Interview tips for Chefs and how to interview a chef
My team here at HtE Recruitment are here to help you with you're chef interview if your attending a chef interview or if your recruiting, we want to help you to interview a chef. We are a national recruitment agency for the Hospitality industry. On this page you will see some tips to do before a interview, some sample questions in a chef interview, different types of chef interviews and what to do after the chef interview. For more advice, please do speak to your recruitment consultant. If you are looking for temp work whilst you are looking for a full time job, we have a temp chef division.
Good luck with your chef interview.
0203 542 6103 / 0161 300 7862
section 1 - chef interview tips
section 2 - during the interview
section 3 - type of chef interviews
section 4 - formal interview questions (general)
section 5 - formal interview questions (head chef)
section 6 - formal interview questions (sous chef)
Section 7 - Food knowledge questions
Interview tips for Chefs and how to interview a chef
section 1- Chef interview tips:
Prior to an interview we would suggest you do the following:
1. Look on the company website, research about the company and think of some questions
2. Plan your route to the interview
3. Have clean and ironed smart clothes to wear, get these ready the night before including clean polished shoes.
If this is a working chef interview take some clean/ironed chef whites, make sure you look the part.
4. Look on the menus and have a dish in mind to cook.
5. Set off in plenty of time, always be 10 minutes early to the interview.
6. Have our contact number with you, in case of an issue traveling. Your chef consultant is here for you.
7. Take any certificates with you, like your food hygiene or nvq. you can always update your food hygiene online for only £15 + vat (click here)
section 2 -
During the interview
1. When the person interviewing you comes into the area your waiting in, always stand up and put your hand out to shake hands.
2. Always have you're mobile phone turned off (avoid wearing wearable phones, it looks rude if these went off in a interview or trial, we would advise to have them in your pocket & turned off), no chewing gum in and smelling nice n fresh.
3. Always listen to a question, never 'but' in with a answer until the person finishes the sentence
4. Always say thank you and please if they off you something like a cup of coffee / water. It is great practice to say yes if offered a drink
5. If they show you around the hotel, whenever possible walk along side them not in front of them, offer to let them go through the door 1st (esp if they are female), if a guest is behind you - hold the door open to let the guest walk through it.
6. As you leave, shake hands with the person
7. Never swear or use slang words
TIP: make sure you look the part, people do look at someone being smart.
Types of interviews
There are many ways for a chef interview to happen, here are some examples:
**ready, steady, cook**
Some clients will give you some produce on a tray and ask you to cook a dish. Clients are looking for your creative side, to use the produce in the best way. Stop and think before you start cooking. Always think about your timings, if you have 30 minutes, make sure you can cook it and serve it within that time. The two areas people slip up on is timings and not working in a clean / organised way.
Some clients will ask you to work the shift. Ensure you ask if your not sure how to cook something. Be part of the team, look like your interested and if you have nothing to do, ask for jobs to do.
These are fantastic as you get a very good idea of the the kitchen and the team you be working in.Always have a look over the menu in advance.
Do make sure you are in clean chef whites, you can always buy new ones with next day delivery -(click here). If you turn up in dirty or old chef whites, you will not give the best 1st thought about you.
Some clients will ask you to write a menu and cook it. This often is a 3 course menu. Remember to use dishes which will fit into the restaurant and use seasonal produce as much as you can. For example do not cook an Indian dish in a French restaurant. Do make sure you practice your dish in advance and make sure you know your timings. For example a candidate once suggested to us about making a cheesecake but only had 90 minutes for 3 courses. Make sure the dishes give a great view of yourself and your skills, however make sure you can cook it within the time frame and they have the right equiptment. Clients often want to see your cooking skills, try and avoid the use of too much equiptment, let your skills stand out.
Dont panic when you write a menu, take time to think about it and make sure its a balanced menu. Do remember about the seasons of produce and link your menu into the style of the place. When you order your times from the client, do make sure you list everything.
