Interview Questions for a Restaurant Marketing Position

Whether your restaurant is opening soon or has been open for some time, you’ll need to make some decisions on hiring an internal marketing team.

How do you hire the right person to help your business grow?

Too many people applying for marketing jobs believe posting on instagram and snap chat qualifies them as a marketing director.

Remember, the most important thing is hiring someone for your restaurant who knows what to do and how to do it. You don’t need another employee asking YOU what to do. You have enough on your plate. No need to hire someone to micromanage.

Before we get into the questions you need to ask when hiring a marketing position, let’s talk about all the areas of expertise you’ll need to cover in order to have a solid restaurant marketing plan. There is a big list!

  1. Content Creation
    1. Promotions and specials
    2. Events
    3. Website blog posts and updates
  2. Social Media Marketing
    1. Growing your followers on al platforms
    2. Engaging with your audience
      1. Facebook Posts
      2. Instagram Posts
      3. Twitter Posts
      4. LinkedIn Posts
      5. Pinterest
      6. Snap Chat
  3. Online ads – creating, writing and designing campaigns
    1. Facebook ads
    2. Instagram ads
    3. Google adwords
  4. SEO
    1. Optimizing your website pages
    2. Building links to your site from other reputable websites
  5. Google maps optimization
    1. Google my business page
    2. Citations and business directory listings
    3. On page optimizations
  6. Email Marketing
    1. Increasing your email subscriber list
    2. Creating and designing newsletters
  7. Private dining, event & catering lead generation optimization
  8. Marketing automations – birthday email program, loyalty systems, and more
  9. Reputation management – review monitoring
  10. Creative design
  11. PR – Public relations and press releases
  12. Analytics and goal tracking
    1. Understanding how to optimize the use of your money by tracking results

That list only relates to the digital marketing. What about local outreach, sponsorships, direct mail, telemarketing, etc?


So where do you start?

We can all agree that one person will be unable to handle everything on their own. So we need to figure out your candidate’s knowledge and where they fit in to the outline above.

There needs to be a level of understanding in regards to the fundamentals of marketing. Remember the most important part of marketing is the ability to increase your revenues, drive NEW business through the doors, and collect data to keep them coming back again.

Please note that 9 out of 10 candidates you will interview for internal positions will be primarily interested in social media and posting food photos. That is only 1/15th of your marketing needs, so let’s separate the instagramers from the real marketers.


Interview Questions

You can ask these questions in person, or we suggest giving each interviewee a written test before meeting with the hiring manager. We have found the written test eliminates wasted time sitting with unqualified candidates.

Some unqualified candidates may even see the test and walk out because they know they don’t stand a chance.



All marketers these days should know the following, as they are the basics of online marketing:

KPI – Key performance indicator

ROI – Return on investment

SEO – Search engine optimization

PR – Public relations

CTA – Call to action

PPC – Pay per click (advertising)

CPC – Cost per click

CTR – Click through rate

CRO – Conversion rate optimization

CMS – Content management system (like wordpress)

CRM – Customer relationship management

SWOT – Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats

If the candidate doesn’t correctly answer at least 10 out of 12, you have an Instagrammer on your hands. They just want to post food photos on social media and will not know how to grow your business.


Specialty Questions



Social Media

  1. Which social media platforms should our restaurant business choose to use for marketing and customer communications?
    1. The answer is all of them. Why limit your reach to a few? These days you can syndicate all your content to almost every platform instantaneously with little effort. Take advantage of the opportunity by using all platforms.  Go beyond just FB, Twitter and Instagram.
  2. How many times per day should we post to Facebook?
    1. The answer should be somewhere in between 7-15 times per day for a one location restaurant.
    2. In our marketing course, we show that posting all your promos, specials, initiatives each day will increase your engagement by 10x. Only posting once or twice per day is just checking the box and doing a task.  The smart marketer will know once a day is not enough.
  3. How would you grow our instagram followers?
    1. The best way to grow followers on instagram is posting great content/photos multiple times per day, using popular hashtags to increase your exposure, like/follow/comment on potential customers photos, and repost your customers photos from your place and tag them.
    2. There are also paid services that will do the above automatically for a monthly fee. Some are amazing and we tell you about them in our training. A smart marketer will know these services and mention them. It is the best use of time, for a small price.
  4. What would you post to generate a lot of engagement from our Facebook followers?
    1. This answer pulls on their creativity and understanding of the business/industry. An example might be
      1. Post a contest to name a new cocktail for the upcoming seasonal menu. The restaurant would post the ingredients and the followers would need to like the post, comment a name for the new drink and tag a friend in the comments. The winner gets their name in the menu and a gift card.
      2. Facebook prefers engagement over advertising posts. The more your followers engage with your posts, the more Facebook will give you in reach. Your social media manager must be aware of this.


SEO – Search Engine Optimization

This is one of the most important online marketing areas for small businesses and also one of the most overlooked and misunderstood. We highly suggest outsourcing this, but your internal team or manager will still need to know how to manage the SEO vendor. So having basic knowledge of SEO is a must.

