Chef Interview Questions and answers in this article will serve as a professional guide to help you sweep your next interview like a pro,
Deciding to become a chef can be a very rewarding career change, especially if you have a passion for food. There are many opportunities to grow professionally and apply some creative license to your work, while if you are business savvy, there is a chance to open your restaurant and earn a lot of money. However, before all that, you need to know how to land in the correct position.
Whether it is your first experience in the kitchen or you have more experience, it is important to have an idea of the type of scrutiny you will face during the hiring process. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions in a chef interview, most of which are designed to give the head chef or restaurant manager an idea of your background, skills, and motivation.
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Chef Interview Questions and Answers
So if you see yourself as the next Gordon Ramsay, pay attention – these are the interview questions and answers that could change your career.
1. “Tell me about yourself …”
This is a standard opener in many Chef Interview Questions, so it’s always good to practice your answer with a friend (or in a mirror) beforehand. It is useful for recruiters because it not only informs them about your background but also sheds some light on how you perceive yourself as a candidate. Answer this question with a very brief description of your experience, your approach to cooking, and an explanation of why you are here now. For example: “I am a dedicated and enthusiastic young chef, ready to work hard and learn from the best. I have worked in great little kitchens, but now I am looking to step up to challenge and develop myself.”
2. “Why are you leaving your current position?”
In answering this one of many Chef Interview Questions, it is important to emphasize that rather than being carried away by the desire to leave your old position, you are motivated by the opportunities offered in your new one. You might say something like, “I enjoyed my last job, but I feel like now is the time for a new challenge, and I’m very excited about the opportunity for growth and development at this restaurant.” Whatever you do, don’t badmouth your previous employer, even if you hated every minute of working for him. There is nothing more unprofessional than a candidate airing his dirty laundry in public; So, tempting as it may be, exercise some restraint. If you were fired, meanwhile, don’t lie; instead, try to put a positive spin on it and emphasize the lessons you learned.
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3. “What are your weaknesses?”
Increasingly, recruiters are less interested in asking a candidate about their strengths and more focused on deducing what people perceive as their weaknesses. It can tell potential employers a lot more about yourself while having the added benefit of being a much more difficult question to answer. So you must have a good answer ready. Some experts say you should downplay your weaknesses, but acknowledging your flaws can be a positive quality in itself.
Therefore, it is recommended that you take the “false force” approach and turn your negatives into positives. However, be sure to avoid cliches. Claiming that you “work too hard” or that you spend too many hours at work is not fooling anyone. Instead, say something like, “My standards are very high and this can sometimes turn into frustration when those around me don’t apply the same commitment or dedication to their work.”
4. “Why do you want to work in this restaurant?”
The answer to this question ultimately depends on your own goals. Perhaps there is a particular chef you would like to work with and would like to learn from, or the restaurant serves a particular type of cuisine that you want to immerse yourself in. Maybe you just want to challenge yourself in a busier and more demanding environment. Whatever your reason, make it positive. Avoid saying something like “because it is a prestigious restaurant”, for example; your interviewers already know this, and it doesn’t tell them anything about your motivation or goals. And don’t mention salary as motivation, even if that’s all you care about. Good restaurants want chefs committed to the development of their craft, not mercenaries after a quick payday.
5. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
This is another one of the most popular Chef Interview Questions, mainly because it reveals what your short, medium and long term career goals are. Of course, your answer depends on what exactly those personal goals are, but make sure you strike a balance between realism and ambition. For example, if you’re just starting, you won’t be running your establishment within that time frame, but it’s entirely plausible to suggest that you would like to run your section of the kitchen. Remember: you don’t want to give the impression that you are going to jump ship at the first opportunity, but you must show that you are motivated and have plans to achieve something.
6. “Tell me about a time you worked as a team to achieve something.”
No matter how prestigious or famous they may be, professional kitchens around the world depend on one thing above all else to function effectively: teamwork. Therefore, potential employers want to be sure that you can work well with others. This will likely include asking for a specific example, so if you’re just starting, feel free to be inspired by school projects, sports teams you’ve represented, or any part-time jobs you’ve done in the past. However, if you have experience, the ideal would be to give a specific example from the kitchen, such as a time when you did not have enough manpower, but still provided a successful service, for example.
7. “What would your ideal menu at this restaurant look like?”
Basic soft skills are important to assess in an interview, but your potential employer will also want to get a feel for your creative vision and how your style might align with theirs. If you are applying for a senior chef position, you will be expected to go into much more depth and detail on individual ingredients and flavors, as well as wine options and even product vendors. However, if you are applying for a junior position, your recruiter will want to see if you have a competent understanding of combinations and the potential to make a creative impact later on. Don’t be afraid to indulge yourself when answering this question, but always keep in mind the distinctive style of the restaurant you will be working in.
8. “Which chefs do you most admire and why?”
With this question, your interviewer is trying to assess several things, the main one of which is your knowledge of the trends and ongoing developments within the culinary world. For example, you might say you are inspired by how one particular chef is succeeding in combining two contrasting styles, or how another is putting new twists on traditional dishes; talk about how this inspires you to try your ideas. Also, identify the correct types of qualities. To say that you admire Gordon Ramsay because he has made a lot of money is not an answer at all, but talking about how you have learned valuable lessons from his relentless work ethic and willingness to learn says much more about you.
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9. “Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure. How did you handle it? ‘
If you have experience working in a professional kitchen, you will have experience working under pressure. Give an example of a specific time when things were especially hectic, such as when you were overwhelmed by orders or when there was a high-profile food critic dining at the restaurant. However, if this is your first culinary role, you will need to set a different example. Whatever you choose, the important thing is to convey that you can stay calm when chaos breaks out and that you can remain professional and focused on the job at hand.
10. “What have you done to improve your skills in the last year?”
Whether you’re taking courses, reading books and blogs, eating at different restaurants, networking within the industry, or spending every minute of your day experimenting with possibilities and ideas, you must always strive to improve. It doesn’t matter if you are a 16-year-old out of school or an experienced 15-year-old kitchen helper; there is always something you can learn or something you can do better. Make sure your interviewer understands how committed you are to this process, and make sure they know that if you hire them, they will be applying what they have learned to the job.
As you can see, many of these questions are pretty straightforward. As long as you’ve done your homework and research, and are committed to your craft, then the rest should fall into place. Are you a chef? What other advice would you give for an interview? Let us know in the comment section.