We collected 15 insightful restaurant job interview questions, tailor-made to help you find the perfect fit for your business.

Table of contents
  1. Importance of Interviews in the Restaurant Industry
  2. 10 Common Restaurant Job Interview Questions
  3. 5 In-Depth Restaurant Interview Questions
  4. Restaurant Interview Best Practices for Hiring Managers
  5. Restaurant Interview Best Practices for Candidates
  6. FAQs

Hiring the right staff for your restaurant can be a challenging task.

With so many variables to consider, it’s essential to have a solid set of interview questions ready.

Get ready to unlock the secret formula of interviewing in the restaurant industry!

Key Takeaways

  • Restaurant job interview questions are crucial for finding the best staff for your establishment.
  • The right questions help assess a candidate’s skills, experience, and fit for your team.
  • Questions about handling difficult customers, resolving conflicts with coworkers, and past achievements provide valuable insights.

Importance of Interviews in the Restaurant Industry

The interview process plays an integral role in the hiring decision-making of any restaurant business. It serves as a bridge between potential employees and the restaurant’s culture.

Through an effective interview, you can assess whether prospective hires are well suited for your specific position based on their professional skills, past experience, and personality traits.

A good interview also offers insight into a candidate’s problem-solving abilities – particularly important in dealing with demanding customers or during busy shifts!

By asking carefully tailored questions about previous experiences or hypothetical scenarios, you gain a clear understanding of candidates’ approaches to work in this fast-paced industry.

🧠 Did You Know?

The turnover rate in the restaurant industry is one of the highest, averaging around 75% annually? This makes effective interviewing techniques even more crucial for finding the right fit for your team and reducing turnover rates.

10 Common Restaurant Job Interview Questions

In this section, we’ll explore some common restaurant job interview questions that will help you gain valuable insights into a candidate’s experience and skills. Read on to discover the best questions to ask during your interviews.

Tell me about yourself

The “tell me about yourself” question is a crucial part of the restaurant job interview process. It provides employers with an opportunity to gain insight into a candidate’s background, qualifications, and personality.

As a restaurant owner, you want to hear concise and engaging responses that showcase the candidate’s communication skills and ability to connect with customers and team members. Look for candidates who present themselves as motivated individuals with a genuine interest in the restaurant industry.

Pay attention to any relevant certifications or training they mention, such as food safety or customer service training.

💡 Pro Tip:

When asking ‘Tell me about yourself,’ look for answers that highlight a candidate’s passion for the service industry and their understanding of your restaurant’s values. This can provide deeper insights into their fit with your team and company culture.

Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer? How did you handle it?

Handling difficult customers is a crucial skill in the restaurant industry, and this question can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s ability to handle challenging situations.

You’ll want to hear specific examples of how the candidate has handled difficult customers in the past. The candidate should focus on their communication and problem-solving skills, as well as their ability to remain calm and professional.

It’s important for them to share a detailed description of the situation, explain how they listened to the customer’s concerns, empathized with their frustrations, and provided appropriate solutions or alternatives.

💡 Pro Tip:

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Why do you want to work at this restaurant?

Showcasing a genuine interest in the restaurant a candidate is applying to is crucial when answering the question, “Why do you want to work at this restaurant?” This question allows the hiring manager to assess the candidate’s knowledge about their establishment and determine if they have done their research.

The candidate should mention specific details about the restaurant’s atmosphere, menu, or reputation that appeal to them.

Ideally, they should avoid generic answers and demonstrate their commitment and enthusiasm for contributing to your business’s success.

💡 Pro Tip:

Look for candidates who have done their homework and can articulate what specifically draws them to your restaurant, such as your culinary style, values, or community involvement. This shows genuine interest and a potential long-term fit.

Can you tell me about a mistake you’ve made on the job and how you handled it?

Candidates may be asked this question to assess their ability to take responsibility for their actions and learn from mistakes. They should provide a specific example of a mistake they made, explain the steps they took to rectify it and demonstrate accountability.

The candidate should discuss how they communicated the mistake to their supervisor or team members, took immediate action to resolve it, and implemented measures to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

This question allows you to gauge a candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to learn from past experiences.

Can you tell me about a time when you and a coworker clashed and how you resolved it?

One important question to ask during a restaurant job interview is, “Can you tell me about a time when you and a coworker clashed and how you resolved it?” This question allows candidates to showcase their conflict resolution skills and ability to work well with others.

It also gives insight into their professionalism and problem-solving abilities. When asking this question, it’s essential to look for responses that demonstrate open communication, collaboration, and finding positive outcomes.

