So, you’ve got your eye on a role as a Restaurant Manager, huh? That’s fantastic news! It’s a challenging but rewarding job where you’ll play a key part in ensuring the smooth operation of a restaurant, balancing the needs of the staff with the expectations of customers. Plus, the average salary isn’t too shabby either!
But, let’s not beat around the bush here, landing that job isn’t a walk in the park. It involves acing an interview where you’ll be asked some pretty tough questions. Don’t worry, though. We’re here to help you prepare!
In this article, we’re going to dive into “The MOST Common Restaurant Manager Interview Questions (And Sample Answers).” We’ve put together a list of the questions you’re most likely to face and, more importantly, some top-notch answers that will surely impress your interviewer.
So, buckle up and let’s get you ready to ace that interview!
Looking for More Questions / Answers…?
Then, let me introduce you to a fantastic resource: “Interview Success: How To Answer Restaurant Manager Questions”. Penned by the experienced career coach, Mike Jacobsen, this guide is packed full of interview tips. This 105-page guide is packed with over 100 sample answers to the most common and challenging interview questions. It goes beyond simply giving you answers – it guides you on how to structure your responses, what interviewers are seeking, and even things to avoid during interviews. Best of all, it’s available for instant download! Dive in and give yourself the competitive edge you deserve.
Restaurant Manager Interview Tips
1. Know Your Restaurant:
Before the interview, spend some time researching the restaurant. Understand their menu, customer base, and unique selling points. A deep understanding of their business operations will make your responses more specific and relevant.
2. Be Specific About Your Experience:
Generalities won’t win you the role. Speak specifically about your past experiences. Discuss situations where you’ve improved efficiency, resolved conflicts, or exceeded financial goals. Use numbers and concrete details whenever possible.
3. Show Your Leadership Style:
The interviewer will want to see evidence of your leadership skills. Discuss your management philosophy, how you motivate your team, and how you handle underperforming staff. Show you’re someone who leads with respect and positivity.
4. Emphasize Customer Service:
Exceptional customer service is crucial in the restaurant industry. Talk about your strategies for ensuring customers are always satisfied and share examples of how you’ve turned a negative customer experience into a positive one.
5. Demonstrate Financial Acumen:
A good restaurant manager must also be a good business person. Be prepared to discuss your understanding of budgeting, cost control, and ways to improve profitability.
6. Prepare for Behavioural Questions:
Interviewers often ask behavioral questions to understand how you operate in certain situations. Practice answering these by using the “STAR” method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
7. Show You’re Calm Under Pressure:
Restaurants can be high-stress environments. Show that you’re someone who stays calm under pressure and can make good decisions quickly.
8. Don’t Forget to Ask Your Own Questions:
This is often overlooked but it’s a crucial part of the interview. Asking your own questions shows you’re serious about the role. You might want to ask about the team, expectations, or the restaurant’s future plans.
How Best To Structure Restaurant Manager Interview Questions
In the context of a restaurant manager interview, using the B-STAR method can give structure to your responses and ensure you thoroughly cover all aspects of your experiences.
B – Belief:
This refers to your mindset, values, or principles in relation to the restaurant industry or management in general. For instance, you might express your belief in the importance of maintaining a positive team atmosphere to ensure excellent customer service. Or your belief might be about the critical role of effective inventory management in running a successful restaurant. This sets the tone for your understanding and approach towards your role as a restaurant manager.
S – Situation:
Here, you would paint a picture of a specific circumstance or challenge you’ve faced in your previous roles. This could be a time when the restaurant was facing financial difficulties, a major conflict among staff, or a significant issue with customer complaints. Providing context helps the interviewer understand the complexity of the situation you handled.
T – Task:
In this section, articulate your specific role or responsibility within that situation. Were you responsible for turning around the financial situation, mediating the conflict among staff, or improving the restaurant’s approach to customer complaints? This shows your proactive involvement and the responsibilities you held.
A – Activity (or action):
Detail the steps you took to address the task at hand. This could include actions like implementing a new cost-control measure, organizing team-building exercises to improve staff morale, or developing a new customer service protocol. Your actions should demonstrate your problem-solving skills and your initiative.
