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United Natural Foods Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Companies     Food     Food Service    
Question 1 of 30
Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?
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How to Answer
The interviewer would like to know how much emphasis you put on pay when considering a new position. In addition to compensation, there are many other factors to a fulfilling career. These other factors may include:

- work/life balance
- amount of travel involved in the role
- overall medical and health benefits
- additional perks such as car allowance, cell allowance, spending account
- the industry you will be working in
- amount of vacation time
- the type of clients you would be working with
- the location of the company
- career growth opportunity
- the size of your new team
- the company's reputation
- overall workplace culture.

Talk to the interviewer about other factors that are important to you when considering a new job. If you are not sure on details for this role, you can ask!
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Answer Examples
1.
Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?
The interviewer would like to know how much emphasis you put on pay when considering a new position. In addition to compensation, there are many other factors to a fulfilling career. These other factors may include:

- work/life balance
- amount of travel involved in the role
- overall medical and health benefits
- additional perks such as car allowance, cell allowance, spending account
- the industry you will be working in
- amount of vacation time
- the type of clients you would be working with
- the location of the company
- career growth opportunity
- the size of your new team
- the company's reputation
- overall workplace culture.

Talk to the interviewer about other factors that are important to you when considering a new job. If you are not sure on details for this role, you can ask!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Salary is important to me because I know that I am skilled and well educated. With that said, I do look at the full picture which includes factors such as benefits and the amount of paid vacation time."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Several factors are important to me when taking a job. Compensation is a driving component but so is the company mission, culture, benefits, and location. I am looking to have an easier commute than I currently experience."
2.
Would your former boss describe you as a worker who gladly goes the extra mile to complete their tasks?
You can say that you will go the extra mile, but it's best to give a real-life example to the interviewer about a time when you did just that. Offer up your references as well and discuss with the interviewer what you feel your most recent employer would say about you. Give examples of how you go the extra mile in the workplace.

Here are some ways that employees will go the extra mile:

- Starting on an upcoming project ahead of time, without being asked.
- Taking action on any feedback, they receive from their manager. Taking action means attending a class to improve a required skill or reading a self-development book to help with communication skills at work.
- Coming to meetings ready to brainstorm or, better yet, with ideas already jotted down
- Creating new ways for themselves or their team to maximize efficiency
- Going out of their way to make their customers happy

