Profits are always top of mind for restaurant owners. 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.
"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."
"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"
"In my current role, we have kept food cost under 30% for the past three years, ever since I took over. I work closely with our chef to ensure that our ingredients are used in multiple dishes. We only order bulk for non-perishables and frequently used ingredients. Also, I have strong connections in the industry which gives me excellent buying power with suppliers."
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.
"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."
"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."
"My leadership style tends to be friendly and direct, so I would quietly approach the server to see if the quality of the dish was up to our standards. If needed, we would send the dish back to the kitchen, and I would communicate with the chef to ensure the issue did not arise again."
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.
"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."
"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. "
"I have a former colleague who now works for your restaurant, and she told me about this open position. I understand that you have been in business for ten years. This is a great accomplishment in such a tumultuous industry. I, too, have a strong customer following from my bartending days. I would love to work for a growing business, like yours and help you to gain further exposure in the surrounding communities."
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.
"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!"
"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 "
"It sounds like you have had some employee turnover problems and I would look to see if we could improve morale among the servers. I'd also like to implement additional training that allows the staff to communicate better as a team. I'd work with the leadership team to learn more about business goals so that I can work towards those as well. When everyone is invested, as far as the short and long-term goals of the business, the entire team runs more smoothly."
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!
"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."
"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."
"The last restaurant that I worked at was a fine dining restaurant with 18 tables. We had an award-winning menu and a staff of 40 people. My responsibilities included staff scheduling, budget management, hiring, and training staff. It was a great team to work with."
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.
"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."
"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."
"Using expired ingredients is never acceptable. An instance like this would show me that the inventory system is not working correctly. When the restaurant is operating correctly, with a proper inventory in and inventory out system, this should never happen. I would work with the chef to create a more seamless process so that the instance never happened again."
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.
"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."
"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 "
"In my opinion, how the person shows up dressed for the interview, says it all. I am looking for someone who shows pride in their appearance and looks like they want to be there. Also, before any interview, I give clear instructions to the future interviewee. If they follow those steps, it shows me they can clearly follow instruction and pay attention to detail. These instructions include coming to the interview with references in hand, a copy of their ProServe certificate, and a cover letter."
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!
"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."
"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."
"While I do care deeply about my current team, I would really like to work for a restaurant that is known for their world-class customer service. I would also like a shorter commute and your restaurant is my top choice of employment."
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.
"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."
"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."
"I've been working in restaurants for ten years and have been in management for the last four years. I've performed in nearly every function imaginable. I started as a host, trained as a server next and then moved into a shift lead role. Management is my sweet spot as I am very organized and focused on budgeting."
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!
"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."
"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!"
"I've managed various sizes of teams in my career ranging from 16 to 36 people. I have been accountable for the hiring, training and managing of staff, budget management, and scheduling. I am a friendly and direct leader; I think communication is important at all levels."
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.
"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."
"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."
"My wine knowledge is strong, and I am confident in my ability to help your customers choose wines that pair very well with their choices from the menu. I hold a WSET Level 3 Award in Wine Service and am preparing for Level 4 at the moment."
Hiring is a crucial part of your job. The right team can make a restaurant more profitable. Hiring the wrong kind of people for your business can drag morale down and have a severely adverse effect on customer service. If you have experience with making hiring decisions, discuss how you prepare for an interview by reviewing the candidate's application and having a set of interview questions that you ask each person. Be sure to mention if you interview by yourself or if you include someone else in the interviews. Talk about how many people you have hired as well as any interviewing training you have received. You can also mention your staff retention rate if you have that data available. If you do not have experience with hiring, express that you are excited to learn this part of the job and that you welcome any additional training.
"I have experience acting as a hiring assistant. In my previous position, I filtered through resumes, conducted pre-screen calls, and reference checks. I feel confident that, with a small amount of training, I could take on this task entirely on my own."
"In my last position, I helped open a new restaurant and hired the entire staff of 24 people. I posted our open positions, scheduled a job fair, and reviewed resumes. After conducting all interviews, and reference checks, I was able to hire a team of hosts, servers, and bussers with plenty of time for training before opening the restaurant."
The interviewer is interested in knowing how you stay up to date on new trends in the food industry. It is always a good idea to talk positively about change and discovering new trends. Be sure to only talk about new trends that you enjoy or are supportive of to remain positive and show the interviewer that you are open to trying new things.
"The trend I am most interested in, and I believe it's more than a trend, is responsible farming including meat that comes without added hormones or the use of antibiotics. I think that responsible agriculture is an important topic."
"Right now, I'm seeing that people enjoy sharing a wide variety of appetizers, like tapas. I think that we can attract the social-eating crowd by offering more share plates."
"With the popularity of meal kits on the rise, the restaurant industry is seeing even more competition than ever. Restaurants need to offer healthy alternatives that are also affordable to compete with this trend."
One of an interviewer's greatest fears is hiring someone who only thinks their way is the right way. The flip side of this is hiring someone who just wants to coast on the current success of the restaurant. Tell the interviewer that you would like to come into the restaurant without making any changes right away unless there are glaring issues that need to be addressed. Express that this will give you time to understand the restaurant's existing culture to make appropriate decisions about what trends would be best for the clientele and establishment. Next, tell the interviewer what trends excite you! Share what you might consider implementing once you get to know the needs of the restaurant, and it's customers.
"I would like to observe the current traffic in the restaurant before making any definite suggestions for change. At first glance, I believe that a half-priced wine night may be a great way to bring in couples and a higher volume of female customers. Are there any glaring issues that you would like to address immediately?"
"I think there are a lot of different trends that are worth looking into. One trend I'd like to explore is the idea of hosting a weekend brunch. The margins on breakfast items are pretty good, and we open up ourselves to a wider audience from a variety of communities."