R – Results:
Finally, discuss the outcome of your actions. Try to quantify the results whenever possible to illustrate the impact of your actions. Did the restaurant’s financial health improve over the next quarter? Did the conflict resolution lead to a more harmonious workplace? Did customer satisfaction ratings improve? These results show your ability to make effective decisions and deliver positive outcomes.
What You Should Not Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action.
Restaurant Manager Interview Question & Answers
Tell me about yourself.See 5 more example answers to this question…
Absolutely, I’d be happy to share a bit about myself. I’m a professional restaurant manager with over 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry. My journey started as a server in a local family restaurant where I fell in love with the dynamic, fast-paced environment. Over time, I progressed into a supervisory role and then onto managing entire restaurant operations.
Throughout my career, I’ve managed a diverse array of establishments, from small local bistros to larger, high-volume restaurants. This range of experience has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of different restaurant operations and customer expectations.
My key areas of expertise include team leadership, customer service, and process improvement. I’m particularly proud of my ability to build and manage high-performing teams. I have a knack for spotting potential in employees and nurturing their skills to improve service standards.
Additionally, I’m well-versed in operational processes, from inventory management to maintaining health and safety regulations. I’ve often been tasked with streamlining these processes, and I’ve successfully reduced costs and improved efficiency at several restaurants I’ve managed.
On a personal note, I believe my greatest strength lies in my passion for the industry and my ability to remain calm and composed under pressure. I thrive in the bustling environment of a restaurant and truly enjoy the challenge of ensuring smooth operations and delivering exceptional dining experiences. I feel that these traits, combined with my experience and expertise, would make me a valuable addition to your team.
Can you describe your experience with managing staff in a restaurant setting?See 5 more example answers to this question…
Absolutely, I’d be glad to detail my experience. Over the past 12 years, I’ve had the privilege of managing teams ranging in size from 20 to over 60 employees in various restaurant settings. My roles have spanned both independent and franchise restaurants, giving me a diverse and in-depth understanding of different team dynamics and managerial requirements.
My leadership style is best described as democratic and inclusive. I firmly believe in fostering an environment where every team member feels valued, heard, and motivated. I’ve found that creating an atmosphere of respect and open communication leads to a more committed and productive team.
One of my key strategies is to invest time in individual team members, understanding their strengths, areas for improvement, and aspirations. This approach allows me to assign responsibilities in a way that plays to each individual’s strengths while also promoting their professional growth.
A specific challenge I encountered was in my previous role where we had a high turnover rate among kitchen staff. It was causing disruptions in service and negatively affecting team morale. To address this, I conducted exit interviews to understand the reasons for their departure and discovered a pattern of dissatisfaction with the lack of structured shifts and career development opportunities.
As a result, I implemented a more organized scheduling system and developed a training and mentorship program that offered clear pathways for advancement within the kitchen team. These changes led to a significant reduction in turnover and a marked improvement in team morale and productivity.
Overall, I believe my managerial experience, coupled with my leadership style and ability to resolve issues effectively, equips me to lead a team successfully in a restaurant setting.
What is your approach to handling customer complaints?See 5 more example answers to this question…
My approach to handling customer complaints revolves around empathy, active listening, and proactive problem-solving. I firmly believe that every complaint is an opportunity to improve our service and demonstrate our commitment to customer satisfaction.
When a customer raises a complaint, my first step is to listen carefully without interrupting. I acknowledge their dissatisfaction and validate their feelings, ensuring them that their concerns are taken seriously. This not only helps to deescalate the situation, but it also builds trust and demonstrates that we genuinely care about their experience.
After understanding their issue, I apologize for any inconvenience caused and then work on finding a suitable resolution. Depending on the nature of the complaint, this might involve replacing a meal, offering a discount, or providing a complimentary service on their next visit.
I always follow up on complaints after they’ve been resolved to make sure the customer is satisfied with the outcome. I also review every complaint with the team during our staff meetings, using them as learning experiences to avoid similar issues in the future.
