Interview Questions to Hire Top-Notch Hosts and Hostesses

Hiring the right hosts and hostesses is crucial for creating a welcoming and memorable dining experience for your guests. As the first point of contact, hosts and hostesses set the tone for the entire restaurant visit. To ensure you hire the best candidates for this role, it’s essential to ask the right interview questions that assess their skills, experience, and personality traits. In this article, we’ll explore a comprehensive list of interview questions tailored specifically for hiring hosts and hostesses, along with sample answers and tips to help you make informed hiring decisions.

Job Description For A Host and Hostess

Hosts and hostesses play a vital role in the restaurant industry, serving as the face of the establishment and the first point of contact for guests. They are responsible for greeting customers, managing reservations, seating guests, and ensuring a smooth and efficient flow of service. Hosts and hostesses must possess excellent communication skills, a friendly demeanor, and the ability to handle high-pressure situations with grace and professionalism. They work closely with the wait staff and kitchen team to ensure a seamless dining experience for all guests.

Interview Questions To Ask A Host and Hostess

General Questions:

  1. Why are you interested in working as a host/hostess at our restaurant?
  2. What experience do you have in the hospitality industry?
  3. How would you describe your communication style?
  4. What do you believe are the most important qualities of a successful host/hostess?
  5. How do you handle high-pressure situations or busy periods in a restaurant?

Behaviour-based Questions:

  1. Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. How did you handle the situation?
  2. Can you share an example of when you went above and beyond to ensure a guest had a positive experience?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to work as part of a team to achieve a common goal.
  4. Describe a situation where you had to multitask and prioritize tasks effectively.
  5. Have you ever faced a challenge at work that required creative problem-solving? How did you approach it?

Job-specific Questions:

  1. How would you handle a situation where a guest arrives without a reservation during a busy period?
  2. What steps would you take to manage a long waitlist and keep guests informed about their wait times?
  3. How do you ensure accurate and efficient communication between the front of house and the kitchen staff?
  4. Can you describe your experience with using reservation management systems or point-of-sale (POS) software?
  5. How would you handle a situation where a guest is unhappy with their table assignment?

Growth and Development:

  1. What are your long-term career goals in the hospitality industry?
  2. How do you stay motivated and maintain a positive attitude during challenging shifts?
  3. What areas of your hosting skills do you believe you could improve upon?
  4. Are you interested in cross-training or learning other roles within the restaurant?
  5. How do you stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices in customer service?

Cultural Fit and Soft Skills Questions:

  1. What do you enjoy most about working in a customer-facing role?
  2. How would you describe your ability to work in a fast-paced, dynamic environment?
  3. Can you share an example of how you have contributed to a positive team culture in a previous role?
  4. How do you handle constructive criticism or feedback from managers or colleagues?
  5. What strategies do you use to maintain a professional and friendly demeanor, even during challenging interactions?

Sample Answers:

Question: Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. How did you handle the situation?

Sample Answer: “In my previous role as a host, I encountered a guest who was extremely upset about the wait time for their table. They became increasingly agitated and began raising their voice. I remained calm and empathetic, acknowledging their frustration and apologizing for the inconvenience. I explained that we were experiencing a particularly busy evening and assured them that we were doing our best to accommodate all guests as quickly as possible. I offered them a complimentary appetizer while they waited and provided regular updates on the status of their table. By remaining professional, empathetic, and solution-oriented, I was able to diffuse the situation and ensure the guest had a positive experience despite the initial challenge.”

Question: How would you handle a situation where a guest arrives without a reservation during a busy period?

Sample Answer: “If a guest arrives without a reservation during a busy period, my first step would be to greet them warmly and apologize for the inconvenience. I would explain that we are currently fully booked but offer to add them to our waitlist. I would provide an estimated wait time based on the current volume of guests and any upcoming reservations. If the wait time is substantial, I would offer alternative options, such as suggesting a nearby bar or lounge where they could enjoy a drink while they wait. I would also take their contact information and promise to reach out as soon as a table becomes available. Throughout the process, I would maintain a friendly and professional demeanor, ensuring the guest feels valued and well-informed.”

Legal Considerations and Questions to Avoid:

When conducting interviews for hosts and hostesses, it’s crucial to avoid asking questions that could be considered discriminatory or illegal. Steer clear of inquiries related to protected characteristics such as age, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability. Focus on questions that assess the candidate’s skills, experience, and ability to perform the job duties effectively.

Interview Tips For This Host and Hostess Role:

  1. Review the candidate’s resume and application thoroughly before the interview to familiarize yourself with their background and experience.
  2. Create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for the interview to put the candidate at ease and encourage open communication.
  3. Use a combination of general, behavior-based, job-specific, and cultural fit questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s suitability for the role.
  4. Listen actively and ask follow-up questions to clarify responses or gather additional information.
  5. Provide the candidate with a clear overview of the host/hostess role, including responsibilities, expectations, and the restaurant’s culture and values.
  6. Allow the candidate to ask questions about the position and the company, demonstrating your interest in their perspective and concerns.
  7. Take notes during the interview to help you remember key points and facilitate objective decision-making when comparing candidates.
  8. Consider conducting a brief role-play scenario to assess the candidate’s customer service skills and ability to handle common hosting situations.
  9. Inform the candidate of the next steps in the hiring process and provide a timeline for when they can expect to hear back.

Conclusion

Interviewing candidates for a host or hostess position requires a strategic approach that assesses their skills, experience, and personality traits. By asking a combination of general, behavior-based, job-specific, and cultural fit questions, you can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s suitability for the role. Remember to avoid discriminatory or illegal questions and focus on evaluating the candidate’s ability to perform the job duties effectively. By following these interview tips and considering the sample questions and answers provided, you’ll be well-equipped to identify and hire top-notch hosts and hostesses who will contribute to the success of your restaurant and create a welcoming experience for your guests.

About the Author:

Picture of Kyle Bolt
Kyle Bolt, the founder of Crew HR - Simple HR Software, brings a wealth of expertise with over 15 years in Human Resources. Kyle has dedicated his career to building high-performing teams and fostering workplace cultures that drive business success. His hands-on experience has made CrewHR a trusted partner for businesses looking to simplify and streamline their HR processes.
Picture of Kyle Bolt
Kyle Bolt, the founder of Crew HR - Simple HR Software, brings a wealth of expertise with over 15 years in Human Resources. Kyle has dedicated his career to building high-performing teams and fostering workplace cultures that drive business success. His hands-on experience has made CrewHR a trusted partner for businesses looking to simplify and streamline their HR processes.

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