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Top 12 Dishwasher Interview Questions & How To Answer Them

The demand for Dishwasher positions is on the rise, intensifying the competition in this field. Projections Central forecasts a 19% growth for Dishwashers from 2020 to 2030, pictured in the graph below:

[Source: Projections Central]
This chart is interactive. Hover your mouse over different parts of the chart to see detailed data. 

To stand out in the competitive restaurant industry, candidates must be well-prepared for job interviews.

That is why we created this guide: to help you find the perfect Dishwasher for your establishment and prepare for the Dishwasher Interview.

We created two categories of Dishwasher interview questions—those related to Skills and Experience and those related to Situational/Behavioral scenarios to help you prepare for the hiring process.

1. Dishwasher Interview Questions About Skills and Experience

Use this question to inquire about the candidate’s previous experience in a Dishwasher role.  Look for an individual that demonstrates efficiency when handling large volume of dishes while upholding hygiene standards.

An image showing Dishwasher skills for Dishwasher Interview Questions

Can you describe your previous experience working as a Dishwasher?

For employers: Assess the applicant’s previous experience in the Dishwasher role. Look for an individual that has experience working in an establishment similar to yours.

For applicants: Showcase your relevant experience with a focus on positions in which you cleaned dishes and maintained cleanliness in a kitchen.

Example answer: I have two years of experience washing dishes in a busy restaurant. In this role, it was my job to clean dishes, utensils and other kitchen equipment. Aside from the washing itself, it was also my job to properly dry, sanitize and store all the washed items.

What skills do you possess that make you an effective Dishwasher?

For employers: Assess the applicant’s abilities that make them an effective Dishwasher. Look for an individual that demonstrates attention to detail and the ability to work in a high-pressure environment such as a busy restaurant.

For applicants: Highlight the skills that make you a perfect fit for this Dishwasher role. Show skills like attention to detail, organization and the ability to work well with other kitchen staff members.

Example answer: I have a high degree of attention to detail. It allows me to efficiently and quickly assess the cleanliness of the dishes and to ensure they all properly sanitized before they are stored.

Additionally, I have experience in a high-pace environment with a constant and high workload of dishes. I’ve learned to keep my composure and to deliver the same standard of cleanliness regardless of the number of dishes that’s in front of me.

How do you ensure that dishes are cleaned thoroughly and sanitized properly?

For employers: Assess the candidate’s knowledge of dishwashing procedures. Look for an individual that demonstrates thorough understanding of the importance of clean and sanitized dishes in a kitchen.

For applicants: Demonstrate knowledge of proper dishwashing and sanitation techniques. Highlight how you kept the dishes clean and sanitized in the past.

Example answer: I pre-rinse all the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I also use hot water and the appropriate detergent to remove grease and stains. After washing, I use a sanitizer and a high-temperature rinse cycle to kill all bacteria.

Are Dishwasher salaries keeping up with living costs in your area?

Have you operated industrial dishwashing equipment before?

For employers: Assess the applicant’s familiarity with industrial dishwashers. Look for an individual who has experience with different types of industrial dishwashing equipment.

For applicants: Demonstrate your experience with industrial dishwashing equipment. Highlight the different dishwashers you’ve used in the past.

Example answer: I have used industrial dishwashers in my previous role. I have experience with both conveyor and rack dishwashers commonly used in commercial kitchens. I am comfortable loading and unloading dishes, adjusting settings for different wash cycles and performing regular maintenance to ensure proper functionality of the dishwasher.

How do you prioritize tasks when faced with a large volume of dishes to clean?

For employers: Assess the candidate’s ability to prioritize tasks and manage time in a fast-paced environment. Look for an individual who demonstrates strong organizational skills.

For applicants: Showcase your ability to efficiently manage high workloads of dishes. Explain how you prioritize urgent dishes or implement techniques to save time.

Example answer: When there’s a large volume of dishes that need to be washed, I prioritize tasks by separating them based on urgency. I focus on washing and sanitizing essential items needed for ongoing food preparation while continuing to load the dishwasher with non-urgent items.

Have you received any formal training in food safety and sanitation practices?

For employers: This question assesses the candidate’s knowledge of food safety and sanitation practices. Look for a candidate who has received formal training or certification in food safety, indicating their commitment to following best practices in handling food and cleaning equipment.

