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10 Uncommon Restaurant Interview Questions You’ll Definitely Want to Use

It’s a Wednesday afternoon and you happen to be off work, so you’ve decided to hit your local clothing outlet in search of some new pants. While trying on some jeans, you engage in a conversation with one of the younger employees. He’s energetic and attentive and when you ask if he’s ever considered a […]

It’s a Wednesday afternoon and you happen to be off work, so you’ve decided to hit your local clothing outlet in search of some new pants. While trying on some jeans, you engage in a conversation with one of the younger employees. He’s energetic and attentive and when you ask if he’s ever considered a career in the restaurant business, he says “I’ve actually been considering it. I’ve been doing some careful planning and am setting up some interviews, but nothing has really happened.”

Ok, you think, you might have something here. So before he goes to help other customers, you ask him another question.

“Can I ask one more question? You’ve been dealing with a ton of customers today. Are there things you find annoying about them?”

“I mean, this is a sales and customer service job,” he says. “Yeah, customers get on your nerves sometimes, but that’s the nature of the job. They make a lot of demands, but it’s ok – they want to get the right outfit to wear and it’s my job to make that an awesome experience.”

Huh. Not a bad answer. He might actually have potential. Enthused, you give him your card and tell him you’re interviewing for server positions next week if he’s interested.

Why Behavior Interview Questions are Important

If your restaurant is hiring right now or gearing up for the Summer or Winter hiring season, you know that it’s not easy.

But, if you’ve attended any of our “War for Talent” webinars lately , you know our mantra to combat the hiring issue is to “Always be Recruiting!”

When you’re “always on,” it’s important to think about what kind of questions you can ask at a moment’s notice to identify if someone could potentially be a good fit for your restaurant – even if they are in another job.

There’s a catch though, says restaurant consultant Donald Burns . According to Burns, these applicants look great on paper and can interview like pros.

With a quick search on their phone and even the tiniest bit of practice, they can come up with the right canned answers to win the job. To get to the bottom of a person’s potential, you’ve got to dig a little deeper with some creative restaurant interview questions.

Hit The Basic Interview Questions First

Everyone’s nervous in an interview, so a good ice-breaker can calm the initial tension or any nerves. Asking common interview questions is a good way see if a candidate is able to meet your minimum qualifications.

Some basic interview questions include:

“How does your experience at your past position translate to what you’re going to do at our restaurant?”
“Why did you get into the restaurant industry?”

The restaurant business is full of passionate people. Do they even want to be in the industry, or are they just interviewing?

“What do you know about our restaurant?”

Some people don’t know anything and applied on a whim. Don’t you want someone who did a little research?

“Tell me about yourself.”

See if they tell you something beyond what’s on their resume, or what their friend who referred them told you.

“What qualities do you think are important for the job you’re interested in?”

Behavioral Interview Questions to Ask

Now, for the good stuff. Here are some more examples of great behavioral-based questions you can ask and what you’re looking for in your interviewees’ responses:

“Tell me about a time that it was hard for you to be on time. How did you handle it?”

Does this person make excuses for tardiness, or does he place value in punctuality and look for solutions?

“If you could have one word written on your tombstone, what would it be?”

What you’re looking for: what do they care about, what are they passionate about?

“What things do customers do that you find annoying?”

What you’re looking for: Is this person capable of successfully interacting with tough customers.

“If you were the boss, how would you tell someone they were unqualified for this position?”

What you’re looking for: Is this person capable of delivering bad news? More importantly, can they be honest about it?

“How do you feel about downloading music without paying for it?”

What’s you’re looking for: In this question, you’re finding out what is this particular person’s moral and ethical boundaries, and forcing them to articulate their reasons why they believe a certain way.

“How do you continue your learning?”

What you’re looking for: Is this person a lifelong learner who can grow and potentially take on new roles or leadership skills?

“What will your friends think if you get this job?”

What you’re looking for: Are they easily swayed by other people, or they can make decisions for themselves?

“What is the most irritating part of your current job? What tasks do you not like doing?”

What you’re looking for: There are plenty of jobs within the restaurant industry that require repetitive tasks. Finding out that this candidate does not like to do particular tasks related to the job could eliminate them immediately.

“If you had a really boring task to do, how would you pass the time doing it?”

What you’re looking for: Can this person stay on task and remain committed to the job even when the tasks are repetitive?

“What does being a ‘Team Player’ mean to you?”

What you’re looking for: Many restaurants have a small number of employees who may have to pitch in even if a task is outside of their normal job description. It’s important to identify people who can put more on their plate and assume a leadership role as the business grows.

To end the interview and hopefully get a laugh, you could ask “If you could be any superhero, who would you be, and what superpower would you like to have?”

What you’re looking for: Their reaction can tell you a lot. Do they laugh? Are they still nervous? Sometimes, they’re going to need to break the ice with a tough customer and think of something fun on the fly. Their answer to this question can tell you whether they can get creative.

63 Questions for Better Hiring

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Want more behavioral-based questions to ask your potential employees? Receive a free download of “63 Questions for Better Hiring” by Donald Burns!

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