By evaluating the candidate’s past experiences in resolving conflicts with coworkers, restaurant owners can gain valuable insights into their potential as team members.

💡 Pro Tip: 

Encourage candidates to describe specific actions they took to resolve a conflict, rather than focusing solely on the issue. This can reveal their conflict resolution skills and ability to maintain a positive work environment.

Can you tell me about your proudest moment working in a restaurant?

Candidates are often asked about their proudest moment working in a restaurant during an interview. This question helps you, as the hiring manager, to understand the candidate’s achievements and dedication to their job.

The candidate’s response can give insight into their work ethic, problem-solving abilities, customer service skills, and overall commitment to the industry. It allows them to share stories of resolving difficult situations, receiving positive feedback, successfully handling busy shifts or being recognized for outstanding performance.

By listening to candidates’ answers, you can assess if they possess the qualities and skills needed to thrive in a restaurant environment.

What are the most important skills someone in this role should have?

One important skill someone in a restaurant role should have is the ability to make people happy and provide excellent customer service. This includes being friendly, attentive, and responsive to customers’ needs.

Other essential skills for restaurant roles include customer service, food preparation, and managing inventory. These skills are crucial for ensuring a positive dining experience and keeping operations running smoothly.

How do you think you embody the skills you just mentioned?

Candidates are asked this question to evaluate their self-awareness and ability to connect their skills with the job requirements. By answering this question, candidates can demonstrate their understanding of the specific skills needed for the role and showcase how they have successfully utilized those skills in previous experiences.

This provides valuable insights into a candidate’s suitability for the position and allows employers to assess if they align with the desired qualities they are looking for in potential staff members.

man doing a training course from his phone

When was a time when you went out of your way to help someone?

Candidates in the restaurant industry are often faced with challenging situations that require exceptional problem-solving skills and a customer service-oriented mindset. Asking them about a time they went out of their way to help someone provides valuable insights into their ability to handle difficult customers and provide exceptional service.

This question allows you to assess the candidate’s empathy, willingness to go above and beyond, and their dedication to ensuring customer satisfaction. By understanding how candidates have handled these situations in the past, restaurant owners can better evaluate their potential for success in providing excellent service as part of their team.

Where do you see yourself on a team?

A candidate’s response to the question “Where do you see yourself on a team?” provides valuable insight into their teamwork abilities and potential for growth. This question helps assess whether they are more suited to taking on a leadership role or supporting others within the team.

It allows candidates to showcase their skills, experiences, and how they can contribute effectively in a fast-paced restaurant setting. The answer should demonstrate an understanding of the importance of teamwork, highlighting how they can positively impact the success of the whole team.

💡 Pro Tip:

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5 In-Depth Restaurant Interview Questions

While the questions above are important questions to ask during an interview, most candidates will have heard them before and likely have an answer prepared.

Use the questions below to dig a little deeper and gain insights into a candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to handle challenging situations in a restaurant setting.

What would you do if you ran out of a menu item?

Gauge if the candidate would take the initiative and find a solution, such as suggesting alternative menu items or notifying the kitchen staff to prepare more of the item.

The candidate’s response can reveal their understanding of customer satisfaction and their willingness to go above and beyond to ensure a positive dining experience.

This question can help you understand the candidate’s knowledge of the menu and their ability to think quickly on their feet.

It can also provide insight into their communication skills and their ability to work well with the kitchen and waitstaff to address the issue.

How do you handle a busy shift?

Candidates who can effectively handle a busy shift are essential for the success of any restaurant. During an interview, asking candidates how they handle a busy shift provides valuable insights into their ability to thrive in high-pressure situations.

Look for candidates who can demonstrate their strategies for managing time, prioritizing tasks, and staying organized during busy shifts. Additionally, inquire about their ability to multitask and handle multiple orders and customers simultaneously.

Their response to this question can reveal their problem-solving skills and ability to remain calm under pressure. Communication is also vital during hectic times, so pay attention to candidates who can effectively communicate with coworkers and customers amidst a bustling environment.

What would you do if you made a mistake with an order?

This question allows you to assess problem-solving skills and the ability to handle mistakes.

The candidate’s response should demonstrate their commitment to customer service by offering a solution or replacement for the error.

Additionally, they should show their willingness to learn from their mistake and take steps to prevent similar errors in the future.

What do you think makes a great restaurant experience?

Any great restaurant experience is defined by several key factors. Firstly, the quality of the food and drinks served plays a crucial role. Customers expect delicious, well-prepared meals that meet or exceed their expectations.

