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Chef Interview
Questions

36 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated August 21st, 2018 | 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     Careers     Food Service    

Question 1 of 36

How do you define success?

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1.

How do you define success?

What does success mean to you? Tell the interviewer how you see success and be sure to tie your answer into the success that you plan to bring to this particular position, should you be offered the role.

Rachelle's Answer

"I define success by my ability to reach the goals that are set out for me. On a personal level, the things I wish to achieve in my life. On a work level, the targets that are set out for me as well as the professional development that I seek."

2.

Tell me about the most challenging aspect of your current position as a Chef.

Sometimes the greatest workplace challenge is a difficult task that puts you outside of your comfort zone. It could be something that requires skills you haven't mastered yet or qualities where you not the strongest. Explain to the interviewer why your example is challenging, but be sure to spend more time highlighting the actions you took to overcome the challenge.

Rachelle's Answer

"The most challenging aspect of my last job was troubleshooting some of the older kitchen equipment we worked with. We needed some serious upgrades, but they weren't in the budget. Learning how to work around this problem was quite a challenge, but I learned how by referring to old manuals and online forums. I ended up fixing a lot of the equipment myself."

3.

Who, or what, inspired you to become a Chef?

The interviewer is interested in knowing a bit more about you! This question is designed for them to understand what motivated you to start a career as a Chef. Understanding your motivation and sources of inspiration will help your employer to keep you engaged, even on the toughest days.

Rachelle's Answer

"I have been cooking for my family since the age of 10. My parents worked and I was the oldest of 4 kids. Over the years I began to realize that I had a very strong flair for creativity and understanding complex flavors. I watched a lot of cooking shows and would say that my favorite chef of all time is Julia Child. French cuisine is so difficult to master and she truly made it an art. I hope to always bring that much enthusiasm to this career."

4.

When would you be available to start?

Before your interview, make sure you have a start date in mind for the new employer. Whether you need to give two weeks to your current position, or are unemployed and can start right away, be prepared with an affirmative answer.

If you are currently working, you should always show professionalism by offering 2 weeks' notice to your current employer. No hiring manager is ever impressed when they hear "I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!" Show that you are professional and reliable in all situations.

Rachelle's Answer

"I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!"

5.

If you could make changes to our menu, what would you do first?

The interviewer wants to see that you are able to give suggestions; however, they are not asking you to pick apart their existing menu. Show that you have researched their menu and offer a couple of ideas that would be enticing to them. The suggestions could be through current trends in cuisine, or perhaps some cost savings. Be sure to compliment the restaurant on what they are doing right!

Rachelle's Answer

"I like many facets of your menu. It's creative and on trend. If I could make any changes to your menu I would make a couple of ingredient changes that are even more on trend right now. I also see opportunity for potential cost savings on a couple of your menu items."

6.

Describe to me your method of convincing others to see things your way.

This answer can vary based on experience. Think about your personality and how you present your ideas to someone else, make sure you avoid words such as pushy, and forceful. Do you present facts and statistics to your managers and explain the results from your research? Do you influence them by coming up with inspirational menu concepts?

Rachelle's Answer

"When I would like others to see my way, I am sure to carefully lay out the ways that my idea will benefit them. I review those reasons, collect agreement from them, and then close them on the idea by having them verbally agree that it's the soundest decision or choice."

7.

Walk me through your experience as a Chef.

Many interviewers will start off with this question, which could throw you off a bit. You've done all of this research on the company but have you prepared to talk about yourself?

The interviewer is looking for relevant information that shows you are qualified for this position in their restaurant.

Respond by mentioning your education, how many years of experience you have as a Chef, and be sure give some details about your most current position. Conclude your response with a statement about what you are looking for in a position at this time.

Rachelle's Answer

"

8.

How do you handle communicating bad news to a team member, or your manager?

One of the toughest parts of communication can be delivering bad news to people that you work with and care about. Whether it is delivering a less than positive work review or terminating someone - it doesn't come easy. Assure the interviewer that you are able to handle this type of task in a clear, concise, and professional manner.

Rachelle's Answer

"I certainly do not enjoy communicating bad news to a co-worker but I do have experience in doing so. When this type of task is required of me, I make sure to practice empathy. Truth is always key, so I will be honest and clear when communicating the news. For instance, if I am to terminate someone's employment I will not sugar coat the reasons why. It's best they know so that they can learn from the experience."

9.

How would you describe your personality?

Personality and character are two very different things. The interviewer is looking for more information on your personal traits vs. your integrity. This would include buzz words such as introverted, energetic, and confident.

Rachelle's Answer

"I would describe my personality as approachable, positive, and determined. I believe that, if asked, my current team would say the same about me."

10.

If you had $50,000 to build your own business, what would you do?

If money was no object, what kind of business would you start? The interviewer will be able to learn something new and unique about you through this question. Avoid answers that would include building a business that competes with their restaurant, for instance.

