Olive Garden Job Application and Careers Guide

See Olive Garden job application tips to help you get hired quicker.

Olive Garden is a casual dining restaurant chain that has become part of the fabric of America. It specializes in Italian-American food and has around 800 locations spread throughout all 50 States, as well as many other countries, such as Canada and Brazil.

Initially, Olive Garden was unpopular because many people claimed they did not serve real Italian food. However, as their locations increased and began to match their former sister company, Red Lobster, this company became the largest chain of Italian-themed full-service restaurants in the US.

Working at Olive Garden

The following information will provide how to submit your Olive Garden job application and:

Working at Olive Garden is fast-paced and a lot of fun, according to employees who have worked there. The employee discounts are pretty good, and the pay is above average for most of the positions.

It is also an ideal place for college students and retirees as a side income. Plenty of employees manage to work here while attending school, handling family and other responsibilities, or when still holding another job.

It also offers great entry-level opportunities in the restaurant industry. The company culture is positive, and the management is very supportive of the team members.

Just like any other company, working at Olive Garden has its pros and cons.

Let’s have a look at them:


  • A flexible schedule makes it a good place for students to work in
  • Fun work environment
  • Employees tend to feel appreciated by management
  • Decent tips in many locations
  • Good bonuses for all employees
  • You get 50% off meals and an unlimited amount of soup for only $1 every shift


  • Managers are sometimes lacking when it comes to supporting employees
  • You may have to deal with rude customers
  • In some locations, people don’t tip servers very well
  • It’s difficult to get a paid break during your shift at times
  • No overtime available

Olive Garden Pay

The most popular role in Olive Garden includes a server, whose starting pay ranges around $14.70 per hour. A line cook at this company gets an average hourly pay rate of $14.85.

The company announced in March 2021 that every hourly employee will be earning at least $10 per hour. On average, hourly employees of this company earn about $16 per hour after a few years of experience.

Jobs at Olive Garden

Listed below are the types of jobs you can find in this company;

  • Host
  • Server
  • Bartender
  • Line Cook
  • Dishwasher
  • Prep Cook
  • To Go Specialist
  • Busser
  • Restaurant Manager

Olive Garden Host

An Olive Garden host is the first person to greet you when you walk in the door, and they are also responsible for seating guests during peak hours. A host may also help servers deliver food to tables.

They must always be on time for their shift and never or rarely call in sick. If a host at this restaurant chain wants to climb the ladder and be promoted, they need to start out as being highly responsible and dependable.

Olive Garden Server

If you are looking for a job that can provide great pay, flexible hours, and the chance to earn big tips, then consider applying for a server position. Although experience is preferred, it is not required.

You will be responsible for greeting guests with a smile as they arrive at the restaurant. Look out for their needs and make sure you accommodate them.

Be aware that your main focus will be making sure they are satisfied throughout their time at the restaurant. The server at Olive Garden will sometimes have to help bus tables, check on guests, and clean up before closing time.

Olive Garden Bartender

An Olive Garden bartender is responsible for helping the restaurant provide guests with an excellent dining experience. To do this they must be friendly, provide quick service, and be talented in making drinks from the menu as well as any special orders.

They are usually creative in their bartending abilities as well, and can occasionally recommend something they think a customer will love, based on the drinks they have ordered.

In this position, you will often prepare drinks in both cocktail or shaker glassware, depending on what type of drink it is.

Olive Garden Line Cook

As an Olive Garden line cook, you will become a part of the assembly line for most foods prepared by the restaurant’s chef. Once an order comes through, you’ll begin preparing the meals as you have been trained so that the food orders can be completed in time and with the highest quality.

You don’t need any formal training to land this job, and Olive Garden will provide all the training you need. However, experienced line cooks are always welcome to apply.

Olive Garden Dishwasher

Dishwashers at the Olive Garden have to deal with plenty of pressure. They constantly have to clean dirty plates, dishes, and utensils.

They’re not only responsible for cleaning all the above. During downtimes, they will help the manager and carry out any other duties in order to keep the restaurant as clean as possible.

This means they will occasionally have bathroom duties and may be called to bus tables whenever necessary.

Olive Garden Prep Cook

A prep cook is an entry-level position where the employee is responsible for preparing ingredients for the actual meals to be served at Olive Garden.

This job may include slicing pieces of bread and vegetables, making salads, using a meat slicer, prepping cold dishes like pasta salad, chopping cooked meats like chicken and beef, and mixing drinks like sangria and margaritas.

A good Olive Garden prep cook is accurate at measuring out ingredients to ensure that everything is up to the standard for serving. They also work with cleaning chemicals such as bleach when they are not cooking, so they must wear protective gloves and clothing.

Olive Garden To Go Specialist

An Olive Garden To Go Specialist is responsible for taking phone orders or in person and delivering the food accurately for customers. Customers will either pick up their orders from the take-out area or curbside.

The To-Go specialist ensures orders are cooked in a timely manner in order to satisfy customers, so they can order regularly without having to worry about the quality and efficiency of their orders.

An Olive Garden To Go Specialist also plays a crucial role in promoting new menu items. If a new dish is going over well with guests, an Olive Garden To Go Specialist can make recommendations to customers to help sell the menu items in the future.

In this job, you must always be familiar with all of the ingredients used in different menu items at your location. For example, you should know that one dish uses a marinara sauce made with cream while another may use a marinara sauce made with whole tomatoes.

Olive Garden Busser

Bussers at Olive Garden help out by clearing tables and replenishing breadsticks for guests. They also refill drinks, sweep the floor and greet customers with a smile to make sure they have a wonderful visit.

They also ensure that the restaurant is always ready for any large gatherings. This position requires you to be flexible and adapt to any task a manager may give you during your shift.

