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Top 15 Restaurant Manager Interview Questions & How To Answer Them

The outlook for restaurant management positions is holding steady, with little to no projected change in career opportunities for Restaurant Managers.

Nevertheless, the steady outlook for restaurant management positions offers promising opportunities for applicants, showcasing the industry’s ongoing demand for Restaurant Managers.

To land a job in the competitive restaurant industry, candidates must prepare for typical interview questions and express their skills and experiences effectively.

In this guide, we’ll look at the top Restaurant Manager interview questions categorized into Skills and Experience, Customer Service and Situational/Behavioral questions with explanations and examples for employers and candidates.

1. Restaurant Manager Interview Questions About Skills and Experience

These questions are important because they help assess candidates for the Restaurant Manager role, determining if they’re suitable based on their skills and experience.

restaurant manager skills

How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively to ensure smooth restaurant operations during peak hours?

For employers: This question aims to assess the candidate’s ability to manage time efficiently, which is crucial for maintaining operational efficiency during busy shifts.

For applicants: Discuss your approach to task prioritization and time management, including strategies you use to coordinate staff, oversee operations and address any issues that arise promptly.

Example answer: During peak hours, I prioritize tasks by assessing their urgency and impact on overall operations. I delegate responsibilities to staff members based on their strengths and expertise, ensuring all areas of the restaurant are covered effectively.

I also use scheduling software to optimize staffing levels and streamline workflow. This helps with handling high volumes of customers without sacrificing quality.

Are Restaurant Manager salaries keeping up with living costs in your area?

Can you share your experience in leading and motivating a team to achieve restaurant goals and deliver exceptional service consistently?

For employers: This question evaluates the candidate’s leadership and team-building skills, essential for fostering a positive work environment and achieving business objectives.

For applicants: Describe your experience in leading and motivating a diverse team, emphasizing your ability to communicate effectively, provide guidance and recognize and reward employees’ contributions.

Example answer: Throughout my career, I’ve focused on building strong relationships with my team members, fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. I lead by example, demonstrating professionalism, integrity and a strong work ethic.

By setting clear expectations and providing ongoing feedback and support, I empower my team to perform at their best and exceed customer expectations consistently.

How do you ensure that upselling and suggestive selling strategies are effectively implemented to increase revenue and enhance the overall dining experience for customers?

For employers: This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to oversee and facilitate the implementation of upselling techniques throughout the restaurant to drive sales and improve customer satisfaction.

For applicants: Describe your approach to ensuring that staff are trained and coached to execute upselling and suggestive selling techniques successfully. Discuss how you establish protocols, provide training sessions and monitor performance to ensure consistency and effectiveness in promoting additional menu items or promotions.

Example answer: I prioritize the training and coaching of our staff to seamlessly incorporate upselling and suggestive selling techniques into their interactions with customers. We conduct regular training sessions to educate our team on menu offerings, specials and promotions, emphasizing the importance of genuine engagement and personalized recommendations.

Additionally, I monitor staff performance and provide feedback to ensure that upselling strategies are implemented effectively across all areas of the restaurant. By fostering a culture of attentive service and genuine hospitality, we not only drive sales but also enhance the overall dining experience for our customers.

How do you uphold the restaurant’s reputation and ensure consistent delivery of exceptional service?

For employers: This question assesses the candidate’s dedication to maintaining high standards of professionalism and service excellence within the restaurant.

For applicants: Share your approach to fostering a professional appearance and demeanor among staff, as well as your methods for ensuring that customers consistently receive outstanding service.

Example answer: I believe in leading by example to uphold the restaurant’s reputation for excellence. This begins with setting clear expectations for staff grooming and attire, ensuring that each team member embodies the restaurant’s brand image. I also prioritize ongoing training and development to equip staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide exceptional service consistently.

I regularly conduct performance evaluations and offer constructive feedback to encourage continuous improvement. By emphasizing the importance of attention to detail and genuine hospitality, we cultivate a culture of excellence that resonates throughout all aspects of restaurant operations.

Describe your experience in using restaurant management software to streamline operations and track performance metrics.

For employers: This question evaluates the candidate’s familiarity with technology tools essential for efficient restaurant management.

For applicants: Discuss your experience with various restaurant management software platforms, highlighting how you leverage them to optimize workflow, manage inventory and analyze performance data.

Example answer: In my previous role as a Restaurant Manager, I’ve utilized various restaurant management software platforms to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. These tools have been instrumental in tasks such as scheduling staff, managing inventory levels and analyzing sales data.

For instance, I’ve used platforms like Toast and Upserve to create optimized staff schedules that align with forecasted demand, ensuring adequate coverage during peak hours while controlling labor costs. I’ve also leveraged inventory management features to track stock levels in real-time, facilitating timely ordering and minimizing waste.