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My boss would describe me as an employee who goes the extra mile. In my most recent position, I was always available on my email, and many of my service clients had my cell phone number just in case of an after-hours emergency. When you call my reference he will be happy to expand on that for you, I am sure."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I sure hope so! I have always put my best foot forward, and I very much dislike being bored. I go the extra mile whenever possible because that's what great employees do! I have received very positive feedback from all of my previous employers."
3.
What is your favorite cooking technique?
There are many cooking techniques, and depending on the current menu at United Natural Foods, you may be asked to use a variety of them on any given day. Some of the most popular cooking techniques include searing, braising, deglazing, blanching, infusing, and emulsifying. There is no right or wrong answer to this question; however, the interviewer would like to see that you have a passion for your craft and the ability to apply a variety of methodologies in the kitchen.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My favorite method of cooking at the moment, is infusing. As a former bartender, I have a deep interest in taking the aromas and flavors from unexpected sources such as flowers and herbs, to make a drink or sauce, feel more complex and decadent."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have trained in a variety of cooking techniques; however, at the moment, my favorite is emulsifying. To bring unexpected ingredients together to create a delicious flavor is more of a science than some people expect. For instance, to create a house-made mayonnaise, you need to suspend oil in water and lemon juice which works only with the use of an emulsifier such as egg yolk."
4.
How do you show your co-workers the importance of communication in the workplace?
Clear communication is vital, at all times, in the foodservice industry. Breakdown of communication in a foodservice setting can have dire effects on the profitability of an organization and its reputation. This effect is why it is essential to understand that 'telling,' and 'showing' are two very different things when it comes to proper communication. The interviewer would like to know that you lead by example when it comes to communication in the workplace. Give examples of how you put dialogue into action in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I show my co-workers the importance of communication in the workplace simply from leading by example. I set the tone and expectations for how we should communicate by utilizing all forms of written, verbal and interpersonal communications to a tee."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In foodservice, we have to communicate every small detail of our projects and the clients' expectations. I encourage this with my team by asking everyone to use Trello, a project management app that tracks our progress and needs, every step of the way. It's like web-based sticky notes!"
5.
Do you agree with the phrase 'The customer is always right'?
'The customer is always right' has been a long-standing mantra for service-based organizations. Do you agree with this mantra? Why, or why not? The interviewer would like to see you respond positively. If possible, take a look at the company website to see what their mantra or customer service statement is.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Although I believe that the customer is not always right - it's important to treat them as though they are. Within the limitations of health and safety, etc.; I believe it's best to accommodate the customer within reason."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Some customers are quite impossible to please so I would not go so far to say that the customer is always right. With that said, I do treat every customer with the utmost respect and do put their needs first in all reasonable situations."
6.
Give an example of a fall-time menu that you would prepare.
Menu's change with the season, primarily if you work for an organization interested in working with the best seasonal ingredients, and sourcing local products. The interviewer would like to know that you have a keen interest in menu planning with a creative and exciting flair. Before your interview, you should visit the United Natural Foods website to see if you can gain any clues related to the type of flavors they enjoy. Lean on that as a basis for your creativity.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Some of my favorite fall ingredients include pumpkin, beets, pomegranate, and persimmons. If I were to create a 4-course fall menu, I would begin with a squash ribbon salad with a zesty orange and chile sauce. Next, an oven roasted polenta dish with mushrooms and thyme. The main could be lamb shanks braised in mint and burnt orange sauce. For dessert, I would create a pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon sauce. I have many great ideas when it comes to fall culinary."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Fall offers rich and comforting flavors. It's one of my favorite seasons to cook! If I were to create a fall time menu, I would start with a warming soup such as Pumpkin Chipotle. Next, I would create a beetroot, chevre, and walnut salad with a warm vinaigrette. For the main, I would offer a dish of cider-braised chicken breasts with marinated pears and root vegetables. For dessert, a warm chocolate cake with pumpkin spiced ice cream, house-made, of course, topped with vanilla bean."
7.
How do you prevent cross-contamination?
Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria is unintentionally transferred from one food to another, often causing an ill effect such as food poisoning. The biggest culprits for cross-contamination include:

- Employees failing to wash their hands often enough
- Using the same cutting board for meat and poultry, as you do fruits and veggies
- Storing food at an incorrect temperature
- Failing to sanitize equipment fully

Show the interviewer that you understand how vital it is to adhere to strict food handling and safety procedures. Discuss what you do to play your part when it comes to food safety.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I prevent cross-contamination by ensuring that I wash my hands way more than the expected minimum. I am also careful to cut meat and poultry only on the designated cutting boards, then fully sanitizing any equipment once I am done my task."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Cross-contamination can be prevented through thorough sanitation and handwashing. I am very firm with my kitchen team when it comes to safety and health practices, and I have never had an issue come up from dangerous cross-contamination."
8.
In your opinion, what is the biggest food trend right now? Which is your favorite?
The culinary and food service world is always evolving, with the hottest trends changing on a regular basis. The interviewer would like to see that you have a genuine interest in keeping up with these changes. Discuss the resources that you use for keeping up-to-date in the culinary world. You can also ask the interviewer what their favorite trend is, at the moment. By doing so, you are creating an opportunity for a memorable conversation.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"For myself, chef-driven fast-casual concepts are the most interesting topic for me. This concept offers the best of many worlds by combining fast food concepts yet still offering a desirable and delicious meal to guests. Gourmet taco shops are an excellent example. Do you have any specific favorites at the moment?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"There are many great food trends right now, with my absolute favorite being farm to table. The environment and our local economic status are important topics to me, and I believe they go hand in hand. In my current role, I will source meats and poultry from local farms, and vegetables from growers no further than 50 miles from our city."
9.
When were you able to resolve a problem within work?
Problem-solving and dispute resolution are fundamental skills to possess, especially in the food service industry where you serve customers every day and are often customer facing in your tasks. Show the interviewer that you are capable of problem-solving within the workplace, and making good judgement calls under pressure. Show that you can be a team player, even in the face of conflict.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My current employer recently catered a large wedding where we underestimated the amount of glassware that we needed. We were close to being short, so I called a fellow caterer from our network and asked if we could lean on them to provide the additional glassware. They charged us a rental fee and urgent order surcharge; however, that was a much better option than disappointing a client. My boss appreciated my quick thinking and willingness to reach out to our network."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"We recently had a concern surrounding employee theft. As the wholesale food manager, I needed to get to the bottom of the situation before the issue escalated. I called the corporate head office to collaborate on a plan that followed the HR guidelines. I implemented the plan, which included additional security cameras, and we caught the employee on camera shortly after."
10.
What would you do in the event of a grease fire, or other kitchen emergency?
How you react in an emergency situation can make a world of difference when it comes to the safety of those in your kitchen, or the event which you are catering. Walk the interviewer through how you would react when it comes to a kitchen related emergency. Be sure to show that you know how to remain calm, make smart decisions under pressure, and keep your team's safety front of mind.