One example that comes to mind is when a customer complained about a long wait time for their meal during a particularly busy shift. I apologized for the delay, assured them we were doing everything possible to expedite their order, and offered complimentary drinks for their inconvenience. After the meal, I checked in to make sure they were happy with their experience. This approach not only mitigated the immediate problem, but also turned a potentially negative experience into a positive one.
Can you describe a time when you improved a process or increased efficiency at a previous job?See 5 more example answers to this question…
In my previous role as an Assistant Manager at a busy city center restaurant, we were frequently grappling with a consistent problem – during peak dining hours, our service was slowing down significantly. This was leading to a rise in customer complaints and was having a negative impact on our reputation. Recognizing that this was a critical issue, I took the initiative to delve deeper into the problem to find an effective solution.
The first step was to identify the root cause. I conducted a thorough evaluation of our operations, spending time in all areas of the restaurant during different shifts. I observed how the staff interacted, how tasks were carried out, and how the communication flowed within the team. I noticed there were a few key issues contributing to the problem.
Firstly, the communication between the front of house and the kitchen was disjointed. The waitstaff were unsure about when meals were ready to be served, and sometimes the meals were cold by the time they reached the tables.
Secondly, the kitchen staff were not being informed about seating arrangements or the potential influx of large parties. This meant they were often unprepared for sudden surges in orders, leading to delays.
Having identified the problem areas, the next step was to devise a strategy for improvement. I decided to implement a two-fold solution.
Firstly, I introduced a digital ticketing system. The kitchen staff could update the status of each order in real time, and the waitstaff were immediately alerted when meals were ready. This significantly improved the timeliness of our service and ensured that meals were served hot.
Secondly, I initiated a pre-shift briefing routine. Before each shift, the host staff would brief the kitchen about the reservations for that shift, particularly highlighting any large parties or special requests. This gave the kitchen the opportunity to prep and manage their workflow more efficiently.
I also provided additional training to both the kitchen and front of house teams to ensure everyone understood the new system and their roles within it.
The impact of these changes was significant and immediate. The average table turn time dropped considerably, and the number of customer complaints related to slow service decreased. In fact, we started getting positive feedback about our improved service. Our staff also expressed that the work environment felt less stressful and more coordinated.
This experience taught me the importance of continually evaluating and improving systems and processes in the restaurant business. It also underscored the importance of clear and timely communication in a high-pressure, fast-paced work environment.
How do you handle a situation where a team member isn’t performing up to expectations?See 5 more example answers to this question…
When faced with a situation where a team member isn’t meeting the expected standards, my approach is both proactive and supportive. I strongly believe that every problem has a solution and that every team member has potential.
Let me share an example. I had a server on my team at my previous restaurant who was consistently getting complaints about slow service. Before jumping to any conclusions, I first decided to closely observe her during a few shifts to better understand the issue. I realized she was struggling with multi-tasking during busy periods, which was impacting her service speed.
The first thing I did was sit down with her for a one-on-one meeting. I’ve found that in such situations, it’s crucial to have open and respectful communication. I approached the conversation with empathy, making sure to listen as much as I spoke. I explained the concerns and asked for her perspective. She acknowledged the issue, explaining she was often overwhelmed when the restaurant got busy.
Once we had identified the problem together, we moved on to discussing potential solutions. We agreed that she would benefit from further training on how to manage her tasks more effectively during peak times. I arranged for her to spend some time shadowing a more experienced server who was particularly adept at handling the rush. I also suggested she use some strategies such as grouping tasks together and prioritizing them effectively.
We agreed to monitor her progress together and have regular check-ins to discuss any challenges and improvements. I made sure she understood that I was there to support her and that we were working towards the same goal: providing the best service to our guests.
Over the next few weeks, there was a significant improvement in her performance. The number of complaints reduced, and she expressed that she felt more confident in managing her responsibilities.
Through this experience, I learned the importance of open communication, providing constructive feedback, and offering support to team members. It reinforced my belief that when people are given the right tools and opportunities, they can improve and excel in their roles.
