Updated on August 17th, 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 39
What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a Sous Chef?
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What are you most proud of in your career? Talk to the hiring manager about what makes you amazing at your job. What makes you a stand-out candidate from all the rest?
"My greatest strength is my ability to lead under pressure. In a kitchen environment, this skill is incredibly important. It has helped me to move up in my career by being able to showcase myself as a strong leader, early on in my career."
What is the most difficult part of being a Sous Chef?
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Talk to the interviewer about what you feel is the biggest struggle in your career as a sous chef. It's great to speak openly and honestly but be careful to not use an example that may cause a red flag for the hiring manager or cause you to appear incompetent for the job.
"I feel that the most difficult part of being a sous chef is also the part that makes me most excited to come to work every day. The pressure of deadlines and thinking on my feet is the most difficult but it's nothing that I cannot handle."
6. Why are you the best candidate for us? This is a great opportunity to brag about yourself and the unique skills that you would bring to this position, should you be the successful candidate. Talk to the hiring manager about your skills and unique talents that set you apart from other candidates. Here is an answer example: "I feel that I am the best candidate for you because I have a great amount of leadership experience as well as strong training in a variety of cuisines. I have aspirations to be the best executive chef in the city and would love to do that with your restaurant group."7. When have you resolved a conflict with a kitchen helper? Conflict resolution skills are very important as a sous chef because you will be working in a high-stress/high-pressure environment. Talk to the hiring manager about a time when you have specifically resolved a conflict. Here is an answer example: "I resolved a conflict, just last week, between two of my kitchen helpers. They had a disagreement about the schedule and booked time off. I resolved this through sitting down with each of them individually, and then together. We came down to the basis of the issue and resolved it quickly through strong communication."8. What individual has had the greatest influence on you? Give the hiring manger some insight into your world and talk about the greatest mentor and influencer in your life. It's okay to be a little bit personal when you answer this question. Here is an answer example: "The individual who has been the greatest influence on me has been my mother. She was the most amazing "9. Have you ever been overloaded with work? Talk to the hiring manager about a time when you have felt overloaded with work. Help them to understand where your limit may be when it comes to stress and pressure. Here is an answer example: "I have been overloaded with work a few times in my career but that doesn't happen too often. When I am overloaded with work, I take time to ensure that I am delegating more junior tasks where I can. Usually that helps with the feeling of being overloaded."10. How do you evaluate success? On the job, how do you measure a job well done? Success is evaluated differently by many people. How do you define it? Here is an answer example: "I define success by how myself and my team feel at the end of a shift. Are we proud of what we have presented today? Did everyone communicate efficiently? If we are able to answer 'yes' to these questions, I would consider it a successful day."11. What do you do to stay educated about new food trends? Briefly tell the hiring manager about your favorite sources for food trends and inspiration. Here is an answer example: "I stay educated on new culinary trends through Culinary Trends Magazine, and multiple blogs of my favorite chefs including Jamie Oliver and Paula Deen. I also love to read travel magazines for inspiration on global fare."12. What do you know about flattop, grill, and saute stations? Talk to the hiring manager about your understanding of flattop, grill, and saute stations. You can be brief when answering this question. Here is an answer example: "I know a great deal about flattop, grill, and saute stations. I have cooked using all of these station types but I have also trained others on the proper use of these stations."13. What do you know about our kitchen? Researching the company prior to your interview is incredibly important. Visit the company's website, and any online reviews or other sources that you can gather. Talk to the hiring manager about the points that you found the most interesting and/or impressive. Here is an answer example: "I was able to do a great deal of research on your restaurant group before coming in today. What I know is that you have been in business for 12 years and have been voted 'Best Tapas' in the city. I am really impressed by the amount of media attention your restaurant has received as well as the great online reviews."14. What do you do to ensure the quality of the food going out is always up to par? Putting out a great product is very important as a sous chef. What do you do on a daily basis to ensure that your kitchen is always serving the best possible product? Show the hiring manager that you are passionate about food quality. Here is an answer example: "Quality ingredients make quality food, and that is where I believe every kitchen should start. In addition to this, my staff are always empowered, well trained, and feel like an important part of our team. All of these things together make for quality results."15. What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it? Talk about what you feel you can improve on the most, as a sous chef. Beware to not bring up a weakness that could be crippling to your candidacy. Here is an answer example: "If I had to choose a weakness, I would say that my computer skills could be stronger. I have been learning Excel through online tutorials to strengthen my ability to create spreadsheets for order and cost tracking initiatives."16. Tell me about your experience in the