So you’re applying for a job in the catering industry, are you?
You’re not going to have that events and catering manager or related job handed to you on a plate. Any job starts with an interview, and in the competitive world of catering and events, preparing for the interview can be demanding.
Many of the interview questions will be generic, so make sure you steer your answers towards the job requirement and the position description. You want to personalize your answers with anecdotes that are related to the industry to show your interviewer that you have a fundamental knowledge of catering — and that you are what they have been looking for.
Keep a cool head and make the most of the job interview by getting yourself prepared!
1. "Tell us about yourself"
Although this is a common question, one that most interviews begin with, the point here is to not lose focus of the position.
Prove that you love the industry and talk about what excites you about the world of food, drinks and events.
You want to present to your interviewer in a succinct manner why you are the best candidate for the position. Use examples from your personal life, background and experience.
2. "What are your career goals in the catering industry"
This question is also sometimes phrased as, “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” Your interviewer is checking your level of self-awareness, ambition and commitment.
Demonstrate your ability to set goals and targets in a reasonable timeline. “I’d like to progress to a team leader…” if you are going for an entry level position, for example. For a more senior position, you’ll want to explain how you’ll be moving the business forward and your future vision.
3. "What are your strengths and weaknesses"
This may be one of the more popular interview questions, and also the most dreaded. It’s not just about minimizing your weaknesses while bringing your strengths to light — you’ll want to concentrate on professional behavior and traits rather than personal ones.
Show that you can learn from mistakes and that you are self-aware of traits that you are working on improving. Highlight your strengths and make sure to keep them work related.
Read the job description well before arriving at the interview so that you can be sure to cite and give examples of particular skills.
4. "How do you work under pressure"
This is the time to give examples of where you encountered stressful situations, and how you managed to get through them — or how you didn’t, and what you learned from that.
5. "How do you work within a team"
There is going to be a lot of teamwork at play, and no catering service can succeed without its team members working like a well-oiled machine. You want to emphasize your ability to communicate well with co-workers and higher levels of management.
You may also get, “How do you work as a leader?” instead. Anecdotes will play a major role in answering this question as well.
You want to show that you have strong interpersonal and leadership skills, and can handle a conflict while juggling negotiation. Show how you presented yourself in the past with a high professionalism and team collaboration.
6. "How do you handle difficult customers"
The hospitality and catering industry prides itself on putting customer service first. Your interviewer is gauging how you conduct yourself at a professional level when it comes to patience and tolerance.
Elaborate on a past experience where you handled the situation with professionalism, cite a time where you noticed a negative response from a worker, or note that you may need to seek the assistance of a senior colleague — that type of honesty and forward thinking is always appreciated.
Emphasize communication, problem solving, positivity, and negotiation.
7. "Why did you leave your last job"
Be careful. You never want to talk negatively about a prior job or employer because it not only shows something about your attitude and positivity, but it also can signify as a red flag — will you be talking about their company the same way in a few years?
You can emphasize why you want this job, your search for better opportunities, and your goal of professional growth. Show that your identify with the company’s values and vision.
8. "What do you think could be challenging in this position"
In order to determine whether you are a good fit, your interviewer may ask this question in order to test your knowledge of the skills needed to face the challenges in the job. Answering with “Nothing” is not a very acceptable answer as it shows your lack of understanding of what the job entails.
You can definitely point out one or two things of the job that you understand will be hard work, showing your in-depth understanding, and then explain how you will contribute to overcome those challenges.
9. "What are your salary expectations"
The question doesn’t need to be as tricky as many interview prep columns will make it out to be.
Research what others in this position and field are earning before you arrive at the interview, and cite a ballpark range instead of an exact figure that you feel that you deserve. Remember that you haven’t yet been offered the job, so this is not the stage for salary negotiations. Discuss your future goals and how’d you like to advance yourself professionally.
Most importantly, don’t sell yourself short. Be realistic but know your worth.
10. "Do you have any questions"
Asking additional questions after the interview does not show ignorance or misunderstanding, but shows that you are enthusiastic about the position and care about the job.
You have the opportunity to stand out from the other candidates and show your passion for the industry — you can ask about menus, products, or the way the company works based on your prior research.
However, don’t come up with unnecessary questions on the spot for the sake of asking. If you need something to be clarified or have an interesting and related question — go ahead and ask.
Ubeya is the staff management software and mobile app tailored to the events and catering industry.