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Food Service Management Interview Questions

by Megan Torrance

Recruiting the most qualified individuals for food service management positions is a crucial part of maintaining a successful kitchen. Restaurants and other food service operations often run into problems resulting from kitchen staffs that don't do their jobs properly. To prevent this from happening, businesses need strong and capable managers to ensure things run smoothly. One way to ensure you get the best person for the job is to ask the right questions during the job interview.

Management Experience

Right off the bat, you should dig into a job candidate's management experience and how it is relevant to the open position. Ask the candidate if he has had training or experience ordering supplies, keeping records of inventory and maintaining budgets. Find out if he is familiar with any systems for menu planning, and if so, which ones. How does he ensure that food is of the highest quality, and what methods does he use to improve the menu and introduce new dishes? What strategies will he use to determine work schedules and staffing needs, and what tools would he use to determine if those levels were appropriate?

Leadership Qualities

Experience is useful, but ideal applicants should also be leaders.

Even if a job candidate's prior experience is relevant to the job, she should be able to demonstrate her leadership abilities during the interview. Have her provide a short explanation of what great restaurant service means to her. Make sure she provides specific examples rather than general observations. Because managers are typically responsible for training new hires, ask the application how she would plan and commence development or training programs for her staff. Also, ask her method for reinforcing a specific behavior she would like repeated.

Co-Worker Relationships

Can the applicant separate personal from professional?

When a manager comes from outside the company, he might be inclined to adopt an overly friendly relationship with co-workers to win their support. While you want someone who gets along with his employees, you also want to ensure that he is willing to enforce company policies when necessary. Ask how he would create an ideal working relationship with the current staff in the kitchen, if he is selected. Get his feelings regarding friendships with employees on a personal level, and how he will be able to draw a line between personal and professional relationships. Find out his strategy for treating all employees fairly and equitably.

Conflict Resolution

Ask the applicant how he resolved conflicts in previous jobs.

While managers cannot be too lenient, they should not come off as too strict, either. Find out how the applicant plans to ensure food safety and restaurant compliance at all times. How would she enforce rules and regulations? What would she do when faced with an employee who broke specific rules, such as not cooking meat to the right temperature or not storing food properly? What techniques does she use to resolve conflicts between employees? How would she respond to a worker who must be told the same thing several times over? Inquire if her reaction would differ if the staff member was a new hire still in training vs. an employee who has been with the company for a couple of years.

About the Author

Based in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Megan Torrance left her position as the general manager for five Subway restaurants to focus on her passion for writing. Torrance specializes in creating content for career-oriented, motivated individuals and small business owners. Her work has been published on such sites as Chron, GlobalPost and eHow.

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