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Restaurant Manager Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated July 21st, 2020 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 25
How do you handle customer disputes?
View Answers
How to Answer
The interviewer would like to know how you handle stressful situations involving unhappy customers. As a restaurant manager, your ability to handle customer complaints can make or break your candidacy. Be ready with an example when you went above and beyond when handling a customer complaint. Be sure to tell the interviewer what solution you offered to the customer. Perhaps you did not charge them for the meal. Maybe you offered a new dish for them to try. Close with how happy the customer was when they left!
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25 Restaurant Manager Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. How do you handle customer disputes?
  2. What do you believe is the role of the restaurant manager?
  3. Do you have experience with terminations?
  4. What will you do if a particular dish on the menu is not selling?
  5. What actions will you take to ensure our food costs stay below 30%?
  6. What would you do if you saw a server about to deliver a poorly plated meal to a customer?
  7. What do you know about our restaurant?
  8. We are struggling with leadership in our restaurant. How will your leadership make us better?
  9. Tell me about the last restaurant you worked in. What was the overall vibe?
  10. You just noticed the chef using expired ingredients. How do you handle this situation and what do you say?
  11. What makes an interviewee stand out, in your opinion?
  12. Why are you leaving your current position?
  13. What experiences do you have in the restaurant field?
  14. Tell me about your management experience.
  15. How extensive is your wine knowledge?
  16. What are your experiences with hiring staff?
  17. What new trends have you discovered in the food industry?
  18. What trends would you like to implement at this restaurant?
  19. What is your experience managing inventory?
  20. Do you feel that you are currently paid what you are worth?
  21. How well do you get to know the customers that visit your establishment?
  22. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  23. Do you have any questions for me?
  24. When would you be available to start?
  25. You have a few gaps in your resume. Can you explain these?
Answer Examples
1.
How do you handle customer disputes?
The interviewer would like to know how you handle stressful situations involving unhappy customers. As a restaurant manager, your ability to handle customer complaints can make or break your candidacy. Be ready with an example when you went above and beyond when handling a customer complaint. Be sure to tell the interviewer what solution you offered to the customer. Perhaps you did not charge them for the meal. Maybe you offered a new dish for them to try. Close with how happy the customer was when they left!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have specific training in customer dispute resolution and am happy to train your employees on the techniques I have learned, over the years. In my experience, allowing the customer to talk, and express their feelings, is the most important step to creating a resolution. Also, my tone is fundamental. I am empathetic, nod a lot, and use the correct body posture to show that I care."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Here are some key factors to successful interaction with upset customers:

- Allow the customer to be heard. Show that you care about their feelings of frustration
- Be prepared with empathetic statements such as "I understand" and "That must have felt terrible."
- Never be passive, roll your eyes, cross your arms, or disagree with the customer
- Focus on the important factors. Many upset customers will bring up small issues that are not related to the primary concern. Always bring the conversation back to the issue at hand
- Avoid saying "never" but say "likely" or "possibly."
- Keep the conversations out of the public eye. Anger will be fed by an audience"
2.
What do you believe is the role of the restaurant manager?
The interviewer wants to know that you fully understand the importance of your role as a restaurant manager. As a manager, you need to ensure that the business is profitable, gaining momentum, strong reviews, retaining employees, and delivering a great product. Express your understanding and confidence in your ability to provide all of these things.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The primary function of a restaurant manager is to ensure that the business is a well-oiled machine. When a restaurant is profitable, morale is higher, and this trickles down to the customer service experience. Could you tell me more about the areas you would like for me to focus on in the first 90 days?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I believe the role of a restaurant manager is to create an unforgettable customer service experience while helping retain staff and reduce costs. As a manager, I am prepared to follow the instructions of the business owner and help them to achieve their short and long-term vision."
3.
Do you have experience with terminations?
Terminating someone's employment is never easy, and your goal is to ensure that most of these situations are seamless transitions for everyone involved. You also need to ensure that you are conducting terminations in a manner that abides by your region's laws. Discuss how you might coach an employee to perform better, or talk about a time that you put a performance plan into action to save an employee from termination. If you do not have experience in employee terminations, focus on discussing what you feel would be the most moral way to let an employee go.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked with employees on performance plans when they are under-performing but have not directly terminated anyone. This task is left to our regional manager who ensures that all of our human resource policies are followed to a tee. I am confident that I can successfully follow through on terminations while keeping HR policies top of mind."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have only once needed to terminate an employee. I had a server who was never on time and was not getting along well with the other staff. I met with him on three occasions to discuss our attendance policy and coached him a bit on his communication issues. Ultimately, I had to let him go, and it was better for the team. Terminations are never pleasant. However, I don't mind following through on these tasks to benefit the team and profitability of the business."
4.
What will you do if a particular dish on the menu is not selling?
Clear communication between a restaurant manager and a chef is a crucial component to the profitability of a restaurant. Feedback can be tough to give at times but remember that your role as a leader is to encourage open conversation.