Olive Garden Restaurant Manager

This highly responsible position will have you working approximately 50 hours a week while having 2 days off every week, as well. Olive Garden recognizes most restaurant managers can rarely take a weekend off during the busiest times, so it rewards its managers by guaranteeing them at least one weekend off every month!

The ideal candidate for this position has a few years of restaurant management experience and knows how to treat and guide employees and get positive results.

How to Apply at Olive Garden

To apply for a position at this restaurant, follow these steps:

  1. The first thing you need to do is visit their website to fill out an application. Follow the prompts on the online form to complete it.
  2. If you meet the qualifications, they will contact you for a phone interview. Be prepared to answer this call professionally.
  3. Make sure you are prepared for the interview questions. That will make you stand out from other applicants, and show your interest in the job.
  4. If you pass your phone interview, you will be invited for an in-person interview at the store you applied for. Make sure you dress appropriately for your interview. Being well-dressed leaves a good impression on the interviewing panel.
  5. Make sure you show up on time. That allows you to have sufficient time to calm down and be ready for the interview session.
  6. If you don’t get the job, keep in touch with them. You may be one of the first people they consider when there is a job opening.

Olive Garden Application Process

The application process at Olive Garden consists of several steps. They include the following:

An Online Application

Olive Garden job applications can be completed online in less than 15 minutes. Applicants can fill in their contact information and submit the form easily. The boxes you need to fill include your name, email address, location (zip code), and in what capacity you are interested in working at the company.

Application Review

After you submit your Olive Garden job application, the hiring managers will review it for consideration. Applicants that meet the company’s standards will then be sent to take a placement test.

It gauges their knowledge of operational procedures. After passing this section of the Olive Garden application process, the next step will include an interview over the phone.

Phone Interview

After passing the initial steps of the hiring process, applicants are instructed to call their designated hiring manager for a phone interview. It is typically conducted as part of a standard screening process and should take about 20 minutes to complete.

Hiring managers may ask questions related to customer service, the menu, and even the application process itself. You have to prepare well for this.

In-Person Interviews

Applicants who make it past the phone interview stage will be invited for a series of in-person interviews. At this point, applicants should dress professionally and arrive on time.

Hiring managers are looking for well-groomed, friendly individuals who are genuinely interested in the position. Applicants should be able to answer questions related to Olive Garden’s history, menu, etc.

Training Program

As part of the application process, new employees must train for two weeks before starting their new jobs. In these training sessions, applicants should be prepared to work long hours.

Olive Garden is a large and successful restaurant chain, and its hiring process does not concentrate on specific locations. Applicants will train at any of the many restaurants in their region. Each location has multiple shift times, so some applicants may train at different locations.

Olive Garden Interview Questions

Here are some of the common interview questions you’ll are likely to be asked by Olive Garden hiring managers:

  • What do you know about Olive Garden?
  • What do you know about our competitors?
  • Why do you want to work with us?
  • What type of salary are you looking for?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Do you have any experience working in a restaurant?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
  • What other positions are you applying for?
  • Have you ever been fired from a job?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • Tell me about your future goals.

Minimum Age to Work at Olive Garden

Olive garden hires employees with a minimum age of 16 years. Most of these jobs available have to do with serving as hosts or bussing tables. Kitchen jobs require adult workers due to the inherent dangers of cooking.

Does Olive Garden do a background check?

The company does not do background checks for entry-level position applicants. The only time they do a background check is for individuals applying for management positions.

Does Olive Garden drug test?

Unless an applicant throws up red flags while applying, Olive garden does not do a drug test for hourly employees. For managers and other salaried employees who apply, Olive Garden will usually conduct a full background check as well as a drug test to detect illicit drugs.

Does Olive Garden hire felons?

Yes, they do. Olive Garden usually hires individuals with a felony past as long as the alleged crime committed would not affect his or her employment. Additionally, it can also depend on how much time has elapsed since the conviction and how well-rehabilitated the applicant appears to be.

What they are most interested in is how well you can handle the customers, get along with co-workers, and have a positive attitude.

Olive Garden Benefits

Full-time hourly workers and salaried workers such as managers get full health and dental coverage, as well as a generous 401k.

You also get a lot of flexibility in your schedule. You can choose the days of the week and the hours of those days that work best for you, and management usually does their best to accommodate you.

On-the-job training is a great way to get started in the work field and in this company, you will be trained on everything you need to learn about your job. If you are not doing well in any area, you can rest assured you can communicate this to your immediate supervisor and get one-on-one supervision and training to correct the weakness.

The opportunity for advancement at Olive Garden is high. If you work hard and learn the system, you can eventually apply for a promotion to become the manager of the restaurant. Managerial job openings come up regularly in just about every region.

If you have proven yourself to be a reliable, experienced, and talented worker, you may be able to impress upper management enough to land a supervisory job.

Final Thoughts

Olive Garden can be a great opportunity for servers of all ages to actually make a decent living, depending on the location. 

The restaurant gets pretty high ratings when it comes to work-life balance from past and present employees. This is mainly due to the flexibility in scheduling, where managers will try to work around your personal schedule and do the best they can to fill in all the slots.

As with most casual dining restaurants, you can’t expect to get an hourly job and make a whole lot of money. The host or hostess position is perfect for a college student wanting to earn a little side income.

Any person, for that matter, who needs to make a little money on the side can easily find a home by working at Olive Garden. Managers are generally fair, and the working culture is a lot of fun, according to many employees.

For workers who prove themselves and work hard to learn how the company operates, there is always a chance to advance up the ladder of success. All in all, this is one of the best casual dining restaurants to work for, evidenced by past and present employees who give the restaurant above-average ratings on sites such as Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com.

Featured image courtesy of Anthony92931, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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