You might get asked to cook a classic dish or a traditional dish. These classic dishes are often french classic's, in our chef shop you can buy cookbooks like the ones on the left from the Roux brothers. Trade tests are fantastic as they will help to see your knowledge of the classics. Trade tests are sometimes to watch how you prep an item, like fish to watch your knife skills. Dont panic under pressure, you can do it, just think what your doing.
**Sit down interview**
Traditional sit down interview where you will be asked a range of questions. Below is a list of sample questions. Do research the place before hand and look smart. Turn your mobile phone off (including smart watches ie Apple/samsung watch if you wear one, or take it off as they do not normally look right with a shirt). Remember clean shoes, have a spray to make you smell fresh and have a mint before you go in.
Section 4 -
General Interview questions
Type of person
- Do you prefer working on your own or within a team, and why?
- How would you describe your personality?
- Can you give an example of when you went out of your way to help someone?
- Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?
- Do you play sports?, if so which
- Someone you are working with is having a bad time outside of work, what would you do?. Can you given an example of this.
- If someone else was to describe your personality, what would they say.
- Towards the end of a shift, what do normally start thinking about?
- If you had to tell me about you in 3 words, what 3 words would you use?
- What motivates you?
- What demotivates you?
- How would you motivate others in your team?
- Do you have any holidays pre booked
- What is your current salary
- What salary are you looking for
- Where can you see yourself in 5 years time
- If they need to drive to get to the site, ask about driving / travel arrangements
- What is your current notice period
Questions about the job
- What do you know about the company?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- What are you looking for in your next position?
Questions about current place of work
- Why are you looking to leave your current place of work?
- What would your current head chef say about yourself?
- What type of food are you cooking?
- Can you describe one of the dishes you are currently cooking?
- What’s the kitchen team like?
- What’s the team structure in the kitchen
- What is your role during service?
- What would a team member say about yourself?
- Give an example of when you went above and beyond for the company?
- What are the good points about your current place of work?
- What are your 5 year goals?
- What do you want to learn in the next 5 years?
- Do you have a current food hygiene certificate?, if so which level is it?
- Do you have a cooking qualification?, if not are you looking to do one here (ie NVQ)
- Do you have a first aid certificate and is it in date?
- What is COSHH?
- What is HACCP?
- What do you want to learn in the future?
- Ask the candidate a couple of questions about ingredients or dishes, base these 2-3 questions on the style of food you do.
- Ask them a technical question, again base this on your style of cooking.
- If they will need to help with menu design: How would you plan a menu, what are the key elements you need to look for in a good menu design?
- What type of chef knife do you use?, a chef knife can say alot about the type of chef you are. Some good quality brands include: Tsuki knives / Victorinox Knives / Wusthof-Knives
- what type of kife you would use for fillet a fish, prep a steak etc
Team leading type of questions:
- How would you motivate others
- How would you ensure high standards?
- Can you give an example of a hard situation you had to handle?
- How would you handle disagreements between team members
- How would you win awards?
- what is your 5 year plan for this kitchen?
- how do you manage budgets?
- how would you deal with a chef who is always late?
- what kind of style discipline do you use in your kitchen?
- how do you ensure dishes are to the standards on your day off
- here is a list of ingredients and prices, how do you work out the food cost and gp?
- how is a wage percentage worked out?
- what wage % do you work to?
- if your gp is below budget, what things can you do to change it?
- what things can effect a GP?
- whats your knowledge on COSHH
- When you design a menu, what are the 4 key things you think about?
- What would you do if someone called in sick?
- If your rota is looking tight, what would you do?
- when you write a rota, what things do you think about?
- when forecasting covers for the following week, what kind of factors do you consider?
Ask the chef questions about how he/she will teach others. A good Head Chef can teach other chefs and develop them.
Sous chef questions:
these are example questions, that might be asked to a sous chef:
- How do you train others
- how will you ensure the high standards when the head chef is off
- what kind of support would you give to the head chef
- what value would you bring to the kitchen
- how do you manage the kitchen?
