Waitresses, waiters and servers build a number of skills through their line of work, such as customer service, excellent memory and rapid problem solving. Many people who are servers for a long time leverage these skills and experience into jobs at different restaurants, possibly ones where people tip better or the location is more convenient. Part of this process of getting a new job as a server is the interview.
It's especially hard for servers to put all of their experience into a traditional resume, so interviews become invaluable tools for employers. If you're a server looking to transfer your services to a new restaurant or even start out for the first time, here are a few interview tips that can help you land the job you've been searching for.
Dress to impress
Even if you're applying to a restaurant with a casual atmosphere or a uniform, dress nicely for the interview. Don't feel the need to overdo it with your clothing or accessories, but traditional business or business-casual attire may be appreciated. The restaurant likely has guidelines or specifications for how to dress while working, so you don't have to worry too much about showing off a creative wardrobe. The Houston Chronicle reminded interviewees that they may even need to talk about their dimensions.
"Be prepared to discuss uniforms or provide the hiring manager with your sizes for company-provided uniforms if you get a job offer immediately after the interview," the newspaper wrote.
Dressing well for your interview not only shows your respect for the interviewer, the job and the establishment, but it also gives him or her an idea of how you'll present yourself at work, whether wearing specialty work shoes and a uniform or something more casual.
Have references ready
Being a server is all about experience. Although it can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, talk with past bosses to find out if you can use them as references and present them at your interview. Maybe the interviewers will call the references and maybe they won't, but by presenting them with the option, you've shown that you have work experience that you're proud of and can prove. This isn't true for every applicant and can help lift you above the competition.
Have multiple copies of your resume on hand as well. Discuss your previous jobs, your tasks, your accomplishments and even your reasons for leaving.
Prepare for tough questions
Interviewers can ask some difficult questions that may take you by surprise, especially for more competitive jobs. Some questions are bound to be similar to other careers, such as, "What are your greatest strengths and why?" But some of the most difficult are likely to be more specific to serving and therefore even more important.
Interviewers often ask about how you'd deal with a difficult customer or how you have in the past. This speaks to your future customer service as well as your problem solving abilities. Some employers may instead ask about a hypothetical situation, where you have to deal with a customer problem or a kitchen disagreement. They'll want to examine your relationship with other employees in addition to clients, so prepare some anecdotal evidence beforehand so as not to be caught off guard.
Talk about food
If you have a passion for food, feel free to share it with your interviewers. Whether you're applying for a breakfast server job or work at a high-end restaurant, your passion for food can be a powerful tool. Don't just drool over food, though. Talk about how it can help you make better suggestions for customers and ensure quality.
Cliche or not, being yourself and preparing are the most important parts of interviewing for a job you want. Present yourself well and you'll be serving at the restaurant you want to in no time.
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