The Server Interview Questions (and Answers!) You Need to Know
Some restaurants will hire a server based on simple interview questions such as, “Do you have prior experience?” or “Can you work weekends?” I once had a waiter interview that consisted of just one question: Have you ever worked in a restaurant before? My answer was, “Yes,” and I was offered the job on the spot.
Those types of right-to-the-point interviews are fantastic when they happen, but it’s usually not that easy. You should always go into a server job interview expecting to have an in-depth discussion with your potential employer about your experience and skills.
As a server, you have to bring a lot to the table (#sorrynotsorry. We’ll never 86 that joke). Being a great server requires a unique combination of traits and skills including thinking on your feet, staying calm under pressure, knowing how to read people, excellent prioritization and communication skills, and a personality that makes guests feel relaxed and confident.
Even if you have no experience as a waitress, you can still nail a restaurant job interview by highlighting these traits with examples from other jobs or from life experiences.
Below are a few commonly asked food service interview questions (and answers!) to help you land a great server job. We’ve included a “why they ask this” explanation for each question to give you insight into what managers tend to be looking for. Understanding this allows you to better customize your answers and impress your soon-to-be new boss!
The 4 most common server interview questions and how to answer:
8 Restaurant Manager Speak What They Look For In Candidates
We spoke to eight managers to find out exactly what their go-to questions are for server interviews and the interview answers they like to hear. Practice putting these answers into your own words, and you’ll be sure to walk away from your restaurant interview with a job offer.
Straight from the horse’s mouth!
I always ask them to tell me about a time they had a negative experience with a guest and how they resolved it. If they say they’ve never had a bad interaction, that’s a red flag. In the service world, there will always be bad guest interactions. If they say they haven’t had one, they’re either lying or they’ve never served before. — Steve M.
If you got triple sat, how would you handle greeting your tables, getting drinks, etc.? There’s no specific right answer, but this question helps me see how their mind works and what they prioritize. The only real wrong answer is if they get flustered and can’t explain the steps they’d take. If they get flustered over a question about being triple sat, they for sure can’t handle the reality of that! — Jeremy T.
In the restaurant world, it’s a fact of life that people sometimes show up late or not at all. I like to ask potential servers, “If your relief did not come in on time, what would you do?” — Heyam P.
I want to hear that they will stay until their relief comes or until we’ve found someone who can cover the shift. — Sara S.
I always ask them to explain what hospitality means to them. I want to hear things like “It means taking care of a guest’s needs while always being friendly” or something similar. They need to know that hospitality is about serving others and creating a warm, welcoming environment. — Kristi H.
I always ask them to explain a great dining experience they’ve had and a less-than-ideal one. This gives you an idea of what they feel constitutes good and bad service and what they’ll prioritize when serving our guests. — April B.
I have a lot of go-to questions that I think really bring out the true colors of a potential server. Some of my favorites are, “What do you do when you’re bored at work?” and “How do you feel/react when a customer doesn’t tip you?” A good answer for the first one is something that shows they have initiative and will look for ways to be helpful when it’s slow. For the second one, you’re looking for red flags. Any answer that includes getting angry or upset is a sign that this person might be too sensitive to be a good fit for your restaurant. — Amanda C.
My favorite isn’t really a question. I always ask them to sell me something from our menu or their favorite dish. They need to be able to quickly put together a persuasive response because they’ll need to do this regularly with guests. This is also a great question for applicants who don’t have previous experience. If they can rack up sales, we can teach them the rest. — Priya D.
Melissa was a server for five years and a cook for one day. Now she writes about food and restaurants. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.