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10 Restaurant Interview Questions: [With Sample Answers]

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When it comes to restaurant interview questions, you can never be too prepared.

That’s because sitting in front of the restaurant manager, who’s seen many come and go, can make you nervous and a bit forgetful.

But knowing what questions he’s going to ask, what traits he’s seeking, and what to avoid can help you go a long way.

The easiest way you achieve that is by checking the following guide.

10 Common Restaurant Interview Questions

Excited, nervous, and possibly scared.

These are a few of the main emotions that run through your body as you prepare for the interview.

To avoid those nerve-racking feelings, you’ll need to study the following questions:

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. What’s your favorite item on the menu?
  4. How do you feel about tip sharing?
  5. Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?
  6. How do you handle conflict with colleagues?
  7. Tell me about your previous boss
  8. How do you feel about staying late/coming in early?
  9. How would you deal with an upset customer?
  10. Why did you choose our restaurant?

While these questions cover most of what the restaurant manager is likely to ask, he may throw an unexpected question or two.

For instance, he could ask you some fast-food interview questions or entry-level interview questions.

Either way, by combining these questions with the ones on our list, you’re sure to be prepared for anything that comes your way.

What Should I Say in a Restaurant Interview?

If you depend too much on memorizing what you’re going to say, you’ll end up sounding rehearsed.

Sadly, this can cut the interview short.

To evade this, you’ll need to start looking at what traits the interviewer is looking for, and which they’re avoiding so you can sound more natural.

What Skills Are Restaurant Interviewers Looking For in a Candidate?

These days, restaurant managers aren’t just looking for someone with the experience to serve drinks or make food.

They’re looking for an individual with a vast set of traits that include the following:

  • Customer service: Restaurant managers are always looking for people that can protect the restaurant’s reputation and keep the customers happy.
  • Teamwork: You won’t be working alone whether you’re applying for a BOH or FOH position. Other servers, chefs, and staff members will work alongside you, so being a team player can make you stand out.
  • Multitasking: Sometimes, you’ll be required to do various tasks simultaneously in restaurants.

What Traits Are Restaurant Interviewers Looking to Avoid in a Candidate?

It’s important to note that restaurant managers aren’t just looking for good traits in individuals.

They also keep a close eye on what qualities hide behind the good ones. For instance,

  • Difficulty accepting constructive criticism: Once you understand that you’re going to make mistakes and you’ll learn from them, everything becomes more manageable. If you aren’t used to this, it’s time to start building your resilience and confidence.
  • Carelessness: In a fast-paced work environment, such as a restaurant, if you’re careless or lazy, it’ll show in your work. Slouching, sitting around, or not helping are frowned upon and won’t be accepted.
  • Poor communication skills: Restaurant work requires a lot of communication between the staff members. Whether it’s to help a customer or to get an order out, you’ll need to communicate properly so that everyone understands you.

Sample Restaurant Interview Questions and Answers

Now that you know which character traits to emphasize and which to work on, it’s time to learn some of the questions you could face.

1. Tell Me About Yourself

This question can be tricky to answer because it gives you zero outline.

Why This Question Is Asked

Talking about yourself helps reveal more of your character than just answering questions.

How you describe yourself, your life, or your principles can be big indicators of who you are.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

You need to focus on what interests you and what your hobbies are.

Then, you can explain why your personality and traits make you a perfect fit for this job.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

The one point you need to avoid here is going on tangents.

The interviewer doesn’t want to hear your life story, relationships, or how your weekend went.

While the question seems like one you’d hear in a friendly conversation, it’s more of a hidden test.

Example Answer

“I’ve always been a creative person with a flare for originality.

I love creating new food recipes, drinks, and maybe some desserts.

Working here will allow me to combine my passion with my career life.”

2. What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

Upon hearing this question, it’s important not to list your strengths and weaknesses immediately.

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers ask this question to gauge how well you’ll fit their work environment and how your strengths or weaknesses can be beneficial.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

You’ll need to point out your strengths without sounding too boastful.

Keep it short and explain how each can be valuable for this position.

For weaknesses, you’ll need to keep it brief as well and make sure you don’t sound self-deprecating.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid painting yourself in a bad light.

It’s alright if you aren’t that great at something; just don’t make it sound like a main flaw that can significantly affect your work.

