Interview Questions for Chefs

Chef and Woman Discussing Menu at Table in Restaurant

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If you have an interview lined up for a chef position, be sure to prepare beforehand. After all, competition for these positions can be stiff. 

To get ready for a chef interview, you'll want to research the restaurant, so you can help tailor your answers to suit their needs. You may also want to review the essential skills for a chef and think of examples where you have used these skills successfully in previous food-related positions. Finally, as with every interview, practice how you'll respond to interview questions.

Doing these tasks beforehand will help you feel confident during the job interview.

Take a look at common interview questions for chefs, and get more tips on how to prepare for an interview for a role as chef. 

Tips for Responding to Chef Interview Questions

As you consider how you'll respond to interview questions, keep these tips in mind: 

Use Examples

  • Look for ways to share relevant experience from previous roles. If you're asked about how you'd handle a staffing shortage, your answer will be most meaningful if you can point to what you've done in a similar situation in the past. 

Focus On the Company's Needs

Doing a bit of research on the company will help you frame your response. 

You should make sure you are familiar with the restaurant’s cuisine and menu, and as much of its business model and history as you can find out.

For example, if you're interviewing for a role as a chef on a cruise ship, it may be important to emphasize your flexibility. For a chef role in a diner, focusing on your speed may make a positive impression, while if you're interviewing at a five-star restaurant, your precision and palate may be most valued. 

Reach Out to Contacts

If you know someone who is currently working at the restaurant, or worked there previously, tap them for potential insider information to help you make the best impression during your interview.

The more you know about how the business is run, the better you can tailor your answers to show how you will improve their menu and profitability.

Know Your Own Resume Well

You'll likely be asked about your previous roles. You don't want to fumble or seem uncertain. Be prepared to discuss the restaurants where you've worked in the past. 

Think Beyond Food

Of course, one of the most important aspects of a chef's 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.

Come With Questions of Your Own

Make sure you have some questions to ask the interviewer to show them your depth of knowledge and interest in the position. 

Keep it Positive

Working in a kitchen can be a hot, stressful situation. Personality matters! Be prepared to respond to questions about how you work with others and handle stress.

Even if a question sets you up to share details about frustrating work environments, avoid complaining or pointing a finger at managers or former colleagues. Doing so can leave a bad impression. 

Chef Interview Questions

Expect to get questions in a few different categories. 

Questions About You