Ken Burgin

job applicant questions

Questions in the Minds of Restaurant Job Applicants

They may not be asked openly, but they will influence whether the applicant wants the job or not. If the managers or owners doing an interview raise and answer these job applicant questions, they will have a better rapport with applicants. And don’t forget, people are always looking for answers to their questions; if you don’t provide them, they may make them up!

Questions in the Minds of Chefs or Cooks Applying for a Job

What is the restaurant’s culinary or food philosophy? Applicants may wonder about the restaurant’s culinary direction, commitment to sustainability, sourcing ingredients, and how innovation is balanced with tradition in the kitchen.

How does the restaurant support career development and progression? Chefs often look for opportunities where they can grow professionally, acquire new skills, and advance in their careers. Clarifying paths for progression and development within your establishment can be appealing.

What is the kitchen’s work culture like? The work environment, team dynamics, and how conflicts are resolved are crucial for applicants. They will be interested in get a sense of the team’s spirit, leadership style, and the overall atmosphere of the kitchen. This may become more apparent during a trial shift.

How are creativity and input from the kitchen staff valued? Chefs may wish to know how much freedom they have to contribute ideas, experiment with dishes, and have a say in menu development.

What are the expectations regarding working hours and flexibility? Understanding the scheduling, shift patterns, and expectations around overtime or flexibility can be critical, especially in balancing personal life and work.

How does the restaurant handle staff wellbeing and mental health? The high-pressure environment of a kitchen makes mental health and wellbeing a significant concern. Applicants may wonder about support systems, stress management practices, and policies to ensure a healthy work-life balance.

What is the typical service like on a busy shift? Getting an idea of the pace, volume, and intensity of service can help applicants gauge if they’re a good fit for the environment and what will be expected of them during peak times.

Are there opportunities for further training, or to attend workshops and events? Chefs often value opportunities to learn and stay updated with culinary trends. Information on whether the restaurant invests in professional development or allows staff to participate in industry events can be a strong draw.

What are the safety and hygiene standards in the kitchen? Applicants will be keen to know about the adherence to health and safety regulations, cleanliness standards, and how the restaurant ensures a safe working environment.

How is performance evaluated, and is feedback welcome? Understanding the criteria for evaluation, the frequency of reviews, and how feedback is given can be important for personal and professional development.

By proactively addressing these questions during the interview process or in job postings, you can create a more effective recruitment experience. It attracts candidates and sets the stage for a more informed and positive working relationship.

Questions in the Minds of Restaurant Waiters and Bar Staff Applying for a Job

Their concerns about pay and work hours can be somewhat different due to the nature of their roles, often including tips and more direct interaction with customers. Transparency is crucial for setting realistic expectations and creating a positive work environment.

How are tips distributed among front-of-house and kitchen staff? Applicants will want to understand the restaurant’s policy on tips, including whether they’re shared, kept individually, or pooled and then distributed, and if so, how the distribution is calculated.

What are the expected work shifts and how are they assigned? Potential hires will be interested in knowing about shift patterns, peak service times, and how shifts are allocated among staff. They may also inquire about the process for requesting specific shifts or swapping shifts with colleagues.

Is there a guaranteed minimum number of hours per week? Since many front-of-house roles can be part-time or variable hours, applicants might seek assurance on the minimum number of hours they can expect to work each week.

What training and induction processes are in place for new staff? New starters, particularly those with less experience, will be keen to find out about the training they’ll receive, including product knowledge, customer service standards, and any specific systems or equipment they’ll need to use.

Are there opportunities for earning additional income through upselling or incentives? Waiters and bar staff can often increase their earnings through sales incentives, such as bonuses for selling certain dishes and drinks or achieving high customer satisfaction scores. Applicants may be interested in any such schemes.

What is the restaurant’s service philosophy and customer experience goal? Front-of-house applicants may wonder about the establishment’s approach to customer service, the atmosphere it aims to create, and how it differentiates itself from competitors in terms of service.

How does the restaurant support career development and progression for front-of-house staff? Potential hires will be interested in learning about opportunities for advancement, whether there are clear career paths within the restaurant or group, and any support for professional development, such as training courses or certifications.

What is the team culture and management style within the front-of-house department? Applicants will want to understand the dynamics of the team they’ll be joining, including communication styles, management support, and how the restaurant fosters a positive work environment.

How are customer feedback and complaints managed? Knowing how the restaurant deals with customer satisfaction and handles feedback is crucial for front-of-house staff, as it directly affects their day-to-day responsibilities and the support they can expect from management in difficult situations.