Rachelle's Answer

"If I had $50,000 to build my own business I would open up a community center in my neighborhood that offered inexpensive childcare, junior chef style cooking classes, and other life skills programs. I am passionate about volunteering and see a strong need in those particular areas within my community."

11.

Tell me about a time when communication became an issue during a team project.

The interviewer wants to know how you overcome challenges in a team environment. They want to see that you persevere, despite being faced with teamwork challenges. Give an example of a time when communication became an issue; perhaps due to personality differences or a misunderstanding when it came to the scope of the project.

Be sure to express to the interviewer how the communication issues affected the team, and how you overcame those communication challenges.

Rachelle's Answer

"I recently worked on a team project focused on our business growth analysis. Each person on the team was asked to analyze a different set of data. In the end, we came together to discuss the results but couldn't seem to come to an agreement. We were struggling to listen to each person's opinion on their findings. I suggested we give each person a chance to talk through their findings, uninterrupted. It seemed to help us but I did learn that there can be major challenges when a team is filled with many aggressive personalities."

12.

What was the biggest change you have had to deal with in your career?

You will likely face change in your career from time to time. Assure the interviewer that you are able to adapt to large changes in a professional manner.

Rachelle's Answer

"The biggest change that I have faced in my career so far would be when my previous company went through a major merger. We had to adapt to new processes and management which was quite challenging. In the end it worked out well for the company, in a financial perspective, so the changes were well worth the challenges we faced initially."

13.

The culinary industry is fast changing. How do you keep up with new food trends?

The interviewer would like to know what resources you use for keeping up with new industry trends. The culinary world moves fast and they need to know that you understand the importance of offering trendy menu items in such a competitive business landscape. It's always a great idea to ask the interviewer if they have preferred resources as well. This is an opportunity to strike up a meaningful conversation.

Rachelle's Answer

"I use a variety of resources to keep up with new food trends. My favorite website is bonappetit.com. I follow multiple famous food bloggers on Instagram and I also have a Google alert set on my phone for a few different culinary related keywords. What are your preferred resources for staying on top of food trends?"

14.

Would you consider yourself a creative person?

The interviewer would like to know if you are creative by nature. As a Chef, your answer should be that you are a creative person. Depending on the restaurant, in which you should research beforehand. Examine how unique their dishes are. This will help you formulate your answer.

Rachelle's Answer

"Yes, I think being creative is part of the job as a Chef. That is one of the reasons why I became a chef. I enjoy mixing a variety of items and trying to create that unique pairing which really sets a dish off. This is in part, what attracted me to your restaurant. "

15.

Why should we hire you as our next Chef?

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 could include any industry accolades, special 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 strongest advocate.

Rachelle's Answer

"You should hire me because I am unlike anyone else you have interviewed before. When I started with my current company, I was the youngest chef they had ever hired. That didn't stop me from becoming the #1 performing chef through all of their 13 locations. I am dedicated to my craft, and engaged in this industry to the point where I commit myself to taking at least one cuisine related workshop every quarter. I am a competitive achiever. You won't be disappointed when you hire me."

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36 Chef Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. How do you define success?
  2. Tell me about the most challenging aspect of your current position as a Chef.
  3. Who, or what, inspired you to become a Chef?
  4. When would you be available to start?
  5. If you could make changes to our menu, what would you do first?
  6. Describe to me your method of convincing others to see things your way.
  7. Walk me through your experience as a Chef.
  8. How do you handle communicating bad news to a team member, or your manager?
  9. How would you describe your personality?
  10. If you had $50,000 to build your own business, what would you do?
  11. Tell me about a time when communication became an issue during a team project.
  12. What was the biggest change you have had to deal with in your career?
  13. The culinary industry is fast changing. How do you keep up with new food trends?
  14. Would you consider yourself a creative person?
  15. Why should we hire you as our next Chef?
  16. Are you applying for any other jobs?
  17. If food cost were not an issue, what item would you add to our menu?
  18. How do you develop strong relationships with your vendors?
  19. In the past, how involved have you been when it comes to managing food costs?
  20. What do you know about our restaurant, and this position?
  21. What is your favorite dish to make?
  22. Being a Chef requires strong leadership skills. How many employees have you led in the past?
  23. Do you ever use your sense of humor to diffuse a situation at work?
  24. How do you motivate your team, even on the most stressful days?
  25. What was your least favorite job? Why?
  26. What was your greatest cost-cutting measurement you accomplished at your previous employer?
  27. Do you feel performance should be rewarded over experience?
  28. What are your salary expectations?
  29. Tell me your favorite part of being a leader.
  30. Describe to me your ideal employer.
  31. How many days were you absent from work last year?
  32. Being a Chef requires strong commitment to the restaurant's hours. Would you be willing to work over 40 hours a week?
  33. Describe for me a time when you made the wrong career decision. How did you correct your misstep?
  34. When you suffer a setback in the kitchen, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
  35. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
  36. Tell me one valuable kitchen related skill that you are currently working on.
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