39 interview questions for waitstaff (With Answers)
Waiters and people in other front-of-house jobs in restaurants need to be good at talking to people. For jobs like this, the interview is an important part of the process because it gives you a chance to show off your charm, your ability to stay calm under pressure, and your ability to answer any question with grace. You can improve your chances of getting the job by practicing how to answer questions you might be asked in an interview. 39 interview questions for waitstaff
In this post, we talk about some of the most common interview questions for wait staff and give examples of how to answer them.
What do servers do?
In a restaurant, servers take care of customers from the moment they sit down until they leave. This means giving out food and drink menus, answering questions, making suggestions, taking orders, bringing food and drinks to the table, making sure the food is good, and dealing with customer requests or complaints. Since the wait staff is in charge of many tables at once, they need to be good at doing more than one thing at once. It requires constant communication with both front-of-house and back-of-house restaurant staff and can help build customer service skills like negotiating and resolving conflicts.
An interviewer may ask you broad questions to learn more about who you are and where you come from. Even though these questions may seem simple, it’s best to be ready for them so you can give clear and complete answers. Here are some general questions:
- What do you think are your strengths in the workplace?
- What problems have you run into, and how have you dealt with them?
- Why did you want this job enough to apply?
- What do you do when you don’t agree with a coworker?
- What makes you want to work in a restaurant?
- What do you think is the best thing you’ve done in your life to prepare you for this job?
- Tell me about your previous employment.
- How long do you plan on working here?
- What do you want to do at work?
- What do you bring with you to the place where you work?
questions about experience and background
A hiring manager will probably ask what you have done to prepare for the job. They could ask about your resume or jobs you’ve had in the past, and they might ask questions like:
- Have you ever worked somewhere that gave you tips?
- How has the customer service been?
- What responsibilities did you have at your last server job?
- How does the work you did in the kitchen prepare you for a job in the front of the house?
- How much did you know about our menu before?
- What do you like about being a server?
- What other jobs have you had in the restaurant business?
- Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?
- Do you know how to make sure food is safe to eat?
- How do you make sure everyone is safe at work?
- How do you get things done when you have three or more jobs to do?
- What do you think makes for good customer service?
Interview questions like these will also test your ability to do the job you are applying for:
- Can you stand for a long time without getting uncomfortable?
- What would you say to a customer who said their food was not cooked right?
- Do you feel comfortable telling people which wines go best with their main courses?
- How do you handle complaints from clients?
- Can you keep your balance as you serve multiple plates to the right diners and tables?
- Would you feel comfortable taking on extra tasks like hosting, bussing tables, or working the bar?
- How do you handle corrections from management and other staff?
- How would you go about getting along well with the staff in the kitchen?
- How would you respond if a customer at another waiter’s table asked for help?
- Do you know how to use a point of sale (POS) system?
Interview questions and examples of good answers
Here are some questions that are often asked and some sample answers for waitstaff interviews:
Why did you want to be one of our servers?
By asking you this question, the manager may want to know how much you know about the business and how well you might fit in. Now is a great time to show that you’ve read the job description, done research on the restaurant, and know what makes it unique. You can also talk about one or two things about yourself that show you are right for the job.
Example: “I’d like to work as a waiter at Shake and Skate because I think it’s fun and interesting to talk to people there. I’ve seen how great it can be for families to eat at Shake and Skate, where they can get both high-quality classic diner food and the carhop experience. I’ve lived in the area for a while, and out of all the fast food places nearby, this Shake and Skate seems to be the best place to eat. Because I know how to work with families and figure skate, I might be a great fit for this job.”
What did you say when a client told your boss something bad about you?
How you answer this question will help managers figure out how you deal with stress and how you talk to people in charge. A strong answer could be about a time when you overcame a problem and learned how to serve customers better in the future.
Example: “At my last job, a customer told my boss that I wasn’t paying enough attention during rush hour. After they left, I thought a lot about what I had said to the client to try to figure out what was going on. I had put off bringing some of the later courses so I could seat other tables more quickly, so I asked my manager for ideas on how to speed up my work. I could use some of those tips during later rush hours by taking a deep breath and concentrating hard on giving each table the impression that I was paying attention to them.”
How can you make your place of work safer?
Your answer to this question can show potential employers how well you know about safety in the workplace and how well you follow rules. After talking about any experience you have with workplace expectations or food safety standards, you can talk about how you plan to learn new safety laws.
Example: “From what I’ve seen, communication is a big part of safety at work. I make sure to call out to people when I’m in the kitchen or coming up behind someone who is facing the other way. I like to learn routines and procedures for things like hot pans, cleaning, and food safety within the first few days of a new job.”
What do you do wrong most often as a server?
If a manager asks you this question, they can learn more about you and figure out how well you might fit into their team. It could also show how well you can think about yourself and solve problems. When you answer this question, be honest about your flaws and give specific examples of how you’ve improved or want to improve in those areas.
Example: “My biggest flaw is that I care a lot about the food I serve and often think it will be the same every time. I’ve found a way to deal with this by making an effort to build trust with the back-of-house staff, learn about what the chefs do, and gain respect for their ability to make the most of the day’s specials and ingredients.”
How have you served and taken care of alcoholic drinks?
If the restaurant serves alcohol, the servers may make, serve, and even recommend different drinks. This question tells hiring managers if you can do these jobs right away or if you need training first. Be specific about your experience so the manager can tell if you know what they offer. If you haven’t done something before, you could say that you’re eager to learn.
Example: “I used to recommend drinks based on the local beers and house cocktails we had on hand at my old job. I also learned how to make a few common drinks because I worked as a barback sometimes. This let me help the bartender during the evening rush. Even though I don’t know much about wine, I’d like to learn more about the wines you choose for your house.”
What do you have to offer to our group?
Managers may use this question and “What are your greatest strengths?” to find out more about how you see your strengths. You could talk about a specific part of the restaurant and things that other people have said are some of your strengths in your answer.
Example: “I have a positive and enthusiastic attitude about everything I do, which lets me help out during the long dinner rush caused by the shift change at the factory across the street. Being observant and having good teamwork relationships are important to me because they let me help others when they need it and ask for help when I need it.”
How do you serve people who can’t eat certain foods or have allergies?
This question can show the boss how willing you are to learn about different limits and the details of the menu, as well as how far you are willing to go to make customers happy. This is a great chance to share any information you may have about different diets.
Example: “I make sure I know what a customer can’t eat before I try to find something on the menu that they would like but doesn’t have those ingredients. I always make sure I know which items on the menu are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. If they ask for a certain menu item, I offer some changes or alternatives so they can make it work for them.”