Additionally, these software solutions have enabled me to generate comprehensive performance reports, allowing me to identify trends, pinpoint areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to drive profitability and enhance the overall guest experience.

2. Restaurant Manager Interview Questions About Customer Service

These questions are crucial as they unveil the candidate’s ability to meet customers’ needs, guaranteeing a favorable dining experience.

How do you ensure that customers receive exceptional service and have a positive dining experience?

For employers: This question assesses the candidate’s ability to prioritize customer satisfaction and oversee the delivery of high-quality service.

For applicants: Share your approach to ensuring that customers’ needs are met and that they have a memorable dining experience. Discuss how you train and support staff to provide attentive service, handle customer inquiries and concerns and create a welcoming atmosphere.

Example answer: As a Restaurant Manager, I prioritize customer satisfaction by fostering a culture of hospitality and service excellence among Chefs, Cooks, Waiters and Waitresses, Bartenders, Bussers, Food Runners, Hosts and Hostesses and other restaurant staff. We provide comprehensive training on guest interactions, emphasizing the importance of attentive service, genuine engagement and problem-solving.

I encourage staff to anticipate and exceed customer expectations by proactively addressing their needs and preferences. We empower our team members to handle inquiries and resolve concerns promptly, ensuring that every guest feels valued and well-cared for.   I also actively engage with customers, soliciting feedback and addressing any issues that arise personally.

How do you handle customer complaints or feedback to ensure that issues are resolved effectively and customers leave satisfied?

For employers: This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to manage customer complaints and feedback, which is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.

For applicants: Describe your approach to handling customer complaints or feedback, including how you train staff to address issues promptly, resolve concerns and follow up to ensure customer satisfaction.

Example answer: When faced with a customer complaint or feedback, I prioritize listening attentively to understand the issue and empathize with the customer’s perspective. We train our staff to respond promptly and courteously, acknowledging the customer’s concerns and taking immediate action to resolve the issue.

I follow up personally to ensure that the resolution meets the customer’s expectations and express gratitude for their feedback, emphasizing our commitment to continuous improvement and providing exceptional service.

The Most Common Restaurant Customer Complaints

How do you ensure that all staff members maintain a positive attitude and professional demeanor, even during challenging situations?

For employers: This question evaluates the candidate’s approach to fostering a positive work environment and maintaining staff morale.

For applicants: Describe your strategies for promoting a positive attitude and professional demeanor among staff, including how you communicate expectations, provide support and address challenges effectively.

Example answer: I prioritize creating a supportive and positive work environment where staff feel valued and motivated to deliver exceptional service. We cultivate a culture of teamwork, respect and camaraderie, celebrating successes and supporting each other during challenging times.

I lead by example, demonstrating a positive attitude and professionalism in all interactions. We provide ongoing training and development opportunities to equip staff with the skills and confidence to handle any situation with grace and composure.

How do you ensure consistency in service standards across different shifts and staff members?

For employers: This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to maintain consistent service quality, regardless of staffing changes or time of day.

For applicants: Describe your strategies for establishing and enforcing service standards, including how you train and monitor staff performance, provide feedback and address any deviations from established protocols.

Example answer: Ensuring consistency in service standards is a priority for me, and I achieve this through comprehensive training, ongoing monitoring and regular feedback. I provide detailed training sessions for all staff members, emphasizing the importance of adhering to established service protocols and delivering a consistent experience to every guest.

I conduct regular performance evaluations and provide constructive feedback to staff, addressing any areas where consistency may be lacking. Additionally, I implement systems for monitoring service quality, such as mystery shopper programs or service audits, to identify any deviations and take corrective action as needed.

How do you gather and use customer feedback to continually improve service quality and enhance the dining experience?

For employers: This question gives you a peek into how candidates handle customer feedback to keep improving service and making dining experiences better. It’s about understanding their approach to gathering, understanding and acting on feedback to keep things moving forward in the restaurant.

For applicants: Discuss your methods for collecting customer feedback, such as surveys, comment cards or online reviews, and how you analyze and act upon this feedback to identify areas for improvement and enhance the dining experience.

Example answer: We actively solicit and welcome customer feedback through various channels, including surveys, comment cards and online reviews. We analyze this feedback regularly to identify trends, recognize areas of strength and pinpoint opportunities for improvement.

I collaborate with staff to develop action plans based on customer feedback, implementing changes to enhance service quality, menu offerings or operational processes. We communicate these improvements transparently to staff and customers, demonstrating our commitment to listening and responding to their needs effectively.

3. Situational/Behavioral Restaurant Manager Interview Questions

Situational/behavioral questions are important because they help assess how a Restaurant Manager candidate would handle different job situations, giving insight into their problem-solving skills and suitability for the role.

One of your key kitchen staff members calls in sick on a busy weekend night, leaving you short-staffed. How do you adapt to ensure smooth restaurant operations and minimize disruptions?

