The food service industry is an essential sector for employment in the United States. In fact, there are 14.9 million food service workers doing their best to make each dining experience satisfying and memorable. As the food service industry reaches $898 billion in sales in 2022, there are 400,000 job opportunities awaiting workers. 

Do you have an interview scheduled at a restaurant, school, or hospital? I highlight some of the toughest questions you’ll encounter. Take some time to research and practice your responses to these questions so you feel confident walking into the interview.

Food Service Interview Questions

Ever thought about applying for a role in the food service industry and nervous about facing the interview? Worry no more as we curated one of the toughest food service worker interview questions.

  • Are you familiar with the terms “Kosher” and “Halaal”? What do they mean?
  • Hypothetically, If you’ll be faced with a crisis during peak hours, what will you do to stay calm?
  • How will you ensure food safety amongst customers with severe food allergies?
  • How would you handle unsatisfied guests if they are rude?
  • What do you know about food service safety practices?
  • What makes you better than all of the other applicants applying in this field?
  •  How will you differentiate a vegan from a vegetarian person?
  • If you can name 1 (one) skill that you think is an asset as a food service employee, what will it be?
  • What will you do if you’re responsible for a food error that caused food poisoning?
  • How will you create a memorable dining experience for customers with physical disabilities? 
  • Enumerate the extra steps you would take to offer our specials.
  • In this time of the pandemic, what extra steps will you do to sanitize your workplace and avoid contaminations?
  • How would you fulfill a guest’s special request? Enumerate.
  • What will you do if hypothetically, there is possible food contamination?
  • What is your greatest achievement in the field of food service?
  • What is by far the most terrible error you have committed in this field?
  • How much is your expected salary for being a food service employee?
  • Name something that made you consider making the food service industry your career of choice.
  • How would you describe the food service industry?
  • If your friend could identify one remarkable trait about your personality, what would it be and why?

Hospital Food Service Worker Questions

Hospital food service staff bringing the patient dinner.

Do you have an interview scheduled for a food service role in a hospital? Here are some specialized questions you’ll need to prepare for. 

  • How will you ensure that the menu being served is based on the patient’s primary clinical needs?
  • How will you deal with serving hot-headed patients?
  • What do you know about hospital diets?
  • What motivates you in this line of food service criteria?
  • Are you detail oriented when it comes to serving patients?
  • Hypothetically, the patient has requested a meal that he/she cannot eat based on his/her diet, how will you handle him/her?
  • What would you do if you caught your colleague testing the foods without proper sanitation?
  • Can you handle the stress and pressure of being in this industry?
  • Can you name one of your weaknesses in applying to the Hospital Food Service?
  •  What are you willing to do to improve your skills in working in this industry?
  • Tell me about your most embarrassing error and the most terrifying error you have committed in this field.

You Might Like: 103+ Difficult Coffee Shop Manager Interview Questions and Answers 

  • How do you imagine a typical day of work in the hospital food service industry?
  • What is your definition of success as a hospital food service employee?
  • What skills do you believe a good hospital food service employee should possess?
  • How would your ex-employer describe you?
  • If you can name one great strength that you possess, how can this strength help you in terms of being the best hospital food service employee?
  • What is your edge over all of the other seasoned applicants?
  • Why do you want to work as a Hospital Food Service provider?
  • What is your desired salary as a Hospital Food Service employee?
  • What would you like to accomplish after the end of your career as a hospital food service employee?
  • If you could describe the position of being a hospital food service employee, how would you describe it?

School Service Worker Interview Questions

Serving elementary students with big smiles.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions for a school service worker.

  • Why do you think the job is a fit for you?
  • Do you like high school aged students?
  • How will you cater to the student’s dietary needs?
  • Why do you want to work in a school service staff?
  • How will you manage your emotions in dealing with students?
  • What is the favorite thing you like about your job?
  • How will you deal with a child’s tantrums?
  • What motivates you to serve in this school?

You Might Like: 115+ Performance Review Phrases for Personal Integrity (Positive & Negative)

  • Can you describe a situation where you helped in the kitchen?
  • Can you describe a situation when you operate and handle food funds directly?
  • What are your usual methods of cleaning and sterilizing utensils, plates, and other food equipment?
  • How will you handle a situation wherein a student will have an allergic reaction?
  • Tell us about your previous experience in working as a school service worker.
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Tell us about a situation where you will store foods in the refrigerator and pantry. 
  • How will you ensure that the children will get food poisoning?
  • Describe your edge on why we should hire you.
  • How will you handle the peak hours in serving food?
  • Between preparing and serving food, which one do you prefer? Why?
  • What is your experience with handling buffets for students?
  • What qualities should a school service worker have? 

Sample Answers To Common Questions

Have you thought of answering some of the common questions? Here are some ways you can formulate your answer along with background about the intent of the question. 