In the foodservice industry, your new employee orientation should include locating the emergency exits, first aid supplies, and fire extinguishers. You should be trained on evacuation procedures and muster points as well as receive orientation on any potential on-site hazards.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In the event of a grease fire, I would pull the alarm, locate the nearest fire extinguisher and, recalling my training, deploy the extinguisher. I would order my team to evacuate the kitchen as well. One can never be too careful in a situation such as that, and it's important to act fast, yet with control."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have been trained, if a grease fire occurs, to turn off the heat source and cover the flame with a metal lid if possible, preventing the flame from growing. Then, I would pour salt or baking soda on the flame, to extinguish it. Although it is instinct, the last thing that should be done is dousing the flame with water. I react well in emergency situations, and am sure to remain calm and in control."
11.
How do you get along with others at work?
In the foodservice industry, you may work closely with a wide range of personalities, in a close-knit or high-stress environment. The interviewer wants to gauge if you can maintain healthy relationships in the workplace. They want to know more about the dynamics with your coworkers. Think about what you enjoyed about some of your relationships with past coworkers. Excellent communication, sense of humor, and support are all great qualities that make co-worker relationships healthy and harmonious.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have never had an issue when it comes to getting along with others at work. I am a conscious communicator and am sure always to express myself in a kind and professional manner. A positive attitude is a must when working in such a fast paced role."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I enjoy the people I work with and can get along with anyone. I have made some of my closest friends from different workplaces, and I know how important relationships in the office are for not only camaraderie but also for accomplishing tasks within your team."
12.
What decisions did you routinely make in your last position?
The interviewer would like to know more about the types of decisions you are accustomed to making in the workplace. The way you answer this questions will give them a good idea of your level of experience, seniority, and ability to handle the decision-making requirements in this position with United Natural Foods.

If the job you are interviewing for requires you to be decisive and quick on your feet, you will need to be able to provide examples of how you have done these things in the past. If you worked in food prep, you faced problems that you needed to find solutions for on a regular basis. If you worked as a sales rep, you might have required knowing how to negotiate and make decisions on customer pricing. You may have faced decisions that became so routine you didn't think twice! Refer to these types of decisions and be sure to highlight how these types of decisions have prepared you for a role like this one.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my previous position I was quite often required to make decisions on staff scheduling as well as hiring and terminating. I feel that role prepared me quite well for a position like this one. I have well-honed decision-making skills and my intuition, when it comes to hiring, has been elevated."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"On a day-to-day level, I chose the city of focus, prioritization of prospects, and delegation of tasks. The higher-level decisions I made were regarding the hiring and assignment of new hires. I also had a large influence on the employee terminations. I feel that these two sets of responsibilities have positioned me well for this role and I look forward to continuing to leveraging my experience while learning from the more seasoned members of the staff."
13.
Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for customer service.
The foodservice industry is competitive, and it's essential that you can help United Natural Foods deliver the best in customer service so that they can remain a top choice for discerning customers. The interviewer is looking for a specific answer that showcases your ability to deliver excellent customer service. You need to go beyond 'service with a smile' when answering this question. Make your reply memorable! This question offers you an excellent opportunity to be a stand-out candidate.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Customer inquiries come through my desk at a rapid rate whether it be through email, voicemail, or social media. I make it my aim to never leave for the day until every inquiry has a response. This commitment may mean staying late an extra hour sometimes, but my valued customers are worth the added effort."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I used to work the front desk in a hotel where we were given a budget specifically to use for making a customers' experience better. I recall one couple in specific who left their phone and laptop chargers in the room after they checked out. I same-day couriered the items to them with a friendly note. It felt great to deliver that added touch."
14.
How would you handle a rude customer?
The service industry can present significantly challenging customers. Seeing as it's unavoidable, the interviewer wants to know that you can handle such a situation with professionalism. Give an example of a time that you had to deal with a challenging customer situation. Be sure to include the positive outcome.

