35 Potential Restaurant Waitstaff Interview Questions
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 8 November 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
If a career as a restaurant waitperson interests you, your interview for a job may include several specific questions. Hiring managers ask a variety of questions to gauge your suitability for the position and to understand your motivation for applying. Learning how to answer these questions can give you an advantage over other candidates and help you perform confidently during an interview. In this article, we explore 30 restaurant waitstaff interview questions a hiring manager may ask and provide five questions with sample answers.
Restaurant waitstaff interview questions
When you apply for a position in a restaurant, a hiring manager may ask some restaurant waitstaff interview questions. These questions are specific to the role of serving customers, processing orders, taking payments, working with bar and kitchen staff and answering questions.
Hiring managers can ask a range of questions, ranging from general to in-depth, to assess whether you have the skills and experience to work in a hospitality environment confidently. Here are some questions a hiring manager might ask you:
10 general questions
Depending on your level of experience, they may ask you general questions about the basic aspects of the position for which you're applying. They ask these questions to make sure you understand the duties you may perform and the standards they expect of you. Here are 10 examples of general questions a hiring manager may ask you:
Are you happy to wear a uniform?
How is your manner with customers?
Are you comfortable in a busy environment?
Have you used point-of-sale systems before?
Are you familiar with making drinks if necessary?
Are you happy with a fixed roster?
Are you happy to swap shifts with other staff?
When are you available to start?
Are you comfortable working long shifts on your feet?
Can you present a happy and inviting attitude for a long period?
10 questions about experience
If you have experience working in a restaurant, a hiring manager may ask you to detail your experience so that they know where you learnt the skills that make you a suitable candidate. Here are 10 examples of questions about your experience:
Tell me about a time when there was a conflict with a customer in the restaurant and how you handled it.
What experience do you have resolving customers' issues?
What experience do you have working behind the bar?
Have you used mobile point-of-sale before?
What is the largest capacity restaurant you've worked in?
Are you familiar with silver service dining?
Do you have any experience outside of waiting in a restaurant?
Do you have experience ordering stock, such as alcohol or kitchenware?
Have you worked as a manager?
Do you know about wine and food pairings?
10 in-depth questions
A hiring manager may also ask you in-depth questions about your work history, work practices and your personal life. They ask these questions to gauge your personality, understand why you want the job and determine your career goals within the business. Here are 10 examples of in-depth questions a hiring manager may ask you:
What do you enjoy most about waiting in a restaurant?
What do you enjoy the least about waiting in a restaurant?
What do you think about friendships and relationships between staff?
Have you ever lost a job? If so, for what reasons?
How would you handle friends who come into the restaurant to dine?
Do you plan on taking time away in the foreseeable future, for example, for travel?
How close do you live to the restaurant?
Do you have many activities outside of work that might impact your availability, such as sports?
What issues have you had with staff or management in the past?
Why do you want to work at this restaurant?
5 interview questions with sample answers
Here are five potential interview questions a hiring manager may ask you with sample answers:
1. Why do you want to work in this restaurant?
This is an intentionally broad question you can answer in a variety of ways. The question's subjectivity means you can't give an incorrect answer. In your response, highlight the positive aspects of the business that you find attractive. Providing specific reasons can show your preparedness for the interview.
Example answer: 'I want to work at your restaurant because I love the atmosphere, the staff are always friendly, and the customers always speak very highly of it. I love working in hospitality and as a waitperson in particular, as I can have friendly conversations with people and help them have a great time. Working in hospitality suits my personality and my lifestyle, as I spend my days enjoying musical hobbies and leaving my nights free to work'.
2. What are the most necessary skills to being a waitperson?
Some skills are more important than others when working in a busy restaurant. While critical thinking and problem-solving are important skills, communication and customer service are a higher priority. A hiring manager might ask you this question to see if you understand the most important duties of waitstaff. You can also mention other skills, such as time management, teamwork and conflict resolution.
Example answer: 'I consider communication and customer service to be the most important skills for waitstaff. When it's busy with a lot of orders coming through, coordinating with your team and the customers is essential for the night to go well. Alongside this, good problem-solving skills are necessary to help settle conflicts and to devise solutions to them'.
Related: 12 Good Customer Service Examples
3. How might you work with a rude customer?
The predominant role of restaurant waitstaff is to interact with customers, serve them food and ensure they have an enjoyable experience. Occasionally, you may have a dissatisfied or impatient customer who speaks and acts rudely to you. A hiring manager may ask you this question to gauge your reaction to this situation because it's important for them to know you can handle a confrontational situation calmly and professionally.
Example answer: 'The most important thing I would do is remain calm and respond to the customer with as much kindness and respect as I show any other customer. I'm aware that a person's behaviour is often a reflection of issues they're going through in their personal life, so I try to empathise with them. I've found that the solution lies in exceptional customer service, so I would present a warm smile and do everything in my power to help them get what they want, within reason'.
4. How might you identify issues with your performance in the restaurant?
A hiring manager might ask you this question to understand your problem-solving skills. They want to know if you're self-aware and that you pay attention to your work. Be honest about times when you've had to adjust or learn new methods for serving customers.
Example answer: 'During busy shifts, I pay close attention to areas that appear to cause congestion. This might be because of queues at the tills or access to the toilets. At the end of busy shifts, I take note of these issues and before starting my next shift, I share my solutions with the other staff to see what they think'.
5. Why would you be an excellent addition to our staff?
With this question, a hiring manager wants to hear a genuine response to how you view your skills. This gives them a sense of how you view yourself and that you're self-aware. Answer honestly and openly about your personality and professional skills.
Example answer: 'I've been working in hospitality for over three years, and I can adjust to any new venue quickly and effectively. I'm friendly and outgoing and enjoy my work, which customers and staff respond to well. I pride myself on my work, which is always fast, clean, efficient and focused on teamwork'.
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