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Restaurant Manager Job Interview: Soft Skills

We’ve talked about soft skills in this blog before, but it is important for management candidates to understand the difference between soft skills+ and ‘marketable’ soft skills. It is easy to list a lot of soft skills for managers, good communication, ambition, teamwork, dependability and candor.  There is nothing wrong with this list, but it will not help you stand out in a job interview.  To land a job your soft skills need to offer the company something tangible.

For example, if you do not have a system for fixing problems then how can you convince a job interview expert that you can indeed fix problems?


Ethics are valuable because they save the restaurant money and headaches. One wrongful dismissal complaint can cost a restaurant thousands of dollars. There is a responsibility behind ethics. You cannot be ethical without a good understanding of right and wrong, acceptable behavior, and justice.

Ethics is a learned behavior. It is a habit. Mangers exercise influence on employee attitudes and behaviors. They create the workplace culture.  A manager without a solid understanding of their own ethics cannot enforce through training, communication and consequences – good and bad.

A person without a solid understanding of their own ethics often relies on emotional response to a situation. They will lack consistency, which will cause dissention among the staff.

An ethical manager takes responsibility for their job, team, and the restaurant’s success. They accept responsibility for failure. This gives them the incentive to prevent problems, organize effectively, and be a good team leader.

Mental Agility

Restaurants are looking for critical thinkers and problem solvers. Mangers need to catch onto new concepts quickly. This is a learned skill. Reading sharpens communication skills.  Learning agility is the ability to learn what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.  A manager who easily absorbs information from experience and can use it in similar situations is a valuable asset to a company.

A mentally agile restaurant manager has developed a complex set of skills that allows them to think critically and expand possibilities by making connections to solve problems.

Goal Setting

‘Success is a habit.’ Good managers can set goals and have learned how to reach them. Good managers do not drift through the week dealing with whatever situation crosses their desk. They can prioritize and take a pro-active approach to preventing problems. They measure problems by their ability to control the situation, how realistic their goals are, and the risk involved.

Good goal setters are good planners. They create realistic plans of action and implement good support systems.

Coaching and Training

A manager who has learned to coach and train people is also a good leader. These skills go ‘hand in hand.’ They are able to delegate authority, but make sure each benchmark is met, on time. If their team is not ready, then they can create the team they need. If you have a good grasp of coaching skills you do not need to expound too much in the job interview. It will be evident.

This manager is also good at delegating. They cannot be everywhere at once. They need to know the ‘Back of the house’ is not ignoring safety protocols because the ‘front of the house’ has been overwhelmed with customers for two hours.

Time Management

Time is money.  Poor time management skills causes a management system to quickly spiral out of control creating stress and chaos in the workplace. While this is a soft skill, it takes good computer, organizational, and leadership skills to effectively manage a restaurant.

Time management is a system. If you are going to claim this as one of your soft skills then be prepared to ‘show’ your ability. Again, time management is a ‘habit’. Your behavior, systematic answering of the job interview questions will ‘show’ your skills better than you could ‘tell’ them.

How to ‘Sell’ your Soft skills

A job interview is no place to talk about your skills. If you cannot show your skills then avoid mentioning them. When the job interviewer asks you a question, the answer should highlight your skills. When you are practicing answers to common interview questions start by writing them out.

Once you have the answers written out then add your soft skills. Does your answer show leadership ability? Are you showing your time management skills? Are you showing your ability to lead, take direction, and belong to a team?



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