A server’s role in a restaurant is pivotal. Their competence determines a guest’s experience, from the moment they walk in till the time they leave. Dealing with hundreds of restaurants, we have curated interview questions divided into five groups to find the perfect fit for your restaurant.
General Server Interview Questions
- Why do you want to be a server in our restaurant?
Example answer: “I’ve always admired the reputation of your restaurant, and I believe I can contribute positively to the guest experience here.”
- What do you find most rewarding about being a server?
Example answer: “The satisfaction of ensuring a guest leaves with a smile is unmatched.”
- How would you handle a situation where a customer complains about their food?
Example answer: “I would listen to their concerns, apologize for any inconvenience, and try to find a quick solution, such as offering a replacement.”
- Can you work during busy hours, including weekends and holidays?
Example answer: “Absolutely, I understand the demands of the restaurant industry and am prepared for it.”
- What strategies do you use to remember orders, especially when you have multiple tables?
Example answer: “I prioritize active listening and often repeat orders back to customers. Additionally, I jot down quick notes to keep track.”
- Describe a time when you successfully handled a difficult customer.
- How do you prioritize tasks when the restaurant gets extremely busy?
- How familiar are you with our menu and its specialties?
- Why should we hire you as our next server?
- What would you do if you observed a colleague being rude to a customer?
Questions About Experience and Background
- Can you walk us through your previous experience as a server?
Example answer: “I’ve worked in various restaurants, from casual to fine dining, over the past five years, honing my skills in customer service and multitasking.”
- How do you keep up with the latest trends in the food and beverage industry?
Example answer: “I frequently read industry-related magazines and blogs. I also attend workshops whenever possible.”
- What kind of POS systems are you familiar with?
Example answer: “I’ve worked with Square, Revel, and Toast. I find digital systems intuitive and easy to adapt to.”
- Describe a situation when you went above and beyond for a guest.
Example answer: “Once, a guest wanted a dish that wasn’t on our menu. I coordinated with the kitchen team to prepare a customized dish, ensuring the guest left pleased.”
- How would you deal with a situation where a fellow server is overwhelmed with their tables? Example answer: “Teamwork is vital. I would step in to assist, ensuring that all guests receive timely service.”
- How do you handle stressful situations or rush hours?
- Have you ever had to handle a situation where a guest had allergies? How did you manage it?
- What training or certifications do you have related to the restaurant industry?
- How do you ensure you’re always punctual for shifts?
- Describe a situation where you had a disagreement with a team member and how you resolved it.
Interview Questions Focused on Soft Skills
- How do you handle feedback or criticism from supervisors?
Example answer: “I take it constructively, as an opportunity to learn and improve.”
- Describe a time you contributed positively to a team.
Example answer: “During a particularly busy night, I noticed a new server struggling. I took a moment to guide them, ensuring smooth service.”
- How would you manage a situation where a guest is upset about a long wait time?
Example answer: “I’d apologize for the inconvenience, explain the situation, and perhaps offer them a complimentary drink or appetizer for their patience.”
- How do you stay motivated during long and busy shifts?
Example answer: “I focus on the end goal, which is guest satisfaction. Happy guests make the hard work worthwhile.”
- How do you handle mistakes, like bringing the wrong dish to a table?
Example answer: “I immediately apologize and correct the mistake as swiftly as possible, ensuring the guest feels valued.”
- How do you ensure effective communication with the kitchen staff?
- How do you handle situations where you have to refuse service, like when a guest has had too much to drink?
- Describe a time you had to adapt to a new policy or system at work.
- How do you manage personal conflicts with colleagues to ensure they don’t affect work?
- How would you handle a situation where a guest leaves a small tip or no tip at all?
Interview Questions Focused on Hard Skills
- How do you manage multiple orders without mixing them up?
Example answer: “I use a systematic approach, numbering tables, and orders, ensuring I double-check before serving.”
- What steps do you follow to ensure food safety when serving?
Example answer: “I always ensure that the food is at the correct temperature, check for any allergens, and serve it using clean tools and techniques.”
- How do you handle cash transactions and ensure the correct change?
Example answer: “I always double-check the amount given and calculate the change mentally first, then use the POS system to confirm.”
- How familiar are you with wine and food pairings?
Example answer: “I’ve attended wine training sessions and often research to recommend the best pairings for our menu.”
- How do you up-sell without being too pushy?
Example answer: “I listen to the guests’ preferences and suggest items that enhance their dining experience.”
- What strategies do you use to handle peak rush hours efficiently?
- How do you ensure accurate order placements in the POS system?
- How knowledgeable are you about dietary restrictions and how to cater to them?
- How do you handle guest reservations and seating arrangements?