What are the expectations for personal presentation and uniform? Since front-of-house staff are often customers’ first point of contact, applicants may inquire about dress codes, any provided uniforms, and expectations for personal grooming.

How is the work-life balance managed, considering the unpredictable nature of restaurant hours? Potential staff will be keen to know how the restaurant manages scheduling, time off, and work-life balance, especially given the often irregular weekend hours required in hospitality.

What opportunities are there for cross-training, such as learning about wine pairings, mixology, or even gaining insight into the culinary side? Front-of-house staff often value the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills in areas that can enhance customer service and their personal expertise.

How does the restaurant encourage and support teamwork between front-of-house and kitchen staff? A harmonious relationship between the service team and the kitchen is critical for a smooth operation. Applicants may be interested in how collaboration and communication are encouraged across departments.

What technology or systems does the restaurant use for bookings, orders, and service management? Understanding the tools and technology that the restaurant employs can help applicants gauge the learning curve and efficiency of service management.

How are performance and contributions recognised within the front-of-house team? Potential hires will want to know how the restaurant acknowledges hard work and excellence in service, whether through formal recognition programs, promotions, or other incentives.

 job applicant questions

Questions in the Minds of Juniors or First-time Applicants

These young people might be more apprehensive about the basics of employment, what is expected of them, and how they will fit into the team. Here are some of the questions likely to be on their minds:

What kind of training and orientation will I receive? Junior applicants will want to know how they’ll be brought up to speed on their responsibilities, the team they’ll be working with, and any systems or tools they’ll need to use.

Will I have a mentor or someone I can turn to for help? Knowing there is a specific person they can ask for guidance can be very reassuring for someone in their first job.

What are the expectations, and how will my performance be evaluated? Clear information about what success looks like in their role and how feedback will be given can help alleviate anxiety about meeting expectations.

How does the team work together, and how will I fit in? Insights into team dynamics and how new employees are integrated into the group can help junior applicants feel more comfortable about joining a new workplace.

What are the busiest times, and what will be expected of me during these periods? Understanding the pace of work and peak periods helps prepare them mentally for the challenges ahead and assures them of the support structure during these times.

Are there opportunities for growth and learning within the company? Knowing that there are paths for advancement and opportunities to gain new skills can be a significant motivator for someone starting their career journey. Many of them have done hospitality training at school, so will be used to structured education.

How is feedback provided, and will I have opportunities to discuss my progress? Junior applicants may be particularly concerned about how they will learn from mistakes and grow, emphasising the importance of constructive feedback and regular check-ins.

What is the dress code, and are there any specific requirements for personal appearance? Understanding the expectations around dress and presentation can be a concern for someone new to the workforce.

How flexible are the work hours, and is there room to accommodate study or personal commitments? Knowing the employer’s policy on flexibility can be crucial, especially for those balancing work with education or other responsibilities.

What is the pay rate, and when can I earn adult pay? They will want to know the basics of being paid, tax deductions, tips and bonuses, and how they can progress to a higher rate.

Questions in the Minds of Applicants About Pay and Conditions

Discussing pay and work hours is critical for setting clear expectations and making sure that potential hires are fully informed about their employment conditions.

What is the salary structure and payment schedule? Applicants will want to know the starting salary, any variances based on experience or role within the kitchen, how often they will be paid (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly), and through what method (bank transfer, cheque, etc.).

Are there opportunities for overtime, and how is it compensated? Chefs and cooks may inquire about the availability of overtime work, how often it might occur, and whether overtime is paid at a standard or higher rate.

What are the expected working hours, and how flexible are the rosters? Potential hires will be interested in the typical working hours, including start and end times, the number of hours per week, and the flexibility of scheduling. They may also want to know how the restaurant manages shift patterns and rostering.

How does the restaurant handle holiday pay and sick leave? Information on the restaurant’s policies for paid time off, including holidays, sick leave, and any other benefits related to time off, is often a key concern for applicants.

Are there any additional financial incentives or benefits? Chefs and cooks might be curious about bonuses, tips, staff meals, discounts, superannuation contributions, health insurance, or any other financial benefits and incentives offered by the restaurant.

Employers can significantly ease an applicant’s transition into the workplace by addressing these questions during the recruitment process or as part of onboarding. This helps build a supportive and inclusive work environment and retain new talent by demonstrating an understanding of their needs and concerns.

Also useful to lift your recruitment game, see How to Create a Powerful Employment Page on your Restaurant or Café Website.

🤚 Check the weekly discoveries on Hospo Reset – information & inspiration for restaurant, cafe & foodservice operators.

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