Ace Your Restaurant Cook Interview: Answering the Top 20 Questions

These Prep Cook interview questions give you an idea on what prep cook skills to look for.

Nikoletta holds an MSc in HR management and has written extensively about all things HR and recruiting.

Landing a job as a restaurant cook requires impressing hiring managers with your culinary expertise and ability to thrive in a fast-paced kitchen. This means acing the cook interview questions assessing your technical skills, experience, and fit.

This comprehensive guide explores the 20 most common restaurant cook interview questions, along with sample responses and tips to help you get hired.

Interview Questions About Your Interest and Experience

Hiring managers will likely start with broad questions gauging your passion for cooking and relevant background

Why do you want to be a cook?

Highlight your lifelong enthusiasm for the culinary arts, For example

Ever since learning from my grandmother as a child, I’ve loved experimenting and creating in the kitchen. Cooking scratches my creative itch while producing something tangible that people enjoy. I get excited about innovating new dishes and techniques. Being a cook provides endless opportunities to continue growing as a chef.

What experience do you have for this cook position?

Detail any prior restaurant experience, highlighting skills gained. For example:

As a line cook at a busy restaurant, I learned how to handle many orders at once, work with people from other stations, and stay calm when things got tough. My experience as a sous chef expanded my knowledge of inventory and ordering. I’m proficient with industry-standard tools and safety protocols.

Emphasize transferable skills and eagerness to learn.

Why do you want to work for our restaurant?

Research the restaurant’s cuisine and culture. Tailor your response:

Your focus on seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients aligns with my passion for sustainable cooking. I admire Chef Sandra’s mastery of fusing Mexican and Korean flavors. I’m drawn to the collaborative environment here and would thrive on making creative dishes alongside other talented chefs.

Technical Questions About Your Cooking Abilities

Hiring managers want to understand your core cooking skills and knowledge.

What is your cooking specialty or favorite cuisine?

Detail the type of food you have the most experience with or enjoy cooking most.

I specialize in Italian cuisine, particularly handmade pastas and risottos. The flavors and textures of fresh pastas are my favorite to highlight. I also excel at crafting rich, complex marinara sauces and have studied regional techniques in Tuscany.

How would you cook a perfect steak?

Demonstrate your mastery of proper steak cooking technique:

I would select a thick, high-quality cut of meat and season it generously. I would then pan sear it on high heat until browned before transferring to a hot oven to finish cooking to the desired doneness. I would baste the steak with herb butter and let it rest before slicing against the grain for maximum tenderness.

Share key factors like selecting quality meat, using high heat, resting, slicing properly, etc.

What skills are most important for a successful cook?

Highlight both culinary abilities and soft skills crucial for the role:

Core cooking skills like knife skills and understanding cooking methods are essential. You also need skills like attentiveness, communication, organization and stamina. The ability to stay calm under pressure while upholding standards is critical in a fast-paced restaurant kitchen.

How do you stay updated on food safety practices?

Describe your commitment to following the latest protocols:

I regularly review my state’s updated health regulations for any changes. I also stay up-to-date by reading industry publications and taking any additional food handler training courses. Keeping current ensures I use the latest best practices for cleanliness, sanitation, storage temperatures and all aspects of kitchen safety.

Situational Questions About Handling Challenges

Hiring managers want to know how you hold up under difficult situations in the kitchen.

How would you handle an angry customer complaining about an undercooked dish?

Show your customer service skills and ability to remedy issues:

I would sincerely apologize for the experience without making excuses. I would have a replacement dish quickly prepared to their preferred doneness. I would politely ask questions to understand what went wrong and ensure it doesn’t recur. Making it right for the customer is always my priority.

What do you do if you make a mistake on an order?

Demonstrate you take ownership of errors. For example:

If I realize I made a mistake, I immediately inform the head chef and expediter. I apologize and focus on remaking the dish as quickly as possible, without compromising quality. I learn from what went wrong to prevent repeating the same error. Taking accountability is essential.

How do you handle the stress of peak customer rushes?

Share strategies for staying focused when under pressure:

During our busiest times, I make sure to take a moment beforehand to organize my station and take a few deep breaths. When orders start stacking up, I tackle each task methodically without getting flustered. Staying positive and communicative with my teammates also helps us work together to get through the rush smoothly.

What do you do if kitchen equipment breaks down mid-service?

