Interviews are hard. They are nerve-racking. It is impossible for nerves to not be racked when entering a conversation for the sole purpose of being judged, both for skills and personality.
On top of that, the next rent check might depend on how well this one conversation goes. Sufficiently freaked?
Well, rest assured that there are in fact ways to make sure this conversation goes more favorably than not. Interviews obviously consist of questions being lobbed at candidates, and that is the key aspect of an interview to crack.
10 Potential Restaurant Manager Interview Questions
Here are potentially the top 10 toughest restaurant manager interview questions, some specific and some more universal, and some sure-fire answers.
1. What does customer service mean to you?
Talk about any experience you may have. Maybe you have worked in the restaurant industry before, but even if you have not, this question is not hopeless. It always helps to get creative when it comes to interviews because no one has been in every situation an interviewer may ask about.
If you do not have experience providing good customer service, try to think of a time when you have been the recipient of good customer service. What can you learn from it and how can it be applied to the restaurant industry?
Oftentimes, examples of good customer service include making sure the customer feels heard or if you cannot help them, directing them to the person that can help. It is important to be polite and friendly, and gauge the mood of the customer before being too chirpy. Often good customer service in the restaurant industry just means demonstrating patience in the face of frustration.
2. How do you handle conflict between staff members?
Conflict management is a key aspect of successfully fulfilling a managerial role. Dealing with conflict is a sensitive subject, and it is important to be understanding and open to all sides of the story as a restaurant manager.
Everyone has different perspectives and sensibilities, and it is imprudent to hope there will never be conflict. Make sure to note that open communication with all parties in the same room is key. Clear plans to avoid the conflict in the future should be established and agreed upon.
3. How do you work in a team?
In applying for managerial, such as a restaurant manager, position it is important to note your skills as a leader.
If you have never managed a restaurant, demonstrate another way in which you have used leadership skills to successfully lead a team or complete a project.
Anecdotes are key to all of these questions because people remember stories. Talk about a project at school, babysitting a younger sibling, or a leadership position in an extracurricular activity.
4. Why [insert restaurant name here]?
Amongst this list of the toughest interview questions for a restaurant manager, this the easiest to mess up, especially since it is not about you personally, lived experiences, so it requires conscientious memorizing. It requires a new answer for every single interview, and you cannot mix them up, it is either a make or a break.
Do! Your! Research! Find out what is unique about this restaurant. What kind of food does it serve? Why does that interest you? Upon what principles was it founded? Is it a franchise? Is it family owned?
Hone in on your favorite aspects of the restaurant and show off your knowledge of the brand. Showing you have knowledge about the restaurant also means you probably know how to improve it as well.
5. What do you bring to the company?
The answer to this question is utterly unique to who you are and what skills you bring to the table.
Here are some questions that may help prompt you to figure out exactly what it is you do bring to the table: Do you have a lot of experience leading teams? Are you known for your organizational skills? Have you been commended for your infectious can-do spirit?
Figure this out and highlight it for your potential new employer. If you have an anecdote about improving some part of the operations of the previous organization, bring that up. Employers want to know you take initiative and will be passionate and present at the job for which they are considering you.
6. A restaurant is a fast-paced environment. What do you do to make sure you are keeping pace?
This could mean making sure groceries are ordered in a timely manner. It could mean making sure the restaurant is cleaned in a timely manner for opening. It could mean making sure the dishes and silverware are in order.
So the question really is: How do you keep yourself organized and make sure tasks are accomplished by the deadline in order to ensure the best dining experience for customers so that they actually want to return?
Do you have a calendar? Is it on paper or electronic? Do you have a planner? Do you have to do lists? How often do you check them? Hit the answers to all these questions in your response and you are sure to kill it.
Also, do not pretend that you can keep it all in your head, that is a very fallible system and potential employers will see the high possibility of something slip through the back of your head.
7. How do you keep employees on track?
Everyone gets chit-chatty around their friends, and workplaces buddies are definitely a form of friends. How do you balance encouraging camaraderie without letting it affect productivity (except positively)?
First off, there should be a gentle nudge reminding them of a waiting table, maybe a reminder it will cut into their tips if the service is not effective, giving them incentives to speed it up.
Second might be a private conversation making the issue and the consequences of this continued behavior very clear. Third could potentially be disciplinary action. This can be adjusted to your own leadership style and the type of action you might think would be most effective in your workplace environment. But, it is important to issue clear warnings and communication about actions, as well as acting on those actions.
8. How do you train new staff and make sure they are comfortable asking questions?
In your position as restaurant manager, you will have to train your subordinates.
As you do, it is important to show them by example how to successfully carry out the duties of their role, give them an opportunity to do it in your presence so you can correct them, and give them plenty of opportunities to come to you with questions, or establish another, more experienced employee to be their point of contact.
It is also important to explain the larger context of their tasks, so they can know the purpose and can complete the tasks to the best of their ability accordingly, knowing what the end goal is.
9. How do you deal with an angry customer?
It is inevitable. You will definitely be faced with this issue more than once in your career as a restaurant manager.
Make sure to highlight in your response that you would try to de-escalate the situation. Make sure the customer felt heard, and rectify the problem right away.
It is important to note that you would try to keep voices low in order to calm the customer and also make the restaurant feel like a safe environment both for customers and for the staff.
If the angry customer is targeting any particular staff member, it is important to let the staff member be in a space that feels comfortable for them, even if that means leaving the situation. It is also important to follow up and make sure the customer feels like their problem was rectified and debrief with the employees who might feel attacked.
10. Do you have any questions?
Yes. Of course, you do. There is no way your 23 minutes of internet research on the restaurant told you everything you need to know about the company, the position and the organizational culture.
Ask what the onboarding process is like. Ask what the interviewer’s favorite aspect of working at the restaurant is. Ask what the culture is like between colleagues. Ask what drew them to the restaurant. Ask what they would have liked to know before starting. Ask what their least favorite part of working here is. Ask what the hours are like. Ask how long the last restaurant manager was there for.
Ask anything and everything to show you are interested in the position and figure out if you actually are interested in the position.
Get Ready for That Interview
Interview questions can usually be gauged in advanced, according to the industry and the role for which have been applied.
Preparing answers to potential interview questions and practicing them with a friend, roommate, or in front of the mirror can instill confidence and make an interview smoother, stronger, and more successful.