8 Tips for a Successful Restaurant Manager Interview

How can you prepare for a restaurant manager interview? Discover our top tips and questions you might expect.

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February 20, 2023 7 min read

A restaurant management position may look like one job on paper, but whoever fills the position might need to be a “jack of all trades.” If you find yourself in the restaurant manager interview hot seat, be prepared to showcase your dynamic hospitality chops.

The hiring manager will likely look for competency in a variety of areas, including customer service, staffing experience, food & beverage knowledge, operations, and more. To fully prepare for your restaurant manager interview, keep reading for tips and common questions you can expect.

Restaurant Manager Interview Tips

To potentially stand out from the competition and bring your “A” game, here are some helpful restaurant interview tips to consider.

Restaurant manager and waitress holding a tray smile for a photo while standing in a restaurant

Restaurant manager prepping staff member for the day.

1. Exude Professionalism

Think about it—restaurant managers are leaders and oversee multiple aspects of a well-functioning restaurant… so come into your interview exuding professionalism, which starts with “dressing the part.” Most hiring managers will like to see a crisp white shirt and pressed black slacks since this embodies the typical restaurant dress code.

Also, make sure to get a good night’s rest before your interview so you look and feel refreshed! Lastly, step into the interview with a genuine smile, and don’t forget to give a strong handshake.

2. Do the Preliminary Research

Candidates who find ways to sprinkle in knowledge about the restaurant during the interview usually stand out to hiring managers. For your preliminary restaurant research, make Google your reliable best friend and get to searching!

What Restaurant Managers Should Research:

  • Website
  • Google Listing
  • Yelp Reviews
  • Press Releases
  • Social Media Profiles
  • Type of Cuisine
  • Target Audience

As part of your research, you should know the job description inside and out too. It’s a good idea to take note of specific keywords from the job ad and try to weave them into your responses.

3. Identify Areas of Improvement

Doing your homework is especially important since you may be asked “how to improve” the restaurant where you’re interviewing. Our advice here is to be as candid and direct as possible—don’t be afraid to inject your personal opinion, vision, and expertise. Sandwich these pieces of feedback with a few comments on what the restaurant is doing well already, so your critique sounds legitimate but still positive.

4. Prepare Your Pitch

A hiring manager will likely ask you to elaborate on your skill set, personality traits, and leadership skills to see how you’ll collaborate with the team.

Prepare a short pitch that covers your personal interests, professional goals, and a bit about your restaurant management experience. Keep in mind that hiring managers may want you to demonstrate ambition, strong communication, business acumen, leadership, diplomacy, and flexibility.

5. Listen, Listen, Listen

It’s important to listen to the hiring manager during an interview, but this is especially important for restaurant managers. Why? Well, you might be expected to solve conflicts with employees and address customer requests, which certainly requires active listening to formulate viable solutions.

Restaurant manager smiling and talking to customers at their table

Restaurant manager tending to dining patrons.

6. Prioritize Customer Service & Staff Satisfaction

Of course it’s important to highlight your restaurant management accolades, but at the same time, a restaurant’s success is usually dependent on customer satisfaction and retention. A restaurant manager’s job is to delight the customer and ensure the staff is delivering a standout experience. When answering questions, try to craft your responses with this in mind.

7. Close Out with Informed Questions

If you want to finish your interview on a high note, try to be as specific and informed as possible with any questions you have about the establishment or the job itself.

You might consider asking about how extensive the onboarding process is, what the team culture is like, what the expected hours will be, and the reason why the former restaurant manager left.

8. Take Good Notes

Depending on the restaurant’s timeline, you might be invited for a second interview with more decision-makers. After the first interview, jot down important details you gathered, just in case you’re invited back.

Tip: Make sure you also get the correct spelling of the hiring manager’s name so you can send them a “thank you” note after the interview.

Restaurant Manager Role Expectations

Manager showing staff different wine glasses while standing at the bar

Restaurant managers must stay on top of the establishment’s overall presentation.

As we alluded to, restaurant managers are usually invested in each component of hospitality, which starts with customer and guest satisfaction—monitoring both the front and back of house. In fact, according to Zippia, 14.2% of restaurant managers possessed customer service skills.

In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurant managers are expected to exhibit a balanced skill set that is usually cultivated in culinary school.

For example, students enrolled in Escoffier’s online Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management program can cover a breadth of topics such as business communications, menu design, catering, psychology in the workplace, human resources, cost control, and more.

Chef Jason Goldman, Hospitality and Restaurant Operations Management Instructor“The program is not just for people who want to be chefs…It can be taken by those who don’t want to be a chef, who really do have a career path of wanting to be an assistant manager or manager or a general manager, or any fill-in-the-blank hospitality position. So the track here is really wide open. It’s a great one for chefs too. So if you have a student who completes a culinary or pastry diploma program, and wants to continue on to an A.O.S. program and focus on the management aspect of the hospitality industry, that’s a real benefit too.”*
Jason Goldman, Escoffier Lead Chef Instructor, Pastry Arts and Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management

With this in mind, here are a few more examples of hard and soft skills typically expected from restaurant managers.

Hard Skills

  • Coordinate restaurant operations
  • Maximize customer experience
  • Supervise shifts
  • Monitor staff performance
  • Review product quality from food vendors
  • Train new employees
  • Create annual revenue and expense reports
  • Keep up with compliance regulations
  • Understand culinary techniques and flavors

Soft Skills

  • Possess exceptional motivational and leadership skills
  • Be personable
  • Remain team-oriented
  • Manage conflict well
  • Multi-task effectively
  • Have cultural awareness

Common Restaurant Manager Interview Questions

Online Student Writing Notes with Laptop

Because restaurant managers juggle multiple responsibilities at any given time, you can expect common interview questions to cover a variety of topics: culinary arts, business, marketing, management, leadership, and more.

Common Restaurant Manager Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself and your hospitality training.
  • Why are you seeking a new opportunity?
  • What’s the most challenging part of being a restaurant manager?
  • How did you make a positive impact at your last restaurant?
  • How do you lead your staff? What’s your leadership style?
  • How do you ensure employees hit their goals?
  • Did you have any financial responsibilities at your last job?
  • How do you deliver the ultimate customer experience?
  • How do you handle angry customers?
  • Can you describe your ideal type of employee?
  • What’s your method for recruiting new employees?
  • How do you handle understaffing?
  • What is your favorite POS system to use and why?
  • What type of food & beverage training do you have?
  • How do you handle a menu item not selling well?
  • How do you address specific dietary needs?
  • How can this restaurant improve?

Get Ready for Your Restaurant Manager Interview

Although you might rise in the ranks and step into a restaurant manager position with on-the-job experience, starting with a solid hospitality education could give you a leg up! Plus, an expansive management-focused degree could give you the confidence needed in a restaurant manager interview.

A degree in Hospitality Management & Restaurant Operations at Escoffier is geared to help aspiring restaurant managers understand the industry through a comprehensive business lens. Take the first step towards your restaurant management goal, and contact us for more information!

For more advice about starting a restaurant management career, read these articles:

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.

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