25 Best Restaurant Interview Questions

Interviewing is not most people’s idea of a fun time, but it’s a necessary step in the job search and hiring process. An interview allows you to verify and expand upon a candidate’s written application – it’s impossible to get to know someone just by reading a few pages of qualifications.

When meeting with potential new hires – especially in an industry as demanding as foodservice – it’s important to go beyond basic questions about experience and really try to get a feel for the candidate, what motivates them, and whether they would fit in with your team.

Here are twenty-five great questions to add to your interview list:

1. What are you excited about right now?

A healthy work-life balance is important, especially for those in the food and beverage industry. Find out their passion and start building a personal connection.

2. If you didn’t have to sleep 8 hours a night, what would you fill that time with?

Again, try to get them to open up about what goes on outside of work. What are their hobbies, what might they be putting off, what are their dreams? The answers may surprise you.

3. What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

Ask something to remove the tension. It doesn’t have to be this exact question, but be sure to have fun with your interview.

4. What draws you to foodservice?

Find out their why.

5. What interests you about this position at this restaurant?

Now that you know their why, figure out why here.

6. Have you dined at our establishment before?

If they have and have good things to say, it shows commitment and genuine interest. If they lie and it’s apparent they’re shaky about their answer, it can tell you something about them as well.

7. When was a time you went out of your way to really delight a guest?

The restaurant business is all about creating positive experiences.

8. What do you hope to learn working here?

See if it’s all about a paycheck or if they have greater ambitions.

9. What’s your greatest strength?

No need to be humble or modest here. Find out what sets them apart from others.

10. What does hospitality mean to you?

Get a feel for how they like to be treated and see how close their definition aligns with the actual definition and your own vision of hospitality.

11. Tell me about the best boss you ever had.

The values they share about their best boss are important to them and help you find out if they’re a culture fit.

12. Why are you leaving your current job?

Are they ambitious and loyal? Or are they bouncing around for an extra 50 cents an hour?

13. If hired, how long do you plan on staying here?

A direct question that will help determine their intentions.

14. Do you have any food allergies?

Easy question, but one you don’t want to forget to ask.

15. What hours are you available to work?

Another basic question, but dig deeper here and ask if there’s any reason those hours would change.

16. How do you feel about tip sharing?

If applicable of course. It’s better to be upfront about these things than create animosity later.

17. Do you have any mnemonic tools or tricks for remembering orders?

Get a good feel for their skills and experience upfront.

18. Do you prefer working in a team or alone?

Nothing wrong with wanting to work alone, but the answer could uncover whether they’re a team player or not.

19. How do you handle people who aren’t pulling their weight?

Every workplace has that person. See if they’re creative in their solutions or take a leader’s approach. This could signify leadership material early on.

20. Tell me about the most difficult customer you ever had.

Find out how they handled it.

21. Are there people you’d refuse to serve?

Prejudice is still a problem in the 21st century and a simple question like this can reveal a lot.

22. How would you handle a customer trying to use an expired coupon?

Every restaurant’s policy is different, but it’s a great indicator of how they react under pressure.

23. What’s the most common reason you’d be late for a shift?

Even dependable and punctual employees are late from time to time. It’s good to call this out early and see how they handle it.

24. Tell me about a time you made a mistake on the job and how you went about fixing it.

Everyone makes mistakes – especially in restaurants. See if they’re capable of recognizing flaws and if they work proactively to resolve them.

25. What questions do you have for us?

Always end a little early so they can ask you questions. How prepared they come and the quality of their questions can tell you a lot in a short amount of time.

Your investigation doesn’t have to end when the interview’s over. If you get a good vibe and want to be absolutely certain they have potential, then hire them for the weekend. Pay them to spend 20 hours on the job with your crew. Let them figure out if it’s a fit for them and get feedback from your staff while you’re at it. That way you can validate your hiring decision and won’t be wasting anyone’s time in the long run.

What’s on your go-to list of interview questions? Share your favorites in the comments below:

Sam Molony

Sam Molony is the marketing strategist at ZoomShift, the leading employee scheduling software. When Sam's not publishing or promoting new content you can find him playing his guitar or baking.

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