35 common barista interview questions (plus sample answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interviews are often the first meeting between candidates and hiring managers. They provide candidates with the opportunity to make an excellent first impression and explain their expertise to potential employers. Before an interview, it's helpful to research common questions to help you develop your own answers. In this article, we list 35 barista interview questions and offer some sample responses.

General barista interview questions

A hiring manager may ask general barista interview questions to learn more about your personality, passions, aspirations and interest in the role. The following are some example questions:

  1. Can you tell me about yourself?

  2. Why do you want this job?

  3. How did you know we were hiring?

  4. Why do you want to become a barista?

  5. What are some of your weaknesses, and how might they affect your performance?

  6. Can you tell me some things you like or dislike about our coffee shop?

  7. Have you researched the position's schedule, and what's your availability?

  8. Could you describe your ideal work environment?

  9. What's your expected starting salary?

  10. Do you have any favourite caffeinated drinks?

Related: How to become a barista (plus skills and responsibilities)

Questions about experience and background

These questions can help employers gauge your skills, experience and academic qualifications. The following are 10 examples:

  1. How do you describe excellent customer service?

  2. Have you worked during busy shifts, and how was the experience?

  3. How do you make espresso drinks?

  4. Do you have any formal barista training?

  5. What are the typical duties of a barista?

  6. How do you describe a successful barista?

  7. What challenges do you expect to encounter in this position, and how might you handle them?

  8. Can you tell me about your experience operating a cash register?

  9. What are the most important skills in this profession?

  10. How do you ensure that your clients get the best customer service?

Related: Work experience: definition, importance and tips

In-depth barista interview questions

Employers may ask these questions to gauge your ability to perform the job and apply job-specific knowledge to practical scenarios. The following are 10 examples:

  1. What are some things you like and dislike about being a barista?

  2. How do you handle a disgruntled customer?

  3. What might you do if you realise you're low on coffee beans in the middle of a busy shift?

  4. Have you experienced workplace competition, and how did you handle it?

  5. What would you do if your colleagues repeatedly leave their workspace messy before your shift?

  6. Have you ever disagreed with your supervisor, and how did you resolve the situation?

  7. Do you think teamwork is an important skill as a barista?

  8. Have you ever made an honest mistake, and how did you inform your superiors about it?

  9. How do you handle workplace stress and keep yourself motivated?

  10. Which skills do you hope to learn in this position?

Related: How to write a barista cover letter (with an example)

Common barista interview questions with answers

When preparing for a barista interview, review sample answers to learn how to format your responses. The following are five common questions, the reasons employers might ask them and their sample answers:

1. Can you tell me about a time when you worked with a difficult client?

As a barista, you may encounter difficult clients. Hiring managers ask this to measure your ability to handle challenging situations, work under pressure and provide excellent customer service. Develop a response using the STAR method and ensure that you highlight your problem-solving skills. The STAR technique involves outlining the situation, describing the tasks, explaining your actions and listing the results. You can also highlight what you learned from the encounter and how you improved from it.

Example: 'When I worked at the H&J coffee shop, we had a regular client who was challenging to serve. They were strict about their orders and frequently reprimanded me whenever there was a slight mistake. One day, they couldn't get regular refills because of an insufficient amount of coffee beans. I calmly explained that we were facing a shortage and had placed an order for more beans. I asked them to be more courteous when addressing other baristas. they understood and promised to adjust accordingly'.

Related: How to deal with difficult people at work: a guide

2. How do you keep yourself motivated during long shifts?

This question helps the employer gauge your understanding of a barista's work environment and determines your resilience and self-motivation skills. Baristas spend most of their time standing or delivering orders. This requires resilient professionals who can maintain positive mindsets and stand for several hours. Explain that you understand how challenging a barista's work can be and discuss how you stay motivated. Also, outline how maintaining a positive mindset has helped you become a better barista.

Example: 'I've worked as a barista for the past three years and understand how challenging the profession can be, especially during peak seasons. When I started, I occasionally felt that the repetitive nature of the job and frequent long shifts were demotivating. I talked to my supervisor, who advised me to focus on why I ventured into the career, which was to help people. By viewing the job as an opportunity to serve my community, I stay motivated throughout the day. This approach helps me create and maintain healthy relationships with customers'.

Related: How to get motivated at work and reduce stress in 10 steps

3. What value can you add to our team?

This question allows an employer to understand your teamwork skills and your understanding of their company. Research the company and familiarise yourself with their work ethic, values and brand voice. Identify the role's requirements by reviewing the job description and specifications, which you may find on the company's official websites. If you can't find them, ask the human resource department for a copy. Ensure that everything you mention relates to the opening's requirements, so the more relevant your answer is, the higher your chances of success.

Example: 'The most significant value I can add to your team is excellent customer service. While researching your coffee shop, I noticed that you take a client-centred approach to service delivery. This aligns with why I chose this profession, which was to help people. I want to use my strong communication skills and knowledge of coffee to give your clients memorable experiences'.

Related: The 9 Belbin team roles (with examples and motivations)

4. How do you stay up to date with trends in the coffee industry?

Hiring managers may prefer baristas with an in-depth understanding of the coffee industry and its trends. They ask this question to learn how you stay up to date with industry changes. State that you know the coffee industry is dynamic and discuss the importance of staying current. Outline what you do to track trends. For example, you might mention websites, events or publications you follow.

Example: 'During my three years as a barista, I've learnt that the coffee industry is dynamic. It's important for baristas to monitor trends and improve their skills accordingly. When I joined the profession, I was too shy to engage clients in conversations about coffee because I had little to say. I talked to a colleague who introduced me to Coffee-Fresh, an online journal publishing weekly articles on coffee industry trends. The journal helps me stay up to date on artisan blends and coffee culture. It also has an interactive section to have discussions with others'.

Related: 12 diverse jobs in the coffee industry (plus salaries)

5. What is your greatest strength?

Employers ask this question to determine your self-awareness and assess your understanding of the role's requirements. Review the job description and specifications for its requirements. Next, list your most competitive skills and identify those that relate to the role. For example, if the specifications state that the job requires you to have strong attention to detail, highlight this as one of your key strengths. This shows the employer that you researched the position, which increases your chances of getting the job.

Example: 'I believe that my greatest strength is communication. A barista often works in a team and serves several clients at a time, making effective communication important. I'm a social person who can easily initiate conversations and establish long-lasting relationships. This helps me understand customers' needs, explain products and collect feedback. Communication skills, such as empathy, enable me to relate to clients and colleagues and avoid workplace misunderstandings'.

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