Five questions to ask during an interview for a restaurant job

Posted by Mandy Webb on Tue, 7/07/2015

Recruiting is such an important part of running any business. In the restaurant industry, unfortunately the average turnover rate hovers around 66.2 percent, according to the National Restaurant Association. When you staff your restaurant the right way, you can save yourself and your hiring team a significant amount of time, money and energy.

So here they are: you’ve advertised for ‘em, read over their resume, pre-screened them, spent countless dollars to get them in the door, and maybe even checked them out on social media. Now what? After spending 5 years as a recruiter for a multi-million dollar marketing firm, I started to notice a direct correlation between the answers to specific questions I was asking and the people who performed the best at their job. Some people may look great on paper, but the absolute best way to see if they’re going to be a great fit is when you meet with them face to face and take the time to ask success-seeking questions. 

Here are some of the top interview questions to ask during in-person restaurant interviews:

1)Situational questions. For example:

  • “How would you respond if…”
    • It’s important to see how an applicant can react on the spot. Life is full of unpredictable situations- especially in the restaurant industry. Ask yourself beforehand “what are some common situations that often come up in my restaurant(s)?”  
  • “Can you explain a time to me when you went above and beyond for a customer/in your previous position?”
    • Pay attention to their body language when they answer this question. If they’re excited, they use eye contact and they respond quickly with enthusiasm, they’re most likely being genuine with their answer.

2)“What is your dream job”? or “Where do you see yourself in 5 years??”

  • I love this question!! It’s important to note if they’re planning on using your company as a vehicle to help them follow their dreams. Take notes when they’re sharing their future goals and if you hire them, you can have something to build rapport with. Why? Because if you’re interested in their goals, if they feel like you genuinely care about their future, they will have a great experience with you, they’ll work harder and they’ll be positive on the job. When your team members have a great experience, this leads to positive word of mouth about your working environment.
  • If they say they see themselves growing within your organization, even better! Ask them to expand on that.

3)“Why did you leave your last job/why are you looking for something new?”

  • Really pay attention to their response. If an applicant complains about the management, about not getting along with others, drama, etc. those can be huge red flags! Jennifer, a blogger from, surveyed 100 of the country’s top restaurant owners and this was one of the most popular questions.

4) “What are some of your hobbies/What do you like to do in your free time?”

  • According to the survey of 100 restaurant managers taken for “”, if they like to be active, they most likely are people who will stay engaged on the job because they like being busy. They can follow a schedule and manage their time. If they don’t have many hobbies or say that they tend to “hang out and watch TV a lot” or don’t do much, they may be a partier or more likely to sleep in or call in sick.

5)“Why would you make great addition to our team?”

  •  Some of the best additions to my team were people who were looking for an opportunity to grow or looking for a challenge. If they answer that they’re a team-player, they’re a people-person, that they already love your restaurant, they’ll most likely be an excellent asset to your team.
  • Some other important things to pay attention to are the quality of their references and their work history. If they’ve bounced around from job to job, they’re most likely going to do the same thing with you.