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Interview questions

Barista

For the interview

A positive opener to start

What do you enjoy about working as a Barista?

What led you to pursue a career in hospitality?

Behavioral Questions

  • What is your ideal working environment?
  • Different cafes and restaurants have different atmospheres. This answer will give you an idea of the type of working environment that your candidate is used to, what their ideal environment would be and how this matches up with your business. A great thing for your candidate to mention would be adaptability!
  • When working alone on an early or late shift, how do you stay positive and motivated?
  • Depending on your business size and location, your candidate may have to work brief stints alone. Knowing this is something they’re comfortable with and can stay motivated during is essential, as they’ll solely be in charge of your business image during these times.
  • If faced with a particularly argumentative or rude customer, how do you stay polite and professional?
  • Working in a customer-facing role guarantees that you’ll be faced with more difficult situations from time to time. Knowing your candidate has the right balance of being firm, fair and friendly is a huge peace of mind in these situations.
  • When working during a particularly busy spell, and preparing many different orders at once, how do you stay organised?
  • Busy rushes can catch candidates by surprise. Knowing they have some learned behaviours and coping techniques to get through these moments in an efficient and organised way will tick some boxes for them!

Soft Skills

  • If you were working on a shift with a colleague and noticed that they were preparing several orders incorrectly, how would you deal with this situation?
  • For a Barista, great teamwork skills are just as important as great individual work. Here, you should be looking for the candidate’s ability to approach this matter swiftly, to ensure customer satisfaction, as well as in a friendly and gentle way. They should be able to offer help without being condescending.
  • What skills do you personally carry that you think equips you well for a Barista position?
  • Here, you can both gain insight into a candidate’s personal skill set (both soft and hard skills!) along with assessing their confidence. They may even name skills you hadn’t previously considered.
  • If a customer ordered a particular beverage and you realised you weren’t sure how to prepare it, how would you approach this issue?
  • This is something that may happen to your candidate while on the job. Here, you’re looking for their teamwork and communication skills. They should feel comfortable asking for help and using the situation as a learning opportunity. If they are alone on the shift, being honest with the customer is better than trying and failing to prepare the order.
  • Occasionally, you may receive customer complaints. How do you stay motivated, friendly and positive if this occurs?
  • Positivity and resilience are essential skills in a customer service role. The candidate should be able to name a few coping skills that they can utilise to ensure a complaint doesn’t impact their performance for the rest of the day.

Hard Skills

  • Have you received or taken any Food Health and Safety training or courses? 
  • While not a deal-breaker, knowing your candidate has received basic Food Health and Safety Training will give you an idea of how much onboarding they will need and how experienced they are.
  • Are you trained in using any food equipment, Barista tools or other relevant equipment?
  • A Barista will have to use a variety of tools and equipment during their daily shifts, from coffee machines to milk frothers and sandwich presses to cleaning equipment. Knowing what they’re already used to using will, again, give you an insight into their experience and what they will need to be trained in.
  • Do you have experience in taking inventory in a stock room or kitchen?
  • Accurately taking inventory in your cafe or store will ensure you’re never out of stock on a favourite beverage, keeping customers happy. It will also help when sticking to budgets. Therefore, knowing this is a task your team can handle is greatly appreciated.
  • What experience do you have with cash handling or taking payments?
  • This will give you an idea of whether your candidate will need to be onboarded when using a till, card machine or proper cash handling methods.
  • What experience do you have with making artisan beverages? Are you able to produce latte art or similar skills?
  • This won’t be a required skill in every role, but if your business specialises in artisan beverages then it is good to know whether your candidate will need training in this area.

Operational / Situational Questions

  • Imagine there is a long line in the store, and a customer is trying to chat with you while others wait behind them. How do you deal with this situation in a polite and professional manner?
  • While being able to chat and entertain customers is a skill that Baristas should hold, efficiency is a priority. The candidate should be able to politely end the conversation and move on to the next customer.
  • Describe a time when you have made a mistake with a customer’s order. How did you deal with the situation and learn from it for the future?
  • Making mistakes is bound to happen from time to time, your candidate is only human after all! Knowing that they can deal with these mistakes in an efficient and polite way, and take learnings from them is important. The candidate should be able to detail how they communicated with the customer, and provide them with a fresh drink or some form of compensation.
  • Walk me through your process when cleaning the espresso machine and other essential equipment. Which products do you use and how do you ensure that a high standard is met?
  • This is a critical part of food and beverage hygiene. You’re looking for delicacy here, as quality Barista equipment can be expensive! An experienced candidate should be able to mention how often and which steps are taken to ensure full hygiene standards are met.
  • Think of a time when you have received positive feedback from a customer. Describe this to me.
  • Here you give the candidate a chance to show off some positive feedback they have received during their customer service career and discuss their confidence areas.

Barista Interview Questions

Baristas are the life and soul of your cafe, coffee shop or hotel bar. They’re artists when it comes to making the perfect hot beverage, and can whip up a cold drink that keeps your customers coming back. That is why it’s so important to ensure you’re hiring the right hospitality professional for the job.

You should seek these skills in your Barista: 

  • A great ability with face to face communication.
  • Cleanliness, organisation and hygiene-focused.
  • Ability to solve simple maths problems on-the-spot. 
  • Simple food and beverage safety knowledge.
  • Experience working with cafe equipment would be beneficial.
  • Ability to work as part of a team.

