30 Questions and Answers Written by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 30
When were you able to resolve a problem within work?
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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.
"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."
"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."
What would you do in the event of a grease fire, or other kitchen emergency?
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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.
"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."
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."
How do you show your co-workers the importance of communication in the workplace?
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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.
"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."
"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!"
What decisions did you routinely make in your last position?
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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 Company ABC.
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.
"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."
"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."
6. 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 Company ABC 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."7. 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 Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."8. 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 Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."9. 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 Company ABC. If you have come across this situation before, you can refer to the scenario and how you dealt with it. Here is an answer example: "If I caught a co-worker violating food safety standards, I would report it immediately, according to the Company ABC 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." Here is an answer example: "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 Company ABC."10. What is your first reaction when you do something wrong at work? How you react to an error made will tell the interviewer a great deal about you and your honesty level. Perhaps the mistake is one that could land you in a lot of trouble. Would you try to hide the incident, or would you tell a supervisor right away, and have the situation rectified? Here is an answer example: "My first reaction when I do something wrong at work is to own it. How can anything be repaired if nobody even has a chance to fix it on time? That would be my line of thinking if a mistake were to occur." Here is an answer example: "It is embarrassing to make mistakes but things happen, and I am a fan of getting things out of the way. I would tell someone about the situation in hopes that a resolution is made as soon as possible."11. How can we motivate you on the job? Every employer should know how each staff member is best motivated. Talk to the interviewer about the variety of ways in which you are best motivated on the job.
Here are some ways that an employer may try to motivate you.
Which ones resonate most with you?
- Incentive programs where points are earned
- Showing complete trust in your work and performance
- Setting smaller, more achievable goals
- Helping you to find your higher career purpose
- Being a positive example to you
- Maintaining an open and transparent workplace
- Personalized incentives vs. Team driven incentives
- Getting to know you on a personal level
- Positive feedback based rewards system
- Offering a stable work/life balance by encouraging time off
- Letting you know your voice matters
- Allowing you to take the lead on projects that excite you
- Handing out big-picture projects, so you feel that you are contributing to the company's future
- Public recognition Here is an answer example: "My current manager motivates me by reminding me that she has full faith in my work. Those words give me a boost of confidence and feed my fire, especially on more challenging events or projects." Here is an answer example: "I especially enjoy sales competitions and challenges to earn bonus' and gifts. In my current role, the sales associate with the most sales at the end of the week receives a $100 Visa gift card."12. How would you rate your performance in this interview so far? The interviewer would like to know if you are satisfied with your interview performance. If your interview were a flop, you would know, and it's much better to address outright your performance than try to sweep it under the rug.
If you feel that your performance in the interview is going well: 'I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?'
If you feel that your performance in the interview is not going well: "I am not sure if I have been able to portray myself 100% accurately in this interview; although, I am trying my best. If there is anything more I can clarify for you, I would be happy to do so." Here is an answer example: "I am not sure if I have been able to portray myself 100% accurately in this interview; although, I am trying my best. If there is anything more I can clarify for you, I would be happy to do so." Here is an answer example: "I would rate my performance to 90% of my ability. When you asked about my customer service experience, I feel that missed expressing some of my experience in dispute resolution. If you have time, I would like to cover that question further."13. 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! Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."14. Why should we hire you? Interviewers want to hear about that one unique skill that sets you apart from the other candidates applying for this job. Think of your answer as your 'elevator pitch' or your qualifying statement. If you can't think of ways that you are unique, ask a few friends or family members what they feel sets you apart from other people. Their observations may help you understand how you are perceived.
