Foodservice Employee Interview Questions List

 

Experienced food service managers and recruiters worked on this list of interview questions. Most managers hire for skills, but fire for character. Because of the overwhelming problems associated with hiring employees who lack required character traits, more and more food service managers are asking character-discerning questions when interviewing employees. Legal penalties for negligent hiring are also propelling character-based hiring policies.

 

This list is quite large and growing. Browse the list or perform a word search (Ctrl+F) on a job title or on a trait you want questions for and see what shows up. Many hours were spent editing this list of job interview questions and it is unfinished. Some interview questions are very clever, some are ok and a few are inappropriate. Use with caution and wisdom. Nevertheless, this list of employee interview questions is very useful.

 

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Foodservice Job Interview Questions

 

TOP 10 QUESTIONS FOR INTERVIEWING FOOD SERVICE EMPLOYEES

■  How did you fill downtime at your last job?

■  Tell me about your last performance review. What was mentioned about how you could improve? Any re-occurring themes?

■  What situations kept you from fulfilling your job duties or from coming to work on time at your last job?

■  Describe a recent problem you had with one of your manager's decisions. Listen and then ask, how did you handle it?

■  What about your character makes you a good candidate for this job?

■  Priorities often change suddenly throughout the day. If you are asked to quickly do another task, how does that affect your mood? What if it's the third time before noon?

■  What do you feel is an acceptable amount of days to be absent in a calendar year?

■  How do you handle situations that could cause you to be tardy or absent?

■  How have you responded in the past when you found another employee was stealing?

■  How have you responded in the past when your replacement calls in sick and a substitute will take over an hour to come in?

■  24/7 operations are like relay races where you take the baton, run with it and then pass it on smoothly. How do you make seamless transitions on shift changes?

■  During the last year, when your replacement hasnít shown up and your manager asked you to stay late, what percentage of the time have you stayed late?

■  Think about the last time your manager critiqued your work. How did you respond?

■  Give an example of when you did something without being asked. Can you give me another example?

■  Tell me about your most frustrating experience as a __________ (job title). Listen and then ask, how did you handle it?

 

 

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Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Dependability

  • What situations, during the last year, have kept you from fulfilling your job duties and coming to work on time?

  • How do you handle situations that could cause tardiness or absenteeism?

  • Everybody misses work sometimes. What are some legitimate reasons to miss work?

  • During the last year, when your replacement hasnít shown up and your manager asked you to stay late, what percentage of the time have you stayed late?

  • What outside situations would affect your dependability on the job?

  • Why do you think dependability is important for a restaurant cook?

  • When you do not show up for work, how does it affect your co-workers?

  • How many unscheduled absences did you have with your previous employer?

  • How often are you late for work?

  • Where does your employment fall in your list of priorities?

  • Do you have your own transportation?

  • Could I call your previous employer and ask how your attendance was and what would they tell me about your attendance?

Interview questions for: Restaurant Cook

Character quality: Initiative

  • As a cook, if you see an increase or decrease in customer flow, how do you respond?

  • If you see product getting low, what would you do?

  • Give an example of a time when you did something without being asked? Can you give me another example?

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Resourcefulness

  • How would you handle not having everything in stock that you need to make the product you are assigned?

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Endurance

  • What about your character would help you do this job day in and day out?

  • The restaurant is busy, youíre tired, short-handed and you havenít had a day off in six days. How does this affect your work and attitude?

  • Tell me about the hardest job you have ever had? How did it end?

  • How many hours can you stand on your feet without a break?

  • What would your reaction be if your replacement didnít show up?

  • How do you pace yourself through the day?

  • What would you do if a 30 top table walked in?

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Responsibility

  • Are you willing to take on extra tasks or what kind of extra tasks would you be willing to take on?

  • How do you handle complaints about meals you have prepared?

  • What steps would you take to insure your job is done in your allotted amount of time?

Interview questions for: Cook

Character Quality: Honesty/Justice

  • What would you do if a delivery driver accidentally left double the number of an item that his company charges us a lot of money for?

  • Tell me about a time you saw a coworker taking out food they did not pay for?

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Flexibility

  • If you are shopping and the item you would like is not available in your brand, would buy something else?

  • How do handle requests to work a non-scheduled shift?

  • How do you respond when your manager changes your shift on short notice?

  • How do you handle working with a co-worker you are not fond of?

  • What if you get a special request from a customer, what do you do?

  • If another work needs help in order to get a job finished on time, what would you do?

  • You are cooking for dinner and the convection oven goes out, what would you do?

  • Your boss changes the special, what would you do?

Position: Any

Character trait: Orderliness

interview questions:

■  What is the difference between neatness and orderliness?

■  What problems are associated with a lack of orderliness?