For applicants: This is your opportunity to highlight any formal training and certifications you may have. Highlight your formal training and demonstrate your understanding of industry regulations and standards.

Example answer: I have completed a Food Handlers Certification course. I am now well-versed in proper food handling techniques and sanitation procedures to follow to prevent any foodborne illnesses and maintain a clean kitchen environment.

2. Situational/Behavioral Dishwasher Interview Questions

Now that we’ve covered an applicant’s skills and experience, it’s time to test their adaptability in various changing restaurant scenarios.  Use this set of questions to assess the applicant’s problem-solving skills and how they would address some of the potential situations that may arise during a busy kitchen shift at the restaurant.

Describe a time when you had to work under pressure to meet a tight deadline for dishwashing. How did you handle it?

For employers: Assess the applicant’s ability to meet deadlines effectively, even in a stressful and busy environment. Look for an individual who demonstrates composure and adaptability in stressful situations.

For applicants: This question assesses your ability to manage stress and workload in a fast-paced environment. Demonstrate how you prioritize tasks and ensure an efficient workflow of dishes while upholding quality standards.

Example answer: During a busy dinner rush, the kitchen suddenly ran out of clean dishes and I was tasked with quickly washing and sanitizing a large volume of dishes to keep up with the demand. To handle the pressure, I prioritized tasks based on urgency, focusing on washing essential items first. I maintained a steady pace, staying organized and focused on the task at hand while ensuring that all dishes were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized within the deadline.

Can you recall a situation where you had to adapt to changes in the dishwashing process or equipment?

For employers: Assess the candidate’s ability to adapt to the kitchen’s changing environment and processes. Look for an individual who demonstrates strong adaptability and problem-solving skills.

For applicants: Highlight your proactive approach to solving problems and an ability to adapt to challenges and changes in the workplace.

Example answer: At my last job, the dishwasher suddenly malfunctioned during a busy shift. To keep up with the workload, we had to switch to manual dishwashing for the rest of the night.  Although challenging, I communicated with the rest of the kitchen staff to efficiently divide and conquer all dishwashing responsibilities. We were able to manually keep up with the workload and managed to clean and sanitize all the dishes without compromising quality or efficiency.

Tell me about a time when you noticed a potential safety hazard in the dishwashing area. How did you address it?

For employers: Assess the candidate’s ability to notice a safety hazard. Look for an individual who takes proactive measures to address any issues that may arise in the kitchen.

For applicants: This question evaluates your attention to detail. Highlight your ability to recognize potential safety hazards and how you take proactive measures to address them.

Example answer: Once during my previous role, I noticed that the kitchen floor near the dishwashing area was wet and slippery, making it a potential hazard for the kitchen staff and other employees.  I stopped what I was doing and placed wet water signs in the affected area to alert others of the hazard. I then mopped the wet area until I was sure it was dry and safe for everyone. Afterwards, I spoke to the manager and suggested we implement practices that would prevent such a hazard from happening in the future, such as a regular floor inspection.

Describe a situation where you had to handle a particularly challenging item to clean. How did you approach it?

For employers: Use this question to assess the applicant’s ability to tackle difficult tasks in the Dishwasher role. Look for an individual who demonstrates perseverance and creativity in their approach to cleaning challenging items.

For applicants: This question aims to assess your ability to overcome potential obstacles in the Dishwasher role. Highlight your resourcefulness and ability to tackle any dishwashing challenges.

Example answer: In my previous role, I once encountered an item particularly difficult to clean—a dirty and greasy baking sheet used to roast meat. Despite multiple attempts to remove the grease and stains, I was unable to clean it.

That is when I decided to soak the tray in hot water and dishwash liquid for a long time. I then used a scrubbing brush and baking soda to scrub away the remaining stains and grease. After multiple cleaning and rinsing attempts, I managed to return the tray to its original condition.

Should establishments provide bonuses or shared profits with employees?

Have you ever encountered a conflict with a coworker while working as a Dishwasher?

For employers: Use this question to assess the candidate’s interpersonal skills and ability to resolve a conflict in the work environment effectively. Look for an individual who demonstrates strong conflict resolution and communication skills.

