Not surprisingly, 60% of food service guests that have a positive experience make plans to dine at the establishment more frequently. Crafting a memorable dining experience is every restaurant owners goal. And one role that can make an oversized difference in client experience is a restaurant manager. From managing employees to overseeing the quality of dishes, an experience manager can impact the operations of all aspects of a restaurant for better or worse.   

To choose the right manager for a restaurant, you’ll need to sit across from applicants for an interview and figure out what makes them tick. What are their passions? What drives them? The interview process should bring out an applicants personality, spot light strengths and weaknesses, and provide a window into what it will be like to work with the talent. 

Challenge restaurant applicants with challenging questions that force them to think outside of the box. Here are some example questions and responses to gain insights throughout the entire interview process. 

Interview Questions for Restaurant Managers

Nervous about your next interview? Here are some of our carefully curated interview questions for restaurant managers to help you prepare. 

  • How will you describe your restaurant management experience?
  • How do you delegate tasks to your team? 
  • Describe your leadership skills in one word and why. 
  • How often do you think should the menu be reviewed and changed? Why? 
  • Give me an example of a tough decision you had to make and how you handled it. 
  • Between excellence and proactiveness, which is more important? 
  • If you could name 1 positive impact that you contributed to your previous company, what is it, and why?
  • How would you describe your work ethic?
  • Hypothetically, some of your staff are having disagreements. How will you handle them?

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  • If you could describe the team dynamic of the previous team you’ve handled, how would you describe it?
  • Do you believe in the saying that the customer is always right? Why?
  • How do you foster teamwork and openness to correction with your subordinates? 
  • What is the first thing you do to resolve an operations issue, and why is it important?
  • Have you recruited amazing employees on your team? If so, how did you do it?
  • Upon looking at this restaurant, what are the things that we need to improve on, and how would you do it if by chance that we pick you as our manager?
  • Have you dined with us before? If yes, what can you say about our current customer service?
  • How would you describe our rival restaurant?
  • If you could name 3 challenging aspects of being a restaurant manager, what would it be and why?
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond to satisfy a customer. 
  • When was the last time you fired someone, and why did you fire them?

Interview Questions for Assistant Restaurant Managers

Food development in the restaurant with the assistant manager.

Have an opening for an assistant restaurant manager? Here are some appropriate questions to ask applicants. 

  • If you could rate your work dynamic with your previous restaurant manager from 1-10, what number would it be and why?
  • What is the hardest part about being an assistant manager?
  • Why would you want to apply as an assistant restaurant manager when you can directly apply as the restaurant manager itself?
  • If you knew your manager was wrong about a particular decision, what would you do and why?
  • How did you handle in-team fights?
  • If you could describe an ideal restaurant manager, how would you?
  • How did you provide negative feedback to your team before? 
  • Do you think assistant restaurant managers are important even if there is already a restaurant manager? If so, why?
  • What will you do to create a good work dynamic with the restaurant manager?
  • How will you help the restaurant manager in resolving administrative mishaps?
  • How will you describe being an assistant restaurant manager?
  • How will you handle disagreements with the current restaurant manager?
  • What do you think is your role in making this restaurant prosper?
  • Hypothetically, If you happen to make a mistake without the manager knowing, what will be your next move?
  • If you could rate your organizational skill from 1-10, what number would it be and why?
  • Hypothetically, a customer is unsatisfied and rude, how will you handle it?

Restaurant Manager Assessment Test Questions

Training the chef with the best-seller food procedures.

These restaurant manager assessment test questions will prepare you for the real deal. The questions explore strengths, skills, qualities, and expertise for a restaurant manager position. You could also use an online form to collect responses to the questions. 

  • How well do you know your immediate subordinates?
  • How important are interaction and teamwork in this industry?
  • How will you stay up-to-date and give quality revenue, inventory, and payroll reports?
  • How do you take feedback and improve? 
  • As a manager representing the team, do you think it is just to take accountability if your team performs poorly? 
  • How do you reward your subordinates for a job well done?
  • What will you do to make the team deliver their best service performance?
  • Do you know how to access the quality of service?
  • How will you ensure the cleanliness of the restaurant is met at all times? 
  • Hypothetically, the rude customer kept shouting at your team member even after he tried to resolve the issue, and the restaurant staff couldn’t hold back, so he started to raise his voice. Do you think the staff is wrong, and how will you talk to him as a manager? 
  • How do you cultivate the habit of teamwork among the staff?
  • How do you encourage the creative insight of the staff?
  • How will you plan for VIP customer service?

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  • What will you do to improve the service performance of the restaurant’s staff?
  • In a situation where customers are trying to cause a commotion inside the establishment, how will you deal with this?
  • What are the qualities needed to be a restaurant manager?
  • In what ways can a restaurant deliver a great restaurant experience?
  • How will you be able to analyze a situation to determine the underlying cause of the problem and provide the right solution?
  • Can you identify the issues with the available data to bring out improvements?
  • How do you prepare for a health and sanitary inspection?
  • How will you apply and monitor quality management regulations?
  • Describe the restaurant’s biggest challenges to face in the next 3 years.
  • What will be your focus in the next 3 months?
  • What does success look like after a year in this role?
  • How would you describe our key competitors?
  • How will you raise a concern or request to the top management? 

Interview Questions for Cafe Managers

Cafe manager trains the staff on how to take customer orders.

Managing a busy cafe is a challenging role for any applicant to take on. Aspiring job applicants must present their management, leadership, communication, energy and organizational skills. Here are some questions that will to help uncover these vital skills.

