Restaurant Job Tests - Questions and Tips

Smiling man dining with friends in restaurant
••• Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Walking into a restaurant to apply for a job can be intimidating, and employers are increasingly asking applicants to take one or more tests that can make the process much more stressful. You can't really study for them, but your performance on these types of tests is a factor in determining whether you will get the job, or even be granted a first or second interview.

Why Restaurants Test Applicants

In order to reduce turnover rates, many restaurant employers use prescreening tests and quizzes to filter out less-qualified job seekers. These tests help to provide the employer with a better understanding of the job seeker, which can help him or her make a better decision about whether or not that candidate is a good fit for the position and is likely to remain employed with a restaurant once hired.

Most of these tests, especially in service-oriented businesses like restaurants, are done in-person, which allows the employer to see how the applicant works under pressure.

The potential employee also has the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions, which will further help them to stand out among the other applicants. With larger companies, these tests may be done online.

Types of Restaurant Questions

The questions on these tests and quizzes can be open-ended, or direct and straightforward. They may be designed to assess your job knowledge, your technical culinary skills, your customer service aptitude, your emotional intelligence and resilience, your integrity, your personality, or your cognitive ability. Depending upon the state where you live, you may also be asked to submit to a drug and alcohol test.

Certain types of personality tests you may encounter will evaluate your work ethic, your willingness to take direction, your frustration tolerance, and your acceptance of diversity.

General mental ability tests will quantify your ability to do math, conduct abstract reasoning, and handle complexity. If you are in restaurant management, employers will want to know that you have what it takes to accurately prepare budgets, track costs and overhead, and gauge supply levels and needs.

Questions at a restaurant, depending upon whether you are applying for a front-of-house, back-of-house, or managerial position, may include:

  • Drink ingredients: What ingredients do I need to make a Cosmopolitan? A Margarita? A White Russian?
  • Definitions: What is fois gras? What is steak tartare? What is the base of a Béarnaise sauce?
  • Food Safety and Kitchen Sanitation: Where should different foods be stored in the refrigerator? What are the six conditions that favor the growth of bacteria? What is a pathogen? [Note: a good way to prepare for questions such as these is to review the information you learned to earn your SafeServ certification].
  • Responsibility: If a patron tells you that he or she is displeased with a service, and you are not responsible for that table, what would you do?
  • Why you should work there: What skills and talents can you bring to the table? What do you have that the other applicants don't?

For larger companies, these questions may get more or less specific based on the position or nature of the role.

Tips For Responding

Do your best to appear confident and willing to take the exam. Body language is a large part of the application process, even if it seems unimportant. For example, standing or sitting up straight while taking the exam will demonstrate your focus and confidence. If the exam is verbal as opposed to written, maintain eye contact with the interviewer.

Answer the questions to the best of your ability, even if you do not know the answer. For example, if you are asked the ingredients in a recipe and cannot remember them all, do not skip the question. Include as many ingredients as you can remember. A strong attempt at an answer is better than no answer at all.

Try to implement your voice in your writing so that you will make the employer want to bring you in for further interviewing. This is particularly important if you are asked why you are a strong candidate, or why you should be hired. Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself!

Overall, these tests and quizzes are a beneficial way to help employers slim down their applicant pool, and they also give job seekers a chance to differentiate themselves with another medium in addition to their resume.