  1. Explain the results which proper SEO will achieve and how it will help our restaurant business.
    1. The goal of SEO is to rank at the top of the first page in Google (and other search engines) for important search terms customers use to find your business services.
    2. You want to rank on the top of the first page of search results for all keyword. If you are on the 2nd page or beyond, you are failing.
    3. Ranking for your brand name is a given and should almost happen without help.  They need to think beyond this.
    4. They should mention ranking for keywords like happy hour, brunch, events, private dining, catering in your geographic area/city/town.  Ie, “happy hour in philadelphia”
    5. They should know that ranking on the top of the first page, the statistics show you will acquire most of the people clicking the results and going to your website, rather than a competitor. The top three to five spots get almost all the clicks.
    6. Being in the top three results for “private dining” could net you 10 leads per day versus 1 per day if you were at the bottom of page one. It’s a big deal to be on top.
  2. How do you get on the top page for Google searches?
    1. It takes proper optimization your website page titles, descriptions and content for each keyword you want to rank for.
    2. They need to acquire links to your website from many other quality websites and blogs
    3. It really is that simple in theory and should be a quick answer if the candidate knows their basic SEO
    4. There are many specifics on how to do the above, but no need to go into detail on the interview yet.
  3. How can you get the restaurant in the top three results of google maps when searching for restaurants in your area?
    1. Most people have no idea how to do this or that it’s even something you can optimize for better results. Here are the overall factors to help.
    2. Claim and optimize your Google My Business page
    3. Make sure your website has your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) on your pages and also matches your Google Business page info.
    4. Make sure your business NAP is listed on all the national and local business directories like yellowpages, citysearch, foursquare, etc.  This is called citations.


Email Marketing

Email is still one of, if not, the best converting digital media available today. It is so powerful and yet overlooked or underutilized. Ask these questions to understand the candidate’s thought process as it relates to email marketing.

  1. Do you feel email marketing is important and still relevant in today’s marketing or is it too spammy and not worth our time?
    1. If they believe in email marketing, that is a good sign.
    2. If they dismiss it as old news and not worth their time, they are just an instagrammer looking to post food photos and wait for you to tell them what to do next.
  2. How would you build the restaurant’s email list on a consistent basis?
    1. There are a ton of answers to this question, just pay attention to their promotional mind.
    2. Email subscriber growth will come from many outlets both on premise and online, not just a static box on your website saying “join our newsletter”.
    3. A good candidate would suggest running a “Win a free happy hour” promotion using business cards at the host stand and online through social media.
    4. A no brainer is to download from your reservations system or create an automatic integration. Lots of restaurants forget to download their opentable emails on a regular basis.
  3. How often would you send out emails and what would you put in the content?
    1. It is important to always stay on your customers’ minds, but at the same time you need to avoid being an annoying spammer.
  4. Every other week is a good frequency. Then save some room if you have an important upcoming event.
    1. Content should include new beers on tap, new chef specials, upcoming events, menu launches, etc.
    2. They need to be creative and not send the same thing every week or people will unsubscribe and your list loses it’s value.


Scenario Style Questions

We think it is really important to have the candidate describe what they would do in a marketing scenario.

We recommend asking an advertising question as it relates to spending and budgets. Asking them about ROI helps as well.

  1. What would you require as a monthly marketing and advertising budget / spend?
  2. If I gave you $1000 to spend on advertising, where would you spend it, why, and over what period of time?
    1. Pay close attention to the channels they pick and the reasons to spend the money. Smart marketers will spend it towards channels which you can track results and show their value.
    2. Will they spend it on a billboard or magazine ad with no way to track if it helps your business?  Will they spend it on your exact target audience through facebook, google or instagram ads which you can see the cost per click and how many people converted into customers for the ROI.
    3. There is always a shiny new toy that someone walking into the door swears will pack your place, but most do not. A smart marketer knows where to focus your money.
    4. Will they spend it all in one big hail mary buy, or spread it out over a number of different channels to see what works best.
  3. Ask them if there are any parts of the restaurant’s marketing they think we should outsource to an agency? Have they worked with agencies before? If so, in what capacity?


Next Steps

At this point you should know who is ready for next steps and hopefully you have a few possible candidates to hire.

  • One last test we recommend is creating a mock press release. Make up a special event or promotion and have them write a press release for distribution to the media. Not only will this type of promotional writing be necessary for media communications, but also for blogs and social media posts.



Hopefully this helps you find and acquire the proper marketing talent to increase your business revenue and take things off your plate. As mentioned in the first paragraph, we believe a combination of internal team and outsourced agency is the way to go. If you are looking to find an agency, we know a great one! (cough, cough, hint, hint)

When you do hire the perfect candidate, we recommend sending them through our restaurant marketing training course.  They will learn all our restaurant marketing secrets in step by step video training.  Access the course here.


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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.