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33+ real-life interview questions for hospitality and travel roles

This guide unravels a collection of real-life interview questions tailored for key roles in the industry of hospitality and travel, meticulously crafted by genuine hiring managers. 

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

Hospitality and travel real-life interview questions

In the dynamic world of hospitality and travel, assembling a team that embodies not just skills but also the spirit of service is paramount.

From the precision of a Barista’s craft to the warmth of a Host or Hostess, the strategic acumen of a Restaurant Manager to the efficiency of a Flight Attendant, these questions are designed to resonate with the unique demands of each position. 

Tailored for HR professionals, this guide serves as a compass, guiding the way to hiring individuals whose passion aligns seamlessly with the vibrant tapestry of hospitality and travel.

Real-life barista interview questions

A Barista is a skilled professional specializing in coffee preparation and customer service in cafes or coffee shops. They are adept at crafting various coffee beverages, understanding coffee nuances, performing latte art, managing inventory, and ensuring customer satisfaction through exceptional service and coffee knowledge.

These questions have been handpicked by actual hiring managers:

  1. Do you know how to do latte art?

This question assesses the candidate’s skill in a creative and technical aspect of coffee preparation.

Sample answer:

“Yes, I have practiced and mastered several latte art designs, such as hearts, rosettas, and leaves. I enjoy adding this personal touch to enhance the customer’s experience.”

  1. Do you know the specific fluid ounces that go in each beverage?

This question evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of standard coffee beverage recipes and measurements.

Sample answer:

“Absolutely, I am familiar with the standard fluid ounces for various beverages, such as 1 ounce for an espresso shot and 12 ounces for a standard latte. Adhering to these measurements is crucial for consistency in flavor and quality.”

  1. How much experience do you have with inventory management?

This question inquires about the candidate’s experience in managing stock and supplies in a coffee shop setting.

Sample answer:

“I have two years of experience in inventory management, which involved tracking stock levels, ordering supplies, and minimizing waste. This role taught me the importance of efficient inventory management for smooth operation and cost control.”

Check more real-life barista interview questions.

Real-life host or hostess interview questions

A Host or Hostess is a vital role in the hospitality sector, primarily positioned at restaurants or eateries. They are responsible for greeting guests, managing reservations, seating arrangements, and ensuring a welcoming environment. Their role is crucial in enhancing guest experience and maintaining efficient dining operations.

Real hiring professionals have curated the following set of questions:

  1. How extensive is your experience within the food industry?

This question seeks to gauge the candidate’s background and length of service in the food and hospitality sector.

Sample answer: 

“I have four years of experience in the food industry, working in various roles including server, barista, and most recently, as a host. This diverse experience has given me a comprehensive understanding of restaurant operations.”

  1. How would you describe your customer service skills?

This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to provide excellent service to guests.

Sample answer:

“I would describe my customer service skills as attentive, personable, and efficient. I believe in greeting each guest with a warm smile and ensuring their needs are promptly met, making their dining experience memorable and enjoyable.”

  1. What skills do you have that will help you interact with people?

This question inquires about the candidate’s interpersonal and communication skills.

Sample answer:

“I possess strong communication skills, a friendly demeanor, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. These skills help me interact effectively with guests, making them feel welcomed and valued, and efficiently handle any inquiries or concerns they may have.”

Check more real-life host or hostess interview questions.

Real-life restaurant manager interview questions

A Restaurant Manager is a key leadership role in the hospitality industry, responsible for overseeing the daily operations of a restaurant. This includes staff management, ensuring customer satisfaction, maintaining high standards of service, managing budgets, and aligning the restaurant’s operations with its core values.

The questions you’ll find below have been specifically selected by industry professionals involved in the hiring process:

  1. Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer at the previous restaurant you managed?

This question seeks to understand the candidate’s commitment to customer service.

Sample answer:

“Once, a guest had a special anniversary dinner and requested a dish not on our menu. I coordinated with the chef to prepare that dish, added complimentary dessert, and arranged a special table setting to make their evening memorable.”

  1. Describe a time when you had to deal with an upset guest. How did you mediate the situation?

This question assesses the candidate’s conflict resolution skills.

Sample answer:

“I recall a situation where a guest was unhappy with their meal. I immediately apologized, offered a new dish on the house, and personally ensured their new order was up to their expectations. They left satisfied and appreciated the attentive service.”

  1. Can you describe your management style and how it aligns with our restaurant’s values?

This question probes into the candidate’s management approach and fit with the restaurant’s culture.

Sample answer:

“My management style is collaborative and transparent, which aligns with your restaurant’s values of teamwork and open communication. I believe in empowering staff while maintaining a high standard of service.”