If you happen to serve a table with multiple customers, how would you remember a long list of orders?

Thank you for your question. Memorizing can be a challenge, especially if I am working under pressure during the busy hours but with the help of some strategies I’ve learned as a student, I believe I can still handle this task. The easiest way I would to do it is to simply take notes. I would assign a code for each dish and write them down instead of putting the entire name on the list.

This helps not only to save time but also to really remember them because they will be key to my second strategy which is using mnemonics. Mnemonics help me recall information easily. By saying the first syllables or the acronyms of the dishes, I will be able to take note of their orders. To make me more confident, I would reiterate their orders to see whether they will raise clarifications or not.

Intent of question: Hiring managers are trying to understand how you’ll ensure an order is taken correctly.

How do you respond to feedback or constructive criticism?

When I worked as a receptionist at a local restaurant, I have received a fair number of constructive criticism from my superiors and feedback—both positive and negative—from the customers. My initial thought was acknowledging that at some point in my career there will always be somebody who will not be pleased with my performance no matter how hard I work to give my best. Instead of seeing my flaws as a work of failure, I take them as a room for growth.

I see constructive criticism as a sign that I can still progress in life and so, whenever I receive it, I would listen with an open mind and apply whatever I can to improve myself. I do not let my emotions dictate how I will respond to criticism, especially if they do not produce fruitful results at the end of the day.

Intent of question: Hiring managers want to hear that you are accepting of criticism and don’t take it personally. They also want to see that you’ll make adjustments to feedback from managers.

What is your greatest accomplishment in the food service industry?

While working as a waiter, I encountered a customer who was too nervous to raise her hand to call someone. She would just look around, see if anyone would meet her eyes, and take her order. As soon as I took the order from my customer to the kitchen, I went to her and approached her with a gentle smile. She stuttered while trying to figure out what she wanted on the menu but I didn’t mind.

I helped her with choices and explained every dish she points at. She was getting comfortable enough to tell me what she wants so as soon as she told me her order, I patiently wrote them down. I served her the entire night and as time went by, she felt more welcome in the restaurant. From then on, she would come back to us every day—sometimes with friends, most of the time alone—and anticipate the comfort that our food and service offers to her. 

Intent of question: Feel free to brag about yourself here. Discuss your top accomplishments at work.

What does hospitality mean to you?

Hospitality is making a home in a foreign place. It makes it possible for guests to feel comfortable enough to have a good time, to relax, and even to become productive in their own space. As someone who works in this industry, I feel joy in creating the best experience anyone could have with us.

I customize their experience according to the level of service they are looking for and go beyond their expectations by initiating solutions for them before they could even raise their problems. For example. If I notice someone needs a refill, I would kindly fill their glass again.

Intent of question: Discuss your passion for the role and what attracted you to this industry.

What do you like about our establishment?

Your establishment is a part of everyone’s childhood and I’ve always been curious how you make it possible for us to always keep coming back to you when we want to celebrate small wins and big occasions. Your food was our comfort. Your place was our resting space.

We delight in the conversations we take part in because of the ambiance and the kindness of your staff. I want to become a part of this and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with crafting the best experience possible for the customers. 

Intent of question: Hiring managers are trying to understand whether or not you did your homework about the business before entering the interview.

How Can You Prepare For A Food Service Interview?

Ready to ace that interview?

Preparing for an interview is nerve-wracking and stressful, but here are some tips and several steps to aid yourself in a successful interview. 

  • Examine the job description and use it as a guide. This will help you know how to deliver and present yourself to the employer’s standard.
  • Research the company and the industry you will be applying for. In this situation, in a food service job hiring, you need to know its standing against competitors and advantageous for you to prepare some context for interviews.
  • Research the product. This is a must in the food service industry because you need to know if there are ingredients that may be against your beliefs and having cases of allergies during meal preparation.
  • Present your edge and reasons why they need to hire you. Prepare 3-5 selling points about yourself and what makes you the best person to be hired for this position.

You Might Like: 89+ (Positive & Negative) Performance Review Phrases for Customer Service 

  • Prepare and anticipate the interviewer’s questions and concerns. You can practice beforehand how to answer the common Interview questions to avoid fumbling during the interview. 
  • Practice your speaking voice and body language. Remember that the first impression lasts and you need to make a positive impression during the interview. 
  • Prepare the resume and every requirement posted in job hiring ads. This will greatly help you to show the interviewers that you’re prepared and organized. 
  • Always be ready to take on the challenge. Be confident during the interview, and make the most out of this experience. You can’t prepare for everything but try to handle even the most unexpected situations during the interview. 

Interviewers help employers get to know the people they will be working with in the future. As an applicant, it is your chance to put your best foot forward and convince them how worthy you are for the role you are applying for. Be yourself! Be genuine, friendly, and well prepared and you can’t go wrong.