5 Culture Fit Questions Restaurants Should Ask Job Candidates

A cohesive restaurant staff that demonstrates teamwork and attentiveness to guests impacts every aspect of your business. These positive behaviors are the products of individual employee values married to a compatible company culture. Finding the right values in new hires isn’t always easy, but effective screening plays a large role in determining a restaurant’s future.

According to a recent University of Iowa study of all work environments, employees who are a fit for the corporate culture perform better. They have greater job satisfaction, identify closely with their companies, and are more committed to staying long-term.

In the high-turnover restaurant industry, employee retention is a reliable predictor of restaurant longevity. According to Matthew Sonnensheim of Gourmet Marketing, a turnover rate of 50 percent or more correlates with difficulties maintaining quality because of inadequately trained personnel and insufficient staffing levels.

To keep staffing levels optimized for performance and retention, one of the most important steps you can take is to incorporate the following questions into your job interviews:  

Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
Why ask?  Many restaurant job candidates interview for positions based on availability rather than compatibility. This is an excellent opening question because it immediately screens out non-team players.

Follow up: Ask interviewees to describe their visions of successful teamwork in a restaurant setting. If necessary, probe to get beyond a definitional answer; values and experiences are more telling.

What personality traits do you like and dislike in co-workers?
Why ask?  By asking for both a positive and a negative in one question, you increase the likelihood of predicting a personality conflict with your current employees. Before you ask this question, think about current staff members who may clash with your potential new hire. Every talented staff has a few prima donnas (who may also be outstanding employees) and you don’t want to contribute to potential conflict within the team.

What kind of management style would make you unhappy?
Why ask? The unexpected way this question is phrased tends to yield honest answers, especially from candidates with less interview experience. This question will eliminate candidates who would be unhappy working for a manager with a particular style, whether that style is authoritative, democratic, coaching, pacesetting, or team-based.

Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to exceed expectations?
Why ask? Successful service industry workers and team players put the needs of others first. If this is a habit, a candidate should be able to instantly recall more than one example of this conduct from employment, academic, or other settings. Quick recollection is a good indication of honesty. This question is particularly important if your restaurant has a reputation for exceptional service and a great customer experience.

What would you do to prevent a horde of cattle from stampeding into this restaurant? 
Why ask? Create your own ridiculous problem-solving question and use it to evaluate a candidate’s willingness to cooperate. Silly questions reveal a sense of humor, personality, and adaptability, and can help you assess critical thinking capabilities. Questions like this also create a scenario no one can prepare for—and that offers an opportunity to gain additional personality insights.

These questions are an excellent first step in bringing in the right new hires to strengthen your team. You can add to this list by observing your top employees and how they contribute to your culture. Then use these notes to develop new interview questions that can help to identify the same qualities in job candidates.

Hoops Talent On-Demand will deliver job seekers that match the qualities of your best employees. Then our 1-Click Connnect technology will let them know you’re interested and they’ll be calling you!

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