Working at a school cafeteria is great for people looking for entry-level positions with flexible working hours. Main responsibilities include serving meals, cleaning utensils and equipment, and cashiering. It does not need elaborate education though a background involving working in a restaurant is beneficial.
Here are the top 20 questions to enable you to prepare for the interview and get the job.
1. Why are You Interested in This Role?
This is one of the commonly asked questions in an interview. Here, try and show why you are interested in working in a school setting.
“ This role interests me because I have a year of experience working in a school cafeteria and I believe I possess the ability to deliver exceptional results. I have gained valuable skills and experience that I will utilize in my work here. In addition, I will get to interact with young people and get the opportunity to contribute to the student’s overall school experience. I enjoy the flexible working hours too. ”
2. What are the Roles of a School Cafeteria Worker?
The interviewer is interested in knowing whether you are aware of what roles a school cafeteria worker does. Go ahead and list the duties and responsibilities you expect to handle.
“A worker in this role is responsible for arranging and serving meals, cleaning utensils and equipment. They also assist the students and staff in making meal choices. They also collect payments for the food served to complete the transactions. They work in close collaboration with other team members to deliver a great customer experience.”
3. What are the Qualities That a Cafeteria Worker Needs to Be Successful?
The interviewer wants to know if you understand what it takes to succeed in this role. Outline the qualities and skills that will make you successful in this role.
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“I understand that for me to be successful in this role, I should have great customer service skills. This role requires dealing with people therefore a pleasant personality is great. I also have to be flexible, patient, and friendly as it involves dealing with students. In dealing with colleagues I should demonstrate great teamwork and problem-solving abilities. I have developed these qualities over the years and I believe they will make me succeed in this role.”
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You manage Them?
The interviewer wants to understand how you solve problems when you encounter them. They also want to know if you can convert challenges into learning opportunities. Give an example of a challenge and what you learned from it.
“In my last role in a school cafeteria, I encountered students that were bullies. They accused me of not listening to their needs and reported me to my supervisor. They wanted to be served meals that were not on the menu for the day. I tried to explain that to them but they insisted on the meals they wanted. To get out of it, I had to explain exactly what happened to my supervisor. I was able to convince my supervisor that I clearly explained to them that the said meals were not on offer for the day. In the end, the students too agreed that I had handled their issue well and that they wanted to know how I will react.”
5. Describe Your Daily Routine as a Cafeteria Worker?
Here, the interviewer wants to understand if you are organized and able to schedule your time well. Explain how you will plan activities for the day right from the time you report to work up to the end of your shift.
“I expect to report to work at 6 am so that I can take part in preparations for breakfast. Once breakfast is served, I take part in clearing tables, cleaning utensils and equipment. I then make preparations for lunch to be served. Once it is done and utensils and equipment have been cleaned, my shift ends. Before leaving work, I review the menu for the next day and establish if they are any special considerations that need to be made.”
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience
The interview is trying to establish if you have any relevant knowledge and experience to the position at hand. Talk briefly about your education before the skills gained in your previous job. If you do not have previous experience you can state so honestly. You can also demonstrate how other roles you have handled can assist you in this position.
“I have a diploma in food and beverage production which I believe is a perfect match for this role. In addition, I have one year of experience in the restaurant business. In this role, I was responsible for taking orders from clients mostly families with school-going children. I interacted a lot with these children which I believe will make me interact with the students at the cafeteria better. In addition, I was able to grow my customer service and communication skills in the role. I believe that a combination of my educational background and skills gained so far that make my work easier here.”
7. What Kind of Strategies and Mindset is Required for This Role?
The interviewer is trying to find out if you are well prepared for the role. In your answer, justify that you are not taking the job for the sake of having something to do. Rather show passion in the role.
“I understand that the school cafeteria worker position involves dealing with students from different home settings. This will bring about challenges that I need to be calm and patient while handling. A fun personality is also beneficial as students appreciate that. I am warm and I believe it will enable me to work better in this setting. I want to also contribute positively to the student’s overall school experience.”
8. What Is the Biggest Challenge That You Foresee in This Job?
The interviewer wants to know if you are mentally prepared for this role, Mention a challenge that you foresee then explain how you will work around it.
“I believe the biggest challenge will come from complaints raised by either the children or staff members. When dealing with food, complaints are expected from time to time. It is hard to satisfy the needs of everyone. I will ensure the complaint reaches the right people and then we all work together to ensure the same issue is not raised again. I will also offer feedback to the student or staff member on how the issue has been handled so that they are satisfied too.”
9. How Do You Stay Motivated in Your Work?
The role involves repetitive routine everyday work that might get boring. The interviewer wants to know what will keep you going in case of boredom setting in. Mention why you enjoy repetitive work.
“I understand the role involves the same tasks every day. I thrive in setups with routine tasks. Here, I know exactly what is expected of me every single day. I can plan my schedule well because I am aware of what I will be working on. I enjoy the stability that a daily routine brings. In my work, I also believe the interaction with the students, staff, and my colleagues will be the fuel to keep me going.”
10. Describe a Time When You Failed in This Role and The Lesson You Learnt?
The interviewer wants to know if you are honest and open-minded to learn from your failures. Describe a failure you have had and show the lessons you learned from it.
