Top 6 Interview Tips for Hiring a General Manager in Your Restaurant


Restaurant owners often hire general managers, or GMs, to look after daily operations. Finding the best person for the job requires an in-depth interview to look for traits of ethics, trustworthiness, and experience—as well as a personality that reflects your business values. Interviewing a potential GM takes time and effort, and has a big impact on your restaurant’s future success. Here are our top six interview questions for finding and hiring the best general manager for your restaurant:

Ask About Work Background

An experienced restaurant manager is more apt to have the knowledge, background and confidence you want to take your establishment forward. At least five years’ experience is a common requirement, but it depends on how long your restaurant has been open, and what you expect from your manager. It is important to keep in mind that experienced candidates will have a greater awareness of restaurant operations, but they may also have their own ideas about how to run the show.

Interview tip: Ask the candidate to recall specific job requirements and day-to-day tasks to help you learn about his or her specific experience.

Determine the Candidate’s Work Ethic

When you hire someone with a great work ethic, it’s easier to ask for the same in return from your restaurant employees. Make sure you can count on your manager to show up on time, complete their tasks (such as inventory management, ordering and even cleaning) and show a great attitude. In essence, make sure he or she is dependable, and can set a strong example.

Interview tip: Ask the candidate to give an example of their work ethic, and what that means for a kitchen crew.

Contact Ever Reference

Checking references is a good hiring practice no matter the industry. When you contact a job candidate’s references on his or her resume, you can get a good idea of work history, strengths and weaknesses, and personal interaction on the job. These are often things you cannot find out until after the hiring process is complete.

Interview tip: Follow the interview with phone calls to at least three references. Ask for examples of when the candidate had outstanding performance, or what reasons (if any) a reference might withhold a recommendation.

Look for Supervisory Experience

A crucial aspect of the restaurant manager’s job involves supervising and training. Not only will he or she oversee operations, but also manage employees. Traits like assertiveness, strong communication, listening skills and the ability to coach are crucial. Consider how this person will interact with you as the owner as well as your staff members.

Interview tip: Ask questions that require the candidate to consider different on-the-job scenarios, such as employee training skills and conflict resolution tactics.

Check For Cash-handling Skills

Part of the manager’s duties typically include handling cash on a daily basis. He or she must be able to count cash, operate a cash register, work the bar, and handle a customer’s check without ending up over or under at the end of the night. The restaurant manager may also perform bookkeeping tasks, which requires accurate money-management skills and computer literacy.

Interview tip: Ask the candidate to run through a scenario of counting back change, balancing a cash drawer, or locating an error in a P&L sheet.

Be Honest About “outside” Requirements

If the restaurant manager position requires work outside of normal restaurant hours or locations, be up front about it. This includes daily expectations before open and after close as well as any catering events, festivals or parties that require supervision or attendance.

Interview tip: Explain your expectations to the GM candidate from the get-go, and ask for an honest response.

Great restaurant managers can be difficult to find, but good candidates are out there. Gather a list of expectations and nail down your core requirements. When you prepare with the right questions, you can feel confident that in choosing a great restaurant manager. Make it your goal to find someone who will care for your restaurant just as well as you could yourself.


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