  1. What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses as a manager?

This question invites self-assessment of the candidate’s managerial skills.

Sample answer:

“My strengths include strong leadership and effective communication. I’m also adept at problem-solving. As for weaknesses, I’m continually working on delegating tasks more efficiently to balance workload and increase team involvement.”

  1. What would you change about our restaurant and why?

This question gauges the candidate’s observational skills and insight into restaurant improvement.

Sample answer:

“From my observations, I’d suggest enhancing the outdoor dining area. It has great potential to attract more guests, especially in good weather, and could provide a unique dining experience that sets us apart from nearby establishments.”

Real-life restaurant server interview questions

A Restaurant Server is a frontline staff member in dining establishments, responsible for providing exceptional customer service, presenting menu options, taking orders, serving food and beverages, and ensuring a satisfying dining experience. Knowledge of food, wine, and POS systems is essential in this role.

Actual hiring managers have provided the selection of questions you see here:

  1. How knowledgeable are you about the “x” Italian food?

This question assesses the candidate’s familiarity with specific cuisines or dishes.

Sample answer:

“I have extensive knowledge of Italian cuisine, particularly traditional dishes such as pasta, risotto, and regional specialties. I make it a point to understand the ingredients and preparation methods to effectively recommend and describe dishes to guests.”

  1. What are the varietals in burgundy wine?

This question evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of wine, specifically burgundy varietals.

Sample answer:

“Burgundy wines primarily include two varietals: Pinot Noir for reds and Chardonnay for whites. I am familiar with their characteristics, such as the earthy and fruity notes of Pinot Noir and the dry, full-bodied profile of Chardonnay.”

  1. What restaurant POS systems have you worked with before?

This question inquires about the candidate’s experience with point-of-sale systems used in restaurants.

Sample answer:

“I have experience with several POS systems, including Square, Toast, and Micros. I’m adept at processing orders, managing payments, and handling daily sales reporting, which has been essential in ensuring efficient service and accurate billing.”

Check real-life restaurant server interview questions.

Real-life sous chef interview questions

A Sous Chef is a crucial culinary position in the kitchen hierarchy, acting as the second-in-command to the Head Chef. This role involves overseeing kitchen staff, managing food preparation, ensuring quality control, handling inventory, liaising with suppliers, and maintaining cost efficiency under high-pressure situations.

These questions come directly from the expertise of hiring professionals in the field:

  1. What are the most covers you’ve done?

This question assesses the candidate’s experience in handling high-volume service.

Sample answer:

“The most covers I’ve handled in a single service was 250 at a high-end banquet event. It required meticulous planning and coordination, but we executed the service successfully with great feedback from guests.”

  1. Have you ever taken inventory before?

This question inquires about the candidate’s experience with inventory management.

Sample answer:

“Yes, I’ve regularly managed inventory in my previous roles. This involved tracking stock levels, ordering supplies, and minimizing waste to ensure efficient kitchen operation and cost control.”

  1. Have you spoken to purveyors?

This question checks the candidate’s experience in supplier communication and negotiation.

Sample answer:

“I have extensive experience communicating with purveyors. I’ve negotiated contracts, ensured the quality of supplies, and developed strong relationships to secure the best products for our kitchen.”

  1. Have you ever done food and labor costing?

This question explores the candidate’s skills in managing kitchen finances.

Sample answer:

“I have been involved in both food and labor costing, analyzing the cost of ingredients and labor to ensure profitability. I balance high-quality standards with effective cost management to maintain the restaurant’s financial health.”

  1. Do you handle pressure well?

This question gauges the candidate’s ability to work under stress.

Sample answer:

“I thrive under pressure. In the kitchen, high-pressure situations are common, and I’ve learned to remain calm, focused, and efficient. This helps me make sound decisions quickly and maintain the quality of our dishes even during busy services.”

Real-life flight attendant interview questions

A Flight Attendant is a professional responsible for ensuring the safety, comfort, and well-being of passengers aboard an aircraft. This role involves managing in-flight service, responding to emergencies, providing customer service, and ensuring compliance with aviation regulations, often in a dynamic and multicultural environment.

The set of questions below is a product of insights shared by genuine hiring managers:

  1. How would you handle a passenger who refuses to comply with flight attendant instructions during takeoff and landing?

This question assesses the candidate’s ability to manage non-compliant passengers effectively.

Sample answer:

“I would calmly and firmly reiterate the importance of following instructions for their safety and that of others. If they still refused, I would enlist the help of a senior crew member or the captain as necessary.”

  1. What would you do if someone afraid of flying started panicking?

This question evaluates the candidate’s approach to assisting anxious passengers.

