To even have a chance at getting a restaurant or hospitality job, acing the interview is a must, and that requires at least some preparation. While you can’t anticipate answers to every question asked, there are some interview questions that nearly every restaurant and hospitality job seeker will face. These are also some of the most difficult questions to answer, and that’s why planning strong responses can drastically increase your chances of nailing the interview and ultimately landing the job.
What is your biggest strength?
A good place to start when planning your answer to this question is by asking yourself: in which aspect of the job am I most confident and which do I enjoy the most? The skill or responsibility that answers both questions makes for a great response because it’s genuine.
A general rule of thumb that applies to this question in particular is that the interview is not the time to be modest. A manager can only have as much confidence in an applicant as the applicant has in his or herself.
Selling oneself by emphasizing strengths as strongly as possible is key here.
Remember, though, that while embellishment is to be expected and perhaps even recommended in situations where experience is lacking, telling outright lies is ill-advised. Not only will getting caught cause others to question your moral compass, but it will likely land you in a position for which you are unprepared.
What is your biggest weakness?
Do not answer this question without careful thought; the person asking is a potential employer, not a therapist. Plus, a wise candidate will turn this into yet another opportunity to highlight his or her strengths.
A good example would be something like taking on more shifts than desired in a past position because it describes a person who will work to the point of exhaustion in order to avoid letting down his or her team. A good quality in the end.
Again, be as genuine as possible when answering this question because chances are your interviewer has heard it all, or said it all. So, if you’re lying your pants off, it will most definitely show. PRO-TIP: if you can’t think of anything, ask a coworker what they think you could work on and take it from there.
What is your favorite part of the job?
When answering this question, take the opportunity to illustrate to the interviewer that you know the ins and outs of the job and the industry culture. An easy way to do this is by using the jargon and slang that you would typically here around the workplace.
This question also provides an opportunity to express what it is about working in a restaurant or service establishment that makes it where you want to be, rather than where you have to be. Whether it’s getting to work with all types of people, facing a different challenge every day or something that’s unique to you, it’s worth sharing.
Go a step further by relating your answer to the business for which you’re interviewing.
For example, if you’re interviewing for server position and your favorite part of the job is giving customers recommendations, add that this job in particular is exciting because of the variety of dishes on the menu. This shows motivation and dedication.
What is your least favorite?
While this is not the time to air grievances, either about past employers or the industry itself, a successful candidate must not fall into the trap of saying that there is nothing that he or she does not like about the job.
While this would be ideal if true, in a perfect world, it is simply not possible and will sound as disingenuous as it is. Answering with an aspect of the job that everyone universally dislikes is a better move. It will ring true and serve the additional purpose of making you relatable to the interviewer.
One possibility? Griping about bad tips. Just be sure to express the understanding that it comes with the territory and be sure to mention that you wouldn’t let it affect your performance.
Why would you make a good addition to the team?
Working in the restaurant and hospitality business is always a team effort, no matter how you slice it because, in the end, all that matters is the experience of the customer or guest. Making this experience a positive one depends not only on your performance but also on the performance of your coworkers.
That said, being a good addition to a team ultimately means that you’re doing what you can to support it.
With this in mind, a winning answer doesn’t have to be overly complicated, it just has to emphasize the fact that you’re willing to be helpful. A wise way to express this is by stressing your readiness to help co-workers without no need of extra incentives; that it’s part of the job to do whatever you can to help the team.
Planning is just half of the battle, though; you also need practice…
Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview that includes the above questions in the days leading up to the real interview. This will help to work out any kinks in responses and to avoid awkward pauses or excessive use of filler words. Plus, it will boost your confidence, giving you a leg up on the competition!