The interviewer wants to find out how much you know about your work and what experience you have had previously. This is a great opportunity to highlight past experiences and information about tasks you have accomplished in the line cook environment.
"A large part of the line cook role is setting up a station for the day. Food preparation and cleaning happen hand in hand to ensure the shift runs smoothly."
This is another question aimed at determining how well you know your work. Be specific as to what you believe is the right set of activities to ensure a steady pace putting things in sequence.
"Steady organization and pace or putting things in sequence for service is the basis of any type of food service organization. To ensure this, I make sure that there is sufficient stock and levels of food supplies available to line stations at all times. This helps to ensure we are equipped with the tools to operate steadily. Taking good care of yourself inside and outside of the workplace is a crucial part of keeping your energy levels up at a steady pace. I exercise, eat and sleep well which helps to me be ready to conquer a shift."
The interviewer will be interested in learning how you make difficult decisions and how quickly you can adapt to change. Here is a great opportunity to share with the interviewer how you excelled at doing this in a previous role. Don't hesitate to brag about the decision you made or work you accomplished!
"Just last month we had to make some difficult decisions regarding how to reorganize the team to make the most of the work stations in the kitchen. To do this, I gained insight to understand the strengths of each team member and any preferences they had over work stations. Within three days, we had reassembled the team to operate in a way to better serve the needs of each meal service. It was a big change for some people who have worked at their station for a long time. People can be resistant to change so gaining their buy in early in the process made this a seamless transition!"
This is your opportunity to share with the interviewer any specific examples where you had to manage a heavy workload with a shortage in staff. Reiterate your ability to perform under pressure and share how you overcame the challenge.
"During the last holiday season while I was in charge of the dessert station, a colleague who was in charge at the entrée station had to go on urgent leave. I covered up for him while maintaining my own station as well. The first day was a bit difficult but then I developed and applied some effective strategies and did all that was possible before hand to ensure timely food service. I was able to run both stations simultaneously without extra help for a week."
Every career decision starts with a 'why'. Here is your opportunity to share with the interviewer what specifically a career in the food industry makes you tic!
"Cooking is the thing that I am most passionate about. When with my family, I enjoy creating new dishes and taping into cuisines that I do not typically cook. When people get together for a meal, it is a pleasure to provide them with an experience that is memorable for whatever occasion is at hand."
The interviewer will be interested in learning about your long-term goals. Here is your opportunity to share with them that you have given these goals thought and have a direction in mind. Have fun with this answer!
"I absolutely love cooking and it is my long-term career aspiration to become a top chef in a fine dining establishment. It will take hard work and I am willing to take the necessary steps to get there. To help accelerate my long-term goals, I welcome the opportunity to learn from the leaders around me and work with a mentor to achieve my career goals. Who knows?! One day, I could own my own restaurant!"
The interviewer will be interested in learning about different strategies you have applied stay organized on the job. Recall instances where you applied methods to maintain organization and the importance you place on doing this well.
"I take pride in my work station being clean and organized. Often times, I will arrive to work early to make sure everything is properly stocked and set for the day. Inventory management done well and in a proactive way is a great way to prepare for success. Additionally, working in a clean space helps everyone stay organized and on track."
The interviewer will be interested in learning about how you view math skills in your role as a line cook. Think of instances where you apply mathematical or financial skills. This is your opportunity to highlight how you apply these skills in your work.
"Math is in every kitchen, on every recipe card, and at each holiday gathering. The mathematics of cooking often goes unnoticed, but in reality, there is a large quantity of math skills involved in cooking and baking. Additionally, we apply math and time management to making sure orders are prepared or ready when they need to be. We also utilize math with inventory management and maintaining the budget of the kitchen. It is the food we make that makes you a great cook, and math is a large part of what happens behind the scenes."
The interviewer will be interested to learn how you manage your time in the most effective way possible to do your job well. Take the opportunity to share specific examples about how you make the most of your time.
"Effective time management makes all the difference in the success of the line cook. I often apply different techniques to making sure I can effectively manage my time to the best of my potential. This includes combining tasks where possible and making time management a priority in my day to day work."
