When hiring a Host/Hostess, it is important to find the best fit because the customer’s dining experience begins the moment they enter the establishment and engage with the host. Hiring a qualified Host/Hostess can increase sales and bolster your restaurant’s reputation.
During your Host/Hostess interview, look for candidates who are outgoing and capable of handling multiple customer inquiries at the same time. Highly desirable qualities include strong communication skills, reliability for shifts, and the ability to work well as part of a team. Depending on your restaurant’s branding and style, you can determine which candidates are the best fit based on personality and experience.
General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.
Below are Host/Hostess interview questions to help you get started:
1. Why do you want to work at this restaurant?
What you want to hear: Make sure your candidate isn’t simply applying to every job under the sun, but instead has a particular interest in the restaurant business. The ideal candidate will be familiar with your specific establishment either as customer or through research, and may even have longer range goals for advancing their career in the industry.
Red flag: A candidate who does not demonstrate a reasonable level of drive and passion for the restaurant business may not have the interpersonal skills or motivation essential for success in a customer-facing role of this kind.
2. This job can be repetitive. What will motivate you to do excellent work every day?
What you want to hear: A strong Host/Hostess should be motivated to be at their best when performing required tasks, regardless of how repetitive those tasks may be. Look for a candidate who signals that they do not require functions that change on a regular basis to stay focused.
Red flag: A candidate who constantly needs something new and different to work on each day may not be well-suited for the role. Unhappiness can set in quickly, resulting in sub-par performance, reliability for shift issues, and ultimately quitting the job.
3. How would you deal with an upset customer?
What you want to hear: A good candidate will have experience turning angry customers into satisfied ones. Probe to find out how the candidate handles conflict and operates under pressure. Excellent listening skills, a cool demeanor, a quick reaction to solve problems, and the resourcefulness to win back the customer are all key ingredients for performing the job well.
Red flag: A Host/Hostess prone to frustration or impatience can ruin your establishment’s reputation with customers. A candidate who doesn’t recognize the power and importance of excellent interpersonal skills will not be an asset to your company.
4. How would you handle a situation where the phone began ringing just as a family entered the restaurant?
What you want to hear: This question gives your candidate a chance to display their multitasking and customer service abilities. For example, a great candidate might say, “I would greet the family as they entered to make sure they feel seen and welcomed. After, I would excuse myself to answer the phone and tell the caller that I will be right with them in a few moments. Once I was done attending to the family, I would apologize to and assist the caller.”
Red flag: If a candidate can’t move seamlessly from one situation to another, or can’t effectively balance multiple activities at once, they likely won’t create a good first impression for your establishment with customers.
5. What would you do if a party of seven arrived with no reservation?
What you want to hear: Quick thinking and problem solving skills can be essential in situations like this. A great Host/Hostess will find a way to satisfy your guests even under unexpected circumstances. This may require rearranging tables, reallocating servers and staff, or preparing an extra room in the restaurant. If immediate accommodations cannot be made, they could offer a drink at the bar or appetizers while waiting.
6. Based on our job description, which required skills do you feel proficient in and which would require extra training?
What you want to hear: This question helps you to determine your candidate’s experience level and skill set. Is point of sales experience more beneficial to you, or would you prefer someone who is highly personable you can train more extensively later? An excellent candidate will give an honest answer and show a strong desire to learn whatever is necessary for the role.
Red flag: A candidate who cannot identify the skills they should be proficient in, or provides only a vague response, has likely not taken the time to thoroughly review your job description and website. This lack of diligence can be expected to present itself again on the job.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Host/Hostess position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Are outstanding communicators with an outgoing personality
- Can multitask efficiently in high activity environments
- Are knowledgeable about your restaurant’s offerings and menu items
Need help writing a Hostess job description? Check out our Hostess job description template.
What is your technique for making guests feel welcome while waiting to be seated?
Imagine if a customer sees an open table and demands to be seated, despite a thirty minute waiting list. How would you react?
During slow hours, how would you spend your down-time as a hostess?
Tell me about a recent skill you’ve learned that could assist you in this role. Explain your choice.
What is your method for assisting customers who inquire about the menu because of special dietary restrictions?
Conflict with a co-worker or manager is inevitable. Tell me about a conflict you experienced with a co-worker or manager, and how it was resolved.
Are you able to work late hours, longer shifts, or holidays during peak seasons. Why, or why not?
Hostesses stand for the duration of their shifts. What methods help you stay comfortable working while standing?
Describe a work problem you had to resolve in your previous job. How did you handle it?
In your opinion, how does a Hostess contribute to the value to a restaurant?