Chef Interview Tips | The Talent Kitchen | Hospitality Recruitment Agency

Chef Interview Tips: What to expect?

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Chef interview tips

Whether you are an experienced and passionate Chef seeking a career challenge or a client looking to fill a gap in your culinary team, if managed incorrectly, the interview process can, more often than not be a daunting and nerve wrecking experience for all involved.

Whilst good cooks come a dime a dozen, the ability of a chef to prepare high-quality dishes is critical for the success of any business. Being able to run a kitchen and help turn your restaurant into a strong brand that makes a continuing profit is what separates a chef from a cook.

And here are some tips from both the candidate and the employers perspective on how to separate a good interview from a great one when interviewing for Chef Jobs.

Do your homework!

It’s important you do your homework before interviewing for any chef job. Look on the company website, research about the company and think of some questions. How big is the establishment? What type of cuisine do they serve? Look on the menus and have a dish in mind to cook. What is the price range of the menu? Who are their clientele? And if you can, who are you replacing and why are you replacing them? How big is the staff? Who will you be reporting to? Likewise, as a client, it is important to leave a good first impression of your business on the candidate. They could potentially be your best chef recruit ever. So take the time to now about them; where they went to culinary school, where they have been working and what chefs they have been working under, longevity in each role working as a cook and the different hats worn over those years.

Be prepared for any and every type of Interview

Cook on your toes!

You might be thrown in a situation where you might be given some ingredients and asked to cook a dish. Clients are looking for your creative side, to use the produce in the best way as well as your ability to think on your feet. Stop and think before you start cooking. Whilst the proof is in the pudding, it’s the process of creating the pudding and the time you take that counts too! Working in a calm, organised fashion and within the stipulated time period, will always leave your interviewer impressed.

The trial work shift

In order to test your ability to work harmoniously as part of a team whilst maintaining a calm and professional attitude, some clients may ask you to work the shift. This is a great way to demonstrate your leadership or management skills, ability to take initiative, a go get attitude and high levels of motivation and passion for the kitchen.

Cook up a classic

You might get asked to cook a classic dish or a traditional dish. These type of interviews are fantastic as a candidate for you to demonstrate your culinary basics and as a client to assess how strong your basic culinary foundations are. This is also a good way to demonstrate your organisation skills coupled with special talents such as knife skills etc.

Cooking Skills

One of the main responsibilities of a chef will be to create menus that bring in customers, build a brand, keep costs down and profits up along with teaching kitchen staff how to prepare menu items. As a client, ask where the chef learned to cook, review their work history and discuss any original recipes created or awards won. Ask about their cooking philosophies, thought process in creating dishes, personal goals, cooking inspirations are and why. Ask whether they are a member of any professional associations if that’s relevant to your business.
Management Experience

Depending on the seniority level of the chef in question to be recruited, uncovering management experience is absolutely essential.Ask questions on experience in purchasing inventory, creating menus to develop a brand, managing food costs, budgeting, minimising food spoilage, upselling abilities and creating daily specials. It might also be a good idea to where possible, include your accountant, marketing officer and/or restaurant manager in this part of the interview.

Depending on the role, some more general questions for a smooth interview process when it comes to chef jobs include,

  • How did you choose the culinary school you attended?
  • What set of skills or characteristics do you have that you think set you apart from the other applicants?
  • What do you cook for yourself/your family at home?
  • What is your favourite type of cuisine to eat?
  • What is your favourite cuisine to cook?
  • How often do you like to change your lunch and dinner menu?
  • What software have you used to manage staff and develop control systems for budgeting?
  • What accomplishments have you enjoyed in previous jobs that will make you a better chef at this establishment?
  • With food trends changing so rapidly these days, how do you keep up with what’s going on in the food world?
  • How do you measure the quality of vendor relationships?
  • How do you handle requests for substitutions?
  • What about lactose or gluten free menu requests?
  • If your labour costs are running high, what measures do you take to control it?
  • Describe a difficult situation you may of have had with an individual cook and how did you handle it?
  • What’s your knowledge of wine and do you pair your meals up with the wines available on the wine list?
  • Based on your knowledge of this establishment, what changes would you suggest to make it better or perhaps more profitable?
  • How do you handle customer criticism from the people you serve? Give specific examples.

End of Interview

Always ask questions as a candidate! It is always best to have 2 – 3 questions in mind. This can include training, promotion opportunities, how often menus change, types of customers etc. as this can demonstrate a genuine interest in the role and your passion for being a chef.

When you are seeking a recruitment company to partner closely with your business and fulfil your Kitchen staff requirements, The Talent Kitchen strives to ensure this is an enriching and seamless recruitment experience. With over 20 years of experience in the Hospitality sector collectively, our team of dedicated and experienced consultants, are experts of their field. They partner with your business and work closely with you in order to understand your requirements and find you the best talent to complement your requirements from our large pool of candidates.