Do not interview at the end of a tough day. Make every attempt to put the applicant at ease. One thing that will help accomplish that is to be relaxed yourself.  Don’t conduct the interview seated behind a table, desk, or counter; however, do conduct the interview in a quiet, undisturbed environment.  Treat the prospective employee with respect and courtesy.  Concentrate closely on the person’s behavior and initially focus the conversation on less important fact-finding.  Do not appear to be agreeing or disagreeing with what the person is saying. Allow pauses to encourage elaboration.  Don’t cut off the person’s answers, but interrupt when necessary.

Eye Contact

When conducting an interview, it’s advisable to maintain steady eye contact with applicant. The eyes often reveal the person’s level of confidence, truthfulness, and character.  If the person has difficulty maintaining your eye contact, it may provide some insight into his or her personality.

Make the Applicant Feel Comfortable

Applying for a job can be intimidating.  Always remember that even if you do not hire this person, you will want them to speak well of you when talking to others. Be remembered as a pleasant interviewer with genuine interest in the applicant.

Start with Reviewing the Application

You can learn a lot by reviewing the application first and asking questions related to the application, i.e. you put down on the application that your name is Elizabeth.  Do you like to go by “Beth”, “Liz” or “Elizabeth”?

Know Your Target Questions

There is a list of great questions noted below.

Let the Candidate do the Talking

You are interviewing them to get to know them, let them talk.

Be a Great Listener

Don’t allow yourself to be easily distracted.

Don’t be afraid of Silence

Read between the lines, silence is a good form of communication and a time to gather thoughts.

Ask Job-Related Questions

Ask the applicant questions that pertain specifically to the job or position being filled.  Do not introduce the subject of age, gender, religious preference, race, or physical size or condition into the interview. These are federally protected classes, and can be construed as the basis for discrimination.  Avoid questions dealing with the person’s private life, sexual preferences, and amount or quality of education.  Questions about a person’s police record, marital status, mode of transportation, living arrangements, health, how long they have lived in the area, or whether they have a “green card” are legally sensitive and therefore should be avoided.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

One key to conducting an effective interview is to ask questions that are challenging and difficult to answer without a lengthy response.  Probe for the person’s limitations.  Ask questions that require an individual to address his or her strengths and weaknesses.  Essentially, the more penetrating the question, the tougher it is to answer, the more you’ll learn by asking it.  Consider the following examples:

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. What is the worst thing your former employer could say about you? What is the best thing?
  3. What do you like most/least about being a server/host/bartender/cook?
  4. Has there ever been a time when a guest asked you for something unreasonable?  How did you handle it?
  5. Tell me about a time when you went beyond the call of duty when taking care of a guest.
  6. Do you agree with the statement that the guest may not always be right, but they always have to feel as if they won?  Why? Why not?
  7. What is the worst thing your former employer could say about you?  The best?
  8. If you saw a fellow employee stealing what would you do?


Noteworthy Interview Observations

The following are considered key points to note during an interview.

  1. Did the applicant make absurd, unrealistic demands?
  2. Was the person being too familiar? Maintaining a conversationally polite manner is appropriate.
  3. Did the person listen well? Did the applicant show interest in your remarks, acknowledging them with nods and other signals that he or she is alert to what was being said?
  4. Did the applicant encourage you to do some of the talking?
  5. Did the applicant demonstrate genuine interest in the job?
  6. Did the applicant exhibiting signs of boredom – impatience, fiddling, doodling, leaning back in the chair, scratching, looking around the room, or looking at his watch?
  7. Did the person overstate his or her qualities?  Or is he or she honest enough to say, “I’ll need to learn more about that”.


Know the Legalities in Your State

There are certain questions you can’t ask and certain questions that you want to be careful of asking.  You should know whether is legally acceptable to ask these questions during the interview process:

  1. What is your birth date?
  2. Are you fluent in any foreign languages?
  3. What does your spouse do for a living?
  4. May I see your driver’s license to verify the I-9 form?
  5. May I take your picture to attach to your application?
  6. Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony?
  7. How tall are you?  How much do you weigh?
  8. Does church prevent you from working on Sundays?
  9. Do you have a car for transportation to get to and from work?


It is illegal to ask all of the above questions during the interview process!


Know the Legalities

It is also important to know the Yes or No answer to the following statements:

  1. Individuals who engage in sexual harassment or discrimination may be personally liable.  Yes
  2. Educational requirements must be job related.  Yes
  3. You can deny employment to people who cannot read or speak English.  Yes, if it is a requirement of the job. (Servers, hosts staff.)
  4. You can ask an applicant questions concerning his/her discharge from the militaryNo
  5. You can ask an applicant questions about his or her parents.  No, could be considered discrimination.
  6. An effective interviewing tool is to take notes on the application form.  No, it is illegal to take notes, use the interview evaluation form.
  7. Your judgement alone is usually enough for a hiring decision.  No.
  8. You can ask an applicant if he/she has any handicaps or medical problems.  No
  9. You can ask an applicant how old he/she is.  No
  10. It is important to question female applicants about pregnancy, family plans and dependent children.  No
  11. It is appropriate to question applicants about religious preferences.  No
  12. You can ask an applicant if he/she owns a car.  No
  13. If an applicant gives false answers to questions regarding his/her employment, he/she is not protected by federal law.  Yes
  14. Rejecting an applicant because he/she is over qualified is a violation of Federal Law. No
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