For employers: This question assesses the candidate’s ability to handle unexpected staffing challenges and maintain operational efficiency.

For applicants: Detail your strategy for reallocating resources, adjusting schedules and providing support to remaining staff members to ensure continuity of service without compromising quality.

Example answer: In the event of unexpected staffing shortages, I would first assess the situation to determine the critical areas that need immediate attention. I would then redistribute tasks among existing staff members, prioritizing essential functions to ensure smooth operations.

If necessary, I would step in to assist with tasks or delegate responsibilities to other team members based on their skills and availability. Lastly, I would communicate transparently with customers about any delays or changes to service and offer sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.

A sudden power outage occurs during dinner service, causing disruptions to the kitchen and dining areas. How do you manage the situation to minimize inconvenience to customers and maintain safety?

For employers: This question assesses the candidate’s ability to handle unexpected emergencies and ensure the well-being of staff and customers.

For applicants: Outline your emergency response plan, including procedures for ensuring the safety of staff and customers, communicating updates and implementing contingency measures to mitigate the impact of the outage.

Example answer: In the event of a power outage, I would first ensure the safety of staff and customers by providing clear guidance on evacuation procedures and emergency exits. I would then assess the situation to determine the extent of the outage and its impact on restaurant operations.

Depending on the circumstances, I would implement contingency measures such as using backup generators for essential equipment, providing alternative lighting sources and adjusting the menu to accommodate limited cooking capabilities. Throughout the process, I would communicate transparently with staff and customers, keeping them informed about the situation and any updates on when normal operations are expected to resume.

Finally, I would apologize for any inconvenience caused and take proactive steps to minimize disruptions and ensure a positive dining experience under challenging circumstances.

A customer complains about receiving cold food, and it’s evident that the kitchen is overwhelmed with orders. How would you address the situation to ensure the customer’s satisfaction without causing further delays or disruptions?

For employers: This question assesses candidates’ ability to handle customer complaints effectively during busy periods.

For applicants: Detail your approach to resolving the issue of cold food while managing a busy kitchen, emphasizing strategies to balance customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Example answer: When confronted with a complaint about cold food during a busy period, I would apologize to the customer and assure them that I’ll address the issue promptly. I would communicate the situation to the kitchen staff, prioritizing the reheating of the affected dish while ensuring minimal disruption to ongoing orders.

I would then offer the customer a free item or discount as a gesture of goodwill, expressing our commitment to their satisfaction. Throughout the process, I would maintain clear communication with both the customer and the kitchen team to ensure a swift resolution without compromising service quality.

Do you believe Restaurant Managers should always get overtime pay?

During a weekend rush, one of your staff members receives a significant burn while handling hot dishes. How would you respond to the situation to ensure the staff member receives proper care while maintaining service standards?

For employers: This question evaluates candidates’ ability to handle emergencies in the workplace while minimizing disruptions to operations.

For applicants: Describe your approach to managing a staff injury during a busy shift, outlining steps to ensure the injured staff member receives prompt medical attention while managing staffing and service requirements.

Example answer: Upon learning of the staff member’s burn injury, I would immediately assess the severity of the situation and provide first aid as necessary. I would then delegate tasks to other staff members to cover the injured employee’s responsibilities, ensuring that service continues uninterrupted.

Simultaneously, I would arrange for the injured staff member to receive medical attention, whether it’s from an on-site first aider or by calling emergency services if needed. I would maintain clear communication with the rest of the team, updating them on the situation and redistributing tasks as needed to accommodate the temporary staffing adjustment.

Imagine a scenario where a group of unruly customers begins disrupting other diners’ experiences with loud and inappropriate behavior. How would you address the situation to maintain a comfortable environment for all customers while upholding the restaurant’s policies?

For employers: This question assesses candidates’ ability to handle disruptive behavior effectively while preserving the overall dining experience.

For applicants: Detail your approach to managing unruly customers, emphasizing strategies to address the situation calmly and professionally while enforcing restaurant policies.

Example answer: When confronted with disruptive behavior from customers, I would approach the situation calmly and assertively. I would kindly request that the disruptive customers reconsider their behavior to respect other diners’ experiences and uphold the restaurant’s standards.

If the behavior persists despite the initial request, I would escalate the situation by informing the disruptive customers that continued disruption may result in their removal from the premises, in accordance with our establishment’s policies.

Your restaurant receives a sudden influx of online reservations for a special event, overwhelming the current staffing levels. How would you adjust staffing and operational plans to accommodate the increased demand while ensuring smooth service and customer satisfaction?

For employers: This question assesses candidates’ ability to adapt staffing and operational strategies to meet unexpected spikes in demand.

For applicants: Detail your approach to managing a sudden increase in reservations, including how you would reassess staffing needs, allocate resources efficiently and communicate changes to staff to ensure a seamless experience for customers.

