17 Catering Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a catering manager, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Food is essential to life, and that’s especially true for the hospitality industry. People need to eat, and they need to eat well. That’s where catering managers come in. They’re responsible for ensuring that the food served at their establishment is not only appetizing, but also meets the dietary needs and preferences of their guests.

If you’re looking to become a catering manager, you’ll need to be prepared to answer a range of questions during your interview. We’ve gathered some of the most common catering manager interview questions and provided sample answers to help you get started.

Are you familiar with the health and safety regulations that apply to the food service industry?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of regulations that apply to the catering industry. Use your answer to highlight your understanding of food safety and how you ensure compliance in your workplace.

Example: “Yes, I am very familiar with health and safety regulations for the food service industry. In my previous role as a catering manager, I was responsible for ensuring all staff members understood these regulations and adhered to them at all times. For example, we always ensured our employees wore hairnets and gloves when preparing food and cleaned their hands before handling any food items. We also kept cold foods below 41 degrees Fahrenheit and hot foods above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.”

What are some of the most important qualities that a catering manager should have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills and abilities to be successful in this role. Use your answer to highlight some of your most important qualities, such as leadership, communication and organization skills.

Example: “I believe that a catering manager should be someone who is organized, detail-oriented and has strong communication skills. These are all essential skills for managing a team of employees and ensuring that clients receive excellent service at events. I also think it’s important to be flexible and able to adapt to changing situations. Catering managers often need to make quick decisions when unexpected things happen.”

How would you deal with an employee who consistently showed up late for work?

Employers ask this question to see how you handle conflict. Catering managers often have to manage employees, so it’s important that they can resolve conflicts and keep their teams happy. In your answer, show the employer that you understand the importance of punctuality in a catering job. Explain what steps you would take to help the employee improve their time management skills or arrive on time consistently.

Example: “I think it is very important for employees to be on time for work. I would first talk with them about why being late is an issue. If they are having trouble getting to work on time every day, I would offer them some tips for improving their time management skills. For example, I might suggest they set alarms earlier or leave for work earlier than usual until they get into a better routine.”

What is your experience with developing new menus and recipes?

Catering managers often need to create new menus and recipes for clients. This question helps the interviewer understand your experience with this process, as well as how you might approach it in their organization. Use examples from past projects to highlight your creativity and problem-solving skills.

Example: “I’ve worked on several menu development projects throughout my career. In one instance, I was working at a restaurant that wanted to expand its lunchtime offerings. We decided to add more appetizers and salads to our existing dinner menu. I researched different types of appetizers and salad ingredients to find ones that would appeal to our clientele. I also created new recipes for each item we added to the menu.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.

Interviewers ask this question to see how you handle conflict. Catering managers often have to deal with customers who are unhappy about something, so it’s important that they can remain calm and professional when doing so. In your answer, try to show the interviewer that you can be diplomatic while also standing up for yourself or your team.

Example: “I once had a customer who was upset because we ran out of one of their favorite appetizers. I apologized and explained that we would give them a discount on their bill as an apology. They were still upset, but I remained calm and listened to what they had to say. Eventually, they agreed to accept the discount and left happy.”

If hired, what would be your strategy for attracting and retaining quality employees?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your leadership skills and how you would help the catering company attract and retain quality employees. Use examples from your previous experience that show you know what qualities to look for in a good employee and how to train them effectively.

Example: “I think it’s important to find people who are passionate about food and enjoy working with others. I also believe in providing my staff with plenty of training so they can develop their skills and feel confident in their abilities. In my last role, I hired someone who had no formal culinary education but was eager to learn. I gave her plenty of one-on-one training and she eventually became an excellent chef.”

What would you do if you received an order for a custom menu that was outside of your company’s capabilities?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you handle challenges and make decisions. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills, ability to communicate clearly and adaptability in a variety of situations.

Example: “If I received an order for a custom menu that was outside of my company’s capabilities, I would first try to find another catering service that could fulfill the request. If no other services were available, I would contact the client to explain our limitations and offer them alternative menus or options for the event. In some cases, we may be able to accommodate special requests by adjusting the number of guests at the event or changing the venue.”

How well do you handle pressure and stress?

Catering managers often have to handle a lot of pressure and stress. They need to be able to manage their time well, delegate tasks effectively and communicate clearly with staff members. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention specific strategies you use to reduce stress and how they help you perform your job more efficiently.

Example: “I find that the best way to relieve stress is by taking breaks throughout the day. I also make sure to get enough sleep each night so that I’m fully rested when I start my workday. These two things really help me stay calm and focused on my tasks during the day. Another thing I do to reduce stress is practice deep breathing exercises. This helps me slow down and think through any problems or challenges I may be facing.”

