People just love to eat. A bad catering can turn an otherwise great event into a disaster, and a great catering can save any event from flopping completely. Regardless of whether you apply for a job in a hotel, cruise ship, hospital, theme park, entertainment site, or with a catering company who serves all these places, you will always have to deal with similar questions in your catering interview.
What’s more, you will have to demonstrate decent communication skills, attention to detail, and ability to work under pressure and meet the expectations of the customers. Because they will have a lot of expectations, and the more they pay for the event (or their stay in a hotel), the more they will expect from everyone, including the catering staff.
So put on your best clothes, do not forget your beautiful smile at home, and try to get ready for the following questions.
Why did you decide to apply for this position with us?
Let’s be honest. No little kid dreams of working as a caterer. Owners of catering businesses and interviewers are not naive. You should not try to convince them of something that’s highly unlikely. Therefor I suggest you to be honest, but at the same time find something positive about the vacancy.
Perhaps you want to run your own catering business one day. Or you try to gain some experience, to have something you can put on your resume. It will make your situation easier when applying for other jobs in the future.
Or, in this stage of your professional career, or in the particular life situation you experience right now, it suits you perfectly to work in events and conferences, to perhaps work in the evening or in the night, or on weekends, while you study during the day, or have another job, or take care of other commitments.
What’s more, you like food, and believe to have the skills to be a decent caterer–attention to detail, organizational skills, communication skills, etc.
What is your availability? When can you work?
Most jobs for caterers and employees in catering business do not have a fixed schedule. Because events happen irregularly, company always tries to sign up new clients, and eventually you may work five evenings one week, and none evening the next one.
The key is to show some flexibility, and to clearly explain your schedule outside of this job. But you should have some free time, and they should not get an impression that the job has the last priority on your list, and that you will refuse the shift often.
On the other hand. You read the job description carefully, you are free on most evenings and weekends, and you do not consider this a one-off opportunity. Try to make this impression in your interview.
Do you have any relevant experience with working in catering?
Experience is not required, but it is definitely a plus. Do not limit yourself with the jobs you had–if you had any, of course. You might have “worked” in catering without even realizing it.
Perhaps you cooked cakes and some salty stuff for the 70th birthday of your grandmother, helped to transfer the goodies to her house, and eventually served the stuff to people. Or you helped as a waiter at your friend’s wedding, since they were on budget and tried to save money… You will benefit from these experiences in your new job, and you should not hesitate to mention them in an interview.
A bit tricky situation occurs when you worked directly in catering before, but do not have the job anymore. If it is the case, you can be sure that they will inquire why you left your job. If they fired you, because you drank one glass too much during one of the events, or broke the rules, it’s maybe better not to mention this experience at all…
The workload can be heavy during the events, and the expectations will be always high. How do you plan to handle the pressure?
You can say that you will try to have a good system in your work–if they do not have one in place already. Once you work according to the system, and every team member is aware of their role in the event, and acts accordingly, you should together handle the heavy workload, and meet the high expectations.
Another option is referring to your experience from the past, or even from the other job you have at the moment. The pressure is high there, with deadlines and targets to meet each month. However, you do not panic under pressure, and simply try your best. You see no reason why you should struggle to do the same thing in your new job.
Imagine that there is insufficient food for the guests in the venue. What will you do?
Not much you can do if you notice this too late… Ensure the interviewers that you will keep your eyes open, and observe the things around you during the event. If there are more guest than expected, and one hour in, half of the food has been consumed already, and people do not seem like stopping, you will call your supervisor immediately, trying to arrange the delivery, or preparation of more food.
You simply won’t wait for the last moment, but will make precautions and try to address the situation before the guests actually notice the problem. Hiring managers will love you for this attitude to your job.
Of course it can happen that you won’t spot the issue early enough and suddenly there’s almost no food on the tables. Ensure the interviewers that you won’t panic, or run away from the venue. You will inspect the situation, and, together with your colleagues, try to quickly prepare something else for the guests, or arrange the quickest possible delivery of food from either the catering company, or even from some external supplier.
5 other questions you may face in your interview for a job of a Caterer
- What will you do to ensure that the food items are not damaged during the transportation to the venue?
- Do you consider yourself a team player?
- Imagine that one of the guests uses their hands to dish salad onto their plate. How will you react? What will you tell to the guest?
- The evening has ended, and the last guests have left the venue. Explain the duties you will take care of from this moment on, before eventually leaving the venue.
- A drunk guest accidentally hits you while you walk around them with a bottle of an expensive champagne, and the bottle breaks. How will you react? What will you say to the customer?
Conclusion, next steps
Interviews for catering jobs belong to easy interviews. These jobs do not pay great, and catering companies often struggle to find reliable people to do the work, people who won’t leave them after the first gig.
Hence they tend to give a chance to everyone who shows some motivation and enthusiasm in the interviews. Try to learn something about your future employer–the type of events and places they serve with the catering services, the clients they have, their reputation and reviews. It will help you to connect with your interviewers.
You should also prepare an answer to each question from our list, and show some enthusiasm in the interviews. If you manage to do that, they will give you a chance. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Waitress interview questions – Learn how to make the right impression on the hiring managers.
- How to overcome interview nerves – Feeling nervous? You won’t anymore, after you read our guide, and apply the strategies to your interview preparation.
- How to dress for an interview – Not sure what clothes to wear? We have the answers…