“In my previous role, while handling a customer, they gave very detailed instructions about how their food should be made. Their child had a food intolerance to gluten and they mentioned avoiding any possible contamination. However, when giving the order to the kitchen staff I did not emphasize the client’s instructions. As such the food was prepared in the oil that had gluten contamination. In the course of enjoying the meal, the child developed a severe allergic reaction and had to be rushed to the hospital. This case taught me to take client instructions with the utmost seriousness it deserves.”
11. Why Do You Feel You are The Most Suited for This Role?
The interviewer wants to establish if you are a great match for the role. They want to know what sets you apart from the other candidates. Speak about your passion for working with students and your commitment to getting the work done.
“I am confident that I am the most suited for this position for a variety of reasons. First, I have dealt with students in a previous job and therefore understand the dynamics of handling them. I have also successfully worked in this role earning me several awards for great customer service skills. I am dedicated to any role I handle and always give my best. I also work on improving my skills daily to improve my work.”
12. Share with Us Your Greatest Achievement.
The interviewer wants to understand what you did in the past that you are proud of. Mention a role that you handled well and makes you proud.
“In my past role, the restaurant was always very busy at lunch hour and as a result, most staff avoided the afternoon shift. I enjoyed working during this shift as it involved handling a lot of orders therefore great at developing my skills in handling customers. I was able to learn so much about what I can handle under pressure. It also enabled me to put my organization and customer service skills to good use. As a result, I earned several awards for exemplary customer service. I am proud that this experience made me a better person overall.”
13. Tell Us Your Ability to Work Under Pressure.
In some instances, the cafeteria may be busy and you will be required to work under pressure. The interviewer wants to know how you will cope with multiple orders and if you can deliver without a hitch. Explain the skills that will enable you to deliver under pressure.
“I work well under pressure due to my immense organization skills. I am able to react to situations rather than to stress. In my previous role, my best work was during the rush hours. The clients complimented how well I was able to execute their orders in no time during the rush hours. At the end of the day to de-stress I like getting a good workout and read a good book.”
14. What Have You Done in the Past Twelve Months to Improve Your Knowledge and Skills in the School Cafeteria Worker Position?
The interviewer wants to know if you are goal-oriented and committed to improving your skills. Mention a variety of things that you have done personally and professionally that will make them interested in hiring you.
“In the past 12 months, while working my previous job, I was able to attend various training related to this position. I have undertaken training in food presentation. I have also learned about food intolerances and how to avoid cross-contamination to best serve clients with various allergies. In addition, I have taken online courses on communication skills and teamwork. I believe a combination of these skills will be a great asset here.”
15. Why Should We Hire You?
The interviewer wants to establish what makes you stand out from the competition of the other candidates. Mention what makes you the best candidate.
“With a combination of knowledge in food and beverage production as well as the experience gained in my previous role, I believe I make a great addition to your team. Also, my communication skills, teamwork abilities, and customer service skills will ensure I thrive in this role thus making me a suitable candidate.”
16. How Did You Get to Know About This Job and What do you Know About This School Cafeteria?
The interviewer wants to establish how you came about the job application and things you know about the school. You should do your research well of the school to be able to answer this question well. It will show your interest in the school.
“A friend that works at the cafeteria shared the job advertisement with me. I understand the school has a population of about 2000 students. All students take their meals at the cafeteria. I also know that each day has a specific menu to ensure the meals are balanced and cater to the students’ as well as the staff member’s needs. The cafeteria serves a variety of breakfast and lunch options all through the school year.”
17. Briefly State Your Strengths and Tell Us How That Will Make You a Great School Cafeteria Worker.
The interviewer wants to know if you can use your strengths to be successful in this role. Mention how the strength will make you a great worker.
“I possess great customer service skills which I saw from the advertisement that will enable me to thrive in this role. In my previous role, the customers complemented my customer service skills very many times. This made the organization give me several awards as an employee of the month for great service to clients. I will deliver the same great service to the students and staff here. In addition, I have great teamwork and I am also willing to take orders from my supervisors. These attributes I believe will ensure I deliver in this role.”
18. What Expectations Do You Have From Your Colleagues at the Cafeteria?
This role involves a lot of collaboration and teamwork. The interviewer is trying to establish if you can work well with others.
“I expect that my colleagues are friendly and great team members. I also expect that they are kind and make the work environment a fun place to be at”
19. What Are Your Salary Expectations?
The interviewer wants to establish how much you expect to get paid. Do your research on average pay rates for this role. You can also make the answer open so that they can give you more details.
“From my research, I established that this role pays an average of 10 to 20 dollars per hour. I am open to hearing the pay range the school offers and if it is negotiable. I also want to know other benefits the organization offers that will be part of the total package to be able to make an informed decision.”
20. Do You Have Any Questions About This Role?
The interviewer is giving you a chance to address any question that you feel the job description did not answer. Ask a question you feel from your research that you did not get an answer to.
“If I take up this role, what performance measures are in place to assess my work? Does the school cafeteria have rotation programs in the various departments that will enable me to become all-rounded while working in this role?
These top 20 questions will enable you to be well prepared for a school cafeteria worker position. The questions are not hard. With good preparation, you will ace the interview.