■  How would you practice orderliness here?

■  What have you observed here that is lacking orderliness?

 

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Knowledgeable

  • How many cans of #10 green beans does it take to feed 200 people?

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Creativity

  • What kind of formal training have you had?

  • Can you show me a sample of your work?

  • How do you spend your time when you are not at work?

Interview questions for: Line Cook

Character Quality: Punctuality

■  If you have to be at work at 5am, what time will you wake up and leave for work?

 

Interview questions for: Line Cook

Character Quality: Diligence

■  There are only ten (10) minutes left to complete your shift. Your cleaning duty is not done, what will you do?

 

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Team Worker

  • What would your fellow employees say about your teamwork?

  • How do you handle criticism from your manager?

  • Tell me about the most recent problem you had with a co-worker and how you responded.

Interview questions for: Cook

Character quality: Self-control

  • What would you do if you mess up a recipe?

 

 

Hea.lthcare-specific interview questions here

 

 

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Hospitality

  • What encourages others to talk to you?

  • How would you handle a dissatisfied customer towards the food?

  • Do you enjoy talking to people regardless of your mood? Can you give me an example?

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Loyalty

  • What would you do if you knew a fellow co-worker was stealing?

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Initiative

  • What do you think this position requires you to do?

  • You have finished your tasks and have 45 minutes left on your shift, but your coworkers are not finished, what would you do?

  • If you had extra time on your shift, would you be able to find additional work?  Give me any example.

  • How do you organize yourself to be more efficient?

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Self-Control

  • You have an irate customer at the register, how would you handle this situation?

  • How do you handle a situation when things go badly?

  • What is the one thing in your career that you are not proud of?

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Team Worker

  • You are stocking and there is only one other worker on the grill.  There are 3 customers in line. How would you handle this situation?

  • How often do you trade shifts?

  • How would you handle a situation where an employee had difficulty following closing procedures?

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Endurance

  • Tell me about the last time you had to work past your regular time and how did you handle this?

  • Describe the most difficult position you have held?

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Dependability

  • If I call your former supervisor, how many days would he/she say you have been absent or late in the last year?

  • How do you keep your promises to others?

  • Do you pride yourself in being dependable?  Can you tell me about it?

Interview questions for: Server & Foodservice Worker

Character quality: Attitude

  • Give me an example of how you handled a complaint from a co-worker.

  • Tell me about a big negative event that happened in your life.  How did you handle this event.

Interview questions for: Server

Character quality: Joyfulness

  • How would you go about making a customer feel welcome in our restaurant?

  • How would you handle multiple demanding customers?

  • What is the most difficult situation you have faced with a customer and what was the outcome? How would you handle it differently?

  • How would you diffuse a situation with an upset customer?

  • How do you feel about the philosophy of the customer always being right?

  • How would you define a successful server?

Position: Any

For: Various Character Qualities

  • Tell me about the most recent problem you had with a co-worker and how you responded.

  • Everybody misses work sometimes. What are some legitimate reasons to miss work?

  • Do others like to talk with you? How do you encourage others to talk to you?

Interview questions for: Hostess

Character quality: Hospitality

  • Why have you applied for the position of hostess?

  • How do you put strangers at ease?

  • Define what hospitality is and what it means to you.

  • What qualities do you feel are necessary for the position you are applying for?

Interview questions for: Dishwasher

Character quality: Attitude

  • Were you a team player in your last job?  Tell me how?

  • If you had 400 extra guests, what would you do?

Interview questions for: Dishwasher

Character quality: Dependability

  • How many times in the last year were you late to work, acceptable to you?

  • How do you feel about working an extra shift if asked?

  • In your last job, what situations kept you from being at work everyday?

  • Why do you think dependability is important and give me an example?

Interview questions for: Dishwasher

Character quality: Endurance

  • On your last job, what were some of your accomplishments?  Choose some of the best and tell me about them.

  • Do you participate in any physical activities to keep you in good physical shape?

  • Tell me about a time when things were not going well and how you handled it.

 

Interview questions for: Dishwasher

Character quality: Thoroughness

  • What are the 3 most important details about washing dishes?

  • Can you give me an example of how you would accomplish everything necessary in an unusually busy day either at home or at work?

Interview questions for: Restaurant Manager / General Manager

Character quality: Leadership

  • How do you reinforce behavior you want repeated (in a non-monetary way)?

  • How do you develop untapped potential in your staff?

  • How do you build and maintain morale with your staff in a non-monetary way?

  • How do you demonstrate that you value people for who they are rather than for what they accomplish?

  • What are the primary management styles? Describe each. Which is your predominant style? How have you applied those characteristics? What successes and shortcomings have you experienced with your management style?

