The Top 11 Server Interview Questions to Ask Before Hiring

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July 28, 2022
A happy lady being interviewed for a job at a restaurant

Great server interview questions are important because servers, waiters, or food service workers are customer-facing employees who represent your business.
In this article, we will go over some best practices, and must ask questions when it comes to hiring the best person for the job.

We will share some strategic and situational restaurant interview questions along with technical and cultural ones to avoid common mistakes. 
This will give you the best chance of hiring the right person for the job; saving you time and money in the long run.

So without further adieu, here are 11 strategic server interview questions we recommend asking your potential new server hires.

What are the top interview questions to ask servers? 

  1. Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?
  2. What does being a “team player” mean to you?
  3. What is your experience with POS systems and accepting payments?
  4. Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult customer?
  5. Why did you decide to apply here vs. other restaurants?
  6. Do you have a serving it right/FOODSAFE certificate?
  7. What does the word hosptality mean to you?
  8. How would you defuse a situation with an unhappy customer?
  9. What hours are you available to work?
  10. What made you decide to leave your last job?
  11. What are your long term career goals?

In this article, we will dig into why each of these questions is important, and how you can use them to find the best people for your restaurant.

1 - Why do you want to work in the service industry?

It is key to ask all prospective new service industry hires what appeals to them about the restaurant industry itself.  Do they enjoy working in a fast-paced environment? Meeting new people and being part of a team? This is a great first question because it tells you a lot about their attitude and expectations.

2 - What does being a “team player” mean to you?

Working in the service industry means being part of a team and working well with others; sometimes in stressful situations. It is key to make sure your new employee understands the importance of teamwork and realizes they’re part of a bigger picture.

3 - What is your experience with POS systems and accepting payments?

Practical skills should always be covered in any set of restaurant interview questions. A candidate who’s experienced and knowledgeable about POS systems and other essential server skills is easier to onboard and train.

4 - Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult customer.

Restaurant interview questions often focus on what candidates can and will do, but it’s also a good idea to ask one or two questions that require them to give examples of times they’ve dealt with difficult situations or customers. Questions like these force them to be specific and clear in their answers.

5 - Why did you decide to apply here versus other restaurants?

This restaurant interview question gives you a chance to evaluate your candidate’s level of interest in the position. Have they researched your establishment? Do they know what you’re about? Whether they’re a loyal customer or just like the vibe of the restaurant, their answer will help you decide if they align with your mission and are a good cultural fit.

6 - Do you have your Serving It Right and FOODSAFE certificates?

In British Columbia, anyone involved in the sale or service of liquor is required to have their Serving It Right certificate, and every food-service establishment is required to have at least one person with a FOODSAFE certification onsite at all times. Other provinces have similar requirements. If you expect your servers to have these certifications, you’ll want to bring them up in the interview.

7 - What does the word “hospitality” mean to you?

Customer service is at the heart of the food service industry.  Asking candidates what “hospitality” means to them is a great way to see if their view of good customer service aligns with yours. Do they believe it’s important to be friendly and chat with guests, or is it more about quick, efficient service?

8 - How would you defuse a situation involving a dissatisfied customer?

If you work in a restaurant for long enough, you’re bound to encounter unhappy customers eventually. When these difficult situations arise, you need to know that your staff is equipped to handle them and remain cool, calm, and collected. Asking this question, or a variation of it is a great way to understand your potential new hire on a deeper level, and observe how they might problem solve on the spot.

9 - What hours are you available to work?

Your employee schedule is a vital component of your HR processes, and therefore your daily operations and overall business strategy. While personality traits and skills are important, you also need to make sure any new hire is available to work when they’re needed.

10 - What made you decide to leave your last restaurant job?

It’s no secret that high turnover is a problem in the service industry. Restaurant Interview questions should always address whether or not a candidate is likely to stick around. Since an interviewee probably won’t tell you they’re a short-term hire, the best strategy is to ask them why they left their previous position.

11 - What are your long-term career goals?

Does your candidate want to continue working as a server? Do they hope to go into management? Are they working their way through school and planning to enter another industry entirely? Knowing a candidate’s long-term goals will help you determine if they align with yours.

Hire smart, with restaurant interview technology.

Your people are the heart and soul of your brand. Their approach to customer service and teamwork can make or break your business. That’s why it’s important to hire people who align with your restaurant’s culture and values. That's also why it is important to have great server interview questions.

Effective human resource management is essential for success in the restaurant industry. A successful interview strategy increases the likelihood that you’ll hire the right person for the job, which saves you the hassle and costs of having to hire, onboard, and train twice. Also, you may want to know what is the best HR software for your business, something that meet your company’s business needs in the best way possible.

Push offers Restaurant HR software that can inform your hiring process and recently launched customizable interview tracking templates, so you can track your applicants interview responses and streamline your hiring process. 

Want to learn more about recruiting, onboarding and hiring for restaurants? Download our free guide!

server interview questions

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February 2021


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