Example answer: When faced with a surge in online reservations for a special event, I would first assess the current staffing levels and operational capacity to determine the extent of the adjustments needed. I would then prioritize tasks such as reallocating staff from other roles, extending shifts or bringing in additional support if necessary.

I would communicate the changes to the staff clearly and promptly, ensuring everyone understands their revised responsibilities and the importance of maintaining high service standards during the busy period.

How To Prepare for a Restaurant Manager Interview

Prepare for a Restaurant Manager interview by focusing on essential aspects both as a candidate and an interviewer.

As a candidate:

  • Familiarize yourself with the restaurant’s concept, menu offerings, operational procedures and target clientele. Demonstrating a deep understanding of the establishment’s identity and goals will showcase your genuine interest and enthusiasm for the role.
  • Practice responding to common interview questions tailored to restaurant management positions. By rehearsing your responses, you can enhance your confidence during the interview and effectively communicate your leadership abilities, problem-solving and strategic-thinking skills.
  • Highlight your previous experience in the hospitality industry, emphasizing managerial roles that involved staff supervision, operational management and customer relationship management. Provide specific examples of how you successfully led teams, resolved conflicts and optimized restaurant performance.
  • Be prepared to discuss your knowledge of food and beverage operations, including menu development, inventory management and compliance with health and safety regulations. Showcase any relevant certifications or training you have obtained in areas such as food safety or alcohol service.
  • Emphasize your interpersonal skills, such as effective communication, conflict resolution and team collaboration, which are essential for leading a successful restaurant team and providing exceptional customer service.

As an interviewer:

  • Develop a structured set of interview questions tailored to assess candidates’ suitability for the Restaurant Manager role. Include questions about their previous managerial experience, leadership style, problem-solving approach and ability to drive business growth.
  • Evaluate candidates based on their responses to these questions, paying attention to their strategic thinking, managerial competencies and alignment with the restaurant’s values and objectives.
  • Consider incorporating role-playing exercises or situational assessments into the interview process to simulate real-life scenarios encountered in restaurant management. This will provide valuable insights into candidates’ decision-making abilities and leadership potential.
  • Take detailed notes during the interview to document candidates’ responses, observations and impressions. Use this information to compare candidates objectively and make informed hiring decisions based on their qualifications and fit for the role.
  • Offer candidates the opportunity to ask questions about the restaurant’s operations, culture and growth opportunities. This will help you understand how interested and involved they are in the role and what they could bring to the team.

Restaurant Manager Industry Trends in 2024

2024’s restaurant management scene is seeing several notable trends, including:

1. Operational Efficiency

Restaurant Managers are increasingly focused on optimizing operational processes to improve efficiency and reduce costs. They are implementing strategies such as inventory management systems, staff scheduling software and kitchen automation technologies to streamline operations and enhance productivity.

2. Customer Experience Enhancement

Restaurant Managers are placing a greater emphasis on enhancing the overall customer experience. They are investing in staff training programs to improve service standards, implementing loyalty programs to reward repeat customers and leveraging customer feedback platforms to gather insights.

3. Sustainability Initiatives

As environmental concerns continue to grow, Restaurant Managers are implementing sustainability initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and minimize waste. They are adopting practices such as sourcing locally grown produce, reducing single-use plastics and implementing energy-efficient technologies to operate more sustainably.

4. Adaptation to Market Trends

Restaurant Managers are keeping up with market trends and consumer preferences to remain competitive in the industry. They are diversifying menu offerings to cater to changing dietary preferences, incorporating trendy ingredients and flavors and embracing emerging technologies to meet the evolving demands of their target market.

5. Employee Development and Retention

Recognizing the importance of a skilled and motivated workforce, Restaurant Managers are prioritizing employee development and retention initiatives. They are providing opportunities for career advancement, offering competitive wages and benefits and fostering a positive work culture to attract and retain top talent in the industry.

Amidst these evolving trends, Restaurant Managers are essential for ensuring smooth dining experiences across various industries. Here are the industries with the highest levels of employment in Restaurant Managers:

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

Are Restaurant Managers Paid Well?

While the average Restaurant Manager salary in the U.S. is $69,580 per year or $33.45 per hour according to BLS, actual earnings can vary significantly.

Factors such as the type and size of the establishment, geographical location, experience and qualifications all play a crucial role in determining compensation.

Managers of high-end restaurants or large chains typically earn more than those managing small, independent eateries. Urban areas or regions with a higher cost of living, such as New York City, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, often offer higher salaries to offset expenses, while rural areas may provide comparatively lower pay.

Moreover, seasoned Restaurant Managers with relevant certifications may negotiate higher salaries, while those with limited experience may start at lower rates.

See the breakdown of annual Restaurant Manager salaries in the U.S. below:

[Source: BLS]

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

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