Additionally, excellent customer service is vital to creating a positive experience. Friendly and attentive staff who go above and beyond to ensure guest satisfaction can leave a lasting impression.

Your perfect candidate should be aware of at least some of these points and see themselves as responsible for upholding these standards to create a welcoming experience for your customers.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing restaurants today?

This is a question you would want to ask when interviewing for a managerial position. Your ideal candidate’s answer should include at least some of the following points:

Restaurants today face several significant challenges. First, finding and retaining qualified and reliable staff members is an ongoing struggle. The competitive nature of the industry means that new establishments are constantly opening, increasing the demand for skilled employees.

Additionally, rising costs of ingredients, utilities, rent, and labor impact a restaurant’s profitability. It is essential for restaurants to adapt to evolving consumer demands and trends to stay relevant in the market.

Furthermore, managing online reviews and social media feedback has become crucial as they greatly influence a restaurant’s reputation.

📚 This Might Interest You: 

Struggling with staff shortages? Explore our guide on how to get through the restaurant staff shortage for insights and strategies on how to attract and keep the best talent for your restaurant in today’s competitive market.

Restaurant Interview Best Practices for Hiring Managers

Restaurant managers should prepare structured interview questions, prioritize soft skills, and collaborate with the team to ensure a successful restaurant interview process.

Prepare structured interview questions

To ensure you hire the best staff for your restaurant, it is essential to prepare structured interview questions. By organizing your questions in a logical and systematic way, you can effectively assess candidates’ qualifications and fit for the role.

Structured interview questions help you gather consistent information from each candidate, making it easier to compare their responses and make informed hiring decisions.

Tailor your questions to the specific position and consider including a mix of behavioral-based inquiries that focus on past experiences, as well as situational or role-specific scenarios that test problem-solving skills in a restaurant setting.

This approach will enable you to gain deeper insights into candidates’ abilities, motivations, and potential contributions to your team.

Assess cultural fit

Assessing cultural fit is a crucial step when hiring staff for restaurants. It helps determine if a candidate’s values align with the organization’s culture, which is important for creating a harmonious work environment.

To assess cultural fit, consider asking questions that delve into the candidate’s work style, collaboration preferences, and approach to customer service.

Understanding how well a new employee will fit into the restaurant’s culture before making a hiring decision can lead to a more successful and cohesive team dynamic.

Remember, finding employees who align with your values can contribute to better staff morale and ultimately enhance the overall success of your restaurant business.

💡 Pro Tip:

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Use role-specific scenarios

In order to find the best staff for your restaurant, it is important to use role-specific scenarios during the interview process.

By presenting candidates with situations that directly relate to their potential role in the restaurant, you can assess their problem-solving skills and how they would handle various challenges.

For example, asking about managing shift schedules can help determine a candidate’s understanding of their specific responsibilities.

Additionally, posing scenarios involving difficult customers allows you to evaluate a candidate’s ability to handle high-pressure situations unique to working in a restaurant.

By incorporating these types of questions into your interviews, you can gain valuable insights into how candidates would perform in real-life situations within your establishment.

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Read our in-depth comparison of the best restaurant scheduling software. Learn how the right software can simplify your scheduling, save time, and reduce conflicts, contributing to smoother restaurant operations.

Prioritize soft skills

When hiring staff for a restaurant, it is crucial to prioritize soft skills. These are the personal qualities and attributes that enable individuals to work effectively in a team and provide excellent customer service.

Soft skills such as patience, organization, and flexibility are vital in a fast-paced restaurant environment where employees must handle demanding customers and navigate busy shifts.

By prioritizing these skills during the interview process, hiring managers can ensure that they select candidates who possess the necessary qualities to succeed in their roles.

It’s important to remember that while technical abilities can be taught, soft skills are often innate traits that cannot easily be developed.

Collaborate with the team

Collaborating with the team is crucial when it comes to hiring the best staff for your restaurant. As a hiring manager, you should ask questions that assess a candidate’s ability to work effectively in a team setting.

This includes asking about their experience working with others, their communication skills, and how they handle conflicts or clashes with coworkers. By delving deeper into these aspects during the interview process, you can gain valuable insights into whether a candidate is truly capable of collaborating with your existing team members.

Remember, finding employees who can work well together is key to creating a positive and productive work environment in your restaurant.

Provide a realistic job preview

A realistic job preview is crucial when hiring for restaurant staff. It allows candidates to have a clear understanding of what the job entails and what they can expect if they are hired.

By providing this preview, restaurant owners can prevent misunderstandings and reduce turnover by ensuring that candidates fully comprehend the job requirements, work environment, and potential challenges.

