Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. Sometimes, in the fast pace and high stress of a kitchen environment, setbacks can feel even more elevated than they truly are. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with setbacks in the workplace.
"Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be a bit disheartening, but I understand that it happens from time to time. If I experience a major setback I will take a few moments to debrief with my team and discuss what we could have done differently. Then, we implement what we learned, and we move on!"
Prior to an interview, you should always fully research the company's online presence and, if possible, follow them on social media. This is also helpful because many companies will post their new openings using their social media platforms. The interviewer would like to know if you are authentically engaged in their brand!
"I know that you have a great social media presence and I do follow your Instagram account. Of course, your posts always make me hungry!"
The interviewer would like to know if you have taken any food specific training or certifications. If you are Food Safety Certified, be sure to bring that certification with you to your interview. If you know of any industry specific certifications that may be required of you, be sure to address those in the interview.
"I have taken Food Safety Level I, II and III. I see that you mention 'ABC' and 'XYZ' training in your job posting. I do not have training in these areas; however, I am more than willing to take this training and become certified before my start date."
If you have any restrictions in your schedule it is best to bring this up with the interviewer right away. The restaurant industry is fast-moving and nearly always open. Offer your availability and be clear on any restrictions you may have.
"I understand that I need to be available and flexible, as a kitchen manager. My schedule is very open with the exception of Monday evenings. I am able and willing to work overtime, and weekends as well."
The interviewer would like to know that you have an interest in keeping up their high standards of health and cleanliness. Give examples of times when you went over and above to meet cleanliness standards in your previous role(s).
"I am very concerned about cleanliness as it has everything to do with first impressions, and also the health of your customers. In my current position I am always the first to notice anything out of place or in disorder. Rest assured, I would be proud to uphold the cleanliness standards in your restaurant."
When the interviewer asks about your work ethic they are looking for specific examples or keywords they can relate to. When you read the company job posting or job description do they refer to particular company ethics? Talk about their values and how those align well with your personal work values. Some characteristics you may want to use are: - Determined/Driven - Accountable - Humble - Respectful - Dependable
"I am a very dedicated and loyal employee. I saw on your website that you describe your company as honest, transparent and you go the extra mile for your customers. My work ethic is the same. I am honest, flexible, and come ready to work hard for my employer every day."
Some businesses have trouble with employee theft and they need to make sure that they are hiring someone who is honest and trustworthy. Talk to the interviewer about the steps you would take if you caught a co-worker stealing.
"I am sure that you have an internal policy for employee theft so I can assure you that I would follow the required steps to report the theft. I am a trustworthy person with a strong track record of honesty with my previous employers."
The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.
"Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year plus a potential 5% bonus based on cost savings and restaurant performance. Last year my earnings were $47,000 and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."
Being able to make quick decisions and think fast on your feet sets top-notch restaurant professionals out from the crowd. We all make a lot of decisions every day, so start off by telling the interviewer that you make a lot of quick decisions each day. Next, be prepared for a more significant example that will be sure to impress.
"My current position requires me to make tough decisions on a regular basis. I work well under pressure like that. With split second decisions, I will always go with my initial instinct. Last week I had to make a last minute substitute on one of our most popular entrees because we were shorted a major ingredient by our supplier. I made the changes, informed all kitchen staff and servers, and the crisis was averted!"
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of questions you could have found the answers to from simply watching a video on their company site! Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the biggest change in this industry over the past 3 years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me?
There are some things that your resume cannot do. Showing off your great personality is one of them, for instance! Talk to the interviewer about some of your unique qualities and be sure to tie these qualities into how they will benefit the company, should they hire you.
"I have a unique ability to strike up conversation and build rapport with nearly anyone. This is a great help when it comes to customer service and sales. My up-selling percentages are always very high."
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.
"I am best motivated through words of praise and recognition for a job well done. I do like to know that my efforts are being noticed. In my current position we have a leader board and I do like that concept because it creates a healthy bit of personal competition in me as well."
