Let me start with good news: You won’t compete with many people in your interview. Almost all coffee places struggle with staff (just like restaurants and hotels). They do not have super high expectations when it comes to new employees. They hire almost everyone. After all, it’s always better to have an average waitress or barista than having nobody, and facing a possibility of closing the shop. Someone has to make the coffee.
Summarized and underlined, you can expect a relatively easy interview. Up to ten questions, mostly related to your experience, availability, and motivation, plus two or three behavioral questions–in better places. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
Why do you want to work in our place?
Try to say something nice. Perhaps you like the taste of coffee, the vibe of the place, the type of people who enjoy their daily cup (or cake, or whatever) in the place. Or you love their brand, reputation, and atmosphere on the workplace.
In an ideal case you should praise something about their coffee shop–they should get an impression that you did not apply by a chance, or at least that you see something positive about them.
If you can’t find anything special (which would be strange, since an average place can hardly make it in such a competitive business), say that you like the location (good traffic connection, in the city center, etc), or working hours.
Tell us more about your previous working experience.
Try to speak positively about your past jobs. Remember that if you worked in a cafeteria before, and share it with your interviewer, they will ask you why you aren’t working there anymore (why you left the place). Try to avoid any negative remarks on the address of your former employers or colleagues. Say rather that you had to quit from personal reasons, or the place closed down, or whatever.
If you had some troubles in that place (they fired you for a serious breach of rules), you can even conceal this employment. Most coffee shops accept also waiters and baristas without any relevant experience. In such a case (no experience), ensure them that you are a quick learner and eager to work hard. Enthusiasm and motivation can easily beat experience in this particular interview…
* May also interest you: Barista interview questions.
What do you like about coffee?
A common question in STARBUCKS interviews, and one that makes sense, since it is always easier to work with coffee if you have some relationship to this beverage. You do not have to be a coffee lover to get this job, however. It definitely helps to at least know something about coffee though, and to have some positive associations in your mind.
Coffee connects people. Some of the most important agreements in human history were negotiated over a cup of coffee (perhaps a bad one), countless relationships start each day in all kinds of settings and coffee shops around the world.
I do not drink coffee, but there is definitely something I can appreciate about the drink. And you should have the same attitude, or be a coffee lover. Whichever suits you better.
What is your availability?
Many jobs in coffee places are part time. In other cases you have to be flexible, working on weekends, late in the night, etc. Try to be honest with your interviewers. If you have school at certain times of the day or a second job you want to keep, explain it clearly.
You can even prepare a list of hours for each day of the week–time when you are available for their coffee shop. Most employers will appreciate such an extra effort. However, they should not get an impression that the job with them is your last priority, after school, other job, time with your boyfriend, swimming classes, etc. Think about it when talking about your availability.
What motivates you in this routine job?
You can say that you enjoy places like theirs, that being around customers and serving them excellent coffee makes you happy. There’s no need for an elaborate answer this time. Just say that you enjoy doing what waitresses/baristas typically do, that you like to work in such an environment, and that the job itself motivates you.
If you try to save money for a particular purpose (paying for college, extended summer vacation, arranging an eye surgery for your grandmother), you can mention your goal as something that will help you get over difficult times (a busy shift, conflict with a colleague, crisis of motivation, problems in your personal life, etc).
* If you’re not sure how to answer this one, you can check 7 sample answers to the questions about motivation in routine jobs.
How would you deal with a rude and unsatisfied customer?
Say that you would try to stay polite in all circumstances. Fighting anger with patience and care. You can even say that you approach your job responsibly, and try your best for every customer–which means that you do not expect to meet rude people in the coffee shop.
If someone goes over the top, however, or disturbs other guests with their behavior, you should bring them a bill and send them out. Whether they will listen to you is another story :).
Some other questions you may face in your coffee shop interview
- How do you feel about sharing tips with your colleagues?
- Imagine that a customer is flirting with you, inviting you for a movie or for a drink. How will you react?
- How do you handle multitasking?
- What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?
- What are your salary expectations?
* Special Tip: You can download full list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Conclusion and next steps
Interviews in cafeterias belong to easier job interviews. You won’t compete with (m)any job seekers, and sometimes the owner of the place (or the manager) will pray that you do well–since they need new staff badly.
Try to show positive emotions, keep an eye contact, and praise them for their work (their beautiful cafeteria, excellent customer service, etc).
Prepare at least some short answers to the questions we outlined in this article, and do some research about the place. Once you do all these things, you should get the job in 9 out of 10 cases. We wish you good luck!
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