Top Chef Interview Questions and Answers: The Ultimate List

Deciding to become a chef can be a highly rewarding career move, especially if you are passionate about food. There are plenty of opportunities to grow professionally and apply some creative licence to your work, while if you are business savvy, there is the potential to open your own restaurant and make bucket-loads of money.

This is a standard opener in a lot of interviews, so it’s always good to practise your answer with a friend (or in a mirror) beforehand. It’s useful for recruiters because not only does it inform them about your background, but it also sheds some light on how you perceive yourself as a candidate.

Answer this question with a very brief overview of your prior experience, your approach in the kitchen and an explanation of why you are here now. For instance: ‘I am a dedicated and enthusiastic young chef, prepared to work hard and learn from the best. I have worked in some great small kitchens, but now I’m looking to make the step up in order to really challenge and develop myself.’

General Icebreaker Chef Interview Questions
  • When did you decide to become a chef?
  • What is your signature dish? …
  • What is your favorite or least favorite dish to prepare? …
  • How do you describe your overall cooking philosophy?
  • Name the three kitchen tools you can’t do without?
  • Why are you considering a new position?

Chef interview questions and answers

Questions About You and Your Training

  • Why did you decide to become a chef? What other back-of-house positions have you held?
  • Did you go to culinary school? What credentials did you earn through your culinary studies?
  • What did you like best about the education experience? What did you like least?
  • Where and how were you trained?
  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • Why are you interested in working at this restaurant?
  • Do you have a sense of humor?
  • 2. ‘Why are you leaving your current role?’

    When answering this question, it’s important to emphasise that, rather than being driven by a desire to leave your previous role, you’re motivated by the opportunities on offer at your new one. You can say something along the lines of ‘I enjoyed my last job, but I feel that the time is right now for a new challenge, and I’m really excited by the opportunity for growth and development at this restaurant’.

    Whatever you do, don’t badmouth your previous employer, even if you hated every minute of working for them. There’s nothing more unprofessional than a candidate who airs their dirty laundry in public; so, however tempting it may be, exercise some restraint.

    If you got fired, meanwhile, don’t lie; instead, try to spin it positively and emphasise the lessons that you learned.

    Increasingly, recruiters are less interested in asking a candidate about their strengths and more focused on deducing what people perceive to be their weaknesses. It can tell potential employers a lot more about you, while it has the added bonus of being a far trickier question to answer.

    Therefore, you need to have a good answer prepared. Some experts claim that you should downplay your weaknesses but acknowledging your flaws can be a positive quality in itself. Therefore, it’s recommended that you adopt the ‘faux-strength’ approach, instead, and turn your negatives into positives.

    Make sure that you avoid clichés, though. Claiming that you ‘work too hard’ or that you spend too many hours at work isn’t fooling anybody. Instead, say something like: ‘My standards are very high, and this can sometimes spill over into frustration when those around me don’t apply the same commitment or dedication to their work.’

    Think Beyond Food

    Of course, one of the most important aspects of a chefs role is cooking food and creating a menu. But many times, your responsibilities will include much more than just the oversight of the kitchen.

    You may have management of the front of house as well, and be responsible for hiring waitstaff, bartenders, cooks, and other employees. Be prepared to discuss the general restaurant and food service skills as well, especially as they relate to the efficient running of a dining establishment.

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