Interviewers want to understand the one thing that sets you apart from all of the other candidates applying for this job. Here is your opportunity to shine and stand out by confidently answering in a way that highlights your most valuable assets as a candidate. Where applicable, share your previous experiences that qualify you for the role you are interviewing for. Enthusiasm goes a long way!
"There is no one that will work harder and be more dedicated to your kitchen than I can be. I am passionate about culinary arts, customer service and adding value to your establishment. My experiences working as a Line Cook in ABC Family Restaurant have prepared me to do this job well. I am beyond confident that I can perform this job above and beyond to your expectations. I'm excited to do it too!"
Be honest and straightforward about how long you can stand on your feet. If you have done 14 hour shifts, share this with the interviewer. Here is also an opportunity for you to clarify with the interviewer what is expected in terms of shifts, etc.
"As many as needed! Taking good care of yourself and wearing proper shoes are two things that make all the difference in your ability to stand for long periods of time."
You can answer this from a more personal perspective to allow the interviewer to get to know you a bit better. Talk to the interviewer about where your passion for the job comes from. Most of the time, people who genuinely love their jobs are great at it!
"Cooking has always been a passion for me as it allows me to see and meet new people. I feel at ease in the kitchen and working in a fast paced/high pressure environment. It is a very fun career, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a line cook while continuing to pursue my career aspirations to be a top chef."
The interviewer would like to know what the favorite aspects of this job are for you. Here is your opportunity to share what elements of the role of a line cook interest you most. Answer example. "As a line cook, what I enjoy most is the fact that I am able to hustle and be creative on a daily basis. The fast pace of a kitchen is exhilarating and each day goes by so incredibly fast. As an extremely organized person, I enjoy the set up and break down of work stations/meal elements. The management responsibilities around inventory management and quality management keep me having an active role in helping the kitchen operate as effective as possible!"
"As a line cook, what I enjoy most is the fact that I am able to hustle and be creative on a daily basis. The fast pace of a kitchen is exhilarating and each day goes by so incredibly fast. As an extremely organized person, I enjoy the set up and break down of work stations/meal elements. The management responsibilities around inventory management and quality management keep me having an active role in helping the kitchen operate as effective as possible!"
Most of us have some piece of our job that we do not enjoy as much as the other pieces of our job. The key is to share this without complaining about it. When asked this question, laugh, and humbly tell the interviewer what you like least. Reassure the interviewer that you really like being a line cook, and you will happily do this part of the job because it comes with the role.
"When it comes down to it, I truly enjoy every part of being a line cook and working amongst a team of culinary professionals. Because we work in a fast-paced environment, it is important to work well as a team. When there are members of your team working out of sync or not keeping up, it can impact the overall service of the group. I have never minded pulling my own weight or the weight of others, but this can cause a strain on the overall effectiveness of the kitchen. When this occurs, I try to work with the members that are holding us back outside of the hustle and bustle of things, to help them train or equip them with the know-how to do their job at full capacity when it counts most."
This is the time to discuss the talent you offer, and employers want to see that you know yourself and work within your strengths. Jump right in offering your key strength! Next, talk about how you use this strength in the workplace! Whatever your strength may be, link it back to how it positively impacts the school.
Preparing for this question requires a little bit of self-awareness and strategy. You don't want to share that you have trouble working with difficult people or that you struggle with the details, as those are key aspects of your role. What you do want to focus on is a weakness that you could possibly turn into a strength. You want to share something that would not be detrimental to your role that you are working on improving. Being a people-pleaser or a perfectionist are great examples of weaknesses that could be turned into strengths. This example below goes from talking about a weakness to showing how it has helped create awareness and an ability to set boundaries. Always share what you are learning or have learned from your weakness. This shows your interviewer that you are adaptable and willing to grow.
"I tend to be a people-pleaser and it has gotten me in trouble when I take on more than I can handle. I'm learning my limitations and learning how to say 'no' or 'let me check my schedule' before I say yes to anything."
