Nail that Interview: Questions and Tips for Restaurant Servers

interview tips for restaurant serversThis time of year, many job seekers are applying for server positions at restaurants for summer or full-time jobs.  With warm weather and longer days, this is also the time of year that more people are going out for the night and staying out later.  When restaurants interview servers, they are looking to see if they can handle the demands of a busy restaurant.  To be a good restaurant server, you must be good with customers, a team player and have the ability to remain calm under pressure, among other qualities. It helps to have an idea of what to expect at the interview, and be prepared with interview tips for restaurant servers.  Here are some common interview questions for restaurant servers to prepare for, along with tips on how to answer them:

1)  Tell me about a time you delivered quality customer service.

It’s one thing to see you have customer service or restaurant experience on your resume.  But most restaurant owners and managers want to be able to picture how you interact with customers.  So you can expect interview questions for restaurant servers about past customer service experience and examples of how you have delivered quality customer service.   One of the best interview tips for restaurant servers is to think about customer service situations in past jobs and have some solid examples prepared of times you’ve delivered excellent customer service.  Here is one example of a good answer to this question:

“At the last restaurant I worked at, there was a busy lawyer who dined with us often.  He usually only had a short window of time before he had to get to his next client, especially around lunchtime.  Every time he came to the restaurant I made sure to get his order in right away so he didn’t have to stress so much about getting back to work in time.  As a result, he always tipped well and recommended the restaurant to many of his co-workers, who then became regulars.”

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2)  What is your greatest strength?

This is one of the common interview questions not only for restaurant servers, but any job you are applying for.  Restaurant owners and managers want to know what you will bring to their restaurant.  One of the important interview tips for restaurant servers when answering this question is to show what skills you have that make you stand out.  Be honest when you answer this question, and use as much enthusiasm as possible.  Don’t be afraid to brag.  Here is an example of an appropriate answer to this question:

“I am very detail-oriented.  I’ve always had an effective system for making sure the needs of the customer and the restaurant are met at all times, no matter how busy it is.  In the past, I’ve been able to notice things that others may miss, such as an empty beverage or someone that’s been waiting too long for their meal.”

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3)  What’s your greatest weakness?

In any job, hiring managers want to know you have an appropriate level of humility and self-awareness.  This is one of the interview questions for restaurant servers that show hiring managers you are always looking to improve and are open to receiving constructive criticism.  It can be particularly hard to answer a question like this since you don’t want to display your flaws and make yourself look bad in the interview.  One of the interview tips for restaurant servers to keep in mind when answering this question is to use a weakness that also has an upside.  Here is an example:

“I have perfectionist tendencies and can be too hard on myself.  I am working on finding the balance between doing a good job but at the same time not holding up other tasks because I’m so focused on getting the task at hand perfect.”

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4)  Why do you want to work at this restaurant?

This is one of the interview questions for restaurant servers that will show restaurant owners and managers that you did your homework and researched the company.  Try to avoid mentioning money as a reason for wanting to work there, and instead focus on the company’s values and culture.   Here is an example of a satisfying answer to this question:

“Any time I’ve been to your restaurant the business is booming and both staff and customers look happy.  This shows your commitment to the customer experience.  I feel that your mission and values align with mine.  I like that you are a leader in your industry, because that will help me continue to strengthen my own skills and values.”

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5)  How would you handle an angry customer?

When you work in the restaurant business, impatient and angry customers come with the territory.  In the interview, tips for restaurant servers responding to this question are to show you can remain calm, find out what the problem is, take steps to resolve the conflict and not take the matter too personally.  Here is an example of a satisfying answer:

“At one restaurant I used to work at, I had a customer complain about both the quality of what she ordered and how long it took to get her food.  I stayed calm, apologized to her for the inconvenience, and told her I would speak to the kitchen staff and my manager.  Management agreed to comp her meal, and the chef came out and personally apologized for the issue.  We were way busier than usual that night and the kitchen had gotten overwhelmed.”

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Author: Jessica Cody

Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.

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Nail that Interview: Questions and Tips for Restaurant Servers
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Nail that Interview: Questions and Tips for Restaurant Servers
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To be a good restaurant server, you must be good with customers, a team player and have the ability to remain calm under pressure, among other qualities. It helps to have an idea what to expect at the interview. Here are some common interview questions for restaurant servers to prepare for, along with tips on how to answer them.
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