food industry. Take a few minutes to bring your resume to life for the interviewer. Briefly highlight your experience, promotions, and any additional bragging points in your career. Here is an answer example: "My experience in the food industry started at a very young age where I worked at a local restaurant as a busser. I earned money for culinary school by working my way into the kitchen and making tips. After completing culinary school I was lucky enough to stay on at the french fusion restaurant that I completed my apprenticeship in. I have been there for 5 years and am now ready for a change in my career."17. What was your greatest accomplishment as a sous chef? What are you most proud of in your career so far? Tell the hiring manager about your greatest accomplishment, how you got there, and why it made you so proud. Here is an answer example: "My greatest accomplishment as a sous chef was gaining the opportunity to train briefly under Anthony Bourdain. This experience really boosted my passion for food again, and I was able to learn so much."18. What was your biggest disappointment as a sous chef? As a sous chef, you will have disappointments and let downs. Talk to the hiring manager about a time that you have faced disappointment and how you overcame it and moved on. Here is an answer example: "The biggest disappointment that I faced as a sous chef was when the fine dining restaurant that I worked at a few years ago, closed down. I really loved that job and the cuisine was incredible. Unfortunately, the economy wasn't strong enough to generate enough clientele for a fine dining establishment."19. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? When answering this question, you will want to show the hiring manager that you are interested in staying in this role for the long term. Display your interest in growth and opportunity. Here is an answer example: "In 5 years, I plan to be working my way into an executive chef role with your restaurant group. I am happy to work my way through the ranks during that time, and earn each and every promotion."20. What are your career goals as a Sous Chef? As a sous chef, where would you like to see your career go in the future? Talk to the hiring manager about your dreams as a sous chef. Here is an answer example: "My career goals include becoming an executive chef and leading a large team one day. I am more than happy to put in the work that it takes."21. Give me a time when you had to set an important goal in the past and tell me about your success reaching it. Talk to the hiring manager about your ability to set goals and what you are willing to do to achieve them. Show the interviewer that you have interest in success. Here is an answer example: "A great example of goal setting would be when I decided to work a full time job while still attending culinary school. I set my mind to it and have never worked so hard for something. I graduated top of my class and never missed a day of work, at the same time!"22. When have you made a suggestion to the executive chef before? How was your suggestion received? Are you able to be open and give honest feedback to your executive chef? When you have a great idea, are you confident enough to bring that idea forward to your superiors? Talk to the hiring manager about a time when you have done this. Here is an answer example: "Just recently I made a suggested menu change to our executive chef. I was sure to gather data and feedback from our customers, and also created a solution before coming to the chef. Because I was able to come to him with meaning, research, and passion behind my suggestion - he took it really well and we implemented the change."23. What is your favorite cuisine to cook? When answering this question you do not necessarily have to include cuisine that this kitchen specifically prepares, however; it certainly doesn't hurt to tie their flavours in, somewhat. Here is an answer example: "My favorite cuisine to cook is any food with a Spanish flavour. I see that you have a few dishes like this on your menu which is really exciting to me."24. Tell me about your record of attendance and punctuality in your past positions. Rather than giving a statement, this is a great time to give the hiring manager examples of times that your previous manager/supervisor complimented you on your attendance, punctuality, and overall reliability. Here is an answer example: "In my performance reviews with my past employers, my level of reliability was always praised. I take punctuality seriously and am always in attendance when expected. I have not had any unexcused absences in the past 3 years."25. Can you offer flexibility in your schedule for overtime, weekends and some holidays? As a sous chef, your schedule may be sporadic and unpredictable. Let the hiring manager know that you are able to make yourself available when needed. Here is an answer example: "I fully understand that as a sous chef, I will need to be flexible with my schedule and availability. Overtime, weekends, and holiday shifts are all things that I am used to working and I have no issues with being available when needed."26. Have you ever been part of planning a food budget and menu? Being able to plan a menu and food budget is an important task as a chef. Give examples to the hiring manager on how you have had a hand in these types of tasks. Here is an answer example: "I have assisted for many years in food budget and menu planning. Although I have never done these two tasks on my own, I feel confident that I could perform these tasks very well with little training."27. What steps do you follow to ensure that food is not wasted? Food costs must always be kept top of mind in your role as a chef. Talk to the hiring manager about the steps that you take in your kitchen to ensure that food is not wasted. Here is an answer example: "Food waste is a very big way to put food costs through the roof. I am very careful when it comes to enforcing the FIFO rule: First In, First Out. I believe that an effective food rotation system is essential for any kitchen budget. It also prevents food-borne illness."28. Have you ever been part of a food and safety health audit? Food and safety health audits are a regular and important part of being in the food industry.