If you're having trouble thinking into the future about your plans when you haven't even landed the job you want now, you're not alone! The best thing you can do is to take some time to prepare for this question. Not only will it help you impress the interviewer, but it may also give you some clarity. Let's say you're interviewing for jobs as a dental hygienist. It's your first interview and you're nervous. You know you have the knowledge, but you don't have a lot of experience to back it up. Five years seems like a lot to think about! Here is a suggestion for how you can answer this question: "I would love to continue working as a dental hygienist. Even though I just finished school, I know there is so much to learn. I plan to continue my education and look for opportunities to learn more about ways I can help my clients." You can keep it very simple. The interviewer doesn't expect you to have your whole career planned out, but they do want to hear you are interested in staying in the field and growing in your knowledge. Any plans for furthering your education are welcome!
"I would love to continue working as a dental hygienist. Even though I just finished school, I know there is so much to learn. I plan to continue my education and look for opportunities to learn more about ways I can help my clients."
Recruiters and hiring managers often receive hundreds of applications per job. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, make some effort to conduct research on the opportunity. You don't need to be an expert, but you do need to be knowledgeable on the company before your interview. Start by searching the company website and take special note of any recent news articles, events or contributions they have made to the community. Identify their mission and values so that you can be clear on what they stand for.
"Your company mission of excellent customer service and loyalty really jumps out to me. It is probably why you are the longest standing business of all your competitors. I also love that you are working to make your office green by recycling and minimizing energy costs."
Talk to the interviewer about any interest that you have in creativity and how you have implemented that desire in the workplace. Even if you do not consider yourself to be a 'creative person', there is a large change that you have made creative minded decisions in your career.
"I do consider myself to be a creative individual. One example of this would be the telephone sales scripts that I crafted for our inside sales team. They were lively and effective, and sales increased by 23% in the first 90 days of implementation."
As a Kitchen Manager, you must have strong conflict management abilities. The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of handling uncomfortable situations while nurturing valued customer relationships and still keeping the restaurant's best interests in mind. Give an example of a time you successfully resolved a customer related issue.
"Last week, a customer called me very angry regarding the poor experience they had at my restaurant. I listened and told them I would be happy to help. I asked more questions to understand the problem and then offered a suggestion once I had a better idea of what might solve it. The customer was very relieved and grateful that I took the time to listen and make sense of the issue. I was able to deescalate the issue very quickly. I believe that most customer complaints can be easily solved through a gentle and collaborative approach."
The interviewer would like to know some of the reasons that you have chosen a career path of Kitchen Manager. By understanding your interests, and what drives you, the hiring manager will better know if you are a fit for their organization. Be sure to include some important facts about the company itself. This is a time to discuss your career interests and how this company will keep you excited for years to come.
"There are many appealing factors to being a Kitchen Manager. I love the fast pace that I am faced with on a daily basis. Also, I am a highly creative person. Crafting new dishes is a highlight for me. One of the reasons I am applying with your restaurant is because you are so well known for unique fusions and daring dishes."
When you feel torn between multiple tasks, how do you decide which one needs your attention the most? Assure the interviewer that you are able to be diligent when it comes to assessing your priorities.
"I will determine which item requires my attention by the amount of time we are behind, and then the financial impact of not getting it done on time. For instance; burning a steak because it wasn't tended to is much more costly than a salad waiting to be taken out for 3 minutes longer than expected. I also understand the pure importance of having a diligent and well trained team of support staff in the kitchen. Delegating to them is an incredibly helpful way to ensure that priorities are taken care of."
As a leader, 'telling' and 'showing' are two very different things. Talk to the interviewer about how you personally put communication into action in the workplace.
"I show my kitchen staff the importance of communication through my willingness to ask questions if I do not understand the first time. I do not pretend to know something just to save face. By creating an environment where questions are encouraged, we have increased communication greatly, and have seen a better safety record and less food returned to the kitchen, as a result."
On a scale of 1-10, how skilled are you in communication? Why did you choose that particular rating for yourself?
"I rate my communication skills as a 9/10 as I will, on occasion, have times when I am not as clear as I would like to be. My current kitchen staff will attest to my clear and concise communication skills. Because I am an open leader, my team will let me know if I need to clarify anything."
