If you’re interviewing for a chef job, in addition to the tasting part of the interview where you’ll be asked to cook, you should also be prepared for a sit down chat with your potential new employer where they’ll want to ask you a few questions and get to know you.
To help you master this part of the interview we’ve put together a list of the most commonly asked questions that you’re likely to be asked about your experience, background, strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Investing a bit of time preparing answers up-front can dramatically help to increase your chances of being offered the job!
Tell me about yourself?
Answer this question with a bit about your history as a chef, where you’ve worked, and what you think your strengths are in the kitchen. Say something like “I love to put my heart into every meal, as I know it makes the dining experience just that much better for the customer.”
Why did you leave your last job?
Don’t say “I left because my boss was a ***t” or anything negative to that effect. If you got fired, spin it positively and emphasise the “lessons” you’ve learned. If you quit, spin it by saying, “I needed to find a place where I was properly challenged to reach my full potential.”
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Make sure to play on your strengths, i.e. professional work, punctuality, cleanliness, etc. Downplay your weaknesses, or make them into a “fake-strengths” by saying things like “I have too high a standard of perfection, and I am frustrated when those around me don’t meet the same level of excellence.”
Why do you want to work here?
This can be anything from “A good work environment” to “a desire to grow in my career” or even “an opportunity to make a difference in this excellent restaurant”. You can lay it on a bit thick with this question, but make sure you’ve done your homework up front about the establishment.
What are your career goals?
Honestly, you may not have any, but you need to come up with some if you don’t. So, it may be worth saying “I want to become executive chef” or “I want to get the experience I need to one day open my own restaurant”. You don’t want to emphasise the fact that you plan to leave their establishment before you’ve been offered the job, but you do need to show that you’re going somewhere.
Are you a team player?
The obvious answer to this question is “yes”. Elaborate if you feel it is needed, but it’s fine to keep this answer simple.
Tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it?
From a difficult customer to a demanding boss to a lazy employee, think of a situation that you handled well and use that as your example.
When are you happiest at work?
Answer this question by saying something to the effect of “When the kitchen staff are working well and the orders are going out punctually.” Please don’t say “at the end of my shift!”
Are you able to handle pressure?
Answer this with a simple “yes”, or give them an example of when you succeeded at handling your kitchen and staying cool through an overwhelming number or variety of orders.
What have you done to improve your skills in the last year?
From watching TV to studying books to taking courses, good chefs are always improving their skills. Let the manager know how you’re becoming better.
At some point, usually at the conclusion of the interview, you may be asked, “Do you have any questions?” A common answer to this question is, “No, I think you’ve covered everything very well.” This is the wrong answer! You have passed up your opportunity to ask some critical questions that may make a difference as to whether you want to work for this company (or not), so plan ahead and prepare at least four or five questions you can ask as a back up if nothing else springs to mind.