What systems have you used in inventory management, and what do you think works best?See 5 more example answers to this question…
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to use several different inventory management systems, both traditional manual systems and more advanced digital platforms. My experiences with each of them have shaped my understanding of effective inventory management in the restaurant industry.
Early in my career, I started with manual inventory tracking. I used spreadsheets to document, track, and manage our inventory. While this method gave me a hands-on approach and a strong foundation in inventory management, it was time-consuming and prone to human error.
Then, at my last job, we used a digital inventory management system called Restaurant365. This cloud-based software automated much of the inventory tracking and integrated with our point of sale system. This real-time integration meant that every time a dish was sold, the ingredients were automatically deducted from our inventory. This automation significantly reduced the time spent on inventory management and also increased accuracy.
But the part of Restaurant365 that I found to be the most beneficial was its predictive ordering feature. By analyzing our sales trends, it was able to predict our inventory needs for upcoming weeks. This helped us manage our stock more efficiently, leading to cost savings and reduced waste.
However, no system can completely replace the human touch. Regular physical checks are essential to account for any discrepancies, spoilages, or thefts that the digital system might miss. It’s also necessary to have a good understanding of your menu and customer preferences to make adjustments as needed.
How do you ensure food safety standards are maintained in your restaurant?See 5 more example answers to this question…
Ensuring food safety standards is non-negotiable in any restaurant operation and I take this responsibility very seriously. At the heart of it is a culture of food safety that needs to be established and nurtured.
In my previous role as a restaurant manager, I started by ensuring that everyone on the team, from the kitchen staff to the servers, understood the importance of food safety and their individual roles in maintaining it. We regularly held training sessions covering topics from proper food handling and storage to hygiene standards. This helped create a shared sense of responsibility and vigilance.
We also had strict standard operating procedures in place. For example, we practiced the FIFO (First In, First Out) method to manage our inventory and prevent the use of expired ingredients. We maintained separate cutting boards and utensils for different types of food to prevent cross-contamination.
Temperature control was another area we focused on. Cold storage units were monitored for correct temperature settings and cooking temperatures were always double-checked for every dish.
In terms of cleanliness, we had a detailed cleaning schedule that outlined what needs to be cleaned, how often, and by whom. This included everything from kitchen equipment to the storage area and restrooms.
Another key part of maintaining food safety was regular audits. We conducted weekly inspections to ensure all food safety practices were being adhered to, and any issues found were immediately rectified.
Finally, we maintained close relationships with our suppliers, ensuring that they also followed food safety standards. This was crucial because food safety starts from the source. We only worked with trusted suppliers who were as committed to food safety as we were.
This systematic and team-based approach has always served me well in ensuring food safety standards in my restaurants.
Can you tell me about a time you faced a major challenge at work and how you dealt with it?See 5 more example answers to this question…
Certainly, I’d be happy to share an example. A few years back, while I was the assistant manager at a mid-sized restaurant, we faced a significant challenge. Our executive chef had to unexpectedly take a leave of absence due to a family emergency, leaving us without our key culinary leader during a peak holiday season.
My initial concern was two-fold: ensuring that we maintained the high standard of our food and services, and making sure the kitchen staff didn’t feel overwhelmed or directionless. My first step was to sit down with the sous chefs and other senior kitchen staff. We brainstormed a course of action together, working out who would be responsible for which tasks, including planning, ordering, and overseeing the various line cooks. We also divided the chef’s administrative duties among the front-of-house management team, including myself.
Next, I scheduled a meeting with the entire restaurant staff to communicate the situation. Transparency was key here – I wanted everyone to understand the situation and know the steps we were taking to deal with it. We also encouraged our staff to step up and assured them we were confident in their abilities. We also set up a temporary feedback system where everyone in the kitchen could voice any issues or concerns directly to the management team.
The next few weeks were tough, I won’t lie. We all had to take on extra duties and work longer hours. However, because we’d been proactive and organized in our response, and because we’d communicated so openly with our staff, we managed to not only maintain our standards, but also pulled together as a team.
In the end, the executive chef was greatly appreciative of our efforts when he returned, and the experience brought the entire team closer together. I learned a great deal about crisis management, communication, and leadership during that time – lessons that I’ve since applied in every management role I’ve held.
