When interviewing potential new employees for your restaurant, it's important to compile a list of questions which will help you identify the strongest candidates. Be sure to come to an interview prepared with this list, and consider memorizing the questions so you can concentrate more easily on the applicant's response. Whether you're looking to hire a server or host, the following examples will help you select the best person for the job!
Server Interview Questions
There are many important qualities that a restaurant server should have. It is crucial that a server be personable and friendly, and while an overly outgoing nature isn't necessary, they should be able to speak loudly and clearly. The best servers have excellent memory and organizational skills, allowing them to remember long lists of specials and keep track of each table's needs. Try asking the following restaurant interview questions to identify whether a candidate has what it takes!
Have you ever worked as a restaurant server before? If yes, describe a time you dealt with a particularly difficult table at work. What was the situation? How did you interact with the customer(s)? How would you handle a similar situation if it arose in the future?
Asking these questions allows you to get a clear picture of how this individual functions in a restaurant environment. Look for answers that indicate a calm demeanor, that they were polite to the customer(s), and had a positive attitude.
What is the easiest part of being a server? What is the most difficult?
This question will give you some great insight into how much the applicant values a serving job. If they say that the most difficult part of serving is dealing with demanding customers that may be a red flag.
If a customer asked you to recommend an item on the menu, what would you say?
If the interviewee has done their homework, they will already be familiar with your restaurant's menu and may give you an example right then and there. Even if they don't, they should give an indication that they would portray your restaurant's food in a positive light - you want servers who have tried your food, enjoyed it, and will pass that message on to customers!
How do you function in a fast-paced work environment?
Being a server can be a highly stressful job. If a candidate indicates that they shut down under pressure, they may not be right for the job. Ideally, they will not be afraid of a hectic environment; some people even thrive in that type of situation.
Why would you be a great addition to our team?
No matter what type of restaurant you run, the serving staff must function as a team in order for the end goal - customer satisfaction - to be achieved. You definitely want to hire a team player! Just chatting with the candidate should give you a good idea of their social skills and personality, but this question provides them an opportunity to shine, describing their best qualities.
Host Interview Questions
Hosts and hostesses essentially function as the face of your restaurant: they will likely be the first people a customer sees when walking through the front door. It's especially important that your hosts have a welcoming and pleasant demeanor. A great host can make the difference between a customer feeling awkward or completely comfortable! Use the following questions to identify a strong candidate.
If an angry guest came up to you with a complaint, how would you handle the situation?
Right away, this question should produce an answer that indicates the candidate's temperament. Look for someone who knows how to remain calm in this potentially stressful situation and has great social skills. A person who seems to be hot-headed or easily anxious may not be a good fit!
During downtime, how would you assist your coworkers?
No one wants a host at the front of their restaurant standing around looking bored. If there is a lull, a good host should assess the needs of their coworkers, seeing what needs to be done. A strong candidate will know this and will probably have some ideas of typical tasks that they could perform to help out.
Define “hospitality” and explain what it means to you.
If the applicant is well-prepared and really wants the job, they will already be exuding confidence and warmth during the interview. This allows them to really talk about how important hospitality is and how they embody the characteristics necessary for the position. Alternatively, if the applicant seems unsure about what makes a good host, take note.
What qualities do you feel best exemplify a good host/hostess?
Similar to the above question, this allows the interviewee to really talk themselves up. If they identify “politeness” as a good quality, for example, look to see if they then talk about their excellent social skills, ability to be polite even when someone is being rude, etc. Also, in an interview setting, this politeness will likely be on full display! Make sure that the candidate is really exuding the qualities they claim to possess.
How would you put strangers at ease?
This question gives applicants the opportunity to give a concrete example of something they do to make guests feel welcome. If they have worked as a host before, they should be able to provide an example of a time in the past when they used their friendly personality and calming nature while interacting with a customer.
Above all, it's important that your servers and hosts work well with customers and with each other. Look for confident and friendly contenders who make consistent eye contact during the interview and smile often. It helps if they've had prior restaurant experience, but it's certainly not necessary if they have a great attitude and a willingness to learn.