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Mastering Chef Job Interviews: Essential Tips for Success

Updated: Aug 23, 2023


As you venture into your next job opportunity, the inevitability of chef job interviews awaits. To aid your preparation, we present a comprehensive guide brimming with valuable tips for chefs preparing for interviews. Whether you read it cover to cover or skim through headings, we hope these insights empower you for success.

Interview Tips for Phone and Virtual Interviews:

Before delving into this guide, here are some additional interview resources you might find helpful, especially for phone and virtual interviews.

Phone Interviews for Chef Jobs:

Phone interviews are a common initial screening method for many catering and hospitality establishments. Treat them with the same seriousness as in-person interviews. The term "phone job screen" is often used, but don't mistake it for something less formal – every interaction counts.

Phone Etiquette and Timing:

Clarify the calling arrangement and appointment time beforehand. Ensure good call quality and choose a noise-free location. Keep a copy of your Chef CV at hand and prepare questions about the business.

Virtual Chef Job Interviews:

With technology, job interviews have expanded to include virtual formats. Here are tips specific to online interviews. Remember that general interview advice applies too.

Online Interviews and Their Importance:

Online interviews save time and money for employers. Understand the technical aspect, check your setup, and do a practice run. Your appearance, environment, and attire matter – create a neat, distraction-free space.

On-Camera Behavior and Presentation:

Maintain good posture, avoid excessive movement, and focus on eye contact. Frame yourself well within the camera's view. Ensure your attire is appropriate and consider camera-specific patterns and colors.

Interview Preparation:

Now, let's dive into the core preparation for your chef job interview. While we can't cover every scenario, we'll equip you with valuable insights gathered from years of experience.

Unveiling the Interview Process:

Chef job interviews often have a more informal structure, but that doesn't mean you should be unprepared. Approach the interview confidently, yet with thorough preparation and seriousness.

Showcasing Likeability and Credibility:

Ultimately, you want the interviewers to like you and envision you in their kitchen. Prioritize likeability and credibility. If the offered salary doesn't align, reconsider the interview.

Putting Money Aside for Now:

Be cautious of unrealistic expectations created by recruiters. Focus on demonstrating your interest in the business rather than immediate salary discussions.

Emphasizing "Place and Position":

Employers primarily assess your ability to handle responsibilities and produce high-quality food. Your experience and skills are crucial, but the context of your previous roles matters. Your kitchen culture fit is key.

Researching the Company:

Dig deep into the company and its offerings. Utilize their website, network with industry insiders, and understand the business's ins and outs.

Know Your CV:

Be prepared to discuss your CV fluently. Know your previous roles, dates, and relevant details. Confidence in discussing your career is crucial.

Location and Dress:

Research the interview location, plan your trip, and decide what to bring. Dress appropriately – wearing a suit is a safe choice, even for modern industries.

During the Interview:

Focus on the initial interview, where many decisions are made. Answer questions attentively, be ready for conversation, and express your impact on their kitchen.

Interview Questions

Common Interview Questions Specific to Food & Cooking

  • Do you have a favorite cuisine? Can you produce a variety of cuisines?

  • If you had to reduce salt and fat in a dish, what would you do to maintain its flavor?

  • Do you have a favorite chef? What are the reasons?

  • What would you change about your current menu?

  • When did you last miss your target food cost target?

  • What is the largest number of kitchen staff you’ve overseen?

  • How do you react when a customer returns their food?

  • Tell me about a time your own quality of food fell short of your standards.

  • The job market for chefs in restaurants is extremely competitive. What are your strategies for attracting and retaining skilled chefs?

  • What caused this food cost target miss?

  • Do you hold any culinary arts degrees, certificates or qualifications?

  • What measures have you taken to comply with food allergy legislation?

  • Is there a particular cuisine you enjoy cooking the most?

  • How do you find a balance between expressing your menu creativity and hitting food cost goals?

  • What measures to you take to maintain your relationship with suppliers?

  • Do you have a process for controlling productivity costs, please describe it?

  • When did you first register you had a passion for food?

  • Describe a time you had to cook under extreme pressure?

  • Tell me how you apply technology to your current kitchen.

  • How would you describe your kitchen management style?

  • How do you maintain the cold chain when you receive food deliveries?

  • I’d like to know how you pair wine with food.

  • How long is it since you updated your current menu?

  • How high would you rate your knowledge of food safety and why?

  • In your opinion, which aspect of prime cost, food or labor, is easier to control?

  • What kitchen staff costs target applied in your current kitchen?

  • What systems do you follow to ensure food safety standards are upheld?

  • What trends are you noticing when it comes to wine and food pairings?

  • Could you give me an example of a springtime menu you would prepare for my business?

  • What do you do to ensure the quality of your ingredients?.

  • How do you stay abreast of new food trends?

  • Which industry trend has fascinated you the most in the last year?

  • How involved are you with menu development and overall design?

General Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Why did you apply for this role?

  • What do you know about our company?

  • In your opinion, what makes you the ideal candidate for this position?

  • What would you say are your strengths?

  • What to you like least about your current role?

  • What would you say are your weaknesses?

  • What do you see yourself doing in five years time?

  • What do you enjoy most in your current (or most recent) job?

  • What do you enjoy least in your current (or most recent) job?

  • What is your greatest career achievement?

  • Why do you want to leave your current/previous job?

  • How would your colleagues describe you?

  • How would your current employees describe you?

  • Describe to me your most recent challenge with a difficult employee?

  • What single thing would you most like to change about your current job?

  • What has been the biggest career disappointment?

  • Can you read a P&L report?

  • Do you prefer to work alone or with colleagues?

  • What other job have you applied for recently?

  • What is your reaction to criticism?

  • How does this chef job sound to you?

  • What is your current boss like?

  • Why should we give the job to you?

  • In what environment do you work best?

  • What are your your hobbies?

  • When was the last time you cried?

  • Do you have any questions that you would like us to answer?

Impress with Your Impact:

Explain how you'd contribute to their kitchen's success. Whether protecting their current success or addressing shortcomings, present your ideas confidently.

Engage the Interviewer:

Encourage the interviewer to talk about their business. Active listening and engagement demonstrate your genuine interest.

Discussing You in Their Business:

Guide the conversation to a point where they discuss you working in their kitchen. This indicates their interest in having you on their team.

Money Matters:

Avoid discussing salary in the first interview. Focus on showcasing your value first. If flexibility exists, negotiate later based on the demonstrated value you offer.

Wrapping Up:

Before leaving, agree on the next steps. Keep communication open with your agent if you have one. Prepare for the best and remember that thorough preparation sets you up for interview success.


As experienced culinary recruiters, we've provided insights from both sides of the interview process. Use this guide as your interview toolkit, revisiting it before your interview day. We wish you the best of luck in your chef job interview journey.


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