Building a Strong Team with Behavioral Based Interviewing

Nov 07 2017

Starting a Restaurant Manage Your Business Restaurant Tips

More and more companies have come to rely on behavioral interview questions to determine if a candidate is a good fit.  Of course, you will still need to ask traditional interview questions to learn about the person’s past work experience and skill set.  Traditional questions include:


Tell me about yourself.

This is a great icebreaker.  The candidate is most likely nervous, and will start to relax once they begin talking.  Try to find out what they do when they aren’t working, and see if there is a good work/life balance.

Tell me about your restaurant experience.  This answer can help you judge their level of excitement about the industry.  Is this a person who is passionate, or just going through the motions for a paycheck?

What are your tip expectations?  Make sure that their expectation is in line with what your current employees bring in.  If the candidate has unrealistic expectations, you will both be unhappy. Also, if you practice tip sharing now is the time to mention it.

What is your availability?  It is important that your needs and their availability match.

Why do you want to work here?  You want someone who has done some research on your concept and feels like they would be a good addition to your team.

Once you get past the basics, asking behavioral interview questions lets you learn how a person may react in a certain situation, based on how they handled similar situations in the past.  Dig a little deeper by asking these types of questions:

Why did you choose the restaurant industry?  Restaurant people are passionate.  We love the constant movement, challenge, and surprises each day brings.  The flexible schedule and pay are great, but real restaurant people see beyond that, and enjoy the up and downs of serving others.

Have you ever had a conflict with a former boss or coworker?  Asking this question can tell you a lot about a person.  Try to not let the interviewee get off with a simple “no” – we have all had to work with a difficult person at some time.   You are not looking for someone who is quick to speak negatively of others (red flag!), but someone who can overcome conflict in the workplace. 

What type(s) of people do you find difficult to work with?  This answer helps you find out who this person is, and how he or she feels about others.  Most restaurants try to run with lean staffing and depend on teamwork to successfully get through a shift, so an ideal candidate is a “people person” and can work well with everyone.

What is the most difficult situation you have dealt with at your previous employer and how did you handle it?  Asking this question will give you insight into what the candidate considers a difficult situation, and how they would handle it.

Give me an example of how you have turned around a bad guest experience?  The answer to this question should reflect his/her conflict resolution skills and quick thinking, rather than speaking of an unruly customer in a disrespectful manner.

How have you dealt with customer complaints in the past?  This answer can be similar to the one above.  This is just meant to reaffirm that the candidate is capable of handling tough customers.

How do you handle being in the weeds?  This answer will let you know how the candidate handles pressure.  You want someone who sees being in the weeds as a challenge to overcome, as well as someone who is not afraid to ask teammates for help when they need it. 

Jennifer Day

Jennifer Day

Jennifer Day has over 16 years of experience in the marketing and communications field. Before joining the Ctuit marketing team, Jennifer previously worked at a major telecom company and was in marketing communications for a major point of sales (POS) manufacturer and software provider. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge on POS technologies, software and back office systems and the understanding of how they all work together to create a seamless customer experience while increasing profitability.