Interviewing a Barista

As a Barista your new hire will directly impact the experience a customer has at your store. They’ll greet, converse and serve your customers directly, meaning they’re essentially the face of your business. So, hiring the right person for the job is a critical move.

To help you achieve this, we’ve put together some perfect questions to ask early in the interview process. Finding out your candidate’s skills using this guide will help you decide whether to continue with the hiring process or not.

How to open the job interview

With a job as people-focused as a Barista, getting to know your candidate’s personality is important. So, if they’re too nervous to let it shine through then this can greatly impact your interview! 

To help combat this, you can ask a couple of positive interview questions at the start of your interview, which will help to put your candidate at ease.

Job Ad Template available

See our Barista job ad template here

For the interview

A positive opener to start

What do you enjoy about working as a Barista?

What led you to pursue a career in hospitality?

Behavioral Questions

  • What is your ideal working environment?
  • Different cafes and restaurants have different atmospheres. This answer will give you an idea of the type of working environment that your candidate is used to, what their ideal environment would be and how this matches up with your business. A great thing for your candidate to mention would be adaptability!
  • When working alone on an early or late shift, how do you stay positive and motivated?
  • Depending on your business size and location, your candidate may have to work brief stints alone. Knowing this is something they’re comfortable with and can stay motivated during is essential, as they’ll solely be in charge of your business image during these times.
  • If faced with a particularly argumentative or rude customer, how do you stay polite and professional?
  • Working in a customer-facing role guarantees that you’ll be faced with more difficult situations from time to time. Knowing your candidate has the right balance of being firm, fair and friendly is a huge peace of mind in these situations.
  • When working during a particularly busy spell, and preparing many different orders at once, how do you stay organised?
  • Busy rushes can catch candidates by surprise. Knowing they have some learned behaviours and coping techniques to get through these moments in an efficient and organised way will tick some boxes for them!

Soft Skills

  • If you were working on a shift with a colleague and noticed that they were preparing several orders incorrectly, how would you deal with this situation?
  • For a Barista, great teamwork skills are just as important as great individual work. Here, you should be looking for the candidate’s ability to approach this matter swiftly, to ensure customer satisfaction, as well as in a friendly and gentle way. They should be able to offer help without being condescending.
  • What skills do you personally carry that you think equips you well for a Barista position?
  • Here, you can both gain insight into a candidate’s personal skill set (both soft and hard skills!) along with assessing their confidence. They may even name skills you hadn’t previously considered.
  • If a customer ordered a particular beverage and you realised you weren’t sure how to prepare it, how would you approach this issue?
  • This is something that may happen to your candidate while on the job. Here, you’re looking for their teamwork and communication skills. They should feel comfortable asking for help and using the situation as a learning opportunity. If they are alone on the shift, being honest with the customer is better than trying and failing to prepare the order.
  • Occasionally, you may receive customer complaints. How do you stay motivated, friendly and positive if this occurs?
  • Positivity and resilience are essential skills in a customer service role. The candidate should be able to name a few coping skills that they can utilise to ensure a complaint doesn’t impact their performance for the rest of the day.

Hard Skills

  • Have you received or taken any Food Health and Safety training or courses? 
  • While not a deal-breaker, knowing your candidate has received basic Food Health and Safety Training will give you an idea of how much onboarding they will need and how experienced they are.
  • Are you trained in using any food equipment, Barista tools or other relevant equipment?
  • A Barista will have to use a variety of tools and equipment during their daily shifts, from coffee machines to milk frothers and sandwich presses to cleaning equipment. Knowing what they’re already used to using will, again, give you an insight into their experience and what they will need to be trained in.
  • Do you have experience in taking inventory in a stock room or kitchen?
  • Accurately taking inventory in your cafe or store will ensure you’re never out of stock on a favourite beverage, keeping customers happy. It will also help when sticking to budgets. Therefore, knowing this is a task your team can handle is greatly appreciated.
  • What experience do you have with cash handling or taking payments?
  • This will give you an idea of whether your candidate will need to be onboarded when using a till, card machine or proper cash handling methods.
  • What experience do you have with making artisan beverages? Are you able to produce latte art or similar skills?
  • This won’t be a required skill in every role, but if your business specialises in artisan beverages then it is good to know whether your candidate will need training in this area.

Operational / Situational Questions

  • Imagine there is a long line in the store, and a customer is trying to chat with you while others wait behind them. How do you deal with this situation in a polite and professional manner?
  • While being able to chat and entertain customers is a skill that Baristas should hold, efficiency is a priority. The candidate should be able to politely end the conversation and move on to the next customer.
  • Describe a time when you have made a mistake with a customer’s order. How did you deal with the situation and learn from it for the future?
  • Making mistakes is bound to happen from time to time, your candidate is only human after all! Knowing that they can deal with these mistakes in an efficient and polite way, and take learnings from them is important. The candidate should be able to detail how they communicated with the customer, and provide them with a fresh drink or some form of compensation.
  • Walk me through your process when cleaning the espresso machine and other essential equipment. Which products do you use and how do you ensure that a high standard is met?
  • This is a critical part of food and beverage hygiene. You’re looking for delicacy here, as quality Barista equipment can be expensive! An experienced candidate should be able to mention how often and which steps are taken to ensure full hygiene standards are met.
  • Think of a time when you have received positive feedback from a customer. Describe this to me.
  • Here you give the candidate a chance to show off some positive feedback they have received during their customer service career and discuss their confidence areas.

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