Common Interview Questions for the Food Service
Foodservice workers go to places like restaurants, fairs, and cafeterias to do their jobs. Employers may ask you questions during interviews for these kinds of jobs to find out if you have the right skills for the job. That’s why it’s so important to show that you can take good care of customers and keep food safe. This article gives you examples and tips for how to answer common interview questions for jobs in the food service industry.
These general questions help an employer learn more about you and why you want to work for them:
- What makes you want to do this job?
- Can you tell me something interesting about yourself?
- How do you do what you do best?
- What are some of the worst things about you?
- Why do you want to be a waiter or waitress?
- Why do you want to work somewhere else?
- With this job, what skills do you want to get better at?
- How do you think service to customers should be?
- How long do you work?
- What do you think of the idea of working longer hours?
- What do you think about having to work during your vacation?
- How do you think a business should be run?
- How do you respond when someone tells you something or gives you constructive criticism?
Questions about work and history from the past
Employers will be able to learn more about your work history and experience through these food service interview questions:
- Why should this company hire you?
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.
- What do “Kosher” and “Halaal” mean to you?
- What’s the difference between being vegan and being a vegetarian?
- What do you like most about working in food service?
- What skills do you need to do a good job in food service?
- Tell me about a time when you all had to work together to solve a problem.
- What have you done to stay calm at work when things are crazy?
- How can you help our group?
- What do you know about keeping food safe?
These detailed questions help a possible employer imagine how you would act in certain situations:
- How would you make sure a guest who is allergic to food was safe?
- How would you get to work on time if you were running late?
- What would you do to clean up the place where you work?
- What would you do if someone didn’t like the food you served?
- What would you do if you were to blame for a mistake?
- How can you make things less stressful?
- How would you try to make a meal stand out from the rest?
- When your shifts are busy, how do you decide what to do first?
- How would you remember what our deals are?
- How would you do your best to meet the special needs of a guest?
Sample interview questions and how to answer them
Use the following answers as examples to help you think of your own:
What do you like about our establishment?
Employers want to hire people who are interested in working there. They want to see how well you know them by asking you this question. Before your interview, try to find out as much as you can about the company. Find out what they stand for and what kind of customers they work with. Look at their menu and maybe think about ordering something to try. So, you’ll have something to say that shows why you want to work for them and why you’d be a good fit.
Example: “Since I went to college, I’ve been coming here on the weekends. My favorite thing about this place is the brunch menu. I’m also looking forward to trying the monthly new dishes that the chefs make. I also noticed that your staff is very friendly. I always feel so welcome when I walk through the doors. I like being around other people, and I’d love to help other people feel the same way. I care about customer service, and it’s clear that you do too.”
How do you define being kind?
For many jobs in food service, you need to be able to make people feel at home. Employers ask this question to make sure you know what it means to give good customer service. In your answer, tell us a few things that come to mind when you think of hospitality. Talk about how you’re going to be kind to your guests.
Example: “In order to be hospitable, you have to know what a guest needs before they ask. Try to guess what they want before they even say it. For instance, if I see that someone’s glass is almost empty, I make sure to offer to fill it up before they finish it. Another important part of being friendly is making people feel welcome. I do this by smiling at each guest and looking them in the eye. I always ask a guest if he or she has any questions or worries.”
What’s the best thing you’ve done in food service?
Employers ask this question to see if you have any plans for the future. You can talk about a time when you went out of your way to help a guest by answering this question. Think about a time when something you did really made someone happy. Tell them what you did to make sure they had a good time with you.
Example: “As a barista, I saw a little girl spill her hot cocoa on the floor. Her mother told her to go up to the counter and ask for a new one, but I could tell she was too scared to do that. I quickly made her another cup of hot cocoa and topped it with more marshmallows and candy canes. I gave her the money and said, “This is on me.” In the future, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
I’ve never gotten a better tip than the way she smiled. The next time she went into the shop, she was brave enough to ask for extra napkins without her mom’s help. I know I’ve done something important when I can make someone feel better.”
Tell me about a time you made a mistake. What did you say?
Everyone makes mistakes, but the important thing is how you deal with them. This question is asked by employers to see how well you can solve problems. Think of a time when you did something wrong and had to figure out how to make it right. Tell us how you were able to solve the problem by using your ability to think critically.
Example: “One time, I accidentally gave my guests the wrong specials. Two of the four people I served chose this dish. They looked like they couldn’t wait to try this new food. When I gave the meal ticket back to the chef, he wasn’t happy because he didn’t have enough of those things. He wasn’t sure if they would be able to make it through the rest of the night.
Instead of making the guests order a new meal, I called our sister location to see if they had any extra ingredients. Luckily, they did and could send someone to drop it off. This taught me to always take a second look at the menu before my shift starts. As a way of saying sorry, I made sure to tip the chef more that night.”
How do you remember all the orders on a long list?
If you want a job where you have to take orders, you need to be able to remember them. Even though your boss knows you can write down their instructions, there may be times when you need to use shorthand or just remember them. In your answer, tell us how you plan to keep track of orders and requests. Think about how you keep things in mind.
Example: “I use mnemonics and shorthand that I can write to help me remember a lot of information quickly. I might connect what someone orders to a certain phrase or word, for example. I’ll try to imagine what they’ve ordered in the same way. I find that these ways help me remember long lists of things, which is helpful when I don’t have time to write everything down.”
How to get a job in the food service business
If you want to work in food service, do these things:
- Attempt to look nice. Even if you’re interviewing for a job at a casual restaurant, try to look nice. If you want to be a manager, you should wear dress pants, a shirt with a collar, and a suit to your interview. If you’re applying for a first job in fast food, you can wear a collared shirt and khakis instead of a suit.
- Show you’re willing to help. The main part of a job in the food service industry is to serve other people. Show potential employers that you want to help people in a good way. Use your answers to show that you’ll try to think ahead about what a guest might want or need.
- Practice your responses. The best way to prepare for an interview is to come up with answers to common questions. Ask a friend or family member to help you practice your answers by doing a “mock interview” with you. So, you can say your answers out loud and learn how to be a better interviewee.
- Go to the restaurant and eat. If you want to work at a restaurant, you might want to eat there before you go in for an interview. You’ll be able to learn more about the place this way. Take note of its menu, how its staff acts, and how it works. All of these things can help you come up with good things to say at your interview.