Example Answer

“My strengths revolve around my excellent communication skills and patience with colleagues and customers.

As for my weakness, I have trouble when it comes to noticing the small things.

I sometimes can’t wait to achieve the overall plan, and I may miss a detail or two; I’m working on it, though.”

3. What’s Your Favorite Item on the Menu?

Though not as common as the other questions, this one is among the trickiest.

Why This Question Is Asked

Considering that you’re applying for a position in a restaurant, you must know their food and how to describe it.

This allows the interviewer to see how well you can suggest meals to customers and make the food sound tasty.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

When describing your favorite item, try to remain as honest and natural as possible.

There’s no reason to fake it or to choose something fancy.

You’ll also need to keep a few other suggestions in mind so you can describe them to the interviewer.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Try to avoid being too vague or general and keep your attention on one item at a time.

Example Answer

“I’d have to say my favorite item on your menu is the fried chicken with french fries.

I love how crunchy and flavorful the chicken is, and the fries are always crispy.”

4. How Do You Feel About Tip Sharing?

Employers need to ask how you feel about money upfront because it can lead to friction between colleagues later.

Why This Question Is Asked

The interviewer usually asks this to test your integrity and how fair you can be.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

It’s essential to express how you feel truthfully about tip sharing.

You can’t say it’s alright, and later on, you decide you can’t share your tip with anyone else.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid sounding either too boastful about your generosity or apprehensive about sharing the tip.

Instead, find a middle ground and try not to use sentences like “I can’t afford to do that” or “ I don’t care.”

Example Answer

If you’re okay with tip sharing:

” I don’t mind sharing the tip with my colleagues. I feel that since we all work to achieve a glamorous night for the customers, we all deserve to be rewarded equally.”

If you aren’t, you can say this:

“I know this might sound selfish, but I’m not really okay with sharing the tip. Maybe we can work out a fair percentage of the tip between the staff members in the future.”

5. Do You Prefer Working Alone or in a Team?

When it comes to restaurant work, this question has only one correct answer.

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers ask this question to see how much of a team player you are and if you’re open to communication and collaboration.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Focus on how well you work in a team without exaggerating.

Talk about old experiences if you have any, and if you don’t, then mention how you like working with others.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

It’s crucial not to make yourself seem like a loner or someone who doesn’t do well in teams.

Example Answer

“I’m an excellent team player and have always found that working in a team is fun. I mostly enjoy it because it helps me learn new ideas or skills from the people around me.”

6. How Do You Handle Conflict With Colleagues?

Even if you’re a team player, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get along well with your co-workers.

Why This Question Is Asked

This question mainly aims to discover your problem-solving and communication skills.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

If you have such experiences, explain one of them to the interviewer.

Start with what initiated the problem, what happened between you and the other worker, and how, hopefully, you fixed it.

If you don’t have that experience, you can just talk about how you’d resolve a conflict calmly and aim for a win-win situation.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid, at all costs, sounding angry, hateful, or condescending when answering this question.

Example Answer

“I was once in a position where my coworker wasn’t doing what was asked of him.

Even though I’ve already mentioned it several times, he always said he forgot or would do it later.

I was getting increasingly frustrated as time went by, so I talked to him about it.

It turns out he was going through some trouble, and we discussed a new plan that made things work for us both.”

7. Tell Me About Your Last Boss

This question is similar to the “tell me about yourself” question because it offers the interviewer a glimpse into your personality.

Why This Question Is Asked

The interviewer asks it to gauge how you formulate your opinions on people after you’ve already left.

It’ll expose if there was a problem with the boss’s philosophy or your attitude.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

You’ll want to focus on two main things: honesty and objectivity.

Talk about what your boss was like and their interactions with you, but don’t sugarcoat anything.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t be too negative or controversial.

You’ll also need to steer clear from calling them incompetent or unprofessional.

Just highlight the areas where they weren’t that great and what you learned from that.

Example Answer

“I learned a lot from working with my old boss. She was clever, and it showed in the way she managed the workflow. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the best when it came to communication.

She often went on tangents during meetings, forgetting to point stuff out or not including people. This resulted in too much back and forth, which taught me the importance of clear communication.”

8. How Do You Feel About Staying Late/Coming in Early?

You need to answer this question as honestly as possible because it can backfire later.