  • How well do you interact with the staff?
  • What is the most effective marketing strategy to grow your sales nowadays? 
  • State the first factor a customer looks for in a cafe and how you will improve our cafe in that area. 
  • What are the most important and challenging aspects of being a cafe manager?
  • If an item on the menu is not selling well. How will you plan to market the menu?
  • How will you handle and resolve a conflict with a guest and an employee at work?
  • Can you go above and beyond a customer’s expectations?
  • Are you familiar with health and safety regulations for customers and employees?
  • What creative insights will you share to put the cafe at the top of the list in customer preferences?
  • How will you ensure that cleanliness, customer service, and product quality are met at all times?
  • How often should do you think the cafe should release new drinks or food items? Why? 
  • How will you plan and prepare menus for every season or holiday?
  • In choosing the ingredients, how do you balance the cost and quality?
  • How will you handle complaints from customers concerning the service?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of a cafe manager?
  • Why is it necessary to have time management skills?
  • What effective work habits will you implement?
  • How would you motivate other workers in the cafe?

Interview Questions and Answers

Restaurant team huddle before the operations.

Hiring managers are particular about the values that you reflect in your answers when you respond to their questions. This list will help you prepare for that interview. 

What strategies do you employ as a manager to lower restaurant operational expenses?

Working as a restaurant manager for nearly half a decade, I have appreciated how working with local farmers could significantly reduce the costs of our expenses without compromising the quality of our food. I establish a partnership with them and designed menus every quarter with their seasonal produce.

We also use inventory management software to keep track of our supplies and to decrease food waste as much as possible. Of course, taking care of our employees is a big help in solving this problem. By creating a schedule that maximizes their time without overworking them and cultivating a healthy environment without slowing their progress, we can reduce payroll costs and avoid employee turnover, too.

Intent of Question: Hiring managers want to understand how you might approach managing this restaurant.

How would you approach your chef as a restaurant manager about a menu item that isn’t selling well?

Framing the conversation as an exciting opportunity to diversify our menu is one way to approach this matter. Though some chefs will not deny that some of the dishes are not selling well, I understand that few will disagree with me, but by being empathetic and cooperative, I believe we could work together to curate the best menu for our loyal customers.

Intent of Question: Hiring managers want to know your thought-process behind handling communication challenges in a restaurant.

Hypothetically, your employees are encountering shifts that either demand more of their service or does not make them productive at all. How would you keep them motivated?

I show up not only on slow, boring days but also on the most difficult times. I motivate them by setting an example out of myself to inspire them to do their best on busy days and to find ways to be productive in a slow-paced period.

Intent of Question: Restauranteurs want to know how you will handle this common staff problem in their eatery.

Here’s a scenario: A customer walks in, looks at your menu then asks your employee whether it is possible to customize their orders to become vegan or gluten-free. How would you accommodate them? 

When I meet with our chefs, I make sure that our options for special diets are available, regardless of how often they visit our restaurant. We prepare substitutions for meals that can be converted to vegan or gluten-free. We make notes of food that does not contain any allergen. Once someone comes up to us asking for these menu items, we patiently walk them through the lists until they find one that satisfies them.

Intent of Question: The intent of this question is to understand how well you think on your feet.

Tell me about a time you had to fire or discipline a server who violated the restaurant’s policies.

It was an emotionally difficult moment for me as a manager who has grown to love every server that works in our restaurant but I had to sit down with them to explain how their undesirable performance affected the team.

They had a couple of misunderstandings with the customers, and they were risking the reputation of the restaurant.  I gave them a warning as their second chance, but when they showed no progress, I had to fire them immediately.

Intent of Question: This question provides insight on staff conflicts and identify if the applicant has ever had to fire someone before.

Tips for Conducting An Interview

Job aspirants for the restaurant manager role.

You only have a limited amount of time to conduct an interview for a manager. It’s not uncommon for the interview to last 60 minutes. Here are ways to take advantage of this time.

  • Use Your Time Wisely.  Give your interviewees 30 seconds to 4 minutes to answer a question, depending on its complexity. They should be able to respond concisely and show who they are and what they are capable of in that limited amount of time. Not only will this tip help you save time, but it will also let you know how they communicate… An essential soft skill for a restaurant manager.  
  • Focus On The Personality.  Get to know the basics of your applicants by reviewing their resume or curriculum vitae before they come inside the interview room. Start the interview with small talk to make the applicant feel comfortable. After that, ask questions that will bring out their personality in the workplace to see if their ideas match your vision.

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  • Ask Follow-Up Questions. Ask 1-2 questions after your initial question to see the sincerity of their response and the depth of their experience. Pay attention to their thoughts and body language. If they show how professional they can be while being humble enough to express their eagerness to contribute to your company this is a good sign.
  • Ask Situational Questions.  Interviewees cannot be thoroughly prepared for situational questions but should have enough experience to answer them confidently. Situational questions give you a glimpse of how they would behave or react when they are faced with an instance where they have to apply their managerial skills. They will have to think critically and respond to you spontaneously. Take note of how they think when they go off-script. That should help you decide whether they have what it takes to handle the role. 

According to National Restaurant Association Releases, the food service industry in the United States is expected to grow to $898 billion in sales in 2022. Indeed, this is an industry with a buffet of opportunities assuming you can find the right management to capitalize on the situation. Have you determined the list of questions you plan to ask? I hope you did.