Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking to advance your career or a college student in dire need of money, restaurant work can offer you a unique experience in a fast-paced environment that goes beyond just being a job.
The only thing that’s standing between you and this opportunity to develop essential skills, make lasting connections, and earn a decent amount of money?
A job interview.
If you’re wondering how to make a lasting impression, what to ask your potential employer, and how to demonstrate your ability to work effectively in this team-driven environment, we’ve got you covered!
It’s important to understand the crucial steps for your hiring process, secret tricks, and the dos and don’ts on how to ace your restaurant job interview, keep on reading!
1. Research the Restaurant
Just like with every other job interview, regardless of the industry, it’s important that you thoroughly research your potential employer aka the establishment you’re applying to.
In the context of restaurant work, that means familiarizing yourself with their menu, ambiance, type of visitors, and any recent news or accolades.
For example, if the restaurant’s focus on local and sustainable ingredients made you want to apply for a job there, then make this known during your interview.
By doing so, and by demonstrating your knowledge of the restaurant, you’ll convey a genuine interest in working there, which is sure to impress your potential employer.
2. Dress Appropriately
The restaurant industry values appearance and presentation, which is why dressing appropriately for your interview can make a significant difference in leaving a positive impression.
Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong with business casual attire that reflects the restaurant’s style but remains neat and professional.
3. Showcase Your Communication Skills
In the restaurant industry, interactions with customers and team members are frequent and essential to creating a seamless and pleasant dining experience.
That’s why you should use your interview as the first opportunity to demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly, confidently, and politely.
Maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and engage in active listening when responding to the interviewer’s questions.
Try to strike a balance between professionalism and friendliness when presenting yourself, as your interviewer is likely looking for someone who can impress them and their clientele.
4. Highlight Relevant Experience
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or looking for your first restaurant job, you should highlight any relevant experience that you have in the food service or customer service industry.
The way to do this is by emphasizing the specific results you’ve achieved and the responsibilities you were assigned that align with the position you’re applying for.
For example, you can say that in your previous role as a server, you consistently received positive feedback from customers, resulting in a 15% increase in tips.
This is a great way to portray your ability to anticipate customers’ needs and provide personalized recommendations.
5. Demonstrate Team Player Attitude
The restaurant environment thrives on teamwork, so it’s crucial to convey your ability to work effectively with others.
If you’ve, for instance, collaborated with kitchen staff on your previous job to ensure seamless communication between the front and back of the house, and that has resulted in faster service and happier customers, make sure to highlight this.
Employers seek candidates who can seamlessly integrate into the existing team, adapt to the fast-paced and demanding environment, and work harmoniously with colleagues to deliver exceptional service.
By sharing your collaborative success story, you illustrate your capacity to communicate effectively, solve problems collectively, and maintain a positive working relationship with all team members.
6. Exhibit Problem-Solving Skills
Restaurant jobs can present unexpected challenges, so highlighting your problem-solving abilities is valuable to potential employers.
Share instances where you effectively handled difficult situations with composure and quick thinking.
This could be a story about a busy evening at your previous workplace, where you successfully coordinated with the team to ensure that all the guests had a pleasant dining experience, regardless of being overcrowded and working with limited resources.
Also, make sure the interviewer knows that you’re flexible and dependable. Some say that using these two magic words already puts you ahead of 75% of other candidates for restaurant work!
7. Display Enthusiasm for Customer Service
Exceptional customer service is at the heart of every successful restaurant.
It goes beyond merely taking orders and serving food; it involves creating a memorable and delightful dining experience for every customer.
Expressing your enthusiasm for providing top-notch service during your job interview can significantly impress your potential employer, setting you apart as a candidate who genuinely cares about the customers and the success of the establishment.
Pro Tip: Let your interviewer know that you’re willing to learn from customer feedback, whether positive or negative, and use it to improve your service.
8. Be Knowledgeable About Food and Beverage
Understanding the restaurant’s menu and beverages can set you apart from other candidates who haven’t done their homework.
Knowing the items, ingredients, and preparation methods the restaurant you’re applying to uses will show that you’re not just applying to any open job position on the market.
Instead, you’ll come off as someone who’s genuinely passionate about working in that particular place, because of their culinary offerings.
9. Prepare Thoughtful Questions
At the end of the interview, when asked if you have any questions, take the opportunity to ask thoughtful and insightful queries about the restaurant’s culture, training programs, or potential for growth.
You could ask:
- How will you be an asset to the restaurant’s existing staff
- What would they like to see more from servers that really represent their restaurant
- What does a typical day or night of work in the restaurant look like
- What kind of regular customers does the restaurant mostly attract
- How much do the restaurant’s servers do in sales on an average night / is cash paid nightly / how does tip-out work (No, these are not taboo questions!)
- Does the restaurant have set schedules or are they different every week
- How long is their training program
- How does the team work together
These questions reflect your commitment to contributing positively to the restaurant’s success and aligning with its values, all while covering the practicalities of the job.
By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to confidently approach your interview, impress your potential employer, and increase your chances of securing a job at your dream restaurant.
Let your passion for hospitality guide you, your dedication to customer service inspire you, and your belief in yourself propel you forward.
With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be guaranteed to make your mark in the restaurant industry – where passion meets excellence, and dreams become reality.