Food & Beverage Interview Questions

February 13, 2017 in Career and Job Search Tips, HR Best Practices, Interview Tips



This blog post was updated on October 31, 2022. 

Time for a little hiring math. In a food & beverage interview: Great questions + Great answers = successful employment connections! Admittedly, this isn’t the type of revelation that would rival the likes of those made by Pythagoras or Fibonacci. But it’s a critical equation for anyone looking to get the upper hand in an interview situation.

While you certainly don’t want to sound over-rehearsed, adequate preparation is essential to making a great impression. So whether you’re on the job hunt or hunting for the ideal candidate, gain an advantage by being ready to ask – or answer – the following questions:

Food & Beverage Job Seekers

Be prepared to answer the following standard food & beverage interview questions:

  1. Who Are You? First is some variation on “tell me about yourself.” Interestingly, even though it’s probably the single most common interview question, a lot of job seekers seem completely unprepared for it. The simple key to answering this question is to remember the “question behind this question:” why should we hire you? In other words, what makes you different than other people with similar qualifications?
  2. What’s Your Biggest Weakness? A lot of people (interviewers and interviewees) dislike this question, but it remains common. First, the two worst ways to answer the question are to deny having any weaknesses or to present strength as if it’s a weakness. (Interviewers’ #1 pet peeve answer: “I’m just too much of a perfectionist.”) The simple key here is to volunteer something that 1. is true, 2. is relevant to work, and 3. is not something that would have a huge impact on your job performance. Also, try to answer it in such a way that you address how you have worked to overcome the weakness, and perhaps even turned it into a success story.
  3. What’s Your Career History? If you have any short-term job stints on your resume, be prepared to talk about them, especially if there’s a pattern of short gigs. There aren’t really any cut-and-dried rules about the explanations you offer, but try to keep an employer’s perspective in mind. They don’t want to hear complaints about former bosses or employers. They will be understandably concerned if it looks like you jump any time someone offers you more money. And they will be suspicious of answers that don’t really seem to make sense or be good enough reasons to quit a job. In contrast, there are answers that demonstrate qualities employers like, such as the desire for professional growth. And there are answers that really can’t be questioned, such as “the company went out of business,” or “I had to move back to Chicago for family reasons.”

Then turn the tables – by posing thoughtful, relevant questions which: show that you’re prepared; allow you to gauge the opportunity, and help you position yourself as the ideal candidate:

  1. What are the next few steps in the interviewing process? Reputable employers will have a well-established interview process and can give you an idea of what to expect. What’s more, asking about the next steps conveys your genuine interest in the opportunity and demonstrates forward-thinking.
  2. What would a successful first year in this position look like? This question will help you get a general idea of what the interviewer will expect you to have mastered/accomplished in a year’s time.  Additionally, it will allow you to gauge whether the expectations for the job are realistic.
  3. What are the primary factors you will use to select the right person for this job? Pose this question to determine what kind of employee the interviewer is seeking (and if you’re the right kind of person for the job). Once the interviewer responds, counter by discussing important skills or qualities he lists that you may have forgotten to mention.

Food & Beverage Interviewers

In addition to standard interview questions (to assess a candidate’s skills and experience), customize these questions to prompt discussion, “sell” the opportunity and evaluate an individual’s potential fit within your organization:

  1. Why have you chosen to pursue this opportunity with us? This question creates an “opportunity gap” in the candidate’s mind, by juxtaposing the shortcomings of his current job with the advantages your position offers.
  2. How would this opportunity help your future career progression or help you build your resume? This question helps you gain deeper insight into how a candidate thinks about and manages his career. It also garners goodwill, because it shows that you’re putting his needs ahead of your own.
  3. What things do you not like to do? You may have to probe to get an honest response to this question, but the additional work is usually worth the effort. Look for red flags that indicate a candidate might dislike a key responsibility of the available position.
  4. Why have you had (X) amount of jobs in (Y) years? This question uncovers the real forces that drive a professional’s career progression. With a little work, you can find out why he changes employers and what motivates him to stay.
  5. Tell me about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted – like a promotion you wanted and didn’t get, or a project that didn’t turn out how you had hoped. Typically, responses to this question will fall into one of three categories: blame, self-deprecation, or opportunity for growth. If your prospective employee responds indignantly or turns out to be a finger-pointer, think twice about his suitability.

Looking For More Advice on Food & Beverage Interview Preparation?

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