Ideally, the interviewer is looking for an all-rounder with all the required skills and have wonderful communication skills. As there will always be stiff competition and other candidates nipping at your heals you have to come over with your answers in the best way possible so prepare beforehand.
"They are excellent. People have told me I am a strong interpersonal communicator. I try to adapt my communications to my audience as I realize people have differing communication preferences. Most importantly, I communicate transparently. I like to let my team know what I am doing and when needed, why I am doing it. Communication is the key to success and I specialize in applying this to my role as a line cook."
The interviewer will be interested to learn about your ability to work well under pressure. Share examples or past experiences where this has been a factor.
"As a line cook, working in a fast-paced environment under pressure comes with the territory. It is the only environment I know! In all of my roles as a line cook, I have continued to contribute high performance during high-pressure meal servings when it pays greatly to hustle!"
The interviewer needs to hear that you can handle a little stress in your work. Simply tell the interviewer that you are accustomed to meeting deadlines, having a busy workload, and working under stress. Be sure to mention that you never let stress get the best of you, and you know how to delegate work to the right people to help you manage your workload.
"Absolutely! I handle stress as gracefully as possible. As a line cook, stress is par of the work. We often have multiple balls in the air at the same time and managing that stress is a large part of what we do. I welcome the stress to challenge me and am sure to always maintain my best qualities as a professional during stressful times. If needed, I will enlist the support of my team to meet stressful deadlines or tasks."
The interviewer will be interested in learning how you spend your downtime and you will want to share ways you go outside of the scope of your role to help the team or learn how to do your job better. Here is your opportunity to highlight all of the extra work you have done in the past and tie it into your overall work ethic.
"What is downtime? (Smile) I am the type of person who enjoys going above and beyond in my work. If there is downtime, I am always filling it with tasks that help the overall good of the team or company. I will pitch in to help out my coworkers and peers or support supply duties that keep the kitchen and restaurant running well."
The interviewer will be interested in learning how you receive and respond to feedback. Share how you plan to approach situations like this and highlight any areas you have been proactive to gain insight or feedback from you manager.
"Feedback is an important part of continuing to do better at my job. I welcome critiques from leadership to improve and will always listen to the feedback, then adapt my work to improve where possible. As a proactive Line Cook, I often seek out the feedback from my peers and leadership in advance. This is a great technique to be a better professional and to also build relationships with those I work with."
The interviewer will be interested in learning about a challenging situation you encountered and what you did to overcome it. Take the opportunity to shine and share an instance that you proactively solved a difficult situation.
"During the last holiday season while I was in charge of the pastry station, a colleague who was in charge at the entrée station had to go on urgent leave. I covered up for him while maintaining my own station as well. The first day was a bit difficult but then I developed and applied some effective strategies and did all that was possible before hand to ensure timely food service. I was able to run both stations simultaneously without extra help for a week."
A line cook is an entry level position in a restaurant. Line cooks work under a sous chef or head chef in most kitchen. They do most of the prepping and cooking in the kitchen under the supervision of the chef. In smaller kitchens, a line cook may be expected to handle various tasks in the kitchen but in larger kitchens, each line cook is usually assigned one particular station and they take full responsibility for it, whether it is attending to the grill station, marinating, cutting, precooking or working in the veg prep area.
There are no formal education or training requirements to become a line cook but completing a culinary arts program could pave the way for higher starting salary and advancement opportunities. You must have some basic cooking and prepping knowledge to work as a line cook. In addition, you must also be able to follow instructions exactly so that the meal turns out exactly as the chef envisioned it.
Most line cook interviews are conducted jointly by the sous chef or head chef and the restaurant manager or owner. Chefs are extremely particular about the line cook working under them and will ask you questions that will help them assess your efficiency in the kitchen. Do you have experience working with large-sized kitchen? What duties did you perform in your earlier experiences working as a line cook? Do you know the difference between different cooking techniques? Do you know how to braise, broil, sear and pan fry? If your earlier experiences were all with smaller kitchens, take some time to expand your knowledge. Also, read through line cook mock interview questions to get a better idea of what types of questions to expect at your line cook interview.