Waitress bringing food to the couple by the table

How to navigate hospitality interview questions

How to navigate hospitality interview questions

Amandeep Chahal our consultant managing the role
Date posted: 28/02/2024

Welcome to your go-to guide for mastering hospitality interviews!

Working in a pub, bar or restaurant is like no other job. It’s a whirlwind of excitement, human connection and showing guests a good time. Every day brings something new, where every interaction matters and where you're constantly learning and evolving.

Prepping for any interview is important to help you feel more comfortable on the day. You want to be able to show that you’re ready for anything that comes your way, and that's where we come in. We've got all the tips and tricks you need to ace those top questions and more. Let's dive in and get you set to knock their socks off!

Top hospitality interview questions and how to answer them


Q1: How do you prioritise tasks in a fast-paced environment?

There’s never a dull moment working in hospitality, and anyone working in this industry knows that things can go from zero to one hundred in a flash. Think of a time when this has happened to you…

It’s the middle of a shift and suddenly, a big group walks in, a table asks for the bill, another asks you to take their drinks order, and the kitchen shouts, ‘Service!’. How did you decide what to tackle first?

Or perhaps you have another example of a time that wasn’t in a hospitality environment – don’t be afraid to use these! Hospitality is a perfect environment for showing off your transferable skills, so you will almost certainly have a story you can use.


Q2: A guest is unhappy with their meal. How would you handle this situation?

If you work in hospitality, you’ll be no stranger to guest queries. Give your step-by-step approach and show them you know how to handle these situations like a pro. Remember, it all starts with active listening and getting to the bottom of an issue as quickly as you can so you can work with your team and make sure the guest leaves happy.


Q3: Describe a time when you had to adapt to unexpected changes or work under pressure

Working under pressure or in an environment that changes quickly is part of any job, so we bet you’ve got buckets of examples for this one. Jot down a few and reflect on what you did to roll with the punches – how did you make sure that everything stayed on track? The interviewer wants to hear that you’re adaptable and able to keep your cool when things get shaken up.

Remember to talk about specific actions – if you pulled together as a team, how exactly did you do that? Listing the specific elements of your actions is the best way to take your answer from good to great.


Q4: Can you give an example of a time when you’ve worked successfully as part of a team?

Your answer might look something like this:

"My team faced a particularly busy shift one evening, with a fully booked dining room and a few special events. We made sure that everyone was clear on the role that they were playing and that everyone knew who to ask for help if they needed it. I made sure to check in on colleagues when I was able to and as my section was close to the kitchen, I kept my eye on when food was ready to run. ”

The best answers to this type of question show how communication is key but also highlight your individual role in achieving success. 


Q5: Can you give an example of a time when you’ve used feedback to help you improve?

It’s often said that feedback is a gift. So showing that you’re open to putting it to good use is a great behaviour to demonstrate in an interview. 

Perhaps you got feedback from a colleague or a manager on how best to prioritise tasks or make recommendations to guests? Show your interviewer that you recognise that it’s important to learn and grow and how feedback can help you and others around you. You might also be asked when you have given feedback to others, so use this to show how you help and support others in an encouraging way.


Q6: What has been one of your proudest achievements?

This could be something professional or personal. Either way, it’s a great opportunity to inject a bit of your personality into the answer and show what you value most – perhaps you had a particularly great shift where you got loads of great reviews afterwards? Or maybe you worked really hard at a skill as part of a New Year’s resolution. Whatever it is, the interviewer will always enjoy learning about what makes you tick!


Bonus question: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Remember that an interview isn’t just about your skills, it’s about getting to know you. Are you a taekwondo master? Or maybe you have an extensive mug collection?

We love getting to know more about our interviewees. And the more quirky your interests are, the better!

Our extra hot interview tips

  • Get there early, but not too early. 15-20 minutes beforehand is a good time and will give you a chance to take a look around.
  • Take your time – you aren’t being tested on how quickly you can come up with an example. If you need a moment to reflect, the interviewer will be more than happy to let you have a think.
  • Learn a bit about the company’s values and weave these into your answers.
  • Prepare some questions of your own.
  • Believe in yourself - you’ve got this!

Beyond the interview

So, what's the game plan after the interview?

Drop a quick thank-you note to the interviewer, letting them know you appreciate their time and that you're excited about the opportunity.

Keep tabs on the company's socials for updates, but keep your options open. Explore other jobs that catch your eye, and don't hesitate to send out some more applications.

Are you ready to head into that next interview with confidence?

You've mastered some of the top hospitality interview questions and learned how to answer them like a pro. Plus, you’ve got some extra tips that will help you bring the wow factor. What’s next? It’s time to get applying!

You won’t want to miss out on our latest jobs. We’ve got a mix of full-time and part-time roles so you can find something that works for you. Head to our bar and waiting career hub and you’ll find a bunch of different roles, like bar staff, waiting staff, and shift supervisor. Or if you’re a born leader, check out our management roles.

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