Crafting Effective Interview Questions for Waiters and Waitresses

Hiring the right waiters and waitresses is crucial for the success of any restaurant or food service establishment. These front-line employees directly interact with customers, ensuring their satisfaction and creating a positive dining experience. As an interviewer, it’s essential to ask targeted questions that reveal a candidate’s skills, experience, and temperament. By carefully selecting your interview questions, you can identify the most suitable candidates who will contribute to your team’s success and enhance your restaurant’s reputation.

Job Description For A Waiter/Waitress

A waiter or waitress is responsible for providing excellent customer service in a restaurant setting. Their primary duties include greeting customers, presenting menus, taking orders, serving food and beverages, and ensuring customer satisfaction throughout the dining experience. They must possess strong communication skills, a friendly demeanor, and the ability to work well under pressure. Waiters and waitresses also need to be knowledgeable about the restaurant’s menu, daily specials, and allergen information to assist customers with their choices and address any concerns they may have.

Interview Questions To Ask A Waiter/Waitress

General Questions:

  1. Tell me about your previous experience working in a restaurant setting.
  2. What attracted you to the role of a waiter/waitress?
  3. How do you handle stress and pressure during busy shifts?
  4. Describe a time when you went above and beyond for a customer.
  5. What do you consider to be the most important qualities of a successful waiter/waitress?

Behaviour-based Questions:

  1. Give an example of a challenging customer interaction and how you resolved it.
  2. Describe a time when you had to work as part of a team to achieve a common goal.
  3. How do you prioritize tasks when you have multiple tables and responsibilities?
  4. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work and how you handled it.
  5. Describe a situation where you had to adapt to a last-minute change in your work environment.

Job-specific Questions:

  1. How familiar are you with our restaurant’s menu and cuisine?
  2. What strategies do you use to upsell menu items and increase customer check averages?
  3. How do you handle a situation where a customer is dissatisfied with their meal?
  4. Describe your experience with point-of-sale (POS) systems and cash handling.
  5. How do you ensure accurate order taking and timely delivery of food to customers?

Growth and Development:

  1. What are your long-term career goals in the hospitality industry?
  2. How do you stay updated on the latest food and beverage trends?
  3. Describe a skill you recently learned or improved that has helped you in your role as a waiter/waitress.
  4. What kind of training or support would you find most beneficial in this role?
  5. How do you actively seek feedback from customers and colleagues to improve your performance?

Cultural Fit and Soft Skills Questions:

  1. What do you enjoy most about working in a team environment?
  2. How do you maintain a positive attitude during challenging shifts?
  3. Describe your approach to building rapport with customers and creating a welcoming atmosphere.
  4. How do you handle constructive criticism from your supervisor or colleagues?
  5. What do you believe is the key to creating a memorable dining experience for customers?

Sample Answers:

  • “I once had a customer who was extremely dissatisfied with their meal. I listened attentively to their concerns, apologized for the inconvenience, and offered to replace the dish or provide an alternative option. By showing empathy and taking swift action, I was able to turn a negative situation into a positive one, and the customer left satisfied with their experience.”
  • “I believe the most important qualities of a successful waiter/waitress are excellent communication skills, attention to detail, and a genuine desire to provide outstanding customer service. It’s crucial to actively listen to customers’ needs, anticipate their requirements, and go the extra mile to ensure they have a memorable dining experience.”

Legal Considerations and Questions to Avoid:

When conducting interviews, it’s essential to steer clear of questions that may be considered discriminatory or invasive. Avoid inquiries related to age, marital status, religion, national origin, or any other protected characteristic. Focus on questions that are directly relevant to the candidate’s ability to perform the job duties effectively.

Interview Tips For Waiters and Waitresses:

  • Conduct interviews in a quiet, private space to minimize distractions and ensure confidentiality.
  • Use a consistent set of questions for all candidates to maintain fairness and objectivity.
  • Take notes during the interview to refer back to when making hiring decisions.
  • Provide candidates with a realistic job preview, including both the rewards and challenges of the role.
  • Consider conducting role-play scenarios to assess a candidate’s customer service skills and problem-solving abilities.
  • Allow time for candidates to ask questions and express their interest in the position.

Conclusion

Interviewing waiters and waitresses requires a strategic approach to uncover the skills, experience, and personality traits that align with your restaurant’s values and goals. By asking a combination of general, behavior-based, job-specific, growth and development, and cultural fit questions, you can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s potential to excel in the role. Remember to create a welcoming and professional interview environment, avoid discriminatory questions, and provide a realistic job preview. With the right interview questions and approach, you can identify the best candidates who will contribute to your restaurant’s success and deliver exceptional customer service.

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.

Simple HR Software 

CrewHR brings staff scheduling, time & attendance, and your HR processes together in one easy-to-use platform.