Kitchen staff are one of the hardest employees to hire and retain. The work hours are long and the expectation level is set high. Though back-of-house (BOH) staff are working behind the scenes, a restaurant can’t be a restaurant without them.

And with quality dishes, you need passionate employees. When hiring new employees, here are 3 must ask interview questions for BOH employees:

Where do you see yourself in  5 years?

This will give you insight as to what their career goals are. The restaurant industry employs 10% of USA’s workforce, and more often than not, their time at your business, especially if they’re looking to advance in the restaurant industry, could be a great stepping stone for them.

But even if an employee doesn’t plan on staying in the hospitality industry, their future goals will give you an idea of how they are as employees. This doesn’t necessarily mean that those who don’t know what their future entails, will be poor employees; rather the way they respond will give you insight on their personality!

Can you describe a time where you ran into a problem with a manager?

The answer to this question will tell you two things. Firstly how they deal with conflict and secondly, what they find is important enough to address. More often than not, managers are overwhelmed with their own day-to-day tasks; and other aspects of employee management can be neglected.

For example: A manager consistently posts a schedule late. This can make shift requests that are time sensitive and shift changes, confusing. On the employee end, it’s easy to see how they could be frustrated. If an employee brings this up, depending on how they deal with the situation, addressing issues like these, could show leadership qualities!

What’s the hardest job or the hardest thing you’ve ever had or done?

For those whose first job may be your restaurant, their answer may not be industry related. But questions like these allow you to gauge their personable skills. Whether it’s problem solving or teamwork, the way in which they deal with conflict will determine their fit in your kitchen!

Working in a restaurant can be overwhelming. When hiring new BOH staff, it’s crucial to find individuals who deal with change well; and are able to think on their feet.


When interviewing new candidates, always read between the lines. Much like how quiet individuals could be great servers, those who don’t have any kitchen experience, could be groomed to be superstars.