The banquet server hiring process can be time-consuming and expensive for a lot of event planners and catering businesses.
In fact, according to JobVite’s 2018 report on hiring, it takes an average of 30 days to hire someone in the accommodation and food services industry. And, data from Walden University shows the average cost of replacing an employee is upwards of 200% of their salary.
From creating job posts to managing interviews, if you aren’t using modern hiring solutions, hiring takes time and can be costly.
Even creating banquet server interview questions can be a challenge. That’s why we put together a few top interview questions to help you find qualified servers for your event.
Banquet Server Interview Questions
1. How would you deal with a situation where a customer has an issue with their meal or seating arrangement?
This question helps you determine if the candidates have adequate customer service skills and experience for the position. Banquet servers need to be able to avoid confrontation to keep events running smoothly.
A top candidate will be honest, open, and clear about how they resolved the customer complaint or seating arrangement issue they’ve had in the past. If they haven’t had to deal with a customer complaint, you can ask them how they might.
2. Have you ever had to prepare a dish for a customer at a banquet? Tell us about the experience.
This question will only be relevant for positions that require servers to cook behind a buffet or prepare a small dish tableside. In those instances, you’ll need to know if the person has adequate cooking skills or are willing to learn.
A top candidate will either have experience cooking as a banquet server or in a restaurant. Hopefully, if they don’t, they’ll mention at-home cooking skills and show their willingness to grow.
3. What would you do if you saw a coworker struggling to keep up with their job?
Help! The answer to this question may seem obvious, but sometimes you might find a worker is inclined to tell a supervisor instead of helping a coworker.
An ideal candidate will take the initiative and help struggling coworkers without being asked. They might also mention how they could help educate their coworkers so that they can improve going forward.
4. For a formal place setting, do the forks go to the right or the left of the main plate?
If you are hosting a formal event, testing your server’s knowledge of place settings and proper etiquette can help you select the best possible candidates.
An ideal candidate will know that in a formal setting forks go on the left while spoons and knives go on the right. Ask specific questions like this so candidates can’t say they know how to set a formal place setting, they have to prove it.
5. Can you describe a time you made a mistake while serving? How would you prevent that from happening in the future?
The ability to recognize mistakes, correct them, and move on, is critical in life—but it’s even more critical for servers. The odds are if you employ a banquet server long enough, they will eventually make a mistake.
The way they respond and learn from the mistake is what separates great candidates from weak ones. That’s what makes this one of the best banquet server interview questions.
6. What did you like the least about your last job?
This question helps you identify candidates who might not be a good fit for the banquet server position. Sometimes workers will leave a banquet server position because of stress or low pay, only to apply for a job with the same requirements and salary.
Good candidates will be specific in their answers, and highlight parts of the job that aren’t major functions. Even better, they might mention specifics that are unique to your company. For example, you might hear an ideal candidate say they enjoy the pressure environment, but wanted more room to advance.
7. Have you taken orders and memorized menus as a banquet server?
Banquet servers are often asked to do a lot more than just cleaning and setting tables. When that’s the case, you should see if the candidates possess strong memorization and serving skills.
An ideal candidate will have experience taking orders and memorizing menus for past events in a restaurant environment.
8. How do you deal with pressure situations while serving?
Dealing with pressure situations is a part of a banquet server’s everyday life. The event business can be stressful; ensuring you are hiring servers that can cope is critical.
A top candidate will have plenty of techniques for dealing with stress and experience in pressure situations. Whether it’s taking a breath in a difficult moment, eating healthy, or getting good sleep, the important part is that the candidates have methods for dealing with stressful situations.
9. Have you ever had a confrontation with a supervisor or professor? If so, how did you handle the situation?
This banquet server interview question is all about communication. Servers need to be able to deal with confrontation in a respectful manner.
An ideal candidate will be honest about the confrontation and detail how they communicated to solve the problem. The last thing you want to see here is a candidate bashing their ‘old boss’ or teacher. After all, you may be their future ‘old boss’ at some point.
10. How would you keep banquet counters and tables clean and organized during an event?
This question is perfect for determining if a candidate has enough stocking and cleaning experience. You’re looking for awareness of specific cleaning techniques.
An experienced banquet server will detail cleaning products and tactics they’ve used in the past. The best servers will mention the importance of not being a distraction while cleaning and maintaining the event’s appearance.
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