Perhaps you already know what sets you apart! This skill could include any industry accolades, exceptional achievements, additional industry related training, a second language, or how involved you are in the community. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself a bit. In an interview, you are your most influential advocate. Here is an answer example: "I have over a dozen years of experience in the foodservice industry at one of your largest competitors. I have a proven track record of successes there and will bring that knowledge with me. I also offer creative solutions on how to elevate your business to the next level. Having been a part of the service industry for nearly half of my life, I have seen a ton of change and have adapted to every change or innovation with ease and excitement, and I look forward to doing that at Company ABC as well." Here is an answer example: "You should hire me because I am unlike anyone else you have interviewed before. When I started at my current company, I was the youngest food rep they had ever hired. That didn't stop me from becoming the #1 sales person in the company within six months. I am dedicated to my craft and engaged in the foodservice industry to the point where I commit myself to take at least one business development or leadership related workshop every business quarter. I am a competitive achiever. You won't be disappointed when you hire me."15. What is your favorite cooking technique? There are many cooking techniques, and depending on the current menu at Company ABC, 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."16. There are many options for you in the foodservice industry. Why do you specifically want to work with Company ABC? With many options in the foodservice industry for employment, why do you want to work for Company ABC? Talk to the interviewer about your preference for their company. Dig deep when it comes to your response, bringing up specifics related to their products and services, clientele, awards they have won, or their company mission. Here is an answer example: "I am careful to be employed with a company that holds a strong industry reputation. I want to work for Company ABC because your training programs are above the foodservice industry standard and you have a reputation for treating your employees very well." Here is an answer example: "I especially want to work for Company ABC because I have friends who have worked here previously, providing me with positive feedback on their experiences. I am looking for a positive work environment where I can stay for a long time to come. Also, I am passionate when it comes to customer service, and your standards are second to none."17. 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."18. Name for me the three most, and three least common food allergies. Food allergies will be a top concern when working in the foodservice industry, where you may be preparing, packaging, or serving food. Show the interviewer you are aware of food allergies beyond the typical culprits such as peanuts. You can keep your answer brief, and to the point. If you have taken courses on food safety, this is a great time to mention that. Here is an answer example: "I recently took Food Safety Level II through my employer and understand that the three most common food allergies are cow's milk, eggs, and tree nuts. We did not touch a lot on the least common, but I believe they would be particular fruits, anything sesame based, and highly processed foods such as hot dogs or marshmallows." Here is an answer example: "I think that the most common food allergies would be nuts, shellfish, and wheat. For least common, I have reactions to avocados which is rare. Also, I think corn and dried fruits are likely on the lower end of the allergens list, but probably important ones to note. I do understand how vital it is to be aware of cross-contamination when it comes to serving and preparing foods."19. Tell me about your food safety training or related certifications. Health and safety is the main priority for all food service organization. Walk the interviewer through any related training. If you have any physical cards or certifications to show, be sure to bring those into the interview. If some of your certifications are close to expiration, be sure to disclose that. Here is an answer example: "I have had training in my past three roles in regards to health and safety, and well as proper food handling. If there is additional training that you require me to participate in, I am happy to do so." Here is an answer example: "I am new to the workforce and, having just graduated from university; I do not have formal training in health or safety. If you have any required coursework related to this position with Company ABC, I am happy to get a head start on that training."20. 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."21. Are you available to work evenings and weekends, and attend special events? In the foodservice industry, you may often be required to work late nights, holidays, special events, and weekends. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of offering flexibility to Company ABC and their needs. If you have any restrictions in your schedule such as an evening course, another job, a family requirement, or volunteer commitment, it's crucial that you bring this up at this time in your interview. Show that you have enthusiasm for the role, and express your willingness to be as flexible as possible to meet their needs. Here is an answer example: "I can offer you a significant amount of flexibility in my schedule except for the next 12 Tuesday nights. On those evenings, I take a culinary course. After this coursework is complete, my schedule will be wide open." Here is an answer example: "I understand that this role may require a commitment from me on weekends and evenings or even holidays. I am willing to offer flexibility in my schedule. At this time, there are no restrictions except for a family holiday I have booked from January 12 to 18th."22. Tell me about your culinary education. What was your primary educational focus? Walk the interviewer through your education, being sure to highlight any special recognition or accolades you received along the way. Focus also on your best courses, what your favorite methods were, and what your certification major is. Here is an answer example: "I attended the Culinary Institute of Virginia College and was focused primarily on Pastry Arts. I did achieve a Diploma in Pastry Arts as well as an additional Certificate in Culinary Arts. My favorite courses included Artisan Breads and Viennoiserie." Here is an answer example: "My Degree is in Food Science and Nutrition. I have a keen interest in how we can use food creatively to nourish our bodies and create incredible sensory experiences. If I could return to school, I would take an additional certificate in Culinary Entrepreneurship and Food Service Retail Management."23. What other back of house or kitchen roles have you held in the past? Most foodservice professionals have worked their way up through the ranks, advancing their career as opportunities come up, and training opportunities occur. The interviewer would like to see that you have a sense of what it takes to succeed in a variety of roles. Generally, in a kitchen setting, the hierarchy works from the dishwasher, kitchen porter, line cook, sous chef, head chef, and executive chef. There are many other roles also which include fry chef, grill chef, pastry chef, and more. These will depend on the complexity of the kitchen where you are working.
