An important part of your role as a kitchen helper is to ensure that food is not wasted or used when it should not be. Tell the hiring manager what measures you take to ensure that this does not happen.
"In order to avoid food waste and ensure that nothing expires prior to its use, I will correctly label all containers. I also utilize the first in, first out method when rotating the food in the fridge/freezer. I take this aspect of my role very seriously as food waste can greatly affect a restaurant's profitability."
Be sure to research the restaurant before your interview. You will want to see what their online reviews look like and what people are saying.
"I have researched your restaurant and am really impressed with all of the positive reviews. People are talking about the food quality and the atmosphere. Your style of fusion is really unique and people are responding very positively!"
Letting the hiring manager know what aspects of your job you enjoy most will help them when placing you and training you. They want to know where you fit best, and where you are happiest.
"The aspect that I enjoy most in the kitchen is working with a variety of new ingredients that I would normally never purchase for myself at home. Seeing how the chef works at creating new flavours is really great and I love the creativity involved."
If you do want to be a chef one day, be sure to talk about your plan and how that might include the restaurant that you are currently interviewing with.
"I am currently in culinary school and will be graduating in 2 years. I plan to become a chef one day and would really like the opportunity to do so within your restaurant. The style of cuisine your restaurant offers is of great interest to me and I would love to grow with you."
Provide the interviewer with an overview of your experience by taking a few minutes to talk about your resume.
"My kitchen experience started 3 years ago when I joined XYZ Restaurant as a kitchen helper. I have been there for my entire restaurant career. I also bring experience from my current education in Culinary studies."
Working in a kitchen, hygiene is of utmost importance. Let the hiring manager know that you are aware of this and talk about what you do to ensure that your hygiene is never offensive.
"Working around food, and in such hot and close quarters as a kitchen, I am well aware of the importance of personal hygiene. I ensure that I come to work fresh every day."
Working in a kitchen requires a high tolerance to stress and pressure. Talk a bit about this and be sure to include an example of a time when you were complimented on your great ability to manage stress.
"I am very good at handling stressful situations. Working in a kitchen for so many years, I am accustomed to pressure situations. My previous chef often complimented me on my ability to manage stress well. I'll take a quick breather throughout the day if needed and other than that, I just let things roll off my shoulders if they get too stressful."
Give a brief example of a time that you found yourself in a difficult situation at work. Be sure to not speak poorly of anyone involved and keep the response positive.
"In my previous position we would have half priced oysters every Thursday. This promotion created a lot of business but it was very high pressure to get the oysters out on time without neglecting the rest of the room and orders. At first we did have plates sent back quite frequently. The chef was pretty upset about it. I handled it by asking where I could step in to help with quality control. It all worked out well in the end."
When answering this question you should talk a bit about your previous work history. Everyone has called in before but the hiring manager would like to know how seriously you take your job.
"Aside from booked vacation time, I called in sick once this past year. I did have a doctor's note and felt that being in a kitchen based environment while sick was not a healthy decision for others. When you call my supervisor for a reference they will be able to confirm that I am very reliable with my attendance."
Do you have a mentor or chef that you look up to? Perhaps it is someone that you have worked directly with, or maybe even a celebrity chef. Who has taught you the most about your profession as a kitchen helper?
"I have learned a great deal from my current chef, Joseph. He is a red seal chef and once worked in a Michelin star restaurant. I also attribute a lot of my cooking and kitchen skills to watching and studying celebrity chef Ming Tsai. His style is swift and I love watching him work."
Researching the restaurant group prior to your interview will be very important. Draw on that knowledge and talk about how your ideal company is a match to what they offer.
"My ideal company is a restaurant that prides themselves on creativity, quality ingredients and room for training and growth. From what I have read, your company offers all of these things."
List the variety of roles you have been in or perhaps the types of cuisine that you have been exposed to.
"I have a variety of kitchen experiences that range from faster food to fine dining. My roles have encompassed everything from dishwasher to prep cook."
Talk about your formal education and training as well as the informal training you have received.
"I have a great deal of formal and informal food safety training from attending culinary school and from on-the-job experience. In addition to this, I am also food safety certified. Food safety is very important as it can make or break a restaurant. The health of your customers depends on your attention to food safety. It's a matter to be taken very seriously."
If hired, the manager will need to know what areas to focus on when they are training you. Letting them know where you could use additional training will help them when placing you.
"I am well versed in many areas of the kitchen but if I had to point out a particular area where I could use additional training that would be proper knife sharpening techniques."
Show in your answer that you are eager to work, and that you would be thankful for the opportunity should it be given to you.
"I would be very thankful if chosen for this opportunity. The hours work perfectly with my college schedule and it would greatly help me financially. Also, the kitchen experience gained will be invaluable."
When given criticism or feedback, do you shut down or do you take the new information and work with it?
"In my previous position, the sous chef was critical of my plating when I first started. I took that criticism and spent time after work watching cooking shows and YouTube videos in order to improve my plating skills. The chef was really happy with my improvement and I was thankful for his honesty."
Clear communication in the kitchen is of utmost importance. Give the hiring manager a positive example of your communication style.
"I communicate very well with others. My kitchen experience has helped me learn to clearly listen and take direction. When something is required, I am sure to speak up and ensure that I am understood."
Being a team player is very important in a kitchen environment. Tell the hiring manager about your ability to work well with others. You can use an example from your current or most recent position.
"I really do enjoy working alongside others. In my current position I work with a team of 4 others, including the head chef. What I enjoy most about this team environment is that I am able to learn from everyone on a daily basis."
Being honest about any areas you are light on experience in is okay. It gives the hiring manager an opportunity to plan your training or a better understanding of whom they should place you with during your initial training.
"In the kitchen I do have some difficulty with the very finite details of plating. I have to learn to slow down a little bit and really get it right."
Everyone has something that they dislike about their job. That's normal to discuss but be sure not to dwell on your answer or turn the mood to a negative.
"I really love most aspects of working in a kitchen. If I had to draw on a negative, I would say I most dislike when the synergy feels off with a team. It can happen if one individual is feeling particularly negative. When that happens I try to lighten the mood or just brush it off entirely."
Kitchen helpers work directly under the head cook or kitchen supervisor. Kitchen helpers perform a variety of tasks in the kitchen, from assisting with food preparation and cooking to food handling and storage. In some kitchens, they may also clean all dishes, silverware and cooking utensils and make sure the food service stations, tables and dining hall floor are all clean and well-maintained. Their exact duties may differ depending on their employer.
This is an entry level job. A high school diploma and some on the job experience are necessary for anyone looking to work as a kitchen helper. Completing an internship will help you learn the basics of food preparation and service, safe food handling and kitchen cleanliness protocols. Always ask for a letter of recommendation from the person you've interned under. This will come in very useful when you go for your kitchen helper interview.
At the interview for a kitchen helper role, your interviewer will be very interested in knowing about the various kitchen tasks that you have had experience handling. They may ask you questions to assess your knowledge of food prep and food safety. The interviewer will also want to gauge your interest and knowledge in different cooking techniques. The best way to emphasize your interest in this role is by answering all questions confidently. You can do this by going through kitchen helper mock interview questions and rehearsing your answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.