Highlight your flexibility and problem-solving abilities:

Remaining calm is my first step anytime an unexpected issue arises. I would quickly assess if there’s a temporary work-around, like moving to the oven if the range fails, while the problem gets addressed. I would keep the chef and FOH manager updated on how it may impact timing. Thinking on my feet helps me adapt to whatever challenges come up.

Behavioral Questions About Your Work Ethic

Hiring managers want to understand your work ethic and approach to the job.

How do you handle criticism or disappointment?

Emphasize openness to feedback:

I see constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve. If my chef provides feedback that a dish or technique fell short, I listen carefully to understand their perspective. Rather than get discouraged, I refocus my energy into practicing and perfecting that skill to meet their standards going forward.

How do you stay motivated on the job each day?

Share your passion and sources of motivation:

My joy for cooking keeps me energized on even the toughest days. I also get motivation from positive customer reactions when they savor a meal I prepared. My teammates inspire me to extend the same care and creativity I give my own dishes to every plate for our guests. I love the lively energy working in the kitchen.

How do you handle the repetition of preparing similar dishes?

Highlight your consistency and mindset:

Even when preparing batch orders of popular menu items, I give each dish my full attention and care. Maintaining quality standards with every portion is my top priority. I take pride in consistently delivering food made to the chef’s exact specifications. Reliability and consistency matter greatly in the kitchen.

How do you decide when a dish is perfectly cooked and ready to serve?

Demonstrate your standards and attention to detail:

I rely first on the techniques specified by the chef like cook time, temperature, visual indicators, and testing for doneness. I never assume based just on intuition or habit. If any aspect is not perfectly executed according to our standards, I keep refining it until stellar. Every detail on that plate must be right before it leaves my station.

Questions About Teamwork and Leadership

Kitchens require tight teamwork between stations and shifts. Hiring managers will assess your teamwork abilities.

How do you foster positive relationships with co-workers in the kitchen?

Highlight your communication and teamwork skills. For example:

I make an effort to get to know everyone’s name, strengths, and background to build rapport. I communicate kindly and directly to prevent any confusion. I also pitch in to help fellow cooks if I finish early or notice them falling behind. Cultivating a supportive team spirit and covering for one another is key.

If you saw a more experienced cook practicing unsafe food handling, what would you do?

Demonstrate you prioritize safety and upholding standards:

Even when it’s an uncomfortable situation, I place importance on correcting anything unsafe in our kitchen. Initially, I would discretely call attention to the unsafe practice and clarify the proper protocol as a reminder. If the issue persisted, I would escalate to the chef to ensure we address it. Protecting our customers comes first.

How would you assist or mentor a more junior cook?

Share your leadership approach and desire to help others develop:

First, I proactively offer support and guidance when I see a struggling cook. I walk them through proper techniques step-by-step and share tips I’ve learned. I give reminders and feedback with patience and empathy. I aim to build their confidence while ensuring we maintain quality standards. Fostering the next generation of chefs is rewarding.

With preparation using these sample cook interview questions, you’ll demonstrate your skills and make a strong impression. Study this list of likely questions and think through your responses to common scenarios. With practice, you’ll ace the interview and be ready to heat up the kitchen in your new role.

restaurant cook interview questions

What entrees/sauces/etc. can you prepare?

Understanding the candidate’s culinary skills is essential.

“I’m proficient in preparing various entrees, from grilled dishes to pastas. I can also make a range of sauces, including béchamel, marinara, and hollandaise. ”.

What did you like most in our menu?

This question gauges the candidate’s familiarity with the restaurant’s offerings.

“I appreciate the diverse range of dishes, especially the emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.”

Assistant Cook Interview Questions And Answers


How to pass a cook interview?

Highlight the cooking techniques you excel in and briefly explain how you use them to elevate your dishes. Mention specific techniques, such as sautéing, braising, grilling, or pastry-making, and provide examples of dishes where you’ve showcased these techniques.

Why should I hire you as a cook?

You want to hear that they are passionate about the job and that they have a desire to work in the culinary arts field. Sample Answer: I am passionate about cooking and serving great food. I have a desire to work with people and help them enjoy their dining experience.

What should I cook for a cooking interview?

Some chefs give their candidates a mystery basket, some expect them to come in prepared to cook a favorite dish or two, and others—especially old-school chefs—ask for a simple preparation on the fly, such as an omelet or a sauteed fish fillet.

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