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Common Restaurant Interview Questions

Restaurants are one of the most recession proof jobs out there.  With over 660,000 restaurant locations in the United States, chances are there is one near you looking for additional help.  Working in a restaurant is a great way to gain experience, including customer service, cash handling skills, punctuality, and teamwork. Common restaurant interview questions generally tend to revolve around previous work experience, reasons why you would like to work at that particular location, and approximate number of hours you’re available to work each week.

Restaurants are well-known for their internal promotion systems.  Typically, working in and mastering certain skills at a restaurant will help you to advance or be promoted within the location.  By putting in the effort, hard work, and mastering the skills needed to be successful, you can expect to be promoted fairly quickly.

We’ve previously discussed and gone over common interview questions an employer may ask an interviewee.  While this is a more generalized list, it would be helpful to review the full list and understand what potential questions may be asked.  You should always review and prepare for your interview beforehand, regardless of position or previous experience.

Common Restaurant Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to work here?

  • You can speak to the quality of the food or the service
  • Can discuss how close it is to your house and how you will have a great commute
  • Can discuss the reputation of the company and how you would feel honored to represent them in any capacity

Do you have previous restaurant experience?

  • Answer honestly. If you do have previous experience, state so here and discuss in what capacity you held that role.  If you do not have previous experience, discuss other experiences you have which could help you to work and navigate the needs of a position at the restaurant

Do you have cash-handling experience?

  • Again, answer honestly. If you’ve had previous cash handling experience, state so and indicate how you were trusted with large sums of cash.  You can also discuss how you helped or assisted with closing out the register and ensuring all cash related payments were accounted for.

Do you have any food allergies?

  • Once again, answer honestly. If you do have a food allergy, your manager may need to know beforehand and work around your allergies.

Are you comfortable working in a fast-paced environment?

  • Restaurants are notoriously fast-paced and have a lot of moving parts happening at once. You should be prepared for this environment when applying to the position.  When answering this question, be sure to reference your previous experience in a fast-paced environment and how you handled the pressure.  The more detail you can provide, the better.

How many hours can you work a week?  Are there any days of the week you cannot work?

  • Answer honestly. Restaurant managers need reliable, hard-working employees who can commit a certain number of hours per week.  Letting your manager know how many hours you can work per week and what days you can and cannot work will help with schedule building from the get-go.

How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?

  • You want to espouse feelings of compassion, patience, and understanding
  • Indicate that you would work to understand the customer’s feelings
  • State how you would work with the customer to make everything correct and right
  • Indicate how you would work tirelessly until the customer is fully satisfied

How would you handle a fellow employee stealing?

  • Indicate that you would tell the employee to stop
  • Tell the interviewer that you would bring it up to the manager

What are your career goals?

  • Again, be honest. Let the interviewer know your career goals and what your long-term plans are.  If they are tied to the restaurant industry, let them know and how this experience will directly help you to reach those goals.

Do you write down customer orders or do you memorize them?

  • Honesty is always the best theme in answering interview questions. Whether you write down a customer’s order or memorize it, just let the interviewer know.  If you’ve never taken orders before, let the interviewer know what you would be more comfortable doing and how you would do so efficiently.

Are you a patient person?

  • The restaurant industry is notorious for difficult customer’s and having patience to handle all types of personalities is key. Letting the interviewer know that you’re a patient person and listing specific examples, whether professional or personal, on a time when you were patient in a difficult or stressful situation will help to make your answer more complete.

How would you handle a customer not leaving a tip?

  • The best answer here is to indicate that you always put forth your best work and hope the customer sees that. If a customer doesn’t leave a tip, you don’t take it personally nor do you get upset about it, but you continue with your job and help your remaining customers.

Tell me about a time you made a professional mistake.  How did you handle it?

  • We all make mistakes, both personally and professionally. What is important, though, is how you handled the mistake once it was made.  Let the interviewer know about a time you made a mistake but be sure to discuss the steps you took to resolve and rectify it.  It is more important to take responsibility for the mistake and ensure it is resolved, rather than find excuses for it.

Have you dined here before?

  • Be honest, if you have, talk about the good qualities of the food and the service. If you haven’t, discuss how it is on your list of restaurants to attend and how you have heard rave reviews about it.

Any questions for us?

  • Be sure to have a few questions ready for the interviewer. You want the interview to be a conversation and a discussion between the interviewer and yourself.  You can ask what it takes to be successful at the role, what it takes to get promoted, and how many hours are available for you to work a week.

Conclusion

Common restaurant interview questions will typically revolve around former experience and your customer service ability.  The interviewer will also look to get a better understanding of your available hours and what skills you have that can make you successful at the role.  Always be honest in your answers and be sure to indicate that you are a dedicated, reliable, and hardworking individual.

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