21 Helpful Restaurant Manager Interview Questions

Jessica Elliott

Jessica couples her 24 years of restaurant and hospitality industry experience with meticulous research to deliver insight into technology, operations, and marketing topics. Her optimized copy helps companies engage their audience while strengthening their communication with clients, employees, and management.

Filling restaurant management roles is a tough job. Your supervisors shape your culture and impact every guest and employee. Yet, the “average tenure of a manager is four months and four days,” according to 7ShiftsTailoring your restaurant manager interview questions to bring out your applicant’s personality and skills can help you find managers that align with your culture and brand. 

Female restaurant owner interviewing male restaurant manager candidate in restaurant.

Personalize your interview questions

Before meeting your applicant, it’s essential to review their application and resume. But, what if your job candidate doesn’t have much restaurant or management experience? After all, the National Restaurant Association reports that “nine in 10 restaurant managers started in entry-level positions.” Create custom questions based on information from their resume and public social media profiles. For example:

  • Look for former positions that offer insight into various skill sets applicable to the restaurant industry.
  • Examine your job candidate’s LinkedIn profile. Check for shared connections, review their list of skills, and compare it to their restaurant application.
  • Find public social media pages and scan for any red flags, like illegal activity or inadequate responses to online comments. 

Consider the general restaurant manager competencies and responsibilities

Your restaurant manager should hold all aspects of your restaurant to the highest standards and be accountable for the health, safety, food, and service aspects. Moreover, they must demonstrate strong leadership and communication skills. This includes conflict management and problem-solving skills. According to 7Shifts, restaurant managers need seven general competencies, including: 

  1. Customer service: overseeing guest interaction, complaint resolution and providing support across in-house and digital platforms
  2. Staffing: hiring, firing, training, human resources, and employee retention
  3. Operations: conducting general maintenance, safety standards, and work processes
  4. Payroll and scheduling: budgeting and accounting for changing store volume
  5. Inventory management: keeping track of food and beverage levels, and familiarity with tech systems
  6. Finances and accounting: running reports and watching labor usage
  7. Advertising and marketing: understanding various channels and functions

All of the above competencies require an understanding of technology, a desire to learn continually, and an innovative spirit.

21 restaurant manager interview questions

Start your interview off with a light chat and introductions. This is an excellent time to establish a rapport while also assessing their communication skills. During your meeting, ask one question that tests their knowledge of your restaurant. Well-prepared applicants research your brand and have ordered from your restaurant before. So, ask a question such as:

  1. Did you check our reviews or website before ordering food from our restaurant? How was your visit?

Then, move into the formal interview by asking the most critical questions on your list first. Even though you’ll have your list to go through, it’s vital to avoid rapidly firing off questions. Listen and ask follow-up questions to get the full picture before moving on to the next question. 

Behavior-based interview questions 

Behavioral interview questions assess how your applicant acted in previous situations. If their job history is light, then you may need to get creative. Give your job candidate a chance to explain their answer. Follow up by asking what they’d do differently if the situation happened again. 

  1. Tell me about a time where the customer wasn’t right. How did you respond?
  2. Describe a situation where you felt a large amount of pressure or stress while at work. What was the cause, and how did you combat it?
  3. Share an example of how you dealt with a lack of motivation or effort for one or more team members.
  4. Have you ever hired (or fired) an employee that you regretted later?
  5. Recall a time where your inventory or cash drawers were off. What steps did you take to fix the problem?

Situational interview questions 

Situation-based restaurant manager interview questions are hypothetical. Use your restaurant in your example. If possible, point to a table or a machine while asking your question so the applicant can envision themselves in that spot. 

  1. An employee appears fine when they come into work. But mid-shift, they seem out of sorts, they look feverish, and they’re coughing. It’s a busy night, and you need them on the line. What do you do?
  2. It’s 3 pm on Friday. Your ice machine is struggling to make ice. A cook just walked out, and you can’t use your soda machines until the repair guy gets there. What actions do you take?
  3. There’s a slowdown at the restaurant. What ideas would you come up with to increase foot traffic?
  4. What would you do if you looked up and saw customers standing at the door, but your host was on their cell phone? 
  5. You’re called to a table because the guest insists their food item has gluten in it. But, your menu calls it gluten-free. What do you do?

Operational interview questions

Your managers handle your day-to-day operations. Ask questions that give you ideas about how they would run your restaurant. These are similar to situational and behavioral questions, except you’ll focus more on how they oversee and organize everything. 

  1. Have you had a great manager (or even a bad one) that you model your management style after? Tell me why you do or don’t do stuff that way.
  2. What steps would you take to implement a new training program for the front of the house staff? 
  3. When you walk through the doors to start your shift, what are the first five things you’ll do?
  4. How do you assess the appeal of a new menu item (without looking at the numbers)?
  5. How will you schedule and organize staff meetings

Skills-based interview questions

Think about the essential functions of your restaurant. Then, talk to your job applicant about their skills. Even if they are unfamiliar with certain aspects, you can still assess their motivation to learn new strengths. 

  1. What online platforms are you most familiar with? Do you look at a certain channel before choosing a new restaurant? 
  2. Have you used point of sale (POS), rewards, or mobile payment systems before? How comfortable do you feel running reports and troubleshooting issues? 
  3. Which kitchen station are you least comfortable with (frying, grilling, plating, etc.)?
  4. If a guest wants to switch out the two burger patties for two chicken breasts, how do you determine the price difference? 
  5. How do you troubleshoot a piece of equipment before calling for repair?

Use restaurant manager interview questions to your advantage

Thanks to technology, you can research your applicant before they step foot in your restaurant. But, asking the right interview questions helps you gauge the person behind the resume. After all, just having management experience doesn’t make someone a great fit for your restaurant. Before your interview ends, ask one final question: Why do you want this job? This question gives your applicant one more way to show that they’ve researched your restaurant and want to be part of your company’s future. Each new hire is an opportunity to improve your restaurant. Plus, you can mentor and train your managers with the skills needed to move into the general management (GM) position. Do your research, personalize your interview questions, and select an applicant that will grow with your company.

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