Discuss how you would ask the chef if they have heard any feedback from the servers about why the dish is not being requested. It may be a situation where the plate is merely not being promoted enough, and you may put together a game plan for how to 'push' the dish in the dining room.

Perhaps you decide with the chef that you need to spruce up the dish and release it with new wording on the menu. Or, maybe yourself and the chef determine that you are going to pull the recipe and replace it. Sometimes, 'out with the old and in with the new' is the best decision to make.
Rachelle's Answer #1
"If a particular dish is not selling, I prefer to come into the situation not demanding change but, rather, asking the chef for suggestions. They are the experts after all. I believe that strong collaboration is best and I will create a collaborative environment as much as possible."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am comfortable communicating directly with the chef on menu needs. I would approach them and share what we see in the dining room. If there is customer feedback that I can share, I will start with that. Otherwise, I would see if there is an opportunity for us to improve the dish or encourage our servers to romanticize the dish and increase sales."
5.
What actions will you take to ensure our food costs stay below 30%?
Profit margins are slim for restaurant owners, and one of the main culprits is food costs. A restaurant owner needs to know that the manager they are hiring is just as invested as they are when it comes to cost savings and profitability. Some options for reducing food costs may include cutting portion sizes, streamlining the menu, simplifying dishes, or creating more cross-ingredient dishes.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Keeping food costs low is crucial to the success of any restaurant. If food costs are creeping up, I will first look into waste and how we can avoid occurrences. Secondly, I will work with the chef on creating more cross-ingredient dishes, so that food ordering becomes simpler."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Here are some ways that you can reduce food costs in a restaurant kitchen:

- Reevaluate the menu plan. What is the cost to serve your customer versus their final bill?
- Create menu loss leaders to attract customers to spend more on appetizers, desserts, or drinks
- Only buy food in bulk that will not spoil. Buying in bulk can save money but only if you use the product in full
- Work with the chef on their menu plan and work on creating dishes that use the same ingredients"
6.
What would you do if you saw a server about to deliver a poorly plated meal to a customer?
Your goal as a manager is to not only have happy customers but to have satisfied employees too, and you never want to embarrass one of your servers in front of the team or their customers. Employees who feel trusted and competent are more likely to stay with you or the long term.
Discuss how you would ask the server to walk back to the kitchen with the plate without making a scene.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Every experience like this is an opportunity for further training. If the plate was delivered to the customer, and the customer complained, I could show the server what the plate should look like. I would also use this as an opportunity to further train the kitchen staff on the quality that needs to come out of the kitchen at all times."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I would never correct a server in front of a customer. Unless you have a policy that states otherwise, I would try to intercept the plate before it arrived at the table. I could use the experience to train further the employee on how to better screen dishes before delivering them to their tables."
7.
What do you know about our restaurant?
With any job interview, it is crucial to understand the restaurant to which you are interviewing. Visit the restaurant website to learn critical information such as business hours, menu options, and even fun facts such as how the restaurant got its name. As a bonus, be sure to mention any positive interactions you have had with restaurant employees! You should visit the restaurant in-person before your interview. Order a variety of menu items and take note of the parts of the restaurant that runs well, and make notes on any changes you would recommend.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I visited your restaurant last week, to get a feel for the vibe and efficiency here. The food was incredible, and the service I received was quite attentive. I did notice some areas where we could cut costs and help you to save money, which I look forward to discussing further. I enjoyed my experience and would be pleased to work here as your new manager."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Here are some ways that you can get to know the restaurant before your interview:

