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Waiter or Waitress interview questions and answers

This Waiter/Waitress interview profile brings together a snapshot of what to look for in candidates with a balanced sample of suitable interview questions.

Christine Del Castillo
Christine Del Castillo

Former Community Manager at Workable specialized in employee experience, talent brands and our event series, Workable Ideas.

waiter-waitress

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10 good waiter or waitress interview questions

  1. What is your experience with customer service and how does that relate to this position?
  2. Describe your last dining experience and how it could have been improved.
  3. What do you know about our main competitors?
  4. What are some food trends that you’ve recently noticed?
  5. What wines do you often recommend to your customers?
  6. Recall a time you handled a customer complaint. What was the situation and outcome?
  7. What would you do if your customer tried to combine some special offers that can’t be combined?
  8. How do you stay organized while taking orders?
  9. How would you rate your upselling skills?
  10. What would you do if your car broke down on the way to work?

Here are 10 essential interview questions and sample answers to help identify the best candidates for this role.

1. What is your experience with customer service and how does that relate to this position?

This question assesses the candidate’s background in customer service and how it prepares them for the role of a waiter or waitress.

Sample answer:

“I have worked in retail for two years, where customer satisfaction was a key metric. The skills I gained there, like active listening and problem-solving, are directly applicable to a waiter role where customer experience is paramount.”

2. Describe your last dining experience and how it could have been improved.

This question gauges the candidate’s awareness of the dining experience from a customer’s perspective.

Sample answer:

“The last time I dined out, the food was excellent but the service was slow. A more attentive waiter could have made the experience perfect.”

3. What do you know about our main competitors?

Understanding of the competitive landscape shows the candidate’s industry awareness.

Sample answer:

“Your main competitors are X and Y. While X offers a similar menu, they lack in ambiance. Y has a great location but their service has mixed reviews.”

4. What are some food trends that you’ve recently noticed?

This question tests the candidate’s knowledge of current trends in the food industry.

Sample answer:

“Plant-based diets are gaining popularity, and many restaurants are adding vegan options. Also, farm-to-table concepts are becoming more common.”

5. What wines do you often recommend to your customers?

Knowledge of wine pairings is essential for upselling and enhancing the customer experience.

Sample answer:

“I often recommend a light Pinot Noir with poultry dishes and a robust Cabernet for red meats.”

6. Recall a time you handled a customer complaint. What was the situation and outcome?

This question assesses problem-solving and customer service skills.

Sample answer:

“A customer complained about their steak being overcooked. I apologized, took the dish back, and expedited a new one. They left satisfied and even gave a generous tip.”

7. What would you do if your customer tried to combine some special offers that can’t be combined?

This tests the candidate’s ability to handle tricky customer situations diplomatically.

Sample answer:

“I would politely explain the restaurant’s policy and offer an alternative that provides good value.”

8. How do you stay organized while taking orders?

Organization is key in a fast-paced environment.

Sample answer:

“I always carry a notepad and write down orders as they come. I also repeat the order to the customer to ensure accuracy.”

9. How would you rate your upselling skills?

Upselling is an important skill for increasing revenue.

Sample answer:

“I would rate myself 8 out of 10. I always look for opportunities to upsell, like suggesting appetizers or premium drinks.”

10. What would you do if your car broke down on the way to work?

This question tests the candidate’s reliability and problem-solving skills.

Sample answer:

“I would immediately call the restaurant to inform them and then take the quickest alternative mode of transportation to get to work.”

What does a good waiter or waitress candidate look like?

A good waiter or waitress is not just experienced but also has excellent customer service skills, a keen eye for detail, and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment. They should be able to multitask effectively and handle stressful situations with grace.



Waiter or Waitress Interview Questions

Next to the actual food and beverages, the service provided by your waiters and waitresses will make or break your guests’ dining experience. Hire staff  with a critical eye and determine the level of experience you need based on the kind of establishment you run. If you’re looking for more experienced waitstaff, you can add more situational questions. If you’re hiring candidates new to this line of work, you can ask other types of customer service questions instead. What’s most desirable for this role is customer-facing experience and experience with handling cash (point of sale systems, cash registers). Food safety training is a plus.

Excellent restaurant servers are outgoing and eager to please. They have great stamina and can be on their feet for long periods of time. They are knowledgeable about the menu and can upsell without being too pushy. And, they work well with teams. They’re friendly and can build strong working relationships with fellow servers, hosts, bartenders, cooks, and other colleagues at their restaurant. They should also be reliable. If they can’t make it to work, they should be able to give notice and find a substitute for their shift.

These questions are mostly situational and designed to encourage candidates to speak at length about any experience that is relevant to the position. You’ll get a sense of how personable they are, how well they explain themselves, and their motivations for applying to this job. In addition, you’ll find out how well they know the food and beverage industry.

  • Use this checklist to interview someone for a job at your restaurant

Let’s summarize some of the questions and add a few more divided into specific types.

Operational and Situational questions

  • What is your experience with customer service and how does that relate to this position?
  • Describe your last dining experience and how it could have been improved.
  • What do you know about our main competitors?
  • What are some food trends that you’ve recently noticed?
  • What wines do you often recommend to your customers?
  • Recall a time you handled a customer complaint. What was the situation and outcome?
  • What would you if your customer tried to combine some special offers that can’t be combined?
  • How do you stay organized while taking orders?
  • How would you rate your upselling skills?
  • How would you handle getting a bad tip?
  • What would you do if your car broke down on the way to work?
  • Recall a time a team member wasn’t doing their share of the work. How did you handle it?
  • What are your feelings on tip sharing?
  • Have you dined with us before? What do you think we could do better?

Frequently asked questions

Ready to fine-tune this interview kit?
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