- What techniques do you use to ensure the quick and efficient clearing of tables?
Scenario-Based Server Interview Questions (That Show Problem-Solving Skills)
- Imagine a guest orders a dish, but after trying it, they don’t like it. How would you handle this situation?
Example answer: “I’d apologize for their experience, ask for feedback, and offer to replace the dish with something they might prefer.”
- During a particularly busy evening, two guests at separate tables claim they booked the same table by the window. How would you resolve the conflict?
- You notice two of your colleagues arguing in the kitchen. The noise level is increasing, and guests are starting to notice. What would you do?
Server Interview Tips
- Always be well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the interview.
- Familiarize yourself with the restaurant’s menu and ethos to answer questions with confidence.
- Practice active listening during the interview to answer effectively.
- Highlight past experiences where you’ve gone above and beyond for guests.
- Demonstrate knowledge about different cuisines, drinks, and the latest trends in the restaurant industry.
- Be prepared to role-play or demonstrate certain skills if asked.
- Always end the interview with thoughtful questions about the restaurant, team, or growth opportunities.
- Preparation is key; research the restaurant and its offerings before the interview.
- Teamwork and guest satisfaction should be at the forefront of your responses.
- Remember, adaptability, patience, and multitasking are key skills for a server.
- Communication Skills: The ability for a server to communicate effectively with both the kitchen staff and the customers is paramount. Effective communication ensures orders are accurate and customers’ needs are addressed promptly.
- Emotional Intelligence: Servers who can read and respond to the emotional needs of customers can greatly enhance the dining experience. Being empathetic and understanding can often turn potential negative experiences into positive ones.
- Problem-Solving Abilities: The best servers can think on their feet. Whether it’s a mix-up with an order or a special request from a guest, the ability to find quick solutions is invaluable.
- Attention to Detail: The small things matter. Whether it’s ensuring a drink is refilled, noticing when a guest might need assistance, or making sure dietary restrictions are met, details can make or break a dining experience.
- Endurance and Stamina: Serving can be physically demanding. A potential server should be prepared for long hours on their feet, often in a fast-paced environment.
- Product Knowledge: A deep understanding of the menu, ingredients, and potential allergens is crucial. This not only aids in upselling but also ensures the safety and satisfaction of the guests.
- Team Player Mentality: Restaurants function best when everyone works as a cohesive unit. A server who is willing to help out colleagues, whether it’s covering a shift or assisting during rush hours, is an asset.
- Continual Learning: The food and beverage industry is always evolving. Servers who take the initiative to stay updated with current trends, new dishes, or wine pairings can provide an enhanced dining experience.
- Professionalism: Maintaining a professional demeanor, even in stressful situations, speaks volumes about a server’s commitment to the job and respect for both guests and colleagues.
- Positive Attitude: A server’s energy can influence the ambiance of the restaurant. Having a positive and upbeat attitude can uplift the mood of the entire dining space.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Why do you want to work as a server at our restaurant?
- How would you handle a difficult or unruly customer?
- What would you do if a customer complained about their meal?
- How do you prioritize tasks when the restaurant is extremely busy?
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer.
- How do you handle stressful situations or high-pressure moments during service?
- Describe how you handle multi-table service during peak hours.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a server?
- How do you deal with unhappy or unsatisfied customers?
- How do you stay updated on the menu and any daily specials?
- Familiarize yourself with the restaurant’s menu, specials, and overall theme or ambiance.
- Dress appropriately, keeping in mind the establishment’s style and clientele.
- Rehearse answers to common server interview questions.
- Be prepared to showcase your people skills, as relationship-building is key in the service industry.
- Have examples of specific scenarios you’ve handled in past roles ready to share.
- Bring a list of references or commendations from previous employers.
- Show enthusiasm for the role and a willingness to be a team player.
- Servers act as the primary point of contact between the restaurant and the customer, impacting the overall dining experience.
- They have the responsibility of ensuring customers’ needs are met, orders are taken correctly, and any issues are resolved promptly.
- A server’s efficiency and demeanor can directly influence a customer’s decision to return or recommend the restaurant to others.
While chefs and kitchen staff focus on food preparation, and managers oversee overall operations, servers directly interact with customers, handle orders, manage complaints, and ensure a positive dining experience. Their role is front-facing and requires a unique blend of interpersonal skills and operational efficiency.
Strong communication skills, patience, adaptability, a keen sense of observation, multitasking abilities, a friendly demeanor, and a genuine interest in providing excellent service.
Absolutely. Many servers, with experience and proven skills, move up to positions like head waiter/waitress, restaurant supervisor, or even into management roles. It’s a profession where hands-on experience can lead to significant career advancement.