Interview questions for: Restaurant Manager

Character quality: Determination

  • Describe a challenging situation and the method you used to meet the challenge.

  • Describe an assignment you were given that you knew would be unpopular, but you completed successfully.

Interview questions for: Restaurant Managers

Character quality: Initiative

  • Describe a situation when you went above and beyond to complete a task.

Position: Any

Character quality: Honesty

  • What was the last thing you found? ... Then ask, Where?, ... What did you do with it? [Does the applicant take advantage of opportunities of the moment or do they have a heart to restore lost items to the owner?]

  • While on company time, do you consider personal use of a computer stealing from the company?

  • Tell me about a time you saw a coworker taking company property?

Position: Any

Character quality: Deference, discretion, endurance, flexibility, respect, honor, loyalty, meekness, obedience, self-control

  • Describe a recent problem you had with one of your manager's decisions. Wait, then ask, how did you handle it?

Interview questions for: 24/7 operations with open tasks on shift changes, Food Service Managers & employees

Character quality: Alertness, Responsibility, Thoroughness

  • 24/7 operations are like relay races where you take the baton, run with it and then pass it on smoothly. How do you make seamless transitions on shift changes?

Position: Any

Character quality: Initiative

  • Your shift ends in 10 min. and you have accomplished all your duties, how would you utilize your remaining time?

  • Give an example of a time when you did something without being asked? Can you give me another example?

  • How did you fill downtime at your last job?

Interview questions for: Food Service Manager

Character quality: Patience

  • How would you respond if you are orientating a new employee and had to show them something four times?

Interviewing questions for: Delivery Driver

Character quality: Responsibility

■  Would your previous employer say that you were never, sometimes, or frequently late on your deliveries?

■  Explain your driving record in detail.

■  What does being responsible mean to you?

 

Interview questions for: Delivery Driver

Character quality: Self-Control

■  If someone cuts you off on the freeway how do you handle it?

■  Your customer says you brought the wrong order and you think it is the right one. How would you handle this?

 

Position: Any

Character quality: Truthfulness

  • Do you speed when you drive? By how many mph? If they say, no, they're lying. If they say, 20mph or more, they're reckless and/or in too much of a hurry to be thorough.

Position: Any

Character quality: Discretion

  • Did you ever find out that a fellow employee makes more money than you do? How did you respond? If says no, say: You just found out a fellow employee makes more money than you do. What would you do? Who would you tell?

Position: Any

Character quality: Flexibility

  • If needed, would you like to work another position or would you rather not be cross-trained?

  • You are scheduled until 4:00; a cook calls off and a replacement can't be in until 5:30. Do you stay? If so, how long do you stay?

Position: Receptionist

Character quality: Joyfulness

  • How would you go about making a visitor feel welcome to the company?

  • How would you handle answering a phone caller's question with five lines ringing?

  • What is the most difficult situation you have faced with a customer and what was the outcome? How would you handle it differently?

  • How did our receptionist greet you? Would you have done anything differently?

  • How would you handle an irate customer?

  • How would you diffuse a situation with an upset customer?

  • Give an example of how you dealt with a difficult situation/customer.

  • How do you feel about the philosophy of the customer always being right?

  • How do you respond if you know the customer is wrong?

  • How would you define a successful receptionist?

  • What was discouraging to you in your last job?

  • Describe your previous employer or supervisor .

  • In your past jobs, which one have you enjoyed the most? Why?

  • Describe an ideal receptionist in your view. How do you measure yourself against that standard?

  • What did you like best about your last job?

  • How would you define joyfulness? How do you think it would relate to this job?

  • Can you give an example of being joyful in a difficult situation?

  • What irritates you the most? How do you overcome these things?

  • How do you handle discouragement?

  • What did you enjoy the most/least about your previous position?

  • Outside of work, what do you enjoy the most?

  • Tell me about your biggest challenge and how you responded to it.

Position: Receptionist

Character quality: Enthusiasm

  • Why have you applied for the position of receptionist?

  • How do you make strangers feel welcome?

  • Define what hospitality is and what it means to you.

  • What qualities do you feel are necessary for the position you are applying for?

  • Describe the ideal reception area.

  • What two things bring you the most joy? Why?

  • What two things do you find most frustrating? Why?

  • What would your past supervisor say about you?

  • Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

  • Why are you seeking this position?

  • In the next minute, explain to me why you are the best candidate for this job.

  • If you could learn to playa musical instrument, what would it be? Why?

  • How would your friends describe you? In one word?

  • Identity a difficult situation in your life and how you dealt with it.

  • What are your hobbies and outside interests? What do you enjoy most about them?

  • How would your best friend describe you?

  • When people meet you, what would they remember about you?