- have you an knowledge of menu planning
- what would you do if the dishwasher breaks down?
- what would you do if one of the ovens stopped working
- if you have a function for 200 chicken dishes and only 180 was delivered this morning and was signed for by the breakfast chef, what would you do?
- what would you do if the KP called in sick
- when you become a head chef, what type of kitchen would you want?
- why do you want to be a sous chef here, what will this do for your career?
Ask the Sous chef about running the pass when the head chef is off. Do you think the sous chef can control the pass?. It is very important to have a sous chef who can run the pass.
Sample food knowledge questions
(these are only sample questions, of the type of questions that have been asked in the past, these are just to give you an idea of questions. The questions will also depend on the type of kitchen as well)
Key word test: please give a BRIEF explanation of the following kitchen terminology
bouquet garni ________________________________________
mise en plas ________________________________________
mire e poi ________________________________________
Recipe test: This section is a basic recipe test to gain a better understanding of your knowledge of ingredients and how best to prepare them. Please note quantities of ingredients ARE NOT necessary.
Q1. Your given 4 lobsters and asked to humanely kill them, cook them and finally make bisque out of the shells; please give a brief description of how you would complete this process, noting any equipment needed, timings and ingredients used.
Q2. You’ve been asked to make a cheese cake . The recipe says to add 6 leaves of gelatine as a setting agent. Please explain the process of how you would incorporate the gelatine into your cheesecake.
Q3. Other than gelatine name 1 other setting agents? Also specify one setting agent that is vegetarian
Q4. The night before you forgot to order mayonnaise and you are in desperate need of it. Please give a brief method and ingredient list on how to produce a small amount of mayonnaise.
Q5. Please explain the process of making a beef stock to be used as a base for sauces. Please note method and ingredients.
Q6. The head chef has asked you to make him crème anglaise. Please specify the method and ingredients to prepare this.
Q7. Explain how you would cook a risotto base for a vegetarian dish.
Q8. What colour chopping board would you use for smoked salmon?
Q9. What temperature does a chicken breast need to be legally cooked to?
Q10. How long would you cook pork belly for?
Q11. Name 5 different cuts of beef.
Q12. Explain briefly what a “roux” is and give an example of its use.
Q13. What temperature should fresh food items be correctly stored at?
Q14. If a fire breaks out in the kitchen, what is the first thing you should do?
Should i go smart?
Yes, very important as its the 1st and last thing the interview will remember.
Can i have my phone on?
No, always have your phone turned off or on mute. It will look rude if the phone goes off
Do i need to do reasearch?
Yes, always do research in the establishment.
Can i wear a smart watch?.
No, we would advise not to. It will look rude if your phone watch goes off in the interview or trial shift. There is no need to have it on, we would advise to take it off, so there no chance it will go off. Treat it the same as a phone & have turned off in a pocket.
Is it all about me?
No, do get to know the person who is interviewing you. This is important.
Are trial shifts paid?
If its only a few hours or a day, they are not normally paid. They are a great way to see you skills.
you can do this
Be possitive, do not panic. You can do this. Have a mind set of, i can do this.
Go for it.
At the end.....
After the interviewCall your H t E Recruitment consultant to let them know how the interview went. We will then contact the client and get feedback for you and hopefully secure you the offer. We are here for you to secure you the best job. If the role is not right for you. DONT PANIC. We have other chef roles across the uk in a wide range of Hotels and Restaurants.
A good interview, starts with a good cv. A cv is your 'shop window'. It will tell the employer about you before they meet you. Its so important you spend time on the CV, this is as important as the interview it self.
Write a CV
If you have not yet written a CV,click here to get a cv template for chef cv writing tips and a sample chef cv. Having a cv in the correct format is really important, your chef consultant at HTE Recruitment will help you with this. if you do not have word, fill out our online form and your consultant will generate a cv we can use for you. go
When writting a cv, its so important you get the dates and job titles correct on the cv.