How would you handle a conflict between two staff members?See 5 more example answers to this question…
In my role as a restaurant manager, maintaining a harmonious work environment is of utmost importance. I’ve always approached conflicts between staff members with the same principles: neutrality, understanding, and respect.
In a situation where two staff members are in conflict, my first step is to observe the situation, if possible, to gain an objective understanding of the issue at hand.
Next, I would conduct individual meetings with each staff member involved. During these meetings, I ensure that each person has an opportunity to speak and share their perspective in a safe and confidential environment. I listen carefully and empathize with their feelings, while also reminding them of the importance of maintaining professionalism at work.
Once I have heard both sides, I call for a joint meeting. I moderate this discussion, creating a safe space where each party can express their grievances and thoughts to each other. It’s important for them to hear each other out, and often, this step helps in understanding and resolving the issue.
In these meetings, we work collaboratively to come up with solutions that everyone can agree on. I make sure to reinforce the importance of mutual respect, cooperation, and communication for the betterment of our working environment.
Lastly, I follow up with the individuals after a few days to check if the agreed-upon solutions are working and to ensure that there’s been a genuine improvement in the situation.
This approach was particularly effective when I was working at a high-end restaurant downtown, where two kitchen staff members had a conflict over differing working styles. By using this method, I was able to help them find common ground and improve their relationship, which ultimately led to a more harmonious and efficient kitchen.
How would you deal with a situation if the restaurant received several negative reviews online?See 5 more example answers to this question…
Firstly, I’d like to clarify that negative reviews, though initially disheartening, are in fact opportunities for us to grow and improve. In my previous roles, I’ve learnt the importance of handling such situations strategically and professionally.
Upon spotting a trend in negative reviews, my first action would be to undertake a thorough internal review. This would involve identifying if the issue is isolated to a specific time frame, a particular team, or maybe a certain dish. I would engage with staff, discussing the feedback in a constructive manner, and aim to identify any internal factors that may be contributing to the customer dissatisfaction. This step is crucial as it helps us identify the root cause, so that we can take corrective actions.
Once we understand the issue internally, I believe in reaching out to the customers who left the reviews. Transparency and communication are key. I’d personally respond to the negative reviews online, thanking the reviewers for their feedback, acknowledging their concerns and informing them about the steps we’re taking to rectify the problem. If possible, I’d also invite them back to our restaurant to experience the improvements firsthand.
Simultaneously, I’d conduct training sessions for the staff where necessary, or revamp parts of our service or menu based on the feedback received. What matters is showing our customers that their feedback is valued and that we’re committed to enhancing their experience at our restaurant.
Lastly, I’d monitor subsequent reviews closely, to confirm if the changes made are positively affecting the customer experience. All these steps are geared towards turning the negative into a positive, and rebuilding trust with our customers, demonstrating that we take their concerns seriously and are constantly striving to provide them with the best dining experience.
Describe your management style.See 5 more example answers to this question…
Over the years in this industry, I’ve come to appreciate the power of a collaborative and communicative management style. I firmly believe that a good leader is one who creates an environment where every team member feels heard, valued, and motivated to give their best.
To this end, I make it a priority to foster open communication channels in our team. Regular team meetings are a must, but I also make sure to be available and approachable for any individual concerns or ideas. I’ve found that when staff members feel that their opinions matter, they’re more engaged and invested in their work.
I’m also a firm believer in leading by example. Whether it’s adhering to the highest standards of customer service or pitching in during a busy service, I believe my actions set the tone for the rest of the team. It’s important to me that my team knows I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself.
I also place great emphasis on continuous learning and development. In the dynamic environment of a restaurant, there’s always something new to learn, be it a new culinary trend or a more efficient way of doing things. I frequently organize training sessions and encourage my team to pursue any learning opportunities that arise.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of my management style is reflected in the strong, cohesive teams I’ve built, and the high levels of customer satisfaction we’ve achieved in the restaurants I’ve managed. I adapt my approach as necessary, always with the goal of creating a harmonious, high-performing team and an exceptional dining experience for our customers.