60 Best Interview Questions for Hospitality Workers

Man with a hospitality job: chef assitant

Northern California is one of the hospitality capitals of the world, and if you’re looking to get a job in the wide-ranging hospitality industry, you’ve come to the right place. In this industry, you can get a first-hand look at all that Northern California has to offer and welcome guests to the region — helping to bolster its necessary tourism economy, too.

Hospitality and service jobs in Northern California abound in the region’s countless wineries, hotels, bars, and restaurants, and from back-of-house jobs like a line cook to customer-facing roles like a hotel concierge, there are plenty of options that fit just about any skill set.

When you’re interviewing for a job, your best bet is to practice your interview questions. We’ve rounded up the questions you’re most likely to be asked for a number of Northern California hospitality roles, like:


No matter the role, make sure to answer with stories that illustrate your personality and experience. Details matter! Above all, lean heavily into the relationships you’ve built over your career with guests, co-workers, and superiors — they’re what keep the hospitality business running. And if you’re currently looking for jobs, here’s our Jobs Board, updated multiple times per week.


Note: Are you a company looking to hire temp, part-time, or seasonal hospitality workers? If you’re located in California, Star Staffing can help


What does a restaurant host do?

A restaurant host is the first person a guest will encounter when they enter a restaurant, and they play a critical role in the dining experience. Hosts also manage the all-important reservation system, so they’re often dealing with thorny mix-ups, devising solutions when guests are late, and making every guest feel like a VIP. 


Interviewing to be a restaurant host? Prepare for these questions.

  • How do you deal with aggressive personalities?
  • What makes a good dining experience, and how can a host contribute?
  • Tell us about a memorable dining experience you had — what details do you remember?
  • How do you deal with VIPs who expect special treatment without making other guests feel ignored?
  • How do you build relationships with regulars to keep them coming back?
  • How do you manage late arrivals?
  • How do you manage lost reservations or mixups?


What does a dishwasher do?

Dishwashers are the backbone of restaurant kitchens — without them, the whole thing comes grinding to a halt. Dishwashers keep all the restaurant’s dishes clean — including cooking supplies the kitchen needs to continue service. Dishwashers also occasionally jump into action prepping food.


Interviewing to be a dishwasher? Prepare for these questions.

  • Have you ever prepped food before?
  • How do you keep your space clean?
  • How do you deal with high-stress environments where emotions run high?
  • Have you worked with commercial dishwashing machines?
  • Have you ever had to set tables ahead of service? 


What does a line cook do?

A line cook is a member of the kitchen team responsible for prepping ingredients, setting up before service, and cooking elements of the menu. They’ll need to be confident at frying, grilling, and sauteeing, and line cooks need exceptional organizational and cleanliness skills. 

Interviewing to be a line cook? Prepare for these questions.

  • Do you have experience butchering fish or meat?
  • Do you have any niche or special skills?
  • Are you interested in growing into a chef role on our team?
  • What kinds of cuisines do you have experience cooking?
  • What kinds of service styles do you have experience in — fast casual, fine dining, etc.?
  • What size kitchens have you worked in?
  • How do you respond to critical feedback?
  • What motivates you?

What does a bartender do?

Bartenders mix culinary expertise with customer service, mixing cocktails while simultaneously managing and interacting with the customers at the bar. Bartenders need a broad knowledge base of cocktails beyond the bar’s menu, and they need to be able to work quickly and cleanly. Bartenders also need to have expert discernment when it comes to the safety of patrons and decide when to stop serving inebriated guests. 


Interviewing to be a bartender? Prepare for these questions.

  • What kind of volume are you used to working in?
  • Are you interested in creating new signature cocktails for our menu?
  • Do you adjust your cocktails seasonally?
  • How do you deal with aggressive patrons?
  • Do you prefer to make classic cocktails or do you take a creative approach?
  • How do you determine if someone has been overserved and needs to be cut off?
  • What is your level of wine expertise?


What does a concierge do?

A concierge is a critical guest services role in a hotel. The concierge provides local recommendations for activities and dining, and they help guests with scheduling, reservations, and more. A concierge might answer a passing question (“Where can I get a coffee around here?”) or go so far as to create a full itinerary for a guest’s visit. Concierges must rely on relationships and partnerships with local businesses, so they’ll need to foster and nurture those connections outside of the hotel. 


Interviewing to be a concierge? Prepare for these questions.

  • When have you gone above and beyond for a guest? What did it entail?
  • What is your familiarity with our community, and what relationships do you have with local vendors, restauranteurs, etc?
  • How would you handle a complaint from a guest?
  • How do you handle confidential information from guests?
  • What would you do if you had downtime between guest requests?


What does a front desk associate do?

Front desk associates are the first team members guests see upon entering their hotel, and the associates will greet and welcome them warmly. Front desk associates also answer calls, receive mail, manage reservations over the phone, and manage checkouts. They’re also a customer service role: Guests are likely to call down to the front desk with any issues that might arise.


Interviewing to be a front desk associate? Prepare for these questions.

  • How would you handle a payment issue like a declined credit card?
  • How would you handle a lost reservation?
  • Have you ever worked an overnight shift? Would you be comfortable working the front desk at night?
  • Are you able to offer local recommendations when our concierge is occupied?
  • How would you handle an irate guest calling down with a complaint?
  • Do you have experience working with third-party booking sites?
  • When would you decide to upgrade a room?


What does a restaurant general manager do?

A restaurant general manager is responsible for managing the everyday operations of the restaurant, like training, staffing, scheduling, and people management. They’re also charged with maintaining the guest experience, mediating staff disputes, and fielding diner complaints.


Interviewing to be a restaurant general manager? Prepare for these questions.

  • How do you maintain a collaboration between the front-of-house and back-of-house staff?
  • What do you feel is the best way to talk to a staff member who is underperforming?
  • How do you handle discipline for minor infractions?
  • Have you ever had to fire a staff member in the past? 
  • How do you maintain relationships with VIP guests?
  • How do you approach a dispute between staff members?
  • How do you approach a disgruntled guest?
  • What automation tools are you familiar with?
  • How do you balance good service with labor costs?
  • What would you do if a guest signed their bill without leaving a tip? Would you approach them? What would you say?


What does a server do?

Servers bring guests their meals and beverages. They answer questions about the menu and provide recommendations, and they maintain a customer service approach. They keep tabs on multiple tables at once, ensuring smooth meals that flow and seem effortless for the diner. They’re also charged with communicating any special needs or allergies to the kitchen.

Interviewing to be a server? Prepare for these questions.

  • What restaurant sizes have you worked in?
  • What is your food and beverage knowledge?
  • How familiar are you with our food program?
  • How have you won back a difficult guest?
  • How do you handle it when customers send food back?
  • What’s a restaurant you’ve dined at with excellent service? What makes it so special?
  • Are you accustomed to working at restaurants that pool tips?
  • How do you help out your fellow servers when they’re overwhelmed?
  • How do deal with stress?


What does a hotel housekeeper do?

Hotel housekeepers are absolutely essential members of hotel teams. They clean and maintain guest rooms during and in between stays — and they maintain the cleanliness of the hotel’s common spaces, too. 


Interviewing to be a hotel housekeeper? Prepare for these questions.

  • Do you have any special or niche skills that would be relevant to this role?
  • How many rooms are you accustomed to servicing per day?
  • How would you handle finding sensitive belongings in a guest’s room?
  • How do you organize your cleaning tasks for each room?
  • How do you like to receive feedback?