Why This Question Is Asked

Interviewers ask this question to figure out the following:

  • Your flexibility
  •  Work ethic
  •  How much of a team player are you

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Whether your answer is yes or no, you need to be as professional and sincere as possible.

So give a precise response and explain why that’s your answer.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Though the words “staying late/coming in early” can irritate most people, you’ll need to stay calm.

Don’t say no or that you aren’t willing to do so immediately.

Example Answer

“I’m willing to stay late or cover someone’s shift if the need arises.

I do have to say, though, that I really appreciate my time during work and outside of it.

I’d hate for one to suffer because of the other, but I’m always up to compromise.”

9. How Would You Deal With an Upset Customer?

This is a famous restaurant interview question that various people struggle with.

Why This Question Is Asked

The interviewer asks this question because they want to see how you would apply your problem-solving and communication skills to customers.

While they might’ve heard you explain how you’d deal with coworkers, customers are another story.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Put all your attention on the details of the answer.

Talk about the strategy you’ll follow, how you’ll calmly listen to the customer, and be as cooperative as possible.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid talking about your emotions or opinions.

The interviewer wants to see how you’d deal with the situation, not how you feel about it.

Some customers can be in the wrong, which means you’ll have to handle them regardless of your feelings.

Example Answer

“If I had a customer that was upset, the first thing I’d do is introduce myself and ask them what’s their name.

This usually helps to establish a connection so that they know I’m here to help them.

After that, I’ll ask them to explain what’s bothering them, and if there’s something that I don’t understand, I’ll ask for clarification.

Then, once the customer has explained everything, I’ll try to help them to the best of my abilities.”

10. Why Did You Choose Our Restaurant?

Understanding the answer to this question can help you stand out from other applicants.

Why This Question Is Asked

This question helps the restaurant manager know whether you’re truly interested in the establishment or if you’re applying everywhere in town.

It also helps the interviewer know what advantages they have over competitors–what’s attracting the applicants.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Talk about what makes this restaurant unique and what attracted you to it specifically.

For example, you can mention their mission, values, work ethic, or whatever drew you to them.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

You’ll have to steer clear of sounding too generic or flattering.

Also, you’ll want to avoid discussing extra benefits or pay compared to other places.

This can make you come off as if you’re only in it for the money.

Example Answer

“What really stood out to me about your restaurant is your mission to provide a safe and comfortable safe for everybody.

You don’t just care about the customers, but you also seek to empower and protect your employees.”

Other Common Interview Questions You Could Be Asked

Though the previous ten restaurant interview questions are some of the most popular, there are some other common ones you could face. For instance:

1. Why Are You a Great Match for This Role?

This question is a great chance to explain how your strengths make you the ideal candidate.

Why This Question is Asked

Hiring managers ask this question to ensure you fully grasp what the position entails and if you fit that description.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Focus on what this position needs and how you can help fulfill this need.

You can also describe how this role fits your background and passions.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

The number one rule here is to avoid bragging.

Don’t make it seem like you’re overqualified for the position, but don’t undervalue your abilities.

Example Answer

“I believe I’m a good match for this role because it requires someone who works well with others and can handle a lot of responsibility.

Thankfully, both these qualities apply to me!”

2. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Compared to the other questions, this one tests the far future and how well you plan for it.

Why This Question is Asked

The question is basically designed to get a sense of your future career goals and how they align with your current plans and the job you’re seeking.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Prove to the restaurant manager that you have a strong desire for success and a willingness to work hard.

Next, be specific about your career goals and how your current job is the right step.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

If you aren’t sure what you want to do five years from now, it’s okay.

Just don’t pretend to know because it’ll show in your answer.

Instead, discuss your current interests and why they brought you to the restaurant.

Example Answer

“I want to be a head chef. I know it’s extremely early in my career to talk about that, but it’s my passion, and I’m willing to work hard for it.”

3. What Does Customer Service Mean To You?

Customer service is the backbone of almost all industries, especially the food service sector.

Why This Question is Asked

How you interact with the customers and assist them helps build the restaurant’s reputation.

If you don’t understand that, the interviewer will likely consider you a bad fit for the job.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

There’s no need to point out why customer service is important to you.

Instead, show the interviewer how having customer service skills can help customers, make them happy or solve issues.

By creating a link of causality, you’ll prove what it means to you and that you understand it.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

A bad answer here would be anything that shows you don’t understand the importance of customer service.

