Interview questions for a server (with examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 22 November 2022
Published 4 May 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.
During an interview for a position as a server, a hiring manager may ask a range of questions to assess your experience and communication skills. A job interview is an opportunity to demonstrate to your potential employer your capability to fulfil the role. It's advantageous to research the type of questions an interviewer could ask during the meeting so that you can be as prepared as possible. In this article, we explain what a serving role entails and provide questions that interviewers commonly ask in server interviews along with example answers.
What does a server do and what are the typical responsibilities?
A server, also known as a waiter or waitress, is an employee who serves food and drinks to customers of restaurants and bars. A server is responsible for a set number of tables and aims to provide a positive customer experience. This includes taking food/drink orders, serving the food, answering any questions customers pose, settling their bills and dealing with concerns and complaints.
Being a server involves a high level of multi-tasking skills as you're typically responsible for multiple tables and customers at once. It also includes various forms of communication, both with customers and various teams of staff. On some occasions, you may utilise skills like negotiation and conflict resolution with customers.
General interview questions for a server
At the beginning of an interview, interviewers typically ask generic questions to ascertain more about your background and experience. While the questions may seem simple, it helps to prepare in advance so that you can give thought-out responses. This makes a good impression from the very start of your interview. Examples of general interview questions for serving roles include:
'What made you apply for this position?'
'Describe your previous work history.'
'Why do you want to be a server?'
'What do you bring to a team?'
'Describe a challenge you have faced and explain how you overcame it.'
'What are your long-term career goals?'
'Describe a time you experienced conflict in the workplace and how you dealt with it.'
In-depth questions for serving staff
As the meeting progresses, the interviewer is likely to ask more in-depth questions. These focus more on the specific role you have applied for and relate to your capabilities and the attributes that can enable you to complete the tasks that go with it. Examples of in-depth interview questions include:
'Do you have experience using point of sale systems?'
'How would you deal with customer complaints?'
'How knowledgeable are you to recommend and suggest food and wine to customers?'
'Are you comfortable and able to spend long shifts constantly on your feet?'
'Are you able to hold and carry multiple plates?'
'Would you be comfortable taking on other duties like serving at the bar or hosting?'
'How would you deal with a customer requesting to send their food back to the kitchen?'
'How would you build relationships with the back-of-house staff?'
Questions about experience and background
A hiring manager wants to know from your service industry history what makes you the perfect candidate for the job. Examples of experience and background questions for serving jobs include:
'What previous experience do you have working in customer service?'
'What other serving positions have you held?'
'Are you knowledgeable about the type of cuisine this restaurant serves?'
'Are you familiar with food safety protocols?'
'What makes great customer service in your opinion?'
'What responsibilities did you have in your previous position?'
'Explain a time in which you had to multi-task.'
Common server interview questions with example answers
To help you prepare for an upcoming server interview, consider the following questions and practice crafting thought-out responses. Rehearsing your responses can help you feel more confident during the actual interview and enable you to focus on impressing the hiring manager. Below are questions an interviewer may answer and an example answer for each question:
Why have you applied for this serving position?
Managers ask this question to test how much you know about the role and the restaurant as a whole. When answering this question, display that you have thoroughly read the job description. You may also demonstrate that you have researched the restaurant and considered how their practices align with your work ethic.
Example answer: ‘I applied for this position at The Seafood Grill because I have over five years of experience as a restaurant server and would love to bring my experience to your team. I have been a customer at The Seafood Grill many times and not only is your food delicious, but the atmosphere and customer service is great. I love how upbeat and friendly the staff are, and it's exactly the kind of culture I'd love to work in. I'm also a seafood lover and am hugely knowledgeable about the cuisine, so it seems like a perfect fit for me.'
What experience do you have as a server?
Hiring managers ask this question to find out more about your previous role(s). It may be beneficial to go into detail about your duties and responsibilities and try to link them back to the role you're applying for. This further demonstrates your capabilities as a candidate.
Example answer: ‘As I mentioned, I have been a server for over five years. I am currently employed at a restaurant called The Green Bean. My main duties are to serve food and drink and provide an excellent service experience for my customers. I also undertake a range of additional responsibilities in the role. For example, I tend and serve at the bar during busier periods over weekends. I know here at The Seafood Grill you also run a bar service, and I have the skills and experience to assist with this.'
What can you contribute to our team?
When asking this question, employers want to know about your personality and how well you could fit in with the rest of the team. They want to know what sets you apart from other candidates and why you would fit in the best. Make sure to discuss your positive attributes and how your addition to the team would be beneficial.
Example answer: ‘I have a hugely positive mindset and love the comradery of working in a team. I'm a real people person and have made lasting relationships with my colleagues from my current role. I'm always willing to go the extra mile to help my colleagues. I like to be known as a dependable team member who is always on hand to help where I can. I have no problem working overtime during busy periods to support the team.'
How would you accommodate a customer with specific food requirements/allergies?
When working in a restaurant, the safety of customers is paramount. This is usually the responsibility of the server. Hiring managers want to know that you have knowledge of and experience with customers with specific food requirements or with food allergies.
Example answer: ‘Working as a server in The Green Bean, I regularly encounter customers who have specific requirements and food allergies. I am well-informed about food allergies and the way our kitchen can tailor food to meet any requirements, and this puts my customers at ease. I ensure that the kitchen staff understand any changes to orders and always double check that they have made appropriate adjustments to customers' food before serving it.'
Tell me about a time when you experienced conflict in your previous role and explain how you resolved it.
When working in any sector of customer service, conflict/resolution is a common element of the role. Here, an employer is aiming to find out how you deal with unhappy or angry customers. They also want to know how you would resolve an issue calmly and quickly.
Example answer: ‘One scenario I recall is a particularly busy evening at the restaurant when food was coming out slower than usual. One of the tables I was serving was getting increasingly angry at the wait time for food. They were getting to the point where they wanted to cancel the order and leave.
To rectify the situation, I sincerely apologised and explained that the kitchen was very busy. I then offered the table a free round of drinks while they waited for their food and confirmed I would take 20% off their total bill at the end of the evening as a further apology. The customers were satisfied with this resolution and pleased I went above and beyond to keep them happy.'
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