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Restaurant ManagerInterview Questions

Position Summary

Restaurant managers oversee wait and kitchen staff on a day- to- day basis, handling the promotion of the restaurant, and adhering to health and safety standards. The restaurant manager coordinates with the chef to plan menus and maintain an inventory of quality ingredients. 

In addition to being in charge of existing staff, the restaurant manager also handles hiring new staff and firing underperforming employees. They typically report directly to the owner of the restaurant or corporation that owns it in order to show that revenue quotas and budgetary requirements are being met.

 

Responsibilities

A restaurant manager's responsibilities include:

  • Coordinating menus with kitchen staff and providing proper inventory.
  • Hiring and firing staff as needed.
  • Training new staff in front of house as well as back of house.
  • Maintaining proper food safety standards.
  • Ensuring company policies are followed.
  • Overseeing promotion and advertisement of the restaurant.

Skills

A restaurant manager's skills include:

  • The ability to lead employees in high-stress environments.
  • Scheduling and coordinating employees while balancing labor costs.
  • Training employees in all job positions.
  • Analyzing labor and inventory costs against revenue to maintain a profit.
  • Making regular inventory orders.

Qualifications

A restaurant manager must have several years of experience in the restaurant industry in either front of house or back of house. A bachelor's degree in business or a culinary degree will make an applicant more competitive in the job market. 

Salary

Salaries for Restaurant Managers  range between $34K to $74K, with the median being $55K.

Factors impacting the salary you receive as a Restaurant Manager include:

  • Degrees (High School, Associates, Bachelors)
  • Location
  • Size and Type of the establishment
  • Reporting Structure (Seniority of the Owner, Senior Manager, or Regional Supervisor you report to)
  • Level of performance - Exceeding Expectations, etc.

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Restaurant Manager Interview Questions

Question: With all the different eating establishments in this area, why did you apply to become a manager of our restaurant?

Explanation: This is a general question that the interviewer will ask to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect some information they can use for subsequent questions.  It also provides you the opportunity to start guiding the interview in the direction you would like it to take.

Example: “While you’re correct that there are many restaurants in this area that I could manage, I’d choose to apply to yours because it is one of the finest and it matches my style.  The cuisine you provide your customers is of the highest quality I have found, and your reputation in the local market is stellar.  I would be honored to join your team and help you continue this success.”


Question: Have you ever eaten in our restaurant before, and if so, what would you suggest we change?

Explanation: This is another general question the interviewer is using to see what kind of research you have done before applying for this position.  Hiring managers expect you to know more about their business than some of their employees do and to be able to explain how you would contribute to the organization's business objectives.

Example: “I have eaten at this restaurant on several occasions and have been impressed with the quality of the food and the level of service I’ve received.  I also admire the decor.  One of the things you may consider changing is to increase the level of lighting.  My companions and  I thought it was a bit dark and had some trouble reading the menu.”


Question: As a restaurant manager, what items do you look at when tasked with reducing the cost of operating a property?

Explanation: This is an operational question.  Operational questions seek to understand how you go about doing this job.  The best way to answer operational questions is directly and briefly.  The interviewer will ask a follow-up question if they need additional information.

Example: “In my role as a restaurant manager, I am always looking to maximize profits without reducing the quality of the service and the experience the guests enjoy.  I closely monitor every cost item when running a restaurant, but I tend to focus on two specific areas.  These include labor costs and the cost of the food items.  Labor costs can be reduced by limiting the amount of overtime paid.  Food costs can be lowered through effective negotiations with the vendors, buying in bulk, and replacing costlier ingredients with less expensive ones of similar quality.”


Question: Have you ever had to fire or discipline a staff member who violated the rules of the restaurant? If so, how did it turn out?

Explanation: This is another operational question.  When you interview for a job as a restaurant manager, you can anticipate that most of the questions will be either operational or behavioral.  Make sure you keep your answers brief and to the point, allowing the interviewer to ask follow-up questions if they want to explore the topic in more detail.

Example: “Managing staff is one of the critical duties of a restaurant manager.  Unfortunately, things don’t always go right am I sometimes have to either discipline or terminate an employee.  I try to avoid this by setting expectations, training the employees when they are hired, providing them the resources they need to do their job, and mentoring them.  I always provide an employee at least two warnings when inappropriate behavior occurs before terminating them.  When I do terminate them, I carefully explain the reason and note the two previous warnings they’ve received.  I also coach them as to how to improve their work and succeed in the next job they get.”


Question: What restaurant automation tools have you worked within your role as a restaurant manager?

Explanation: This is a hybrid operational and technical question.  Technical questions ask you to define terms, processes, or tools used in your profession.  Like operational questions, technical questions should be answered directly and succinctly. 

