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5 Restaurant Server Interview Questions and Answers

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Q:

What experience do you have using restaurant point of sale (POS) systems?

A:

This question will let you know whether the restaurant server candidate is comfortable with POS software. If they've never heard of it, chances are they're either inexperienced or out of touch with current restaurant practices. The more systems they've used in the past, the more adaptable they're likely to be, but be wary if they've worked at several different places in a brief period of time. What to look for in an answer:

  • Familiarity with POS software in general
  • Basic computer literacy
  • Recent restaurant experience within the last decade or so

Example:

"I've used Micros and Restaurant Manager, but I'm generally computer-savvy and feel confident that I would be able to adapt to whatever program your restaurant uses."

Q:

Are you more comfortable with tray service or with carrying individual plates?

A:

The preferred answer to this question will depend largely on the specific needs of your establishment. Typically, a breakfast and lunch server should be comfortable carrying large trays bearing a variety of different condiments, whereas a server in an upscale dining restaurant would prefer to carry no more than two plates at a time. Their answer should give you a general idea of the type of service they're most familiar with. What to look for in an answer:

  • Familiarity with the specifics of table service
  • Insight into their past experience
  • Willingness to adapt

Example:

"I've had more experience with carrying individual plates, but I've also worked breakfast shifts in a diner where tray service was required."

Q:

Do you have any experience with hosting or tending bar in addition to serving?

A:

In the restaurant industry, it's best to hire as many versatile employees as possible. Servers who have experience behind the bar or working the host stand will have a better understanding of the many facets of the front of the house. As a bonus, they also tend to be more flexible when it comes to covering shifts for absent co-workers. What to look for in an answer:

  • A broad range of experience
  • Willingness to fill in where needed
  • A positive attitude

Example:

"I've worked in restaurants that had no host on duty, so the servers had to seat tables ourselves as well as make drinks."

Q:

Describe your previous restaurant experience and why you think this one would be a good fit for your skills.

A:

In addition to telling you a great deal about the experience the candidate has, this answer should also give you some solid insight into their level of enthusiasm. A server who's truly passionate about the work and not merely competent will be able to describe their skills in detail. What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of experience matches your needs
  • Ability to adapt to new environments
  • Specific skills that you're looking for

Example:

"In my previous experience, I've learned to adapt to many styles of service. I'm a versatile and dedicated worker with the ability to multitask, so I think I'd be a great fit for your restaurant that has a small staff where each person needs to perform a variety of roles."

Q:

Describe a time when you had to deal with an unsatisfied customer and what you've learned from the experience.

A:

While restaurant work can be very rewarding, restaurant servers are also bound to find themselves in difficult situations from time to time. It's important to gauge the candidate's ability to handle this type of pressure and to determine whether they're willing to take ownership of their mistakes. If time permits, follow up by asking about the difficulties they've encountered most often and how they might have been avoided. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to handle pressure
  • The candidate's strengths and weaknesses as a server
  • Level of professionalism

Example:

"I've dealt with customers who were upset about experiencing long waits. I've learned that keeping customers continually updated so that they know you haven't forgotten about them goes a long way toward keeping them happy despite a longer than usual wait time."

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