Regardless of what happens in the world, people will always eat. And they will always enjoy delicious but unhealthy Mexican food, such as Tacos, Burritos, and other typical Mexican dishes ending with “os“. With over 2,000 locations over the world, and 50,000 employees, Chipotle is without a doubt a leading player in the field. And though the chicken burrito you get at Chipotle won’t taste like the one you get in the streets of Cancun or Guadalajara, you can still have some “Mexican experience” in the place.

Applying for a job with Chipotle, you can expect a rather casual interview, typically done directly in the restaurant. The restaurant manager will ask you about your motivation, availability, experience, and, most importantly, about your attitude to various situations that can happen with your colleagues and customers. Keep in mind that your non-verbal communication is also important in this interview. At Chipotle they want to hire cheerful and easy-going people who enjoy interactions with customers, and help to maintain a friendly and positive atmosphere in the restaurant. Let’s have a look at questions you may face.


Why do you want to work here at Chipotle?

Saying that you love Mexican cuisine and the dining experience at Chipotle is a good start, but it won’t be enough to make an impression on the hiring managers. Because if what you love is eating their food, than you do not have to work for them. You can just visit the place like you’ve done before and order loads of burritos.

You should talk about your excellent people skills. Tell them that you enjoy interacting with colleagues and customers, and thrive in an atmosphere of a busy kitchen. What is more, the job is a great match for your schedule at school (if you apply for a part time position), or you have another good reason for applying.

Regardless of what you say, do not forget to speak with enthusiasm. Without a doubt Chipotle is not your dream place of work, and not something you’d like to do in twenty years from now. But at this stage of your professional career and life, you are pumped to get hired, learn stuff, gain experience, meet new colleagues, and so on. That’s the impression they should get from an interview with you.


Why didn’t you apply for a job with other fast food chain, such as McDonald’s or KFC?

This one isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because, speaking honestly, jobs in fast food restaurants are pretty similar everywhere. You’ll earn a minimum wage–or close to it, you’ll get great on the job training, you’ll work with other young people, and you can definitely learn something from the experience. So why Chipotle?

One of the options is saying that you simply feel better at Chipotle than you do at McDonald’s. Each of these places has a specific vibe, atmosphere, group of customers, colors, dishes. And each attracts different customers, unless we talk about fast food junkies who’ll dine in any of these, getting obese along the way. So you can say that for your personality, Chipotle seems like a better match–it is a gut feeling perhaps than anything else.

Another option is referring to location, shift patterns, and similar reasons. Maybe you live really close to the restaurant, or the job they advertise with the shift patterns is a better fit to your other commitments such as school and family than the position you’ve checked at KFC. One way or another, they should get an impression that they are your first choice.

Do you have any experience in food service?

You can basically find yourself in two positions. Either you have experience, or you don’t. If you have, it is important to talk positively about the experience. Remember that they will often ask you “Why did you leave that other food service job?“, and you should have an answer ready. But you should never refer to heavy workload or a low pay, because the same awaits you with Chipotle.

To sum it, up, explain your experience, tell them what duties you were responsible for (preparing food, serving customers, collecting payments, cleaning the place, etc), and explain why you aren’t with them any longer, without pointing out something you will experience with Chipotle as well.

And what to do if you have no experience? In such a case you should refer to their excellent employee training program. Say them that you are a quick learner, and eager to learn, and will do whatever you can to quickly learn the job, and perform. After all, this is no engineering or nuclear physics. With the right attitude, you will no doubt learn the job quickly, and deliver to their expectations.


How would you respond if a customer complained about your service?

Tell them that you will definitely listen carefully to their complaint. Though you want to follow the system Chipotle has in place to the point, you are aware that you can make a mistake, because, at the end of the day, you are only a human being, and the workload will be heavy at times.

Hence you will listen to the customer, apologize, and remedy your mistake–if there is anything to remedy really. What is more, you will try to learn the lesson from the situation, to avoid repeating the same mistake again. You can also emphasize that you won’t start any arguments with the customer, won’t get emotional, regardless of what they say. You will simply try your best to stay calm, understand their complaint, and do what you can to make them happy again…


Where do you see yourself in a few years from now?

Chipotle, just like any other restaurant chain, prefers to hire people who can imagine their future with the company. But they also know that it won’t be the case with 90% of employees, that they will leave them once they graduate, or feel ready for the next move in their professional career.

Hence it is fine saying that you imagine having a completely different job in a few years time, when you graduate for example. But in each and every case you should express your desire to stay with them for two years at least. Needless to say, you can leave them much earlier, and nobody can blame you.

Of course, if you dream of working as a manager at a Chipotle restaurant one day, or even progress to one of their corporate roles, you can express your ideas in the interview, and they will be happy to hear them, and consider them a small plus.


Imagine that a customer asked to see a manager. What would you do?

This one is easier than it sounds. Just as you have your duties at Chipotle, so does the manager. And one of them is addressing the complaints of customers who want to talk to them. Tell the hiring managers that in such a case, you will go and try to fetch the manager as quickly as possible, without wasting time and letting other customers to wait longer than necessary in the queue.

You can also add that if the manager was busy, for example leading an interview with someone, or taking care of some other task they could not leave, you’d either ask the customer to wait, or politely offer them on option to share their thoughts with you, and you’d translate them to the manager when they are available again.


What is your availability?

Try to prepare a schedule for the entire week, before your go to your interview. You should be able to point our days and hours when you can work, and when you cannot, citing a clear reason–having another job, going to school, having to take care of your younger brother, etc.

But it is always important to be available for at least 20 hours a week, and also to show some flexibility, and willingness to sacrifice something for your new job. What I try to say here is that claiming that you cannot work Tuesday and Friday evening, because you go to see movies with friends on these days of the week, won’t help you to get the job…


Other questions you may face in your interview with Chipotle

  • Just like in any other fast food restaurant, the work is quite repetitive here. What will motivate you to try your best every day?
  • What experience do you have with working in a fast-paced environment?
  • Tell us about a conflict you had with one of your colleagues in one of your former jobs.
  • How would you describe an ideal colleague?
  • Tell me your definition of an outstanding customer service.
  • What do you like the most, and the least about Chipotle.
  • We have three other candidates interviewing for the job today. What can you offer us that they cannot?


Conclusion, next steps

Interviews for basic jobs with Chipotle (crew member, food server, line cook, customer service, etc) belong to interviews with average difficulty. These are neither the most popular, nor well paid jobs. However, with the current situation in the world, and with millions of people unemployed in the US alone, you will almost always compete with other candidates on the big day. It makes your situation more difficult.

On the other hand, these interviews aren’t stressful, managers typically try to act friendly, and you can definitely prepare for the interviews in advance, because they ask similar questions all the time. Get through my list once again, make notes, think about your answers, and do not forget to read something about Chipotle (the corporation, values they promote, their history etc) online–it will help you with some of your answers. I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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