Restaurant Manager Interview Questions & Answers

The role of a restaurant manager is both multifaceted and instrumental in the hospitality industry. They are responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of the restaurant, delivering exceptional customer service, managing the staff, supervising inventory, and coordinating overall restaurant operations. As they play a crucial role in upholding the restaurant's reputation, the position is both challenging and rewarding. This role requires a blend of leadership, customer service, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.

Given the role's importance, the interview process for a restaurant manager is designed to assess a broad range of skills and competencies. This article provides guidance on job-specific interview tips, how to structure your answers effectively using the B-STAR method, and some guidelines on what to avoid during the interview.

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Restaurant Manager Interview Tips

Understand the Restaurant's Brand

One key aspect of acing an interview for a restaurant manager role is having a deep understanding of the restaurant's brand. Every restaurant has a unique culture, mission, and set of values that drive its operations. To impress the interviewers, ensure you do your homework on these aspects. Research their brand, understand their customer base, look at reviews and see how you can align your skill set to their requirements.

Showcase Relevant Skills

When answering questions during the interview, remember to highlight the skills and experiences that make you an ideal fit for the role. These may include leadership abilities, problem-solving skills, exceptional customer service, team management, and any other relevant experiences you have garnered in the past.

Be Prepared for Behavioral Questions

In a role that often requires swift decision-making and problem-solving, restaurant managers can face a multitude of challenging situations. As such, interviewers will want to gauge how you react to these situations. Expect behavioral questions that ask you to delve into specific instances where you displayed decision-making and problem-solving skills.

Ask Insightful Questions

Use your interview as an opportunity not just to provide information about yourself, but also to gain further insights about the role and the restaurant. Ask thoughtful, well-researched questions to show your genuine interest in the role and to gain a better understanding of whether the job aligns with your career goals.

Follow Up After the Interview

A simple act, like sending a follow-up note thanking the interviewer for their time, can keep you top of mind and showcase your commitment and interest in the role. It's a small gesture that can make a big impact.

Structuring Your Answers: The B-STAR Method

When providing answers during your interview, you can use the B-STAR method to ensure your responses are organized, detailed, and impactful. Here's how this method works:

  1. Belief: Start your answer by stating your guiding belief or principle relevant to the situation. This could relate to customer service, leadership, teamwork, or any other pertinent aspect.

  2. Situation: Next, provide context by describing the situation you found yourself in. Make sure you use a specific example from your past work experience.

  3. Task: Elucidate on what your responsibilities were in that situation.

  4. Action: Provide details about the steps you took to deal with the task. Include specifics about your actions, how you implemented them, and any key decisions you made.

  5. Result: Conclude your answer with the outcomes of your actions. Discuss what you achieved, what you learned, or how the situation improved because of your actions.

What Not to Do in the Interview

Don’t Be Unprepared

It is imperative to show that you have done your homework about the restaurant, its culture, and its offerings. This not only shows your interest but also that you have taken the initiative to learn about the company.

Avoid Negative Comments About Past Employers

Negative comments about your past employers can reflect poorly on your character, showing you as a potentially difficult employee. Always maintain a professional attitude when discussing past experiences.

Don’t Underestimate Soft Skills

While technical skills are undeniably crucial, soft skills such as communication, leadership, and customer service are just as important in a restaurant manager's role. Make sure to demonstrate your proficiency in these areas during your interview.

Restaurant Manager Interview Questions & Answers

What strategies do you use to manage stress and ensure it doesn't affect your work or your team?

Managing stress is all about adaptability and perspective for me. In the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant, things will go wrong and stress will happen. However, it's my belief that it's not about avoiding stress, but how you react to it, that defines a good manager.

One of the strategies I employ is maintaining a calm demeanor no matter what. It's important to me that my team sees me as a steady hand at the helm, someone who won't buckle under pressure. By keeping my cool, I am better able to think clearly, make smart decisions, and provide the support that my team needs.

Additionally, I encourage open and transparent communication within the team. If someone is feeling overwhelmed or is struggling with something, I want them to feel comfortable coming to me. Together, we can work out a solution or find ways to distribute the workload more evenly.

Finally, at the end of the day, I like to unwind with some form of physical activity, be it a run or a yoga session. This allows me to destress, clear my mind, and come back the next day refreshed and ready to face whatever comes my way.

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Tell me about a time when you had to handle a crisis or emergency situation in the workplace.

I had an experience that taught me a great deal about crisis management. During my tenure as a manager at a high-volume seafood restaurant, we had a severe food poisoning incident. It was a situation that required immediate action and extreme delicacy.

After the first few calls from customers reporting illness, I immediately suspected a connection to our restaurant. I spoke with each affected customer personally, expressing our concern for their wellbeing, and asked specific questions to pinpoint the source of the issue.

While gathering this information, I simultaneously alerted the health department to make them aware of the situation and our actions to rectify it. They were appreciative of our proactiveness and provided guidance to further assist our investigations.

I brought together my kitchen team to review our food safety protocols and trace back our steps. We found that a batch of clams that we'd used for that day's special was the common factor in the meals of those affected. We immediately disposed of all remaining stock.

Once the issue was identified and contained, I connected back with the affected customers. We took full responsibility, offered to cover any medical costs incurred due to the illness, and provided generous compensation for their unfortunate experience.

We used this experience to enforce stricter food safety training for our staff and revised our food supplier vetting process. The incident was a difficult period, but it was crucial in shaping our team's approach to food safety, which we've upheld with the highest priority ever since.

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What role does customer service play in a successful restaurant, in your opinion?

From my experience, customer service is the soul of a successful restaurant. It's the invisible thread that connects everything we do – from sourcing ingredients and creating menus to serving the food and interacting with our guests.

In my previous role, I prioritized creating an environment where everyone - from chefs to waitstaff - understood that they were part of the customer service experience. This meant that the chefs were aware that the care they put into preparing each dish could make someone's day. Likewise, the waitstaff understood that their warmth and attentiveness could turn a meal into a memorable experience.

We also invested a lot of effort into training and development. Every new team member underwent a rigorous training process where they learned not just about our menu, but also about our philosophy of customer service. And this learning was not a one-time event; we had regular workshops and role-playing sessions to keep these skills sharp.

In a nutshell, I believe a successful restaurant doesn't just serve good food – it crafts experiences. And the cornerstone of these experiences is exceptional customer service.

See 4 more answers to this question plus over 100 answers to all of the MOST common restaurant manager interview questions

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At Interview Detectives, we are led by Mike Jacobsen, a highly experienced recruitment consultant with nearly 30 years of professional expertise. With a deep understanding of the hiring landscape, Mike brings invaluable insights and knowledge to our platform. His extensive background in recruitment enables us to provide you with tailored interview guides and application tips that align with current industry trends. With Interview Detectives, you gain access to proven strategies and techniques to enhance your job application success. Trust in Mike's wealth of experience and embark on your journey towards career triumph.

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