  • What would your last supervisor say you felt about your job?

  • What community activities do you participate in? Why?

  • Why do you think enthusiasm is an important requirement for being a receptionist?

  • Describe an enthusiastic person to me and how you display enthusiasm in your job.

  • In what ways would your previous supervisor describe your past performance and attitude?

  • What did you enjoy most about your last job? Enjoy least?

  • What is the most irritating aspect of a receptionist's job?

  • How would you respond to the following: Upset customer? Upset supplier? Upset employee?

Position: Marketing Manager

Character quality: Diligence

  • How important is it to you that you get your marketing programs released by a certain time?

  • How would others say you are at meeting deadlines and completing projects?

  • Explain a time when you went beyond the call of duty.

Position: Dietician / Dietary Manager

Character quality: Creativity

  • Describe some of the more creative products you made.

  • Would your previous employer describe you as creative? Why or why not?

Position: Nurses, Nurse Aids, CNAs, LPNs

Character quality: Dependability

■  During the last year, when your replacement hasnít shown up and your manager asked you to stay late, what percentage of the time have you stayed late?

■  Everybody misses work sometimes. What are some legitimate reasons to miss work?

■  Two hours before you are scheduled to arrive at work, you learn weather is going to be bad and traffic will be worse. How do you respond?

■  If your shift ends at 3 p.m. and your replacement hasnít arrived by 3:15 p.m., what do you do?

■  The schedule shows 8, however only 5 showed up. How does that make you feel? What would you do?

■  You just discovered itís a snow day and your kids have no school. You are scheduled to work 3Ė11, how would you handle this dilemma?

■  How many scheduled days did you miss during the last three months you worked?

■  It is your lunch break and you see a resident fall. What do you do?

■  What would you do if your car doesnít start?

■  If we were to ask your previous supervisor, what would they say about your attendance and job performance?

 

 

Healthcare specific interview questions here

 

 

Position: Nurses, Nurse Aids, CNAs, LPNs

Character quality: Sensitivity

■  How do you respond to crabby people in pain?

■  If you encountered a resident that was characteristically upset and/or difficult what would you do?

■  If a resident has just expired and their family has just arrived at the facility, how would you respond.

■  Mrs. Jones is in the facility for a fractured hip. She constantly likes attn. by putting on the call light pretending to be in pain. Everyone on the hall is ignoring her. You pass by the room and hear her crying what is your response?

■  How would you intervene with a resident who is grieving over the loss of a grandchild.

■  You are late for work. You enter the building and notice a non-compliant resident who is drinking a soda but appears to have a wet him/her self. How do you respond?

■  How do you react to a sense of being overwhelmed with unfinished work ten minutes past your shift deadline when you find a new resident in need?

 

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Questions you can use as a pattern for any character trait:

■  If you were me, which character traits would you want an employee in this position to have? If I were to ask your last employer how well do you exhibited those traits, what would they say?

■  Some recruiters have candidates review the list of 49 character traits and ask for a few of the traits they feel they are strongest in and a couple of the traits they are weakest in.

■  Describe how you practiced _________ [a trait] and the difference it made?

■  How did a lack of the practice of ________ [a trait] teach you the need to apply that trait?

■  Is the character trait of _____________ [a relevant trait] important for this position? How do you express this trait?

■  How did you express the character quality of ________ [a trait] at your last job?

 

A word of caution to employers

In my leadership workshops about hiring employees of character, I learned some managers ask:

You worked seven days straight. Someone calls in sick and the manager asks you to work. You have a prior commitment with your family. How do you handle this?

 

Personally I would say, ďI'm a person of integrity. I try to be flexible and helpful for my employer but keeping commitments with the most important people in my life also is important.Ē Then I would turn the question onto the interviewer and require a similar response before I accept the position. So be careful about placing inappropriate burdens on job applicants and employees ... especially less educated low-wage employees! Remember God is recording everything and is an advocate for poor people.

Proverbs 22:16 He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself..., will only come to poverty.

 

More Hiring Tips

Don't hire on the spot.
Let applicants think about your questions and their answers on the way home.
Tell applicants to call you one or two days later.
Only hire people who are interested enough in the job to take the second step of calling back. This helps weed out people who lied and aren’t real interested in the job.

 

Add this page to your "Favorites" list because this list is growing.

About Ron Jasniow.ski
Ron Jasniow.ski is a nationally known speaker/trainer. He specializes in speaking to foodservice managers at in-house training workshops and at leadership retreats around the country on how to turn ordinary people into extraordinary employees and keep them. This leadership model consistently produces significant results for attendees within months. Because Ronís presentations are so effective in addressing the current labor crisis in the food service industry, outstanding evaluations are guaranteed.

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