When hiring a Restaurant Manager, look for a candidate who is highly organized, confident, and a natural leader. Their role is to ensure that all of your daily restaurant activities are running smoothly and efficiently. They are also responsible for ensuring that a qualified team of staff members are selected and that policies and safety regulations are always followed. Multitasking, problem solving, and excellent communication skills are all essential to success in this position.
Use your Restaurant Manager interview to help you gauge your candidate’s depth and breadth of general restaurant experience. It is vitally important they can handle small tasks at the front of the house, as well as larger issues behind the scenes. You’ll also want to be able to assess their interpersonal skills and get a read on how they would manage spontaneous problems that are likely to be encountered at your establishment.
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 Restaurant Manager interview questions to help you get started:
1. What makes you a strong candidate for this position?
What you want to hear: This question allows your candidate to put their knowledge of the role on display. Look for someone who fully understands the scope of responsibilities and the skill set required to be successful. A strong candidate will then be able to explain why their qualifications are an ideal match. For example, the candidate should discuss driving up sales, managing and retaining employees, running the kitchen, and the like.
Red flag: A candidate who mentions skills or duties that aren’t on target with the job description is waving a red flag. An experienced Restaurant Manager will have a thorough and accurate understanding of the role and how they perform in it.
2. How would you describe your management style?
What you want to hear: Every Restaurant Manager has a unique way of managing staff. An excellent candidate will bring a style that aligns with the branding and culture of your establishment.
Red flag: A mismatched management style can lead to problems very quickly. A Restaurant Manager whose style is aggressive, rigid, or laid back when your operation is built on a different culture can frustrate team members and drive down morale and productivity.
3. How have you managed an employee who is underperforming?
What you want to hear: A great candidate will share the details of a situation and a positive outcome. For example, they might tell a story about how they identified an underperforming employee, initiated a constructive dialogue, and asked questions to try and get to the root cause of the performance issue – all while actively and empathetically listening. From there, the candidate may go on to explain that they determined the employee had the skills and motivation to try again, and offered ways they could help the employee with resources needed to boost performance.
Red flag: A large part of improving employee performance comes from the relationship between the manager and staff member. A manager who doesn’t have the right interpersonal skills or fails to actively engage with the employee may heighten the tension level and continue to drive down individual and team performance.
4. Describe a time you positively impacted a restaurant’s profitability.
What you want to hear: Look for a candidate who has impacted the bottom line without having to reduce offerings or lose a staff member. A strong candidate will point to an example of when, for example, they implemented new food and beverage purchasing procedures, or designed better upsell and cross-sell training for the wait staff, or improved shift scheduling efficiencies.
Red flag: Profits and cost management are important components of a Restaurant Manager’s role. A candidate who is not energized by the prospect of shaking up the status quo with fresh ideas and active implementation is doing your establishment a tremendous disservice.
5. What do you see as areas of improvement for our restaurant today?
What you want to hear: A strong candidate will have an enthusiastic response to this question. They should reveal all of the pre-interview information they gathered from public resources and in-store investigations. A truly inquisitive candidate will add to their public knowledge by asking you for more non-confidential “insider” information about specific points of interest. With all that, they should be able to float some creative and insightful ideas about where they might focus their attention for improvements.
Red flag: A passive candidate who barely touches this subject of improvement is a red flag. Don’t expect someone who falls short on this response to be eager about challenging the status quo in your establishment.
6. Thinking about the last team you managed, how would you describe the rates of employee retention and turnover?
What you want to hear: A qualified candidate will have retention and turnover data at the ready from their previous job. Beyond numbers, however, look for a candidate who can discuss trends up or down, the underlying reasons for retention or turnover, any methodologies designed and implemented for improvement, and the like. These issues should be top of mind for an effective leader in your establishment.
Red flag: A Restaurant Manager who is not in full command of employee retention and turnover issues is not prepared to be an effective leader. The candidate must show they would have their finger on the pulse of the team at all times to maintain morale, productivity, and profitability.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Restaurant Manager position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Are excellent leaders
- Have full command of all aspects of the restaurant business
- Are eager to shake up the status quo with positive changes
Need help writing a Restaurant Manager job description? Check out our Restaurant Manager job description template.
What qualities do you look for when interviewing a server candidate for your team?
Why do you feel your qualities would be a good match with our restaurant’s brand?
What is your system for staying current on revenue, inventory, and payroll reports?
Let’s say you are hired for this role. Tell me what actions you would take the first week on the job.
In your experience as a Restaurant Manager, what have you found to be the most challenging responsibility? Why?
How do you ensure the restaurant’s preparedness for random health inspections?
What is your system of scheduling staff for high activity periods? What about slow periods?
If you were to do a food cost analysis, how would you approach it?
If we asked three staff members you previously managed, how do you think they would describe you?
tell me about a time when you resolved a conflict between co-workers. What was the issue and what steps did you take?