Evocative Interviewing: The Key to Assessing Candidates

by Stanley Zuo3 Min Read

So you’ve narrowed down the list of candidates you want to interview for your restaurant. The next step is to interview them and to make sure they are a good fit for the position. How do you assess whether a candidate will be good at their job without actually observing them on the job? Here are a list of the most effective questions you can use to assess candidates short of actually hiring them.

Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?

People work in the restaurant industry for a wide variety of reasons. Some see the industry as a temporary stepping stone to other careers, while others want to develop a career in the industry. This question should give you a sense of the candidate’s motivations for working at a restaurant and how they are likely to view the job.

Why do you want to work at our restaurant?

There are plenty of other restaurants the candidate could have applied to. Find out why they want to work in your restaurant in particular. Candidates who can articulate specific reasons for why they want to work at your restaurant are more likely to be interested in your restaurant compared to those who are just looking for any job.

What are your career goals?

This question should give you a sense of the candidate’s ambition. Whether they want to move up in your restaurant or in another industry, ambitious candidates are more likely to continually improve themselves. Their actual answer to this question isn’t as important as what it reveals about their attitude towards work and their expectations for themselves.

Tell me about a time where you received excellent customer service.

Your candidate’s response to this question should reveal what they consider to be a good customer service experience. If your candidate can identify the elements of good customer service, they are more likely able to reproduce that experience for your customers.

Tell me about a conflict you’ve had with your coworkers and how you handled it.

The success of your restaurant is highly dependent on your team and how well they work with each other. The best teams aren’t necessarily the ones with the least conflict. Rather, they are ones where individuals can look beyond differences of opinion to reach a shared goal.

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. That’s why it’s essential to hire employees who can effectively deal with conflict. Your candidate’s response should give you an idea of how they approach conflicts. Were they able to navigate the conflict without damaging relationships with coworkers? If so, they may be a good addition to your team.

How would you handle a customer giving you a hard time?

Every restaurant worker will have to deal with a difficult customer at some point. While your employees may not always be responsible for why your customer is upset, they are responsible for how they treat them. Candidates who are quick to apologize, firm, and polite will likely handle upset customers better than those who antagonize customers. Like the other questions here, their exact responses are less important than their approach to the situation.

What are your hobbies?

Last but not least, you should remember that you’re hiring a person who has a life outside of work. There’s obviously no right answer to this question. This is a chance for you to get to know the candidate on a more personal level. If you find them interesting, chances are your customers will, too.

Finding the right employees for your restaurant can be challenging but these questions should give you a good starting point for interviewing candidates. 

Stanley Zuo

@MerlinJobs1 | Website

Stanley leads content at Merlin, a location-based job search app that makes it easy for job seekers to find jobs and for employers to hire candidates in various industries including hospitality, retail and transportation. Merlin is currently live in New York City and is available on iOS and Android.

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