24 Questions and Answers Written by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 24
What are your career goals?
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How to Answer
Working in the service industry is a means to an end for a lot of people. Even those who stay in the industry are working on accomplishing other goals, like finishing school or helping your family meet loose ends. The interviewer doesn't expect you to say you want to work at their restaurant forever, but they are interested in hearing your future plans. Wherever you're at in your career, let them know how this job will fit into your career goals. Here's an answer example: "I plan to work for your restaurant while I finish my degree, which I plan to complete two years from now." shows you are working towards a goal. Your role as a host will help you to achieve that goal by providing stability and income.
"I plan to work for your restaurant while I finish my degree, which I plan to complete two years from now."
Customer service is all about consistency. Smiling at every guest gives restaurants and bars a solid reputation. As a host, you are the first point of contact for customers, so you need to be sure to treat them kindly. Tell the interviewer, "I understand that I'm the first person a customer meets when they walk through the door. It's important that I make a good impression with each person."
"I understand that I'm the first person a customer meets when they walk through the door. It's important that I make a good impression with each person."
To successfully answer this question, you will need to be strategic! First, think of an area where you can improve. For example, maybe you could do a better job of taking initiative to solve problems before they become an issue. Your self-awareness is already a strength! Your insight that you need to grow in this area shows the interviewer that you know you have room for improvement and that you have a desire to grow. Now, think about how you can explain what you're doing to improve. Paying closer attention to detail and noticing body language are two ways you can be more perceptive. Solving problems before they start takes a lot of observation and awareness. Talk about how you are working to improve!
Show off some of your skills by talking about how you take initiative and make an effort to help the rest of the team. List off any responsibilities that you think could be helpful to do in your extra time. There is usually side work, like sweeping the floor and filling salt and pepper shakers. Let the interviewer know that you can keep yourself busy by helping the team and taking care of your responsibilities.
"Usually I ask the servers if they need any help busing the tables or rolling silverware. There is always something to do, so I try my best to help the rest of the team when I can."
Keep it simple. Think through the steps you take when handling demanding customers. Be prepared to give an example of how you have dealt with these types of customers in the past. If it's all new to you, be honest! Explain how you would use your communication and listening skills to relate to customers and calm them down. And tell them you're learning! You aren't expected to know everything in a new job, so just relax and do your best!
"I stay calm, and I listen. I'll let a customer vent as long as they need to. Then I empathize and look for a solution or a compromise."
6. How long would you expect to work for us if hired? The service industry can be high turnover with people coming and going at all times. A restaurant manager asking this question wants to know if they can expect to keep you around for a while. Training new people is an investment on their part, and they don't want to waste time or money on someone just looking to make fast cash for a couple months of work. Let them know your plans, how this fits into your school schedule or how it balances with another job. Reassure them that you are looking for something long term. Here is an answer example: 7. Describe yourself in three words. Think of three qualities that will help you in this new role. Here are some that we think would make you an excellent host!
Your main role is to greet customers and escort them to their tables. You want to be able to communicate with the kitchen and wait staff as well. Interpersonal skills are the most important for your role, so think of a few words to describe how you will be an amazing addition to the team. Here is an answer example: 8. What qualities make you the best person for the job? What qualities will make you stand out above other candidates? Think about some of the key characteristics that the restaurant will be looking for. Next, think of examples of how you embody these traits. For example, if you are dependable, you can talk about how you have always been willing to fill in when others don't show up for work. If you are trustworthy, you can share how the cash drawer at your last retail job was always balanced without any errors. Share your best qualities and paint of picture of how they will help you in this next role. Here is an answer example: 9. Have you ever had a situation that kept you from being on time to work? How did you handle it? Show the interviewer that you are reliable, even when your circumstances get in the way. Your reaction is the only thing you can control sometimes. Give an example of some sort of interference on the way to work, like a traffic accident or broken down car. Here's a good way to respond:
"I was working an opening shift and there was a huge accident on my way to work. I knew it was going to make me late. I called a couple of coworkers to see if they could come in earlier, and then I called my boss. I did everything I could to make sure someone was there to open the restaurant."
Show that you care about your work and strive to be dependable. Explain the effort you take to ensure your lateness will not have a ripple effect on everyone else at work. Here is an answer example: "I was working an opening shift and there was a huge accident on my way to work. I knew it was going to make me late. I called a couple of coworkers to see if they could come in earlier, and then I called my boss. I did everything I could to make sure someone was there to open the restaurant."10. How do you handle stressful situations? "I know that working in a restaurant can be fast-paced and stressful, but I am comfortable working in that type of environment. I have worked retail during the holidays and learned to stay calm, take breaks when I can, and not to take anything personally."
As a host, you will need to be able to remain calm and collected during high stress situations. Give an example that shows you can deal with a busy work environment without getting frustrated or overwhelmed. Here is an answer example: "I know that working in a restaurant can be fast-paced and stressful, but I am comfortable working in that type of environment. I have worked retail during the holidays and learned to stay calm, take breaks when I can, and not to take anything personally."11. Why do you want this job? It's important to do your research before an interview. This question can be easily answered if you take the time to learn more about the organization and role beforehand. The interviewer wants to be reassured that you're not just looking for any job. What about the position stands out to you? If you are currently in the role at another company, talk about how this position is different and fulfills something that you are missing from your current job, or better yet, how this role will help you accomplish your goals. Here is an answer example: 12. Give me an example of how you have been reliable in the past. "There was a snow storm, and I couldn't get a hold of my manager to find out if we would be open or not. I woke up extra early and made my way to work anyways, just to be on the safe side."
