Cracker Barrel's country charm is well-known and beloved across the United States. You'll find oversized rocking chairs out front, and inside you can enjoy comfort food at a table lit by a lantern, and great service with a friendly smile. If you are interested in providing great service and friendly smiles at Cracker Barrel, then this article is for you. In this article, we will discuss questions you may encounter at your Cracker Barrel interview, and tips for success.
About Cracker Barrel
The first Cracker Barrel was opened along a new freeway in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1969. The man who created the restaurant, Dan Evins, worked for Shell Oil. The first eatery had a gas station attached to it and was designed to increased gasoline sales. Over time, they phased out the attached gas stations and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cracker Barrel prides itself on simple, delicious food at fair prices with friendly service. They haven’t strayed far from their southern roots, serving grits, chicken fried steak, and their world-famous biscuits. They are also a country store specializing in farmhouse gifts and branded merchandise. You can pick up these kinds of gifts:
Now with over 600 stores across the country, Cracker Barrel works hard to fulfill its brand promise of providing a friendly “home away from home” environment. They aim to treat customers like family, so people can relax and enjoy real home-style food and shopping in their unique and fun stores—all at a fair price.
Cracker Barrel Interview Questions
Once you’ve scored an interview, it’s important to prepare yourself. One of the best ways to get prepped is to anticipate the questions that may be asked. Some questions may be specific to Cracker Barrel, so it’s important to research the company. Make sure you have eaten in the restaurant before your interview at least once so you can speak to their menu, service environment and country store atmosphere.
They may ask you restaurant specific questions like:
Take notes when you’re inside the restaurant and store so you can speak personally to questions the interviewer may have about your personal experience with Cracker Barrel. Keep your answers positive. If you don’t like fattening food, concentrate on the fact you love the lighter options provided on their menus. Never say you don’t like something—focus on the things you like.
You’ll be asked standard service industry questions so they can gauge your ability to work with the public, on a team, and in a fast-paced environment. These questions will provide you with a great opportunity to showcase your skills, accomplishments, and experience. Your answers will be what sets you apart from the competition. No matter what position you’re interviewing for, it’s good to look these over and plan your honest responses.
Why Do You Think You’re a Good Fit?
This one is standard, but you don’t want to give a cookie-cutter answer. Think about your personality traits. Do you put family first? Tie that to Cracker Barrel’s brand promise of treating customers like family and tell them you strive to do the same. If you are a go-getter, talk about how the popularity of their restaurant will be a great match for your high energy level. Take what you see at the stores and fold in your personality and skills.
What Kind of Work Environment Do You Prefer?
This can be tricky, but it’s effective in weeding out those applicants that want a quiet, slow-paced work life—that is not what you will get in a restaurant, especially a busy one like Cracker Barrel. Use words like multi-tasking, fast-paced, and customer-centered in your answer. Restaurants are busy, and you need to hold ten things at once—both in your head and on your tray. Let them know you are not well-suited for jobs with a lot of downtime.
How Would You Handle an Upset Customer?
This one is standard in any public-facing job. Just put yourself in the customer’s shoes when answering this one:
It would be wise to expand on apologizing to an upset customer. In the service industry, the customer is always right. A customer doesn't want to hear an excuse for bad service, and an apology goes a long way in these situations. Managers in the service industry know this, and your hiring manager will consider it an asset if you have an understanding of this fact, too.
What Does It Mean to Be a Team Player?
No man is an island, and that’s never truer than in a restaurant. Talk about how important clear communication is so there is less room for error. It’s also all about helping each other out. In a restaurant or store, you may be slammed and will need help from your coworkers. You’ll want to be the person that offers help to others when you’ve got a minute. Just remember, in a team environment, every job is everyone’s job.
What Is Your Greatest Strength?
Yes, the question you can guarantee will be in almost every interview for the rest of time. Look at the job description and tie one or two of your strengths to some attributes they’re looking for. If they are looking for the ability to work in a fast-paced environment, talk about your boundless energy. If they need a well-organized server, talk about your ability to prioritize your time and adapt to new processes. You don’t want to go overboard here. Take their top two requirements in a candidate and tie two strengths to those.
What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
Here is a tricky one. You do not want to say you have no weaknesses—that’s a red flag. You also don’t want to tell the hiring manager you get overwhelmed when things get hectic. In this situation, you will want to cite a weakness that can be looked at as an asset from some angles. Try saying you get so focused you sometimes forget to ask for help. While this can be a weakness, it also implies you take a fair share of the work load.
With any weakness you cite, add that you’ve been working towards improving it. Regarding the above example, you can tell the hiring manager you can now recognize when your customers will benefit from your asking for help. That's a perfect answer!
What Questions Do You Have?
At the end of most interviews, someone will ask if you have questions. Come prepared with one or two—it shows you want to know more. Great questions revolve around what they need:
Interviews can be anxiety-inducing, but there are things you can do to relieve stress and give yourself the biggest chance of acing the big day.
Get there at least 15 minutes early. This will allow you to settle down before your appointment time. Take deep breaths while you’re waiting. Also, be sure to be nice and friendly to everyone who greets you. You never know, someone may ask them their impression of you.
Being early also shows your ability to be punctual, which is critical for a busy place like Cracker Barrel. Leave your phone in the car so you're not tempted to look at it as you wait. You want to take in your surroundings—not Facebook. If you bring it in, silence it and leave it alone.
Seriously, this is big. Smile and give a firm handshake. Watch your nervous ticks like bouncing legs, tapping pens or wringing of the hands. If you find you’re getting nervous or tongue-tied, just take a deep breath, smile, then start again. The person interviewing you knows it’s a nerve-wracking experience, and they will appreciate your ability to take a breath.
Dress professionally. You don’t need a power suit, but you need to present well. Anything you would wear to a club belongs nowhere near an interview room. Remember, Cracker Barrel presents as a country and family-focused restaurant, so keep your clothing conservative. Never wear jeans, short skirts, clothes with stains or holes, or sky-high heels.
Keep your clothes comfortable so you can focus on the interview. Anything ill-fitting will distract you and distract the interviewer. You don’t want to tug or scratch at any piece of clothing.
What to Bring
Always bring a couple of extra copies of your resume and any letters of reference you have. It’s a good idea to bring a notebook and pen in case there’s information you want to capture, like the interviewer’s email address.
The next day, use that email address to express your gratitude to the hiring manager for taking the time to meet with you. You want to stay on their mind, and one follow-up email is a perfect way to do that.
Cracker Barrel can be a great place to work and will give you a ton of work experience in both the restaurant and retail worlds. Nailing the interview will get you in the door, your work ethic and ability to learn and adapt will keep you there and moving up the ranks—there is no shortage of opportunities at Cracker Barrel!
Featured Image: Image via Flickr