirements of the role. Here are several examples of interview questions that focus on the hard skills of being a server:

  • Are you comfortable being on your feet for most of your workday?

  • Are you comfortable carrying large trays of food and drinks?

  • How do you learn about the menu items as a server?

  • What knowledge do you have about wines and top-shelf brands of spirits?

  • Describe your experience in providing beverage recommendations to pair with menu items.

  • How do you handle food allergy or sensitivity questions about menu items?

  • How are your math skills related to being a server?

Server interview questions related to experience and background

A hiring manager may also ask you about your previous work history and experience as a server. They ask these questions to evaluate your ability to handle various server situations, past behaviour, and ability to implement lessons learned into your current role. Here are several questions that relate to your background and experience:

  • Describe your previous restaurant experience.

  • How did you get into the restaurant industry?

  • What other positions have you held within the restaurant industry?

  • How have your past employers handled tips for servers?

  • Describe your most demanding customer as a server.

  • As a server, what is your most significant accomplishment?

  • What is your experience with food sensitivities or dietary restrictions regarding ingredients and cooking methods?

  • What training have you completed that prepares you to work as a server?

Server interview questions with sample answers

Here are four questions you may encounter during your server interview, along with sample answers:

1. How do you make your customers feel welcome as their server?

A hiring manager asks this question to determine how you develop a rapport with your customers. Having excellent customer service skills and making your customers feel welcome are essential qualities of a successful server. When responding to this question, first focus on why a guest's comfort is vital for a positive customer experience. Next, provide detailed examples of how you create rapport with your customers and ensure they are comfortable.

Example: "Making a customer feel welcome is my priority when they arrive. When customers feel welcome and comfortable, they have a better dining experience, are more apt to stay longer, return for another visit, or recommend the restaurant to others. I approach a new table as soon as possible to say hello, even if I'm busy with bussing or another order. I smile while making eye contact, let them know my name, and ask them how they're doing. Throughout their entire dining experience, I continue to expand on the rapport I build at the beginning."

2. You're about to take a food order out to your table and notice that the steak is overcooked. What do you do?

A server acts as the liaison between the customer and the kitchen staff. Being able to look out for your customer's interest while remaining a team player and respectful to other coworkers is essential to success. A hiring manager asks this question to understand how you maintain a high level of quality and service and can preserve a spirit of teamwork and cooperation with your peers. In your response, provide an example of what you would say to the kitchen staff and solve the problem respectfully for the customer.

Example: "The kitchen staff work hard, especially during peak times. If I noticed that a customer's order is incorrect, I would approach the kitchen staff with respect and appreciation. I'd ask if they could recook a new steak as soon as they had time, and I would thank them for their help. I'd also apologize if I made an error or wasn't clear with my directions.

Then I would bring out the remaining meal items to the table, apologize for the delay in the steak, and let them know it is coming out shortly. I'd then ask the table if I could get them anything else in the meantime until the properly cooked steak is ready."

3. Give me an example of how you might upsell a customer as a server.

As a server, one of your responsibilities is to increase the value of the final bill by upselling customers on appetizers, drinks, sides, and desserts. A hiring manager asks this question to evaluate your sales abilities as a server. If you are strong at upselling and the interviewer doesn't ask this question, be sure to include this skill somewhere in the interview. Increasing the value of the cheque allows both the company and you as the server to make more money. In your response to this question, provide a specific example and how you would upsell the table.

Example: "I enjoy the challenge of upselling a table and play a game with myself every shift to see what I can add to a customer's experience. When approaching the table, I ask if they're celebrating a special occasion or event. I then offer various suggestions of beverages and appetizers they may enjoy. During their order, I offer sides or additional items that would complement their meal and always offer desserts or after-dinner drinks. I find upselling easy to do when I first get to know a bit about the people at my tables and then making appropriate recommendations."

4. How do you accommodate a guest with a specific food restriction?

When dealing with any food or drink consumption, a server must remain vigilant in checking for food allergies, sensitivities, and restrictions. A hiring manager asks this question to determine your ability to handle special requests in a sensitive, inclusive, and educated manner. This includes your interest in learning the ingredients and cooking methods for the items on the menu, safe food handling practices, and the appropriate questions to ask a guest. In your answer, offer specific examples of how you would prepare yourself to work in the position and accommodate a customer.

Example: "The first element to effectively accommodating a guest with specific food restrictions is to understand the menu in detail, including all ingredients and cooking methods. I also equip myself with knowledge about what the kitchen can and cannot accommodate and areas of potential cross-contamination. I always ask a table of guests if anyone has allergies or restrictions to guide them properly in selecting the best menu items for their situation. And if I'm ever in doubt, I check with the head chef or kitchen manager first."

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