What You Don’t Say When Interviewing For Your Restaurant

Not many Restaurant Owners or Managers enjoy interviewing people to fill positions in their Restaurants. It is a time consuming process which can be both tedious and frustrating. However, in a service industry, where quality personal are getting harder and harder to find, it is vital.

The interview is not just for finding out if the candidate is qualified or whether or not you like them. It is an opportunity for you to make a positive impression on top talent as well.

There Are No Dumb Questions?

People say there is no such thing as a dumb question, but that is not true. What people mean when they say this is, they don’t have a lot of time to teach you how things work, and they are going to rush you through training, but it is critical things are done the right way, so if you don’t know what you are supposed to do then ask somebody who does.

In the Restaurant world there are dumb questions. These are questions that waste peoples time and if you ask too many of them, one day you will learn there is such a thing as a dumb question. This goes for interviewers as well as employees. Don’t ask irrelevant questions that waste your time and the candidates.

Here are a couple of examples of traditional interview questions which are actually a complete waste of time:

  • What is your biggest weakness? – A smart interviewee is expecting this question and is already prepared with a canned answer turning a strength into a weakness and an unprepared candidate is just going to lie.
  • Tell me about yourself. – This question is almost always answered with another question. “Where would you like me to begin?” or “What would you like to know?”. You will find out about them throughout the course of the interview, don’t make it awkward with this interview killing question.


Legal No-Nos

While no one wants to waste peoples time or appear dull asking poor questions, what you really have to watch out for in an interview are illegal questions. In todays society laws have been put in place to prevent discrimination and you might be surprised what you can’t say. Asking the following questions won’t get you thrown in jail, but they can expose your company to lawsuits:

  • How old are you? – This may seam relevant for a variety of reasons, but it is age discrimination and you can not ask someone their age in an interview.
  • Do you have kids? – Restaurants have crazy demanding schedules, and availability is one of a Restaurant employers greatest concerns, but it is illegal to ask about family life in an interview.
  • Will need any Religious holidays off? – Stay away from Religion. Don’t ask about theirs, and don’t mention your own beliefs.
  • Where are you from? – This seems like an obvious friendly questions, but it can be construed to be a source of ethnic discrimination and you should stay away from it.
  • Are you single? – This question is always a bad idea. It can be perceived as discrimination against married family people and it can be perceived as sexual harassment.

To avoid legal trouble it is best to avoid any questions that involve, age, sexual orientation, relationship status, pregnancy, Country or origin, ethnicity, religion, or disability.

Be careful to avoid these trouble areas even if they come up in casual conversation. A candidate may voluntarily start to talk about their family or other subject off limits during interviews. If this occurs it is advised to steer the conversation back to a neutral or interview oriented subject. Never encourage an interviewee to speak longer and deeper on one of the above forbidden subjects.

Use the interview to learn about the candidates qualifications and skills. Don’t waste their time or yours and try to utilize the interview to sell the candidate on the great culture and work environment of your Restaurant as well. The Restaurant Industry is busier than ever and it is difficult enough to find good people, don’t lose any to your competition by conducting a dull, time wasting interview.

Most importantly though, don’t open yourself or your Restaurant to discrimination lawsuits by asking illegal questions. Be aware many illegal questions seem like natural things your would like to know about a potential employee.

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