Best practices for a realistic job preview include showcasing a typical day on the job, featuring honest employee interviews, and emphasizing cultural fit. This way, hiring managers can attract top talent and build a strong team.

Hiring managers in the restaurant industry must be well-versed in legal compliance to ensure they are following the correct guidelines and regulations during the interview process.

This includes knowing what questions are lawful and unlawful to ask on job applications and during interviews. By adhering to best practices and asking relevant, legal questions, owners can make informed hiring decisions while also ensuring they stay within the bounds of employment law.

Being knowledgeable about legal compliance is essential for finding the right candidate for the job while avoiding any legal complications down the line.

📚 This Might Interest You:

To ensure your restaurant meets all legal requirements during the hiring process, check out our comprehensive guide on restaurant compliance. This article will help you navigate the complexities of restaurant regulations and maintain compliance.

Restaurant Interview Best Practices for Candidates

Congratulations! You’ve landed an interview at a restaurant. Now what? Don’t worry, here are a few tips that will equip you with the tools to impress and secure the job you desire.

Follow the STAR method

The STAR Method is your secret weapon: When faced with a behavioral or situational interview question, don’t panic. Remember the STAR method.

Think back to a specific Situation you encountered at a previous restaurant. Recall the Task at hand, the Actions you took to address it, and the positive Result you achieved.

By using this structured approach, you’ll deliver clear and concise answers that showcase your skills, experiences, and problem-solving abilities, making you stand out from the crowd.

Avoid talking down to previous employers

Leave negativity at the door: No matter how your previous restaurant experience may have ended, resist the urge to speak negatively about it.

Maintain a positive and professional attitude while discussing your past roles. This demonstrates maturity, respect, and your ability to handle challenges with grace.

Remember, interviewers want to see someone who can contribute positively to their team.

Be truthful and avoid exaggerating

Be truthful about your skills and experience: Don’t inflate your qualifications or embellish the truth.

Employers need to get a clear picture of your genuine abilities to make an informed decision.

Honesty builds trust and showcases your integrity, both crucial qualities in the fast-paced world of restaurants.

Remember interview basics

First impressions matter: Dress professionally and arrive on time, showing respect for the interviewer and your genuine interest in the position.

Take the extra step to research the restaurant before your interview. This allows you to ask informed questions about their business, culture, and menu, demonstrating your genuine interest in being part of their team.

During the interview, actively listen to the interviewer and maintain eye contact. This shows you’re engaged and invested in the conversation.

Confidence is Your Ally:

Show your confidence: Believe in yourself and your capabilities! Speak clearly, maintain eye contact, and display genuine enthusiasm.

However, remember that confidence is different from arrogance. Be humble and genuine in your interactions, but don’t shy away from showcasing your skills and experience with assurance.

Projecting confidence gives the interviewer the reassurance they need to see you as a valuable addition to their team.

Bonus Tip:

Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask thoughtful questions about the role, the restaurant, or their company culture.

This not only shows your interest but also helps you learn more about the position and determine if it’s the right fit for you.

By following these tips and embracing your strengths, you’ll be well on your way to nailing your restaurant interview and securing your dream job.


Why is it important to ask the right questions during a restaurant interview?

Asking the right questions is crucial to assess whether the candidate has the necessary skills, experience, and personality fit to thrive in the restaurant environment. It helps in identifying individuals who are likely to contribute positively to the workplace culture and the overall success of the restaurant.

Can these interview questions be used for all staff positions in a restaurant?

While many of the questions are versatile and can be used for various positions, it is recommended to tailor the questions to suit the specific role you are hiring for. For instance, questions for a chef position will differ from those for a server or a manager.

How can I assess a candidate’s customer service skills during the interview?

You can assess a candidate’s customer service skills by asking behavioral and situational questions that require them to share past experiences dealing with customers. For example, asking them to describe a time when they handled a difficult customer or resolved a complaint can provide insights into their customer service abilities.

Should I focus more on a candidate’s experience or personality during the interview?

While experience is important, especially for senior roles, personality is also crucial in the restaurant industry. A candidate with a positive, team-oriented, and customer-focused attitude can often be more valuable than one with extensive experience but a lack of interpersonal skills. Balancing both aspects is key to finding the right fit for your restaurant.

How can I ensure that the interview process is fair and unbiased?

To ensure a fair and unbiased interview process, it is important to have a diverse panel of interviewers and to ask each candidate the same set of questions. Avoiding questions that are discriminatory and focusing on the candidate’s skills, experiences, and fit for the role will also contribute to a more equitable hiring process.

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