For applicants: This question evaluates your ability to successfully and constructively resolve conflicts in the workplace. Demonstrate communication and conflict-resolution skills and an ability to maintain positive working relationships with your colleagues.

Example answer: I once had a conflict with a colleague about the division of dishwashing tasks. We had different ideas about how to allocate tasks which led to tension.

I initiated a conversation with said colleague and tried to find a constructive resolution to the issue. We listened to each other and found common ground—we were able to find a mutually beneficial solution.

Tell me about a time when you made a mistake while dishwashing. How did you rectify the error?

For employers: Assess the candidate’s problem-solving skills and how they take accountability for their actions. Look for an individual who demonstrates honesty and willingness to rectify errors.

For applicants: This question evaluates your ability to take ownership of mistakes. Demonstrate honesty and commitment to implementing strategies to prevent future mistakes from happening.

Example answer: I once dropped a stack of dishes while transferring them from the drying rack to the shelf. I broke some of them. First, I assessed the situation and made sure that no one was injured. I then informed my manager about the mistake and apologized to both my manager and colleagues for the potential inconvenience and a delay in operations.  I carefully removed all the broken dishes and disposed of them. Then I realized that I cannot move that many dishes at one time and, moving forward, decided to approach this task with more attention while using proper lifting techniques.

How To Become a Dishwasher?

Typically, entry-level positions like Dishwasher don’t require formal education.  However, you can still take steps to ensure you land the Dishwasher position in the establishment of your choice.

You can:

  • Prepare your resume: Highlight previous experience working in a kitchen or a cleaning role, including volunteer work and part-time jobs. Demonstrate ability to learn and work ethic.
  • Apply to open Dishwasher positions: Submit your resume and consider dropping it off in-person. This will give you an opportunity to introduce yourself to potential future colleagues.
  • Emphasize reliability: Ensure your potential employers know that you will show up on time and ready for work. Demonstrate eagerness to learn and improve.
  • Be open to flexible hours: Dishwashers often work evenings, weekends and holidays. Emphasize that you would be willing to work odd hours to gain an advantage over applicants unwilling to do so.
  • Stay professional: Maintain a positive attitude throughout the application and interview process. Even though dishwashing is an entry-level position, professionalism and a positive demeanor go a long way in making a good impression on potential employers.

How To Prepare for a Dishwasher Interview

There are 78,800 open Dishwasher positions annually.

We prepared this guide to help you land a Dishwasher role and hire a perfect fit for your kitchen. Use the below steps to prepare for a Dishwasher interview, both as a candidate and as an interviewer.

an image showing the number of open Dishwasher positions annually in the US

As a candidate:

  • Take time to understand the responsibilities and expectations of a Dishwasher. Research common tasks, such as operating dishwashing equipment, sanitizing dishes and maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen.
  • Learn about food safety and sanitation regulations, as well as best practices for dishwashing in a commercial kitchen environment. Understanding these standards demonstrates your commitment to maintaining a clean and safe workspace.
  • Consider any previous experience you have that relates to the role of a Dishwasher. This could include working in a kitchen environment, handling dishware or maintaining cleanliness in a workplace.

As an interviewer: 

  • Understand the specific duties and responsibilities of the Dishwasher role within your establishment. This will help you tailor your questions to assess candidates’ suitability for the position.
  • Create a list of interview questions that will help you gauge candidates’ experience, skills and attitude towards the job. Ask about their previous dishwashing experience, knowledge of food safety protocols, ability to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment and their approach to maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen.
  • Highlight potential opportunities for career advancement or skill development within your establishment. This can help attract candidates who are looking for more than just a job and are interested in building a career in the hospitality industry.

Are Dishwashers Paid Well?

Generally, entry-level positions in the restaurant industry, such as Dishwasher or Fast-Food Worker roles, tend to offer relatively modest pay compared to other kitchen positions.

However, some employers provide competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain skilled Dishwashers. Additionally, Dishwasher salaries can vary from state to state.

See the breakdown of Dishwasher salaries across the U.S. below.

[The latest data collected from BLS and the labor/employment departments of the respective states]

This map is interactive. Hover your mouse over different parts of the map to see detailed data. 

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