If you have been a part of a food and safety health audit before, talk to the hiring manager about that experience. Here is an answer example: "Yes, I have been part of approximately 5 food and safety health audits in my career as a sous chef. Every one of these audits, we have passed with flying colors. I do fully understand what needs to be done in order to pass an audit."29. How closely do you adhere to food safety guidelines and regulation? Food safety guidelines and regulations are incredibly important in the restaurant business. Display to the hiring manager that you understand the importance of these guidelines. Here is an answer example: "Food safety guidelines and regulations are of utmost importance to me. In addition to having all of my food safe training and tickets up to date, I am also experienced with training other staff members on food safety regulations."30. What steps do you take to ensure safety in the kitchen? How do you go over and above when it comes to the safety of your employees? Talk to the hiring manager about how important safety is to you and what you do to ensure your kitchen remains accident free. Here is an answer example: "I understand that restaurants and industrial kitchens are major potential for accidents. In order to keep my employees safe, I consider all of the possible hazards including knife safety, preventing slips and falls, heavy lifting, and burn prevention. Each employee is thoroughly trained and we all take accountability for everyone's safety."31. Are you experienced in giving feedback to junior staff such as kitchen helpers? Talk about any experience that you have in mentoring and assisting junior staff. This can be in a formal or informal function. Here is an answer example: "I have always been a natural leader and possess an ability to mentor junior staff in a way that makes an impact on them right away. In a formal role, I have approximately 1 years' experience guiding junior kitchen staff. I am trained in how to provide proper feedback that creates change."32. Are you an efficient worker? What do you do to ensure that you are the most efficient sous chef on a day to day basis? Talk to the hiring manager about how efficient you are on the job. Here is an answer example: "Efficiency is very important in a kitchen environment. I consider myself to be highly efficient in the workplace. My previous supervisor often commented on my ability to remain efficient even under the most intense pressure."33. When have you led employees before? Why was it necessary for you to lead in that situation and how do you believe your leadership skills were? Talk to the hiring manager about your leadership skills and why you feel that you are a great leader. What sets you apart? Here is an answer example: "I have led employees in the last 3 roles that I have held. I was tasked with being a leader in these roles because I am a natural mentor and teacher. My leadership skills are strong and I feel that because of my gentle, yet thorough, approach; employees do listen to what I have to say."34. What are your qualifications as a sous chef? Briefly take the interviewer through your experience and education as a sous chef. Treat this questions like a snapshot of your resume. Here is an answer example: "I completed my formal education at The Culinary Institute of America; one of the top schools in the country. In addition to this experience, I have also worked as a sous chef at a couple of very well known restaurants in the city. I have led teams of up to 9 kitchen staff and also have a proven record of assisting with food cost savings."35. Tell me something you would like to learn or improve upon. Have you come across a skill or technique that you would like to improve upon? Talk to the hiring manager about your interest in a specific skill and what you would like to do to improve it. Here is an answer example: "I have had a small amount of training in French patisserie and would love to master this skill even further. I have looked at attending The French Pastry School for a weekend course."36. How do you ensure success when working with a Chef and/or a Kitchen Manager? Kitchen environments can be very stressful and fast moving. Talk to the hiring manager about how you ensure that you are able to communicate successfully with your Kitchen Manager and/or Chef. Here is an answer example: "To ensure success when working with my kitchen manager and chef, we meet on a regular basis. Expectations and concerns are always talked about and addressed. Everyone is equally accountable for the profitability of the kitchen as well as the quality that goes out."37. Tell me about your education. How has it prepared you for a Sous Chef position? Do you feel that attending post-secondary training assisted and prepared you for a career as a chef? Talk to the hiring manager about your experience. Here is an answer example: "I attended culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America. I feel that it prepared me through the technical components of cooking and baking. Also, I was able to learn some great leadership skills."38. How do you handle stressful situations? As a sous chef, you will experience a great deal of stress in the workplace. Talk to the hiring manager about your techniques in dealing with this level of stress. Here is an answer example: "I handle stressful situations by taking the time to step aside, take a deep breath, and assess the situation at hand before reacting. I will ask for help when needed and am not afraid of learning something new."39. What is your greatest career accomplishment? What are you most proud of in your career, thus far? Talk to the hiring manager about this accomplishment and what it means to you. Here is an answer example: "My biggest career accomplishment was training very briefly under Alton Brown. It was an incredible experience and I am proud to say that my hard work and dedication is what landed me the opportunity."
Author of Sous Chef Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 07/01/2013 Last modified on: 08/17/2018
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