There is no set format for a chef interview, which can make it awkward to prepare for. However, there are a few basics that seem to crop up again and again.
Find out about the business
Across all sectors, it pays to do some research into the company you’re applying to work for, whether it’s a restaurant or an organisation for corporate chefs. Every business has a website these days – a goldmine of information – and social media can provide plenty of insight into the way the business wants to present itself to customers.
Prepare your practical skills
If you’re applying for a practical role it makes sense that there might be a requirement for some demonstration of practical skills. Whether it’s a knife skills test or dish preparation, make sure you’re ready to pick up some utensils and create. Studying menus in advance is an effective way to get some idea of what might come up.
Look the part
There is an old saying that “no one ever missed out on the job for wearing a suit to the interview.” Tailoring might be a bit much for a chef interview but ‘smart and professional’ should always be the look to aim for. Clean nails, clean hair, pressed clothes and an effort with appearance give the impression of someone who takes care with the details and understands why aesthetics matter.
Be ready to tackle the difficult questions
Most interviews start out on straightforward ground, such as why you want the job, why you think you’re suited to it and what your career goals are. However, you’re also very likely to be tested with some less simple queries, such as questions about what your worst qualities might be, why you should be hired and why you left your previous job. Although you can’t precisely anticipate what you’re likely to be asked it’s a good idea to think about a wide range of possible chef interview questions – and your potential responses.
Good interview etiquette
Strong interview performance isn’t just about what you say, as there are many other factors at work here too. Being on time is crucial, maintaining steady eye contact and delivering a firm handshake. If a question shakes you up, don’t panic, just give yourself time to think and respond. Don’t get angry, don’t swear and be professional at all times – you might be being tested on how you manage under pressure.
A great chef’s interview starts with solid preparation and making a good impression. Aim to be convincing, organised, authentic and enthusiastic... If you don’t get a job it is always a good idea to ask for feedback in order to know what areas you could work on. Good luck!