How to prepare for a restaurant job interview


Acing a restaurant interview is all about preparation. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out in the industry, knowing what to expect and how to present yourself can make all the difference. 

We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to impress your interviewer and land that dream job, from what to wear to how to answer those tricky questions.

Quick Links
The Dress code
How long does a restaurant interview last?
Common questions
What should I ask the interviewer?

What should I wear to a restaurant interview?

First impressions are everything, and your interview outfit is the first thing your potential employer will notice about you. The goal is to look polished and professional without going overboard.

For most restaurant gigs, business casual is the way to go. Think a nice button-down shirt or blouse, paired with dress pants or a skirt. Make sure everything is clean and wrinkle-free – no one wants to hire a server with a stained shirt or a chef with a rumpled jacket.

If you’re interviewing for a more upscale spot, you might want to take it up a notch with a suit or a tailored dress. But no matter what, avoid anything too flashy or revealing. You want your interviewer to focus on your skills and experience. Not your outfit.

And don’t forget the little things. For instance, make sure your shoes are polished, your nails are clean, and your hair is neat. A put-together appearance shows that you’re serious about the job and ready to be a pro.

More information:

Get the lowdown on restaurant terminology and show the interviewer that you’re in the know

How long does a restaurant interview last?

The length of your restaurant interview can vary depending on the position you’re going for and the style of the person interviewing you. But in general, you can expect it to last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

If you’re applying for an entry-level job like a server or host, your interview will probably be on the shorter side – think 20 to 30 minutes. They’ll want to know about your experience, your availability and how you handle customer service situations.

But if you’re going for a restaurant manager role or a specialised position like a sommelier or executive chef, be prepared to sit tight for a bit longer. These interviews can last up to an hour or more, and may even involve multiple rounds. They’ll want to dig deeper into your background, your leadership skills and your industry know-how.

No matter what, it’s always a good idea to block off more time than you think you’ll need. You never know if the interviewer will be running late or if they’ll have extra questions for you. Plus, showing up early shows that you’re punctual and respectful of their time.

If you’re not sure how long to expect your interview to last, don’t be afraid to ask when you’re scheduling it. That way, you can plan accordingly and make sure you’re not rushing out the door to your next appointment.


What are some of the common questions I can expect during a restaurant interview?

When it comes to restaurant interviews, there are a few questions that seem to pop up time and time again. Knowing what to expect can help you prep some answers ahead of time and walk in feeling confident and ready to impress. Here are some of the most common questions restaurant interviews typically ask:

Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?

The interviewer wants to know what drew you to the restaurant business in the first place. Maybe you’ve always had a passion for food, or you thrive in a fast-paced environment. Whatever your reasons, be honest and let your enthusiasm shine through.

Can you tell me about your previous restaurant experience?

Be ready to dish on your restaurant resume. Talk about the specific roles you’ve held, the skills you’ve picked up along the way and any standout moments or accomplishments. If you’re new to the industry, focus on transferable skills like customer service or teamwork.

How would you handle a difficult customer?

Dealing with tough customers is part of the job in the restaurant world. Your interviewer wants to know that you can keep your cool under pressure. Share an example of a time when you turned a negative situation into a positive one, and emphasise your communication and problem-solving skills.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This is your chance to highlight what makes you a great fit for the role. Focus on strengths that are relevant to the job, like your attention to detail or your knack for upselling. When it comes to weaknesses, be honest but frame them as areas where you’re actively working to improve.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Restaurants want to hire people who are in it for the long haul. Talk about your career goals and how this position fits into your long-term plan. Show that you’re committed to growing and learning within the company.

Remember that every interviewer is different, so be prepared for some curveballs, too. The goal is to stay positive, be yourself and let your passion for the industry come through in every answer.

What questions should I ask the interviewer?

Acing a restaurant interview isn’t just about answering questions – it’s also about asking them. Coming prepared with a few thoughtful questions shows that you’re engaged, interested and serious about the role. Plus, it gives you a chance to learn more about the restaurant and decide if it’s the right fit for you.

Not sure what to ask? Here are a few questions that will impress your interviewer and give you valuable insight into the job:

  • What does a typical day look like in this role? This question shows that you’re thinking about the day-to-day realities of the job and want to know what to expect.
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the restaurant right now? Asking about challenges shows that you’re not afraid to tackle tough issues and want to be part of the solution.
  • What are the opportunities for growth and advancement within the company? There’s nothing wrong with asking about the potential for growth. Plus, it demonstrates that you’re thinking long-term and want to build a career with the restaurant.
  • Can you tell me more about the team I’d be working with? Asking about the team shows that you value collaboration and want to be part of a positive work environment.
  • What do you love most about working here? Use this question as a chance to connect with your interviewer on a personal level and get a sense of what makes the restaurant special.

The interview is a two-way street. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the conversation and not just at the end. If there’s something you really want to know but it doesn’t come up naturally, feel free to bring it up yourself. 

The more you learn about the restaurant and the role, the better equipped you’ll be to make a decision if an offer comes your way.

Summary: restaurant interviews

Landing a restaurant job is all about showing up prepared and confident. By dressing the part, practising your answers, and asking thoughtful questions, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition.

The interview is your chance to showcase your skills and passion for the industry. With a little prep work, you’ll be ready to impress the interviewer and take the next step in your restaurant career.