Finding the Right Employee – Best Restaurant Interview Questions

Working in a restaurant isn’t for everyone – in fact, working in hospitality isn’t for everyone. As a manager, you already know this. Odds are you’ve had a waiter without patience, a busser who didn’t like to get their hands dirty, and a hostess, quite frankly, without the mostess. 

So, how do you hire only those truly up for the job? It all starts by asking the right interview questions, such as:

What’s your idea of problem-solving?

Customers make all sorts of demands – they ask to use coupons that are two years expired, they don’t want their potatoes touching their peas, they request their salad dressing on the side in a bowl that is orange. Some of these are easier addressed than others. But work in a restaurant long enough and you’re sure to come across someone who is a royal pain in the patronage. Learning how your potential employee will address these customers and solve their problems goes a long way in knowing if they’re right for the job.

How do you define hospitality?

If your interviewee needs to Google Webster’s dictionary in order to provide you a definition of hospitality, they may be better suited elsewhere. A good restaurant employee should grasp hospitality readily and make the concept their own. You can learn a lot from their response. 

Why do you want to work in a restaurant?

There is a difference between people who want to work in a restaurant so they’ll have a job and people who want to work in one because they truly enjoy the industry. Ask your interviewee where they stand. If they want to work in a restaurant because they like people, great. If they want to work in one only for the free food, send them to your competitor.  

What is the best job you’ve ever had?

Asking someone to describe their ideal job is a smart question in any industry. But, when hiring in hospitality, their answer can speak volumes. If their best job was one where they sat behind a desk, never having to interface with customers, they’re flying a red flag. This isn’t to say they can’t be hospitable – they just might not prefer it.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

Like the question above, this one also transcends markets. When specifically interviewing for the restaurant industry, look for strengths that align with your values – the ability to create solutions, patience, tact, and grace under pressure. Look for weaknesses, too – an employee who tells you they’re easily distracted may forget to bring the fillet mignon to table 5. Of course, also beware of anyone who isn’t able to name a single thing they can improve upon. That begs the question of whether they’re trainable. 

Restaurant work can be a tireless, difficult job: putting up with people means putting up with a lot. The questions listed will help you weed out the bad employees from those who can help business thrive. After all, a good restaurant always comes with good service. 

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