Pick a weakness that is not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you really aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness. Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our own weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!
"I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel for tasks that require advanced spreadsheet tracking. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are after that course!"
Take a few minutes to tell the interviewer a few things about yourself. You can begin with your recent education, family life, volunteer work, or talk about your travels. Bring up anything that is interesting and highlights your ability to be a responsible, reliable, and bright individual.
"A bit about me - I love to travel, read, and conduct research. I am a recent grad from Columbia University and have spent the past 12 months traveling the world. It was the best experience that I could have given myself as I was able to learn so much from seeing how the rest of the world lives. I returned to the US just last month and have been actively looking for work the past couple of weeks. I am looking forward to getting into the routine of a career again."
As a Kitchen Manager, you will often be asked to keep your eyes open for cost-saving opportunities. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of understanding the importance of this practice and give a strong example of a time when you have done so. Give an answer that is quantifiable, for the most impact.
"I have been able to present cost-cutting suggestions many times to my most recent employer. The one I am most proud of was implementing a food-tracking software program. Once implemented, I was able to check exactly where my food costs were on a nightly basis. If we were high, say 5% over where we had to be for the week, I could easily track the data to find out if that was because sales were soft, or perhaps we were over-ordering product. Within 6 months of this software implementation, I saved us nearly $14K by avoiding food waste."
Food costs are a critically important factor to the success of any restaurant and an under-performing dish can greatly affect those costs due to potential food waste. The interviewer wants to see that you are capable of taking important action when a situation like an under performing dish comes to light.
"If I discovered that a menu item was not selling well it would be very important for me to address this with the restaurant owner immediately. I would come to the owner with supporting facts and numbers. Not only that, but I would also approach the owner with a suggestion or two on what we can do to increase the sales or make a profitable menu change."
Before you apply at any restaurant you must be able to confidently say that you are familiar with their dining experience. Be prepared to offer positive comments on the menu, atmosphere, service, and overall brand. The interviewer is looking for suggestions on where they could improve; however, this is not an invitation to completely pick things apart. You should remain positive and give a small suggestion that cannot be seen as negative or overly critical. They are not asking you to reinvent the wheel!
"I have dined at your restaurant about 4 times in the past. My most recent experience was just last week! I really enjoy the atmosphere here and found the quality of the food to be very good. If I could make any type of suggestion I would recommend hiring additional hostess and bussing staff as I did notice that the servers were running a bit behind on my last visit. Support staff is critical, inexpensive, and especially important in this competitive landscape."
The interviewer wants to know the attributes that you value most in a successful kitchen manager. List a few attributes that you feel are most valuable for a kitchen manager to possess and be sure to comment on how those relate to your personal strengths . Good examples might include: - Trustworthy - Accountable - Committed - Results-oriented - Detailed - Driven - Reliable All of these attributes are valuable in a team setting, and any of them will make sound examples for you.
"I feel that a strong kitchen manager should be motivating, competitive, and a natural mentor. I have had leaders with these qualities and it makes any kitchen setting run much smoother when they possess these. When I lead a team, I do my best to emulate these qualities as well."
The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of leading in a positive way that commands the respect required in a fast paced kitchen environment. Leading with an iron fist is not necessarily the best way to ensure you are respected in your role. Talk about some of your personality traits and the ways that you connect with your employees. The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of developing healthy relationships that will foster a communicative and safe kitchen environment.
"I have been a natural leader most of my life. The way I ensure that my kitchen staff respect and listen to me is to first, lead by example. Second, I practice empathy. I am also highly communicative and I am a strong listener. Once my staff understand that I am there to support them and help them grow in their career, they are almost always receptive to my leadership."
Interviewing and on-boarding is a costly and time consuming process for any company and hiring manager. Assure the interviewer that you are seeking a long term fit with your next employer. Take a look at the career growth options with the company. If any of these stand out to you, it's a great idea to specifically mention them to the interviewer. Your expressed interest in those particular internal opportunities will solidify the fact that you are, indeed, seeking a long term fit with them.