Briefly take the interviewer through the roles that you have held, expressing that you can mentor and guide those junior to you, while also showing a willingness to learn from those senior to you. Here is an answer example: "My food service experience began when I was just 16 years old, as a dishwasher in a commercial kitchen. From there, I gained a role as a kitchen porter, and then an apprentice. I have been a sous chef for two years now and take every opportunity to guide and mentor those junior to me. I want to see people with a passion for food, grow in their career, so I will do what it takes to help them move up the ranks." Here is an answer example: "I have been given great opportunities in the foodservice industry, from my start as a dishwasher and porter. The chefs that I have worked under over the past seven years have been very dedicated to stoking my passion for food. I look forward to helping those in return, as we all work up the ranks, earning roles that we desire and growing in our careers."24. Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why? There are many amazing trailblazers in the culinary world, both past, and present. This question is more of a special interest inquiry which means there is no right or wrong reply. Show the interviewer that you have a genuine passion for the foodservice industry by giving a well thought out and researched response. Here is an answer example: "Eug?nie Brazier initially sparked my interest in the culinary world, the first female chef to ever earn 3 Michelin Stars. She was incredibly inspired and helped to shape what we know as Lyonnaise cuisine, the traditional cooking practices of the Lyon region." Here is an answer example: "There are many people to admire in the culinary world. The person that comes top of mind for me is Anthony Bourdain. I love how he combined food, travel, and culture in everything that he did. His show, Parts Unknown, truly sparked the desire in me to explore flavors from all over the world."25. 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. Here is an answer example: "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?" Here is an answer example: "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."26. 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 Company ABC 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."27. Tell me your involvement with budgets and food planning. Food planning and budgeting are essential skills to have when looking to grow in your foodservice career. You can take courses on these topics such as Food & Beverage cost controls, often available through local colleges and culinary schools. You likely know that costs have to be recovered through sales, so it's easy to remember this calculation: sales = labor + overhead + food costs. If you do not have formal education or on the job training related to budgets and food costs, you can find essential formulas and calculators online. Show the interviewer that you understand the importance of being aware of expenses and the advantages of food planning. Here is an answer example: "I have a certificate in Food & Beverage Cost Controls with ten years' experience building food budgets and menu planning. My current food costs are below 22%, a record low for the company where I work. I do not sacrifice when it comes to quality, but I do understand that it's important to prevent waste by overbuying." Here is an answer example: "I have excellent math skills, buying insight, and the ability to use many ingredients in multiple ways, to avoid waste and high costs. In my current role, I assist the executive chef with food planning and budgeting. I am not an expert in these areas; however, I would rate myself an intermediate level."28. If you were asked to lower your food costs, where would you start? The interviewer is looking for common sense knowledge when it comes to your ability to see where you can save money, lower waste, and increase profits. Some of the ways that you can lower food costs include:
- Eliminating menu items that do not sell well
- Create a menu where some ingredients can be used multiple ways
- Enforce a strict anti-theft policy to reduce food theft
- Work with your suppliers to buy in bulk and receive discounts
- Improve the quality of your staff, so less food is wasted from poor culinary performance Here is an answer example: "If I needed to lower food costs, the first place I would look is what is being thrown out most often, and which menu items the ingredient is being used. I would tweak the menu in a way that we could eliminate or cut back on that ingredient. Also, having efficient and talented staff in the kitchen is an undeniable way of eliminating waste. Great staff will burn dishes less often, for instance, and will be able to keep an eye out for food waste as well." Here is an answer example: "Food costs are vital to a company's success and profitability. If I were asked to lower food costs, I would begin by working with my suppliers to lower costs. I could ask about ordering in bulk but still receive multiple shipments so that storage is not an issue. In my current role, I reevaluate the menu every six weeks and will tweak or eliminate menu items that are not selling."29. What is the largest amount of people you have prepared food service for? The interviewer will be able to gauge better the amount of volume and responsibility they can pass onto you when they have an idea of your past and current responsibility level. Share with the interviewer some of the more significant responsibilities you have had.
Perhaps you were the team lead for a 500 person catered wedding, or maybe you helped to run a restaurant that was a hot-spot but only 60 seats. Each position you have will come with its unique challenges. Share those with the interviewer and assure them that you can handle the complexity of this role with Company ABC. Here is an answer example: "In my current role, we have reservations booked out approximately three weeks in advance. Our main dining area seats 200 guests, and the lounge, another 300 guests. Because we are such a hot place to be right now, there is a minimal amount of reprieve. I would say, on average, with table turnarounds, we see 600 guests per evening." Here is an answer example: "I have led foodservice for a wide range of groups, from 50 to 1,000. I can handle vast amounts of guests, and am ready to bring my best to Company ABC for every event."30. How do you test the quality of your ingredients? Guests, customers, and consumers are extra discerning these days, and it's essential to Company ABC that they are known for delivering quality in everything they do. Testing the quality of your ingredients can happen a few ways. For fruits and vegetables, for instance, it can mean being seasonally aware of what is best used different months of the year. When it comes to meat and poultry, sourcing from local rangers could eliminate the need for flash freezing and transportation, making a world of difference in your dish. Discuss with the interviewer the ways that you ensure quality is always top of mind. Here is an answer example: "I rely on my senses and seasonal awareness when it comes to choosing the best quality, freshest ingredients. I read a lot about food quality and know a fair amount about agriculture as well. You can rest assured that I will bring only the highest quality of work and ingredients to Company ABC." Here is an answer example: "My sense of smell, and knowledge on what a particular ingredient looks like at it's freshest, is a significant factor in delivering high-quality ingredients. I have trusted vendors and suppliers, and also spend a good deal of time researching cuts of meat, the feel of certain fruits, and other important tips on freshness, that every chef should know."
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