Example: “I use several different tools and systems to manage a restaurant.  These include systems for sales, employee scheduling, payroll and inventory.  Specific tools include ADP for payroll and Toast POS for payments, revenue reports, and for updating the restaurant’s menus."


Question: How do you collaborate with the head chef about menu items that are not selling well?

Explanation: As the Manager of a restaurant, you’re responsible for the entire operation, including both the front and back of the house.  Collaborating with the head chef is paramount to running a successful restaurant business.  The menu is the responsibility of both the restaurant manager and the chef.  The chef creates the menu based on the theme of the restaurant, their cooking abilities and knowledge of foodservice.  The restaurant manager provides input based on the financials for the restaurant and feedback from both the customers and the wait staff.

Example: ” I consider the head chef to be my partner in the restaurants I manage.  Both they and I are responsible for the theme of the menu, the individual items served, and the quality of the food prepared.  I follow the head chef’s lead when it comes to the individual items on the menu, as long as they follow the overall theme.  I also provide them input on items that may not be selling well based on the restaurant finances, input from the wait staff, and feedback from our customers..”


Question: What steps do you take to lower the cost of the ingredients used to cook the menu items in the restaurants you manage?

Explanation: Restaurant margins are very thin; therefore, both revenue and expenses must be monitored and actively managed.  One of the key elements of the expenses is the ingredients of the food items on the menu.  While this is primarily the responsibility of the head chef, the restaurant manager should also be highly engaged and have input as to how to reduce these costs without reducing the quality of the food served.

Example:” To maximize the profits of the restaurants I manage, I keep a close eye on the expenses.  A key element of these is the cost of the ingredients for the menu items.  I manage these by carefully negotiating with our vendors and using the most cost-effective ingredients without compromising quality.  I also meet with the staff before each shift to discuss portion sizes, daily specials, and other ways to minimize waste, such as confirming the guests' orders before placing it with the kitchen staff.”


Question: What new trends and developments are you following in the restaurant industry?

Explanation: The restaurant industry is extremely competitive, and to survive, restaurants need to remain up to date with trends in eating and entertainment.  Restaurant managers should have a plan for accomplishing this and be able to discuss it during the interview.

Example: “Without a doubt, the most recent developments in our industry have been related to the impact of the worldwide pandemic.  Not only have many restaurants been forced to close, but some have needed to come up with new ideas for their menus, venues, service offerings, and other items to remain in business.  I tracked these developments during the last year and have implemented several new strategies at the restaurants I manage. These include a limited menu, take out and curbside delivery, outdoor seating, and social distancing inside of the restaurant.  These changes have helped my current restaurant stay in business during these challenging times.


Question: Which of the trends you mentioned would you like to implement at this restaurant?

Explanation: This is a follow-up to the previous question.  As mentioned earlier, interviewers will ask follow-up questions if they are especially interested in a topic or want to explore it in more detail.  Every time you provide an answer to an interviewer’s question, you should anticipate a follow-up question.

Example: “Your restaurant is different from the one I currently manage.  Of the trends I mentioned in my last answer, the ones I would recommend implementing here include redesigning the interior to allow for more social distancing, taking advantage of the outdoor dining space, and updating the menu to include items that are prepared and consumed more quickly.  This will allow you more turns, which would compensate for the limited number of customers you can allow into the restaurant at any given time.”


Question: How do you prepare the restaurants you manage for a health inspection?

Explanation: Health and safety concerns are paramount to any restaurant.  While the customer experience, the quality of the food, and the level of service are critical, a restaurant that does not pass a health inspection will be shut down and could go out of business.  You should be able to discuss your approach to maintaining health and safety in general and preparing for a health inspection in particular.

Example: “I place a great deal of importance on maintaining the health and safety of any restaurant I manage.  The steps I take to do this include training the staff in health and safety requirements, making sure everyone is following the rules, and conducting spot inspections to verify that we are complying with health protocols.  When notified of an upcoming health inspection, I hire a third party cleaning vendor to work alongside our in-house staff to make sure every aspect of the health compliance standards is met.”


Additional Restaurant Manager Interview Questions

  • In what roles have you previously filled worked in the restaurant industry?

  • Describe a time in which you had to deal with a difficult employee. 

  • Describe a time you had to deal with a difficult customer.

  • What managerial skills will you bring to this position?

  • How would you go about rectifying discrepancies in financial records?

  • What do you look for when onboarding new staff?

  • How do you handle violations of restaurant policy?

  • What methods do you use to keep track of inventory?

  • Do you have any experience planning menus to accommodate special diets?

  • How do you motivate your staff when they have worked long hours?

  • What promotional tools do you use most to advertise the restaurant?

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