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Food Server Interview Questions

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  1. Why did you choose to apply for the food server position at our establishment? See answer
  2. What do you think of our pay structure, realizing that a large portion of your income will come from gratuity? See answer
  3. How will you respond to customers who are dissatisfied with their food, table or another issue? See answer
  4. Can you describe what you consider to be poor food service? See answer
  5. How will you treat a regular customer who is notorious for leaving bad tips? See answer
  6. What would you do if you noticed another food server was struggling with their workload when you were also busy with your tables? See answer
  7. We have a hostess that assigns incoming parties to each server’s section on a rotating basis. What would you do if you noticed that you were getting skipped in the rotation?
  8. How would you respond if a customer ordered an alcoholic beverage but got offended when you asked for their ID and refused to show it?
  9. Have you ever accidentally delivered food to the wrong table? What is the appropriate protocol for resolving the issue?
  10. What would you do if a customer sent back their food multiple times because they didn’t like the taste?
  11. Food servers may have to process a high volume of orders at once, entering them all accurately into the POS system. What would you do if you realized that you missed an entry 15 minutes after they ordered their food?
  12. At the end of the shift, food servers have to manually enter the correct amount of tip that customers left on their credit card receipt. What would you do if you couldn’t make out the numbers on a receipt and weren’t sure how much they wanted to tip?
  13. What is your favorite and least favorite closing activity and why?
  14. Are you familiar with the protocol for handling customers with food allergies?
  15. What would you do if a customer ordered a menu item that was out of stock?
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6 Food Server Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Why did you choose to apply for the food server position at our establishment?

A:

The purpose of this question is to gain an understanding about how the applicant views your restaurant brand. A good candidate doesn’t have to be a regular customer, but they should have a positive or neutral outlook on your business. If you sense otherwise, they may not be the right choice. What to look for in an answer:

  • An interest in your food or brand
  • A desire to succeed
  • A positive response no matter the reason
Example:

“I’m a student looking for a flexible job. Your restaurant has a great reputation, offers good food and is within walking distance of my dorm.”

Q:

What do you think of our pay structure, realizing that a large portion of your income will come from gratuity?

A:

Since food servers are often paid minimum wage and below, it is important that your candidate understands your pay schedule. Inform them if you mandate tip sharing. The interview process is the time to see if they are a mutual fit for your establishment. If the applicant is uncomfortable with the pay, they could become disgruntled in the future. Look for someone who is comfortable with your current structure. What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of comfort that gratuity is much of their pay
  • Willingness to ask for clarity if needed
  • An understanding that gratuity will push them to excel
Example:

“My mom was a waitress, so I understand that much of my pay comes from tips. That will drive me to excel at work.”

Q:

How will you respond to customers who are dissatisfied with their food, table or another issue?

A:

Every food server, no matter how talented, will face disgruntled customers from time to time. Asking this question tests their interpersonal skills. You need to know how the applicant will handle criticism from customers at your restaurant. Because customers rely on social media and online reviews to choose restaurants, one unhappy customer can potentially turn away new clients. The ideal food server should be courteous in the face of criticism. What to look for in an answer:

  • A sense of humility
  • A desire and ability to address the problem
  • A willingness to take the initiative and solve problems
Example:

“I recognize how important customer satisfaction is for the brand, and I would do my best to listen to their concerns and find a creative solution to resolve the issues without getting angry or flustered.”

Q:

Can you describe what you consider to be poor food service?

A:

Your applicant may have never served tables before, but they have dined out and have experienced both poor and excellent service. Having the applicant describe their view of poor service will give you a hint into what they consider good service. You can expect that your candidate will not engage in these same negative behaviors. Otherwise, they would be admitting that they were providing less service than they would expect. What to look for in an answer:

  • Common complaints in food service
  • Attitudes of food servers
  • An understanding that mistakes happen
Example:

“I can handle simple mistakes, but rude food servers bother me. The worst is when the restaurant is slow, and I can’t find my waiter.”

Q:

How will you treat a regular customer who is notorious for leaving bad tips?

A:

This is a question of integrity. How will the applicant perform under unfair conditions? A good food server will treat all customers equally, regardless of how they tip. The answer to this question may also give insights into how the applicant would treat people with disabilities or other social stigmas and peculiarities. The server may rely on tips, but they are also your employee and should treat everyone with respect. What to look for in an answer:

  • Acknowledgement that it is not preferred but it is their work
  • Willingness to serve everyone with eagerness
  • Understanding that all customers should be treated equally
Example:

“I hope that doesn’t happen. However, tips are only part of my pay. I have an obligation to serve everyone with the best service.”

Q:

What would you do if you noticed another food server was struggling with their workload when you were also busy with your tables?

A:

Food servers often work as a team to handle lunch and dinner rushes. Food servers should not only care about providing excellent service to their tables, but to all the customers in the restaurant. They should have a team-oriented mindset while also upholding their own responsibilities. This question shows how candidates prioritize their workflow and how they work with others. A good response will include:

  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Commitment to customer service
  • Understanding and compassion
Here is one example of a good answer:
Example:

"Everyone has times where they are in the weeds and I'm happy to help out fellow servers because I know they would help me too. I would try to help deliver their food whenever I make trips to the kitchen for my table, making both of our workloads more efficient without causing delays."

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