Ask and You Shall Find
Sample questions to pose during interviews for service team members.
Every job interview should touch on the basics but more creative lines of questioning can help to weed out candidates who may not be a good fit. “You really want to find out about their personality and their attitude,” says Ajay Walia. “For me, it’s about discovering if they have a service mentality and work well as part of a team.”
Why do you want to work at this restaurant?
This will demonstrate whether they did a little homework to learn about your operation — its menu, chef, reputation, awards, reviews and so on. Saying it is close to home is significantly different from noting that it is known for providing the most hospitable environment to its guests.
What does good service mean to you?
This provides an opportunity for them to put the guest into the scenario. If it is too heavily focused on the mechanics of getting food out quickly and turning the table, they may not be attuned to the finer points of dining out.
When you have had guests who are unhappy with some aspect of their experience, how did you deal with it?
Learn if they truly have a guest-first orientation.
What do you do on a busy night when you get stressed?
Be wary of someone who says they never get that way —they’re likely either oblivious or not entirely honest.
How do you determine if guests are having a good experience?
If they say that they ask the guests at the table, they’ve probably missed the mark. Really good servers need to be adept at reading body language and looking for signs.
What aspects of restaurant work do you most enjoy and least enjoy?
It’s probably okay if they diss on side-work but moaning about guest interaction is never a good sign.
What is your greatest strength and biggest weakness as a server?
Lots of subtle cues can be found in their responses but don’t accept “I don’t have any weaknesses,” as a legitimate response.
What do you believe your co-workers like best about being on the same shift with you?
The ideal answer should reflect their willingness to work as part of a team, helping colleagues when things get tough.
Walia always concludes interviews by asking why they left or are considering leaving their position. “I’m never entirely certain I get the full truth but it’s an important question to ask. I look for honesty, not justification for why it didn’t work out.”