- Visit the restaurant in person to perform some personal recon. Order a variety of food, and beverages. If it's a restaurant/bar, try to go twice to experience both sides of the business.
- Follow the restaurant on all social media platforms. Read through some posts to get a feeling for their marketing vibe.
- Comb through the restaurant's website. Read their blog, and take note of the "About Us" section. If there is a careers section, you can see where they are hiring and note any potential pain points. For instance, if most of the openings are in the kitchen, there may be a concern there that you can address in the interview.
- Read any online reviews. See if there is a common denominator in the 5-star reviews and the 1-star reviews."
8.
We are struggling with leadership in our restaurant. How will your leadership make us better?
The interviewer wants to know more about your leadership philosophy so they can ensure your leadership style will be a fit for their workplace culture, and the changes they need to be successful. You can keep your answer short but be sure to include important keywords that will make you a stand-out candidate. If the interviewer mentions some struggles, you should ask them more specifics surrounding those challenges. This way, you can address their specific challenges in your answer.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"You mentioned earlier that you previous manager led too much as a totalitarian and was not collaborative. My leadership style can be summed up as collaborative, inspiring, and motivation based. I like to get to know my staff and what motivates them to come to work each day. I have found that my employees respond best when they are given some autonomy and also additional responsibilities. I will often give new tasks to my team, and let them show me what they are made of!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Here are some leadership qualities you may have:

- Ability to lead by example
- Strong relationship building skills
- Willingness to accept feedback
- Ability to give constructive feedback with a call to action
- Honesty and transparency
- Public speaking
- Ability to reason and understand all side
- Willingness to take chances
- Clarity in communication
- Excellent listening skills
- Command in presence
- Authentic in communication
- Socially compatible
- Empathy and compassion for your team
- Willingness to be uncomfortable and address disputes head-on
- Ability to empower your team members
- Negotiation skills
- Ability to inspire your team members
- Ability to teach and train"
9.
Tell me about the last restaurant you worked in. What was the overall vibe?
The interviewer wants to hear that you have a healthy level of respect for your most recent employer and that you can speak positively about the experience, no matter what.

Perhaps you can talk about a few of your favorite customers, how well you got along with your teammates, and discuss what aspects of the restaurant's environment you enjoyed. Be open to talking about working hours, uniforms, your manager, the owners, benefits, and whatever else you truly enjoyed. The key is to keep your answer positive!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The most recent restaurant I worked in was a bar and grill with a Mexican theme. The vibe was fun. The customers would come in for our giant beergarita's and stay for the amazing tacos and enchiladas. Our staff were all very young so sometimes it was a challenge to have everyone show up for their shift on time; however, it was a great learning experience for me when it came to hiring and corrective action."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My most recent employer was a well-known restaurant chain. The great thing about working for a chain or franchise is that the systems and policies are already put in place for you. It made my first management gig quite straightforward. That's not to say there weren't challenges, as there are with any job. In this role, the biggest learning opportunities came to me in the form of customer service and employee retention."
10.
You just noticed the chef using expired ingredients. How do you handle this situation and what do you say?
Using expired ingredients is a serious matter. It can make your customers sick and result in a fail from any health inspector.

As a manager, your goal is never to intimidate your staff. At the same time, you need to show the importance of following kitchen guidelines and health and safety rules. Discuss the corrective action you would take and what you would do to prevent the instance from occurring again.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If I noticed a chef using expired ingredients, it would call for a serious conversation regarding inventory movement, over-ordering, and perhaps the need for a revision of the menu. The use of expired ingredients is never acceptable, but it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that the kitchen delivers a great product at all times."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I would approach the chef about any issues related to the kitchen and the quality of the food. If for some reason, the chef is not receptive, I would need to take corrective action."
11.
What makes an interviewee stand out, in your opinion?
The interviewer would like to know more about the aspects of an interviewee that impress you. You want to show a balance of being a sound decision maker, when it comes to hiring, without appearing to be a pushover or - the opposite - someone who is too difficult to please. List one unique thing you look for when interviewing. Make sure to express that you never go off of 'just a hunch' but instead, you look for specific qualities in an incumbent.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"To me, a stand out interviewee is someone who has fully researched the background of the restaurant, our menu, and the workplace culture. If they come prepared for the interview, they are showing me that they are engaged in the process and excited about the opportunity."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If you are new to hiring, here are some items to look for when vetting new employees:

- Existing knowledge of the business, or company's vision
- Strong references
- Strong tenure in previous roles
- Positive language use vs. negative (IE: I can versus I can't)
- Willingness to learn or continue education and training
- Ability to take responsibilities for their mistakes
- Shows ambition and interest in their professional future
- Ability to wear many hats and take on new responsibilities
- Knows how they like to be recognized for a job well done"
12.
Why are you leaving your current position?
The reason for leaving your current position is fundamental because it will show the interviewer what an ideal work environment is for you, and if they can meet those needs.

Interviewers want to hear why you are pursuing a new endeavor. Perhaps you are seeking a new challenge. Maybe you feel underpaid in your current role. Or, perhaps you have heard such great things about the restaurant that you couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Mention a few of the positives about your current employer so that you don't come across negatively. This shows the interviewer that you care about your place of employment, but you recognize that now may be a good time to make a switch!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am not actively seeking a new position but did see your position posted and it prompted me to apply. I believe that our city needs a new hot-spot and I truly believe that your restaurant will be just that. I like my current position; however, I would love to grow with a business that is interested in creating new culinary experiences for its patrons."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am really look for a restaurant that is growing and has a strong customer following. There are only a few restaurants on my list and I am in the beginning stages of interviewing with one other location. I have not received an offer from anyone, yet."
13.
What experiences do you have in the restaurant field?
The answer to this question should be simple for you; however, the tough part is making sure you don't drag your answer on and on. Take just a minute or so to bring your resume to life for the interviewer. A simple overview of your role is excellent but be sure to add a few highlights or discuss and significant achievements.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked in the restaurant industry for the past eight years. I started as a busser and worked my way up into an assistant manager role a couple of years ago. My promotion came after I made some changes in scheduling and ordering which saved the restaurant a significant amount of money in workforce and excess supplies."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am newer to the restaurant industry; however, I do have some experience working in retail management. The experience that I can bring you includes inventory management, scheduling, staff management, merchandising, upselling, and more."
14.
Tell me about your management experience.
Be honest with the interviewer about how much management experience you have. If you have experience with supervising staff, writing performance reviews, coaching employees, hiring, interviewing, terminating employees, scheduling, or motivating, be sure to mention these things.

If you do not have management experience, now is the time, to be honest about it, and talk about how excited you are to learn. Odds are, the interviewer will ensure you receive more training when you begin your new role because they know you will benefit from the extra knowledge!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have been in a management role for eight years, starting as a keyholder, then assistant manager, for the local bar and grill. In my current role, my management responsibilities include hiring, terminating, training new staff, and taking care of customer disputes. I look forward to expanding my management experience to include a larger tea and bigger restaurant facility."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am new to my pursuit as a restaurant manager but have had some experience in reviewing resume's, training new employees, and helping with customer care. I look forward to additional training as a manager. I am a quick study and dedicated - you won't be disappointed in my performance!"
15.
How extensive is your wine knowledge?
If you are a wine connoisseur, excellent! If not, that's okay too, but you should express your interest in educating yourself in the wine realm. You don't need to be a professional sommelier; however, if you are applying for a role in a fine dining environment, you should have some wine-related education.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I consider myself an intermediate level wine connoisseur. In my career, I have visited many wineries and met with many wine reps. I have a strong understanding of the industry and am confident in my ability to choose excellent pairings for your menu items."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I would rate my knowledge in the wine industry as beginner level. I do have a keen interest in wine and would love to take additional training in this area."
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