Sample answer:

“I would calmly reassure them, engage in a gentle conversation to distract them, and offer assistance like a blanket or water. My goal would be to make them feel as comfortable and secure as possible.”

  1. What are the first things you would do in an emergency in the air?

This question checks the candidate’s emergency response skills.

Sample answer:

“In an emergency, my first actions would be to assess the situation quickly, follow the emergency procedures, communicate clearly with passengers, and work closely with the crew to manage the situation effectively.”

  1. Are you capable of lifting or moving heavy items such as the aircraft doors, luggage, and strollers?

This question inquires about the candidate’s physical capability to perform essential job tasks.

Sample answer:

“Yes, I am physically fit and capable of lifting and moving heavy items, a skill I developed and maintained through regular fitness routines, which is essential for a flight attendant.”

  1. Give an example of a time you went above and beyond to meet a client’s needs.

This question explores the candidate’s commitment to exceptional customer service.

Sample answer:

“Once, a passenger was traveling for a crucial meeting but forgot their presentation material on a USB drive. I coordinated with ground staff to have it delivered on our next flight and ensured it reached them on time.”

  1. What characteristics do you think a great flight attendant should have? Do you meet those expectations?

This question seeks the candidate’s view on essential flight attendant qualities.

Sample answer:

“A great flight attendant should be patient, empathetic, attentive, and able to handle stress. I believe I embody these qualities, consistently applying them in my work to ensure a positive passenger experience.”

  1. Have you flown as a passenger on one of our flights before? If so, what comments or critiques do you have about the service you received from the cabin crew during the flight?

This question gauges the candidate’s familiarity with and perspective on the airline’s service.

Sample answer:

“I have flown with your airline and was impressed by the crew’s professionalism and warmth. One area for improvement could be more frequent updates on flight status during delays.”

  1. What are your customer service strengths?

This question inquires about the candidate’s customer service skills.

Sample answer:

“My strengths in customer service include active listening, clear communication, and a friendly demeanor. I excel at making passengers feel valued and comfortable.”

  1. Do you speak multiple languages?

This question checks the candidate’s language proficiency, which can be vital in this role.

Sample answer:

“Yes, I am fluent in English and Spanish, which has been incredibly useful in communicating with a diverse group of passengers and enhancing their travel experience.”

  1. Do you feel comfortable in new environments and situations?

This question explores the candidate’s adaptability.

Sample answer:

“I thrive in new environments and quickly adapt to different situations, a skill essential for a flight attendant given the dynamic nature of air travel.”

  1. What was your favorite flight experience?

This question seeks to understand the candidate’s personal connection to the role of a flight attendant.

Sample answer:

“My favorite flight experience was on a trip to Tokyo, where I managed a challenging medical emergency with composure and efficiency, ensuring the passenger’s well-being and maintaining a calm environment for others.”

Real-life gate agent interview questions 

A Gate Agent is a critical member of the airport staff, responsible for managing the boarding process, assisting passengers with inquiries and issues, and ensuring a smooth and efficient boarding experience. They handle ticketing, flight changes, customer service issues, and coordinate closely with flight crews.

Presented here are questions tailored by experienced hiring managers to ensure a comprehensive assessment:

  1. Talk about a time that you had an uncomfortable experience with a passenger. What did you do to fix it?

This question assesses the candidate’s ability to handle challenging customer interactions.

Sample answer:

“Once, a passenger became upset due to a flight delay. I calmly explained the reason for the delay and offered them lounge access as a gesture of goodwill. My aim was to ease their discomfort and provide a positive resolution.”

  1. How would you deal with a difficult coworker during the boarding process?

This question evaluates the candidate’s approach to managing conflicts with colleagues.

Sample answer: 

“In situations with a difficult coworker, I maintain professionalism and focus on the task at hand. I would communicate openly to resolve any misunderstanding and ensure our interactions do not affect the boarding process or passenger experience.”

  1. Talk about a time that you went above and beyond for a passenger.

This question explores the candidate’s commitment to exceptional customer service.

Sample answer:

“A passenger once forgot their passport in a nearby hotel. Understanding the urgency, I coordinated with our team to retrieve it while delaying the flight minimally. The passenger was immensely grateful for our effort to save their trip.”

Check more gate agent interview questions

As we draw the curtains on this guide, we extend our appreciation to the dedicated hiring managers whose insights have enriched these interview questions. 

Navigating the realm of hospitality and travel requires more than just skills; it demands a genuine commitment to service and a keen understanding of the industry’s nuances. 

May these real-life interview questions empower HR professionals to discern not only technical prowess but also the intangible qualities that elevate a team’s hospitality and travel experience, ensuring success in an ever-evolving landscape.

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