Example Answer

“To me, customer service means happy and satisfied customers.

It’s about listening to their complaints and suggestions and providing them with any necessary information.

It’s also about solving problems calmly and with a smile!”

4. Tell Me About a Time You Failed

Pay attention while answering this question because it can be a bit tricky.

Why This Question is Asked

This question aims to reveal how well you respond to failure and how objective you can be about it.

By letting you talk about the situation, the interviewer can get a sense of your maturity and how you handle yourself.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

In order to give a great answer, you’ll need to focus on these three points:

  • Honesty
  • Clarity
  • Conciseness

Combine those three points and tell your story from start to finish without sugarcoating anything and without belittling anyone else.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Refrain from saying, “I failed,” “I messed up,” or blaming someone else.

There’s no need to sound self-deprecating.

Example Answer

“There was this one time where I forgot what the customer ordered right after taking the order.

Of course, I was embarrassed and apologized to the customer for making her repeat the order.

After that, I learned how important it is to pay extra attention and to keep a small note with you!”

5. Do You Want to Tell Us Anything Else About You?

Though it may sound as innocent as the “tell me about yourself” question, this one has a deeper purpose.

Why This Question is Asked

Most hiring managers ask this to understand the applicants more or just in case they missed something throughout the interview.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Take a look back at what you said during the interview.

Do you feel that something is missing?

This question is an excellent opportunity to mention something you weren’t asked about.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

There’s no need for redundancy.

If you already feel you’ve covered everything, then you can say so to the interviewer.

Example Answer

“As a matter of fact, yes. I wanted to point out that I’ve got a special skill in organizing and managing people. I’m good at getting people to work together and have fun while doing it!”

Additional Tips for Restaurant Interviews

Now that you’ve got a general idea of the questions you could face, it’s time to consider other interview elements.

How Do You Prepare for a Restaurant Interview?

Preparing for an interview can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Research the restaurant and its history: If they have a website or a blog, check it out and skim through their “about us” page if possible.
  • Review your resume: Checking your resume before the interview will help eliminate any possible mistakes.
  • Control your body language: Don’t avoid eye contact, and always sit straight in the interview to make a good impression. You can also lean in slightly to show that you’re paying attention.

What Should You Wear to a Restaurant Interview?

The answer here depends on the restaurant itself. If it’s a fine dining establishment, you can go in a suit or dress pants and a jacket for men.

For women, you can also wear a suit or a formal dress.

If the restaurant is more casual than that, you can skip the suits and dresses.

Just make sure your clothes are ironed and clean.

How Should You Introduce Yourself In a Restaurant Interview?

Here’s how to start an interview off on the right foot:

  1. Start by saying Good morning/afternoon and combine it with a firm handshake.
  2. Introduce yourself by your full name and state why you’re here
  3. Address the person interviewing you by their name if they’ve introduced themselves.
    If not, use their last name preceded by a title.
  4. Ask how they’re doing and if they’re having a great day.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of a Restaurant Interview?

Asking questions can show the employer that you’re invested in the job and will help you understand more about the process.

You can choose a couple of the following:

  1. Can you tell me more about your culture?
  2. Who are the people I’ll be working with?
  3. How do you measure success in this role?
  4. When will I hear from you?

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you’ve reached this point, we can safely assume you’re ready for your interview!

But before you go, it may be helpful to review some of the most common questions asked by other applicants.

What Is the Hardest Restaurant Interview Question?

One of the toughest questions to answer can be the “tell me about yourself’ question.

This is because it requires you to talk about yourself but in a way that doesn’t sound too selfish or too meek.

You’ll also need to keep it short and sweet while showing how your personality and traits fit the position perfectly.

What Is the Best Part of Working in a Restaurant?

The best part about working in a restaurant is the many friendly faces you’re going to meet.

Whether you’re a server, cook, or even just an intern, you’ll get to spend time with some really nice people who are possibly passionate about food.

And if you’re lucky, you can make a friend or two!

Wrapping Up

The food service industry is fast-paced, challenging, and rewarding in various ways.

This can make it one of the many industries where labor is always in demand, yet not many can get through.

To guarantee that job position you’re dreaming of, you’ll need to study the restaurant interview questions we’ve compiled.

Just make sure that you understand each question and answer instead of memorizing them!

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