Let me start with good news: Interview for a job of a waitress is one of the easiest job interviews across all fields of employment. The reason is simple: They need you.
90% of bars, cafeterias, pubs, and restaurants struggle with staff. Employee turnover is extremely high in the hospitality business, and employers are on a constant hunt for new waitresses (and for other staff members). They cannot afford to be extremely picky in the job interviews. If you do not say something extremely stupid, or do not remain silent when they ask you their questions, they will give you a chance.
Maybe you will leave after a week or they will send you away, but they will give you a chance. Let’s have a look at the questions they will ask you.
Can you please tell us something about your previous working experience?
No experience is completely fine and even proffered at some places. In case of having no experience, you should ensure them that you are willing to learn and work hard, and understand what will be expected from you in the job.
If you have previous experience working in a bar or restaurant, I suggest you to mention only places where you worked for six months or more. Summer job is an exception, of course. They should get a feeling that you aren’t a job hopper, and will stay with them for some time.
Try to talk positively about your former jobs and colleagues. Negativity is a bad sign for most employers. If you did some long shifts or night shifts or anything else special, you should say so.
Why do you want to work in our bar, restaurant, pub?
Try to say at least something positive about the place. The payment will be similar in all places in the area, but maybe they have a nice offer of drinks or you have good experience with the waitresses and customer service. Or you love the vibe and atmosphere of the place, and would love to work there.
Alternatively you can refer to practical reasons. Their place is located close to your apartment, so it will be easy for you to commute to work. Or the working hours suit your schedule and other duties you have outside of your job (going to school, raising a kid, anything else).
One way or another, they should get the feeling that they are somehow special for you, because in such a case you won’t leave them as soon as you get a better offer somewhere else in the city.
What is your availability? What hours can you work?
Just check their opening hours, and read the job description carefully. If they do not advertise the working hours, you should show some flexibility.
This job does not necessarily have to be your first priority. School, or family can have that spot on your list. But it should be your second priority at last, and you should show them that you are willing to sacrifice something for your employment.
Saying that you can’t come on Thursday evening because you attend yoga classes, or can’t work on Sunday because you are a Christian, won’t help you to succeed in this interview…
This is a repetitive job, and sometimes a hard one. What motivates you?
You have a few options for a good answer. One is saying that you actually enjoy the job of a waitress. You feel like a fish in a water in the environment of a busy restaurant, you delight in your interactions with the customers, and basically the day flies away quickly for you in work.
What’s more, though the tasks repeat each day, different people come to the place, and there is no lack of interesting situations in a bar or restaurant–at least in your view.
Another option is referring to your goals. You want to provide for a family, or save enough money for your studies, or you have another goal on your mind, and this drives you forward on days when you struggle with motivation. Because you want to achieve your goal, and it would be impossible to do so without money.
What are your salary expectations?
In 90% of places waitresses will earn minimum wage. However, they may keep the tips or share them with their coworkers. This way, some of the best waitresses may earn more money than managers–at least when they work in places where rich customers come to dine or drink. People with deep pockets won’t hesitate to tip a good waiter…
I suggest you to say that you have no particular expectations, and are ready to accept their standard offer for waitresses, plus tips. This should induce the hiring manager to explain how it works with tips at their place–whether you keep them, share them with your colleagues, or they have even some other model in place.
How do you feel about working in a twelve hour shift? What about staying overtime?
Perhaps the biggest minus of a job of a waitress is having strange and unpredictable working hours. In many places opening hours are displayed just for the authorities, but the place won’t close as long as the show goes on and customers are willing to spend more money.
It is not uncommon to see a bar open at 4am while the sign shows it closes at 1am. And waitresses must stay, because someone has to serve the customers. That’s the reality of the job, in some places. Maybe you will be more lucky with your new employer.
However, you should again show some flexibility and persistence. Say them that you can stay focused and on your legs during a long shift, that you do not mind working for 12 hours in one go, or sometimes even longer, if a situation requires it. Of course you can refuse it later in work. But once interviewing for a job, you should say them what they want to hear.
Do you have any questions?
You should definitely ask them some questions, and not only for the sake of showing honest interest for the job.
Many bars and restaurants are shady places, and lot of stuff can be going on in the backstage. It is important to clarify things right in the interview, before you accept their offer. You should definitely ensure at least about the following:
- Shift patterns, and whether it is expected from you to work overtime.
- Salary, how it works with tips, whether you will be paid on daily, weekly, or monthly basis, whether there is any advance payment.
- Job contract–they should give you something to sign, and you should get your copy. Gentlemen agreement is not acceptable in this case. I know many waitresses who worked for a month or two, never seeing a penny except of the tips they received from the customers. In order to avoid similar situation, you should have something in your hands…
What to wear for a waitress job interview
This really depends on your future place of work. In high class restaurants and posh places, you will have to follow a dress code. In a casual bar or ordinary place, you will be typically allowed to wear anything.
The best thing you can do is visiting the place in advance, and checking what the waitresses are wearing. If the idea feels occurred to you, you can always send a friend–paying for their drink. Once you know what the existing waitresses are wearing, you can just put on something similar for your interview…
May also help you prepare for your waitress job interview:
- How to overcome interview nerves – simple guide that will help you beat your anxiety and deliver your very best.
- Restaurant interview questions – check some questions you may get while applying for any job in a restaurant.