"I am looking for a long-term fit in my next position. As you can see, I had strong progress and career growth in my previous company. I would love to see the same success with your company. I did notice on your website that you have corporate leadership opportunities. If I could work my way into a role like that, I would be thrilled. Perhaps working in the corporate office helping to develop new menu ideas, or being a corporate trainer for new kitchen staff. I believe there are a lot of doors that could be opened for me with your company."
As a Kitchen Manager, you will frequently need to take corrective action as the majority of restaurants have a tough time hiring very reliable, junior kitchen staff. It's often a career challenge in the industry that is unavoidable. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to approach challenging employee situations with professionalism and poise. You can also speak about your successful track record in hiring and retaining staff, if that is applicable to you.
"I believe in the importance of addressing a situation right away and then offering a constructive conversation geared toward positive improvement. Last year I had a staff member not show up to work. I called her immediately and left her a message to say that I hoped she was alright, and that if she was indeed skipping work, to not return to the job unless she wanted to address her level of reliability and have an accountability plan. It ended up that she was feeling underutilized and demotivated! I gave her a couple of additional, but small, responsibilities. She ended up growing from there! I believe that corrective action should be approached in an empathetic way that is geared to solving the problem rather than just giving a slap on the wrist."
The interviewer wants you to walk them through your relevant work experience. This question is not an invitation to start talking about unrelated jobs from 15 years! Be careful to avoid rambling. It's easy to do with these types of open ended questions. The hiring manager really just wants to know your 'highlight reel', or what makes you a stand out. Talk about your overall years' experience as a kitchen manager and some of the biggest wins and proudest moments of your career. Be sure to also talk about any related post-secondary education.
"After graduating from San Diego Culinary Institute, I started working for my family's restaurant franchise. I worked my way up to kitchen manager after just 2 short years. Desiring to expand my experience, I then worked with 'X' for 5 years as a kitchen manager, and then 'Y' for 2 years. Overall, I have been a successful kitchen manager for the past 9 years. My biggest offerings as a kitchen manager are my ability to seamlessly train and mentor staff, keep food costs under budget, and deliver amazing quality every time. I really look forward to bringing my skills and experience to your kitchen."
There are some things that your resume cannot do. Showing off your great personality is one of them! The interviewer would like to understand more about what makes you tick. By asking what your friends would say about you, the hiring manager can learn more about your true character and personality. Talk to the interviewer about some of your best qualities, and be sure to tie these qualities into how they will benefit the company, should they hire you.
"If asked, I believe that my friends would say that I am dedicated, focused, and a natural leader. I have had some really great mentors in my life and have been able to apply those strong examples to my own personal character and work ethic."
Kitchen managers are responsible for overseeing the operations in professional kitchens and ensuring that everything runs smoothly with minimum mistakes, accidents, equipment problems and staff issues. In addition to the overall supervision, kitchen managers also assist in ordering and purchasing products when necessary. During rush hour they pitch in and help with plating, serving or any other task so that customers get their orders on time.
A high school diploma or equivalent is sufficient to get hired as a kitchen manager in any professional kitchen. What is more important than your qualifications is your experience as a kitchen manager. Very few employers if any will even consider an applicant who has no hands-on experience. Working as a kitchen manager can be challenging as you are in charge of everything and sometimes a lot of things can go wrong. It takes someone with experience to be able to handle it all with equanimity and make sure that customers do not face the consequences of any chaos in the kitchen. Doing an internship is the best way to get the necessary kitchen manager work experience.
In addition to the job knowledge, kitchen managers must have excellent leadership, organizational, communication and problem-solving skills.
At your interview for a kitchen manager role, your interviewer is sure to ask you about your experience. What kind of a kitchen did you work in? What were your responsibilities in the kitchen? What are your strengths that make this a good job for you? Do you have any weaknesses that could compromise your efficiency in the kitchen? Some questions are tough to answer but you can get the edge by going through mock interview questions and getting a look at some of the more commonly asked questions at kitchen manager interviews.