Why do you want to work at Olive Garden?
Try to praise them for something. Perhaps you love the dining experience in the place. Maybe it isn’t particularly special, or distinctive from other Italian-American restaurants, but you enjoy the vibe of the place, the selection of dishes, the affordable prices, and friendly staff–now you hope to join their ranks.
One cannot expect a life-changing experience dining at Olive Garden. But you will always get what you came for, and you will hardly end up disappointed. It’s a great place for families as well.
Alternatively you can refer to a recommendation you got from another server, cook, or employee. Say that they praised the place, team spirit and working culture. It’s a hard work, for sure, but an enjoyable one, as long as you enjoy being a part of a hard-working team.
Last but not least, you can also talk about some practical reasons. Perhaps the restaurant premises are close to your apartment, or you have a great traffic connection to the place, or the working hours really suit you. Anything is better than nothing, and they should get an impression of being your first choice.
Can you tell us more about your previous working experience?
Any experience from bars, restaurants, or basically from any place where you were busy and had to work hard, will help you succeed in this interview. Try to avoid negative remarks about your former employers and colleagues. Maybe you left the job because you didn’t like something, or couldn’t stand someone–but you should not say so in an interview.
Focus more on the lessons you learned, and working routines you mastered–such as standing on your feet for the most of the day, dealing with customers–always with smile, handling cash–without making mistakes, and so on.
Lack of experience typically isn’t a reason to send you home from Olive Garden interviews. Just ensure them that you are ready to work hard, motivated to learn, and know what is expected from an excellent employee at Olive Garden.
What does being a server mean to you?
Most likely it’s simply a means to make money for you, a way of paying bills and keeping your head above the water. As you can guess though, that’s not something you should admit in this interview.
Try to talk nicely about the role. Working as a server is an opportunity to make someone’s day a bit better–by providing an excellent customer service, or maybe by giving them a gift of smile, since they haven’t received one for a long time, and show a sad face at the table.
It is also an opportunity for you–to get some valuable working experience, to make your first steps in the hospitality sector, and perhaps a springboard to more interesting careers in the field.
Last but not least, being a server means to you belonging to a hard-working team, feeling responsibility for your work, and having a mutual goal with your colleagues–making the dining experience an unforgettable one for the guests (unforgettable in good means, of course).
Tell us about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer.
Try to talk about the situation without emotions. Maybe someone really pissed you off, or said you some harsh words, and it was totally undeserved. But you should be able to get over such things quickly, avoid any arguments with the customers, and focus on trying your best with the next one in the line.
The key is to demonstrate that you tried what you could for the customer. You apologized, offered something else, tried to remedy the situation, stayed courteous. Whether it eventually worked out or not isn’t that important. Your effort counts for the interviewers, and your ability to get over bad words quickly, and move on.
What does it mean to you to be on a team?
Teamwork should mean everything to you. It’s a real game changer in the hospitality sector. Most employees work hard in this sector, often earning a minimum wage, or sometimes even less. But once you try to make something big happen in a team, once you see that people support and encourage each other, work isn’t so tough any longer, and you can actually enjoy it.
What’s more, being on a team isn’t only about “getting” for you. You also want to give back. You always try to be attentive to the needs and feelings of your colleagues, help them whenever you can, with an advice, helping hand, or just a work of encouragement. That’s what teamwork means to you, and you know that you can find such a team at Olive Garden–which is one of the reasons why you applied.
How would you describe an excellent customer service?
You have several options here. One is a general definition, focusing on the emotions and experience of the restaurant guest. They should feel welcome and attended to in the place, from the first moment to last. Everyone should approach them with smile, and they should feel that the people in the restaurant really care to make their experience the best possible one.
Another option is describing an outstanding service from a perspective of a waitress. Attending each table as quickly as possible, showing positive body language, answering the questions of the guests, and giving recommendations, and repeatedly ensuring that they are getting what they came for, is definitely an excellent service.
Last option is an indirect definition of such a service–based on results. If the customers are satisfied, if they leave huge tips, write nice reviews online and recommend the place to their peers, you can certainly say that they got an excellent customer service in the place–and it is your goal to deliver such.
When you go out to eat, what is the most important aspect to having an enjoyable dining experience?
You should adjust your answer to the job you are applying for with Olive Garden. If you try to become a cook in one of their restaurant, you should say that an excellent food, nicely presented and perfectly seasoned, is the most important aspect of an amazing dining experience.
When you try to get a job of a server, you can give the highest importance to the staff communicating with the guest. Great waiter can make from your visit to an average restaurant an enjoyable dining experience. Simply because they are nice, they care, they won’t let you waiting. You feel important in the place, and hence you have an enjoyable experience.
And if you try to get a job of a manager with one of the Olive Garden locations, you should say that a great system makes for an enjoyable experience. If everyone knows what they are supposed to do, and how, and if they repeat it each and every time, guests know what they should expect and they will get it each and every time, leaving the pale satisfied, and ready to come again.
At the end of your answer you can add that you want to contribute to such an enjoyable experience, with your excellent work in the restaurant.
What is your availability? Which hours can you work?
Olive Garden employs many people part time. If that’s also your case, you should be able to specify on which days you can work, and when exactly. Try to prepare your schedule for the week. Maybe you go to school, or have one more part time job. Hence you can work only on this and that day, this or that hour….
As long as you clearly explain when you can work, and do not give your job with Olive Garden the last place on your list of priorities (after watching Netflix and spending time with your girlfriend), they should be OK with your answer. Everything is about communication at this point. They do not expect you to skip school to work in the restaurant. But you should explain that you cannot work on Tuesday (and other days), because you are at school, or have some other commitments.
Where do you see yourself in one year from now?
Just like any other restaurant chain, Olive Garden battles with high employee fluctuation. People come expecting an easy ride, and quit after a few weeks or months, or after the first super-hard shift.
It may be also your case–and there’s nothing wrong about it and you have a legal right to leave after a few weeks, or few hours, but you should at least show an honest desire to stay longer, while interviewing for the job.
Ensure them that you do not plan to seek another job while you work at Olive Garden. As long as they are happy with your work, and as long as you manage the workload, you plan to stay with them.
Alternatively you can say that you do not think much about the future. We live in uncertain times, and nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. Hence you prefer not thinking much about the future. Now you want to get a job with them, and you will try your best to retain it. But what will happen to you, or to the world in six months time, isn’t really clear.
Do you want to add something, after everything we discussed here?
You can either use this opportunity to ask some questions (about the shift patterns, employee training, anything–but do not ask about your wage), or to once again emphasize your motivation to work for them, your preference to their brand, your love for Olive Garden.
But you do not have to force the issue. If you feel that the interview went well, that you discussed everything important with them, you can simply thank them for their time and ask about the next steps of the hiring process…
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