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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.
Question 1 of 36
How do you develop strong relationships with your vendors?
View Answer
How to Answer
The interviewer wants to be assured that you are able to create and maintain strong vendor relationships. When you have strong relationships with your vendors, you are able to take advantage of great pricing, have first dibs on new specials, and even promotional product. Talk about your experience developing vendor relationships and if you'd like, you can even offer up a vendor reference!
36 Chef Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
  1. How do you develop strong relationships with your vendors?
  2. In the past, how involved have you been when it comes to managing food costs?
  3. If food cost were not an issue, what item would you add to our menu?
  4. Walk me through your experience as a Chef.
  5. If you could make changes to our menu, what would you do first?
  6. What do you know about our restaurant, and this position?
  7. The culinary industry is fast changing. How do you keep up with new food trends?
  8. Who, or what, inspired you to become a Chef?
  9. What is your favorite dish to make?
  10. Being a Chef requires strong leadership skills. How many employees have you led in the past?
  11. Describe to me your method of convincing others to see things your way.
  12. Do you ever use your sense of humor to diffuse a situation at work?
  13. Are you applying for any other jobs?
  14. How do you motivate your team, even on the most stressful days?
  15. When would you be available to start?
  16. Why should we hire you as our next Chef?
  17. What was your least favorite job? Why?
  18. What was your greatest cost-cutting measurement you accomplished at your previous employer?
  19. What was the biggest change you have had to deal with in your career?
  20. Would you consider yourself a creative person?
  21. How do you define success?
  22. Do you feel performance should be rewarded over experience?
  23. Tell me about a time when communication became an issue during a team project.
  24. What are your salary expectations?
  25. Tell me about the most challenging aspect of your current position as a Chef.
  26. If you had $50,000 to build your own business, what would you do?
  27. Tell me your favorite part of being a leader.
  28. Describe to me your ideal employer.
  29. How many days were you absent from work last year?
  30. How would you describe your personality?
  31. How do you handle communicating bad news to a team member, or your manager?
  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.
15 Chef Answer Examples
1.
How do you develop strong relationships with your vendors?
The interviewer wants to be assured that you are able to create and maintain strong vendor relationships. When you have strong relationships with your vendors, you are able to take advantage of great pricing, have first dibs on new specials, and even promotional product. Talk about your experience developing vendor relationships and if you'd like, you can even offer up a vendor reference!

Rachelle's Answer
"I have 9 years experience working directly with vendors. My reputation is strong among local vendors and I understand the importance of keeping strong working relationships with them. If you would like, I have a great reference with XYZ and they would be happy to speak about our relationship and how it's developed over the years."
2.
In the past, how involved have you been when it comes to managing food costs?
The interviewer would like to better understand your level of exposure to managing food costs. Talk about any experience that you have with managing food costs, preventing food waste, and improving inventory cycles. This is also a good time to mention any food inventory software or applications that you have used in previous positions.

Rachelle's Answer
"I have been very hands on with managing food costs, for the past 7 years of my career. In my current role, I created a new inventory cycle and ordering method in order to reduce waste. In my first year with my current company, I reduced food waste by 16% in the first 6 months."
3.
If food cost were not an issue, what item would you add to our menu?
This question is giving the interviewer an idea on your level of creativity and excitement when it comes to menu creation. There is no right or wrong answer here but you do need to show enthusiasm in your answer. If you can make the interviewer's mouth water with your delicious ideas, even better!

Rachelle's Answer
"I find that culinary trends are becoming simpler; however, people want unique flavor combinations. If cost were not issue I would love to do premium kobe beef, black pepper, and truffle burgers. I think it's a fun twist on a classic plate, and it feels decadent without the need to be fine dining."
4.
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
"
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.
What do you know about our restaurant, and this position?
The interviewer wants to know you are enthusiastic about their organization. Express how keen you are by doing your research on their restaurant's history, values, goals, competition, and by examining their internal culture and what makes them unique. To really impress the interviewer, pay special attention to their social media profiles for unique information that inspires you to work for them.

7.
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?"
8.
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."
9.
What is your favorite dish to make?
The interviewer would like to know the types of cuisine that you enjoy making the most. Perhaps your favorite dish changes from time to time. Maybe it's a timeless family recipe. Be sure to bring passion to your reply!

Rachelle's Answer
"My favorite dish to make has been my favorite dish to eat, since I was a child. It's my grandmother's Quenelles de Brochet. It's a dish that warms your belly and it brings strong feelings of nostalgia for me."
10.
Being a Chef requires strong leadership skills. How many employees have you led in the past?
The interviewer is looking for specific numbers in regards to your leadership experience. Discuss the amount of people you are accustomed to leading but also be sure to include some of your biggest leadership wins. That could be increasing employee retention, or mentoring new culinary grads.

Rachelle's Answer
"In my current position, I am responsible for leading a team of 12 kitchen staff. I have led teams of 2, up to 25, in previous roles. I have also been asked to mentor one student per semester, from our local culinary school. I really enjoy being a leader and do take the responsibility seriously. Since starting in my current role, our employee retention has increased by 25%. I am really proud of this accomplishment."
11.
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."
12.
Do you ever use your sense of humor to diffuse a situation at work?
The interviewer wants to know that you can diffuse a tense situation if needed. They also want to see a bit more of your personality! Stress and fast-paced work environments can cause people to feel overwhelmed and sometimes even angry or upset. Think of a time when you took a much more lighthearted approach to diffuse a tense situation.

Rachelle's Answer
"I recall a day last month when our team was focused on solving a serious technical error with our system. It got to the point where a few members of the team were so frustrated they were getting angry with each other. I stepped out to grab some coffees from the shop next door. When I returned I said 'Hot coffee to make us all feel warm and fuzzy again!' Everyone laughed and took a break from what they were doing. It helped the team relax after so much tension."
13.
Are you applying for any other jobs?
It always puts a little bit of fire under the hiring manager if they are aware that you are actively looking for a new position. Tell the interviewer about your search so far.

Rachelle's Answer
"I am keeping an eye out for viable positions. Although I am not in final stages with any other company, I am actively seeking a new position."
14.
How do you motivate your team, even on the most stressful days?
A kitchen environment can be stressful! The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of motivating your kitchen staff, even on really tough days. Offering a listening ear or providing words of encouragement can make a world of difference to your staff. Sometimes, simply being a positive influence and showing up consistently can also make a difference.

If you have worked in a leadership role, think of ways you helped set clear goals or helped individuals cultivate a new skill. Reflect on your experience and share some ways that you have helped encourage others to keep up the good work!

Rachelle's Answer
"I motivate my kitchen staff by coming to work with an exceptional attitude every day. I won't allow anyone's bad mood to let me down. That influence alone has helped many of my staff get through their day on a more positive note."
15.
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!"
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