Do you have any experience managing budgets?

Catering managers often need to manage budgets for their events. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience with budget management and can do it well. In your answer, share an example of how you managed a catering budget in the past. Explain what steps you took to create the budget and how you monitored its success.

Example: “I’ve worked as a catering manager for five years now. During that time, I’ve had to create budgets for all my events. To start, I would meet with the client to discuss their needs and expectations. Then, I would work with my team to determine the cost of each item we needed to prepare for the event. Finally, I would compare our estimates to the budget the client provided us. If there was any discrepancy, I would adjust accordingly.”

When is it appropriate to offer guests an alternative to the menu items that are listed on the cart?

An interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to make decisions that benefit the customer. Use examples from past experiences where you helped customers find an alternative menu item or offered a discount on their order.

Example: “I once had a guest who ordered a vegetarian dish but was disappointed when they received it because it contained cheese. I asked if there were any other dishes they would like, and we found one that suited them better. In another instance, I noticed a guest ordering a meal with a lot of meat in it. I asked if they wanted to try a different protein instead, which led to them ordering a seafood dish.”

We want to improve our customer service. Give me an example of a strategy that you would use to do that.

Interviewers ask this question to see if you have experience with customer service and how you would improve it. Use your answer to show that you know what good customer service looks like and how you can implement strategies to help the company achieve it.

Example: “I think one of the best ways to improve customer service is by making sure all employees are well-trained in their roles. I’ve seen companies where they hire people for positions without giving them proper training, which leads to poor customer service. To avoid this at my previous job, I created a training program for new hires so they could learn about our products and services before interacting with customers.”

Describe your experience with using food service software.

Catering managers need to be able to use software that helps them manage their staff and the catering business. The interviewer wants to know if you have experience using food service software, how comfortable you are with it and what your opinion is of it.

Example: “I’ve used several different types of food service software in my previous positions. I find that some work better than others depending on the size of the company and the type of job they’re doing. For example, I prefer a program like FreshBooks because it’s easy to use and has all the features I need for managing a small catering business. However, I would probably choose something more complex like Oracle Hospitality Cloud Service if I was working at a larger company.”

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and why you are the best person for the job. Before your interview, make a list of all the skills and experiences that make you an ideal candidate. Focus on highlighting your most relevant experience and soft skills.

Example: “I am the best candidate for this position because I have extensive catering experience in both large-scale events and private parties. In my previous role as a catering manager, I managed a team of 20 employees and oversaw every aspect of event planning. This included menu creation, budgeting, vendor selection and hiring staff. My leadership skills and organizational abilities make me the perfect choice for this role.”

Which food service management certifications do you have?

Employers may ask this question to see if you have any industry certifications. If you do, they might want to know which ones you have and how they relate to the position. You can answer this question by listing your certifications and explaining what each one means.

Example: “I have two food service management certifications. The first is a Certified Caterer certification from the National Association of Catering Professionals. This certification shows that I am familiar with all aspects of catering, including menu planning, budgeting and event execution. My second certification is a Certified Food Safety Professional certification from the National Restaurant Association. This certification shows that I understand proper food safety procedures.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of customer service?

Interviewers ask this question to see how you prioritize your work and what you think is most important. Catering managers need to be able to provide excellent customer service, so they want to know that you understand the importance of it. When answering this question, make sure to emphasize the importance of providing good customer service in a catering setting.

Example: “I believe that the most important aspect of customer service is making sure customers are happy with their experience. I always strive to ensure that my staff members are friendly and helpful when interacting with our guests. I also try to make sure that we’re delivering on all aspects of our services, including food quality, delivery times and more.”

How often should food carts be restocked?

This question can help interviewers assess your knowledge of food safety and sanitation. It also shows how you manage employees who work in the field. In your answer, explain what factors influence when you restock carts. You may want to mention that you always ensure there are enough supplies for all customers.

Example: “Restocking is a crucial part of ensuring customer safety. I make sure that we have plenty of supplies on hand at all times. For example, if an event has just started, I would not restock until it’s almost over. This way, we don’t run out of supplies before everyone gets their meal. If I notice that one station is running low on supplies, I will send someone to restock as soon as possible.”

There is a line of customers waiting to place their orders, but your inventory is low. What do you do?

This question is a test of your problem-solving skills. It also shows the interviewer how you prioritize tasks and manage time under pressure. Your answer should show that you can make quick decisions, communicate clearly with customers and staff members and solve problems effectively.

Example: “I would first apologize to the customers in line for the wait. Then I would ask my staff if they have any suggestions on what we could do. If there are no alternatives, I would tell the customers that we will be closing early today due to low inventory. I would then call our suppliers to place an order as soon as possible.”


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