Demonstrate how you follow through by showing up and taking care of your responsibilities. A manager will be enthusiastic about hiring someone they feel can fulfill daily responsibilities with integrity. Give an example that proves you are dependable and can be entrusted to handle your duties. Here is an answer example: "There was a snow storm, and I couldn't get a hold of my manager to find out if we would be open or not. I woke up extra early and made my way to work anyways, just to be on the safe side."13. Tell me about your experience. Be honest with the interviewer, but keep in mind that you can talk about your past experience if it relates. This means, it doesn't matter if it was working in the same industry. Share any experience that is relevant, talking about your transferable skills, like customer service, administration and retail experience. If you have no relevant experience, talk about how excited you are to learn. Odds are that the interviewer will ensure you receive more training when you begin your new role because they know you will benefit from the extra knowledge! Here is an answer example: 14. Describe your ideal job. What sort of work environment do you thrive in? What kinds of personalities do you enjoy working with? Share what you are looking for in a job. Why are those aspects important to you? Here is an answer example: "My ideal job would be working in a restaurant with coworkers I can rely upon and managers who treat me with respect. I do my best to keep a positive attitude, and it is much more enjoyable to be around others who strive to do the same."15. Why should we hire you? What sets you apart from all the other candidates? Can you offer a flexible schedule? Are you a pro at handling the most difficult of customers? Share a few qualities and consider giving examples to match each one. This is your chance to sell yourself, so make the most of it! Remember that you have unique qualities that will help you to be successful as a host. Don't be shy! Articulate your awesomeness! Here is an answer example: 16. Do you have any questions about the job description? Be sure to familiarize yourself with the list of duties required for the position. If you do have questions, now would be the time to ask. However, make sure that these questions are not already answered in the job posting. Ask other employees about what it's like to work there before your interview so that you have an idea of what to expect and know which questions to ask. Here is an answer example: 17. What skills are essential for this position? Communication skills, people skills and listening skills are key! This question is to check for your understanding of the role, so that the interviewer knows you understand what it takes to be a host or hostess. If you're not sure, check the job description. Think about which skills would help you to accomplish each responsibility. Here is an answer example: 18. How would you keep our patrons satisfied? "I listen to customer requests and keep track of customer information when they make a reservation. I communicate to the waitstaff any special requests to make sure the customer is happy."
Your interaction with the customers will primarily be on the phone when they are calling for reservations and when you greet them at the door. When customers make requests beyond your capacity, you have the entire waitstaff to support you. Let them know you work as a team and communicate with the waitstaff to ensure the customer is taken care of. Here is an answer example: "I listen to customer requests and keep track of customer information when they make a reservation. I communicate to the waitstaff any special requests to make sure the customer is happy."19. How do you take criticism? As a host you are likely to receive feedback from customers, coworkers and bosses. People can be critical, so you'll need to learn not to take comments too personally. It can be difficult to know what to say, especially if someone gives you a hard time about something out of your control. Respond to the interviewer with, "I stay calm and relaxed when I receive feedback from a customer or a manger. I take time to think about what they said and how I can do a better job in the future." Here is an answer example: "I stay calm and relaxed when I receive feedback from a customer or a manger. I take time to think about what they said and how I can do a better job in the future."20. What is the most recent skill you have learned that will assist you in this role? Think about some of the skills that are so vital to the role of a host or hostess. Did you recently learn how to deal with difficult customers? Are you learning how to stay organized and move quickly between different tasks? Share a skill, like attention to detail or listening to customers. All of these skills would be helpful for your new role. Here is an answer example: 21. In case of an emergency, what would be your course of action? If you haven't worked in the restaurant industry and are not familiar with handling emergencies, have no fear! It's not as important for you to know each step of the exit strategy as it is for you to be able to remain calm. Tell the interviewer, "I stay calm and assist the customers by communicating with my manager and directing them towards the doors in an organized way." You may not know what to do, so focus on how you would act that would assist the staff and the customers. Here is an answer example: "I stay calm and assist the customers by communicating with my manager and directing them towards the doors in an organized way."22. How have you used your communication skills to resolve conflict at work? You might be the most easy-going person in the world, but sometimes you can't avoid conflict. Give an example of a time you had conflict with a manager or coworker. What did you do?
"My coworker and I had a misunderstanding about the schedule via text message, and she got frustrated about it. To avoid further conflict, I called her and let her know I was flexible and happy to cover for her. I care about my relationships at work and will do whatever I can to resolve issues as they arise."
Show the interviewer that you are clear and concise in your communication. Give an example that shows you are proactive and don't let problems between coworkers escalate. Here is an answer example: "My coworker and I had a misunderstanding about the schedule via text message, and she got frustrated about it. To avoid further conflict, I called her and let her know I was flexible and happy to cover for her. I care about my relationships at work and will do whatever I can to resolve issues as they arise."23. Tell me about a time when you gave excellent customer service. Before you give an example, think about what excellent customer service means to you. Does it mean making the customer happy? What skills are required? Here is an answer example: "A customer called to make a reservation for a large group. They were visually impaired and there were two small children in the group. I wanted to take extra special care to provide for their needs, so I informed the server and made notes in the reservation. When the group came in, I was warm and friendly. I made sure they were taken care of."24. What are your greatest strengths? Think of the traits that make you good at your job. Reflecting back on the top qualities of a host or hostess, you may want to draw from there. Having great people skills and being positive, detailed and motivated are all strengths worth sharing. Next, talk about how you use this strength in the workplace! Your positive attitude keeps you and your co-workers in a good mood all day. Being detailed helps you pay attention to customer needs and make important notes in reservations. Whatever your strength may be, link it back to how it positively impacts your work environment. Here is an answer example:
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