People just love to eat. They want to, they have to, and they will often go out to satisfy their stomachs. There are countless job openings in food service industry right now, which makes your situation easier. Unless you apply with one of the famous fast foods or restaurant chains (think Taco Bell, Burger King, or Pizza Hut) you won’t compete with many other people for the job.
You may actually be the only candidate. And the owner of the store will hope that you do well, that they can hire you–because they basically need you. They need you to keep the place operational, or to grow the place. Let’s have a look at questions you will face in this interview.
Why do you want to work here?
Try to find something positive. Say that you love their burgers, pizzas, or whatever they offer to customers. You can also praise the system of work they have in place (which is excellent in most franchise food chains), or the reputation and reviews they got on TripAdvisor or similar websites.
You will do well also with more prosaic reasons. Saying that you live close to the place, or that your friend recommended you the job (they are also working there), or that the working hours suit your schedule at school, is a good answer.
How do you imagine a typical day in work?
Most people will say that they imagine preparing dishes and serving customers. This isn’t a bad answer, but you will actually respond for more. And you should demonstrate that you understand the job, and what exactly will be expected from you.
In most cases you will clean the place after the shift. You may also lay the tables, clean the dishes (putting them in a dishwasher), and you may respond for other duties.
It is also good to emphasize that you understand the place is often busy, and expect to have your hands full while on a shift. You should not expect an easy ride in this job…
Tell us something about your previous working experience.
Experience isn’t really important–you will learn everything in the new job. They will instruct you into a system of steps which you will follow with every customer (certain form of a greeting, one question, then the specific way in which you’ll prepare each item from the menu, packing the food, taking money, saying good bye…).
Nevertheless, it is still good to show that you have basic working habits and can respond for the position and satisfaction of a customer. I suggest you to mention one or two jobs you had before, briefly listing the duties you responded for.
* May also interest you: Interview questions for teens.
What is your availability? What hours can you work each day?
Allocating people on shifts effectively is a challenge many food service owners face. They wonder whether you can work on weekends, late in the night (especially common on Friday night), and how many hours a week you can work.
Try to show some flexibility, and do not give your job the last priority. Obviously you should neither skip school to make money at work, nor leave a two years old child home alone just to log some additional hours. But you should prioritize work to your hobbies, and show the employer that you are ready to sacrifice something for your new occupation.
How would you deal with a drunk customer?
A spontaneous reaction is saying that you’d send them home. But that would be a bad answer. On Friday night, half of the customers will come in drunk. Some of them heavily.
Say that unless they were aggressive, or bothered other customers, you’d serve them as you’d anyone else. You can say that you’d take some precautions, but would do your best to make them happy with your service. When we drink we are hungry. You can not afford to lose these customers.
Imagine that a customer complained about the quality of food, and wanted to return it. What would you do?
This really depends on the policy of a particular dining facility. You can counter their question, saying that you would follow the standard procedure, and asking them what a standard procedure is.
While customer satisfaction matters, it is also important to have rules in place. If you allowed one customer to return half-eaten burger and gave them their money back, the word could easily spread out and soon you’d have many people returning stuff. Keep it on your mind while answering this question.
What are your salary expectations?
You will likely be paid on an hourly basis. Check the job ad carefully before the start of your interview–in most cases the salary will be advertised.
If it is not, say that you’d accept the standard rate they pay all new hires per hour. Anyway, you should not get discouraged by the amount. In many places you will earn tips (which can bring in more money than your hourly wage), plus, especially in a case of smaller places and individually owned food stands they may give you some money aside…
How long do you want to have this job?
Finding new employees is really a pain in the ass. Especially in food industry, where employers face virtually unlimited competition, and job seekers are far from loyal.
Therefor you should say that you want to stay with them, at least for a year, or until you end your studies (if you’re still studying). Obviously you do not have to stick to your promises from an interview. You can leave them after a month or two. But once they interview you for a the job, you should say them what they want to hear…
And who knows, maybe you will love the place, and actually stay with them for a long time.
Can you give me some references?
This one is a bit tricky. If you have never had a job before, you should be honest. Say that you do not have any references, and hope to prove your skills during the probation period.
But if you had a job and left on bad terms, or made some bad mistakes, or had an argument with an employer, it is maybe better to conceal this reference. On the other hand, if you had a good relationship with your former boss, or at least with a colleague you shared a workplace with, you can and should give their number to the interviewer.
Do you have any questions?
Asking a question at the end of an interview, you show them that you care, that you are seriously interested in an offer, and want to know more. To good questions definitely belong:
- What is the next step of this hiring process?
- Do you have any training program in place, or do we start working from the first day?
- Do you follow a dress code in work? Do you provide the dresses?
Special Tip: You can also download all questions in a one page long PDF, to practice your interview answers anytime later:
Interview for a job of a food service worker does not belong to difficult interviews. Ensure that you show up on time and have your resume with you. Prepare for the questions from this article, and try to show some enthusiasm for the job offer.
Continue your preparation with InterviewPenguin.com, your best job interview coach:
- Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?
- How to dress for your interview – Four rules to consider when choosing clothes to wear.
- Restaurant interview questions – You can expect an atypical and informal interview, led by the restaurant manager, or by the owner of the restaurant. Learn how to make a good impression.