Some ways that you can efficiently handle a rude customer:

- Remain kind, polite, and pleasant
- Actively listen to their grievances
- Apologize for the situation
- Maintain a neutral tone of voice
- Avoid taking anything they say, personally

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When I was working as a bartender, I handled many rude customers who were also intoxicated, which always adds a challenging twist! I made sure to let anything rude they said to slide off my back like it was nothing. I just kept smiling, and doing my job! I still handle rude customers this way. Smile, and move on, disallowing any hurt feelings."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Rude customers are a given in the retail industry, and I have faced my fair share of them. I will outright ask a customer if there is anything I can do to make them more comfortable, happier, or how I can deliver their expectations this time around. When the customer is aware that I am willing to rectify the situation they are much more likely to level with me."
15.
What would you do if you caught a co-worker violating food safety standards?
Violations of food safety standards can include:

- Foregoing gloves when they have cuts, scrapes, or rashes
- Failing to wash hands before handling food, utensils, or kitchen equipment
- Food storage at improper temperatures
- Serving expired food knowingly, even if it 'looks good'
- Buying food from unapproved or unlicensed vendors
- Preparing food without hot water or other required resources

Talk to the interviewer about how you would react if you witnessed a violation in the workplace. Be sure to mention that you would follow any procedures put in place by United Natural Foods. If you have come across this situation before, you can refer to the scenario and how you dealt with it.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If I caught a co-worker violating food safety standards, I would report it immediately, according to the United Natural Foods standards and protocol. I have had this situation happen in the past, where an employee was not storing food properly. I wrote a report, submitted it, and retrained the employee on proper standards. That type of behavior is unacceptable, and I assure you that I take food safety very seriously."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Food safety violations are a serious matter. I would report the incident immediately, and then correct the offense if possible. For instance, if an employee were not washing their hands properly or frequently enough, I would let them know that I noticed the behavior and ask them to correct it. Rest assured, I will do what it takes to uphold the safety standards of United Natural Foods."
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30 United Natural Foods Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?
  2. Would your former boss describe you as a worker who gladly goes the extra mile to complete their tasks?
  3. What is your favorite cooking technique?
  4. How do you show your co-workers the importance of communication in the workplace?
  5. Do you agree with the phrase 'The customer is always right'?
  6. Give an example of a fall-time menu that you would prepare.
  7. How do you prevent cross-contamination?
  8. In your opinion, what is the biggest food trend right now? Which is your favorite?
  9. When were you able to resolve a problem within work?
  10. What would you do in the event of a grease fire, or other kitchen emergency?
  11. How do you get along with others at work?
  12. What decisions did you routinely make in your last position?
  13. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for customer service.
  14. How would you handle a rude customer?
  15. What would you do if you caught a co-worker violating food safety standards?
  16. What is your first reaction when you do something wrong at work?
  17. How can we motivate you on the job?
  18. How would you rate your performance in this interview so far?
  19. Why should we hire you?
  20. There are many options for you in the foodservice industry. Why do you specifically want to work with United Natural Foods?
  21. Name for me the three most, and three least common food allergies.
  22. Tell me about your food safety training or related certifications.
  23. Are you available to work evenings and weekends, and attend special events?
  24. Tell me about your culinary education. What was your primary educational focus?
  25. What other back of house or kitchen roles have you held in the past?
  26. Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
  27. Tell me your involvement with budgets and food planning.
  28. If you were asked to lower your food costs, where would you start?
  29. What is the largest amount of people you have prepared food service for?
  30. How do you test the quality of your ingredients?
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