Menu Tests to Work in a Restaurant

The menu should be at your fingertips.
The menu should be at your fingertips. (Image: menu image by christine terkouche from Fotolia.com)

Getting a job as a waiter or host at a restaurant can be very competitive. The management may make you jump through a number of hoops as a test before hiring you. Common tests include memorization of the seating plan of a restaurant (usually the tables are numbered) and a menu test. This requires memorization of the full menu.

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What is the Menu Test?

The manager or owner will quiz you on various menu items. Usually the test is verbal, because you'll need to answer customer's questions and be quick on your feet if you work there. For example, if you are up for a job at Outback Steakhouse, you might be asked what a "bloomin' onion" is. You would have to be able to say: "A colossal onion breaded and deep fried." You may also need to know things that aren't directly stated in the menu, like the ingredients in various salad dressings in case someone has an allergy.

Who Needs to Learn the Menu

Menu tests are common for people applying for both waiter and host/hostess positions. For waiters, it is obvious why they need to know the menu. Guests will often ask them specific questions about dishes, like what are the particular ingredients, or how is it prepared -- broiled or fried? Hosts face these same questions on a regular basis because they are often in charge of answering the phone and taking carryout requests.

How to Study

Just staring at a copy of the menu is not enough to memorize the whole thing. There are several tricks you can use to study. You can make flashcards, writing the dish on one side and the explanation on the back side. For some chain restaurants, like Outback Steakhouse, there are flashcards on the Internet that you can use for free to study. To simulate a real-world situation, you can invite friends over and ask them to quiz you on various dishes from the menu.

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