Inventory management is a crucial part of being a successful restaurant manager. Highlight for the interviewer how often you complete inventory and your methodology. If you keep checklists and spreadsheets, be sure to discuss that method of organization. If your stock has helped your employer to save money, it's great to talk about this as well.
"In the past two positions I have held, I have managed the bar and restaurant inventory. This included food, drink, and supplies. When I first began my current role, my employer was over budget on food costs by 15%. I was able to cut waste and streamline the ordering process, resulting in a 25% cost savings month over month."
"As I am new to my experience in the restaurant industry, I do not have a lot of exposure to tracking inventory. While attending my business degree, I did take some coursework related to inventory tracking and accounts receivable. I look forward to taking this knowledge to work for your restaurant."
"I bring a great deal of inventory experience over the past eight years. I like to take sole responsibility for inventory so that I can work on establishing an efficient process. I am prepared to reorganize the inventory closets and set up a new system if needed."
Many employees will look for new work if they feel that they are underpaid and underappreciated. Talk to the interviewer about your current compensation and whether or not you think it is fair. If you feel you are currently paid what you are worth: "I feel that my current employer pays me fairly; however, I would like to see an increase in pay with an increase in responsibilities."
"I feel that my current employer pays me fairly; however, I would like to see an increase in pay with an increase in responsibilities."
"I am newer to my management career, but I trust that whatever you offer me, regarding compensation, will be fair and appropriate."
"If you do not feel you are currently paid what you are worth: "I know that I am underpaid compared to my industry colleagues. My company is small, and they do what they can, but this is part of why I am seeking a new position."
Customer relationships help an establishment thrive by motivating the customers to keep coming back. The interviewer wants to hear that you understand this. Even small talk about recent football games or community events is a great way to get to know your regulars and new customers. Discuss how you get to know the customers in the current establishment for which you work.
"I enjoy getting to know my customers so I do ask them questions about their life, what brought them in that day, or if they have any favorite cocktails they would like to try. I keep the conversation light and friendly, so they want to return when they feel like having some downtime."
"I get to know my customers very well. I am always curious about what brought them in, the type of foods the most love to try, or their favorite beer. I want them to feel a connection with me so that they return for the experience, not just the food or drinks."
"It depends on the clientele. I develop a good sense of who enjoys having a relationship with the staff and the restaurant and who are just looking to keep to themselves. For the people who enjoy having a good relationship with us, I get to know about their jobs, kids, their interests like sports or movies. When people see that I care about them as individuals and not just as dollar signs, they tend to come back more often, and they are more generous with their gratuities too."
It's impossible to know where you will be in 5 years but do assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long-term fit for their position.
"Ideally, five years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization, perhaps as a trainer for all new serving staff. My career interests align very nicely with your company's goals which helps me to see a great long-term fit here."
"Five years from now, I would like to be managing front and back of house. I feel like I am progressing at a rate that will make this a possibility."
"In 5 years I would like to be seen as an authority in this restaurant franchise. I would like to be well-connected and trusted when it comes to my work here."
Before your interview, make sure you conduct research on the company and thoroughly review the job description for any clarification you may need on the position. Asking intelligent questions demonstrates to the interviewer your level of interest in their company, and the position. If for some reason, you are unprepared for the interview, you may need to think of questions off the top of your head. Ask questions regarding company culture, traits they are looking for in the ideal candidate, and if there is anything not listed in the job description that this position will be in charge of. Typically, pay is not discussed during first interviews, so avoid asking any compensation related questions if you are not well into the interview process.
"I have a couple of questions so thank you for asking. What type of pain points is your restaurant currently experiencing? Also, what is the last successful practice your team implemented?"
"Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the most significant change in this industry over the past three years? - Is there any reason why you would not move me to the next stage of interviews? "
"Thank you for asking! I do have a couple of questions. First, is this a newly created position or a replacement? Second, what is the timeframe you have in mind for filling this role? And lastly, is there any reason why you would not hire me for this position?"
Before your interview, make sure you have a start date in mind for the new employer. Whether you need to give two weeks to your previous position, or are unemployed and can start right away, be prepared with an affirmative answer. If you are currently working, you should always show professionalism by offering 2 weeks' notice to your current employer. No hiring manager is ever impressed when they hear 'I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!' Show that you are professional and reliable in all situations.
"I am currently unemployed and am willing to start as soon as needed."
"I would need to give a customary two weeks' notice to my current company so that they could choose if they want me to stay and transition the new manager or make it my last day."
"I would need to give my employer two weeks' notice. Due to my length of employment, it is possible that I may need to work an additional week if they were to request it of me to aid in the transition to the next manager, but I am available immediately following. Can you clarify your timeline for me?"
When responding to this question, make sure you answer honestly about your gaps of employment, whether your gaps are due to staying home with the kids, an illness, taking care of an ailing parent, or taking some time off to think about a career change.
"The first gap in my resume was from 2007 - 2008 when I took a year off after completing University, to travel. Even though I was not working, I learned so much about business and interpersonal communication during that year of travel. After being laid off in 2012, I was without work for six months. Those are the only two gaps in my resume."
"The gap on my resume is the three months after college graduation when I traveled a bit but had a job lined up for my return. Additionally, you may see that there are 7 months between the two companies I've worked for, but that was when I left my retail sales position and worked freelance prior to starting in the restaurant industry."
"I completely understand your interest in these gaps. I took some time off when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, she is in remission. There is one other 6-month gap due to maternity leave in 2016."
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Restaurant management is the profession of managing a restaurant. Associate, bachelor, and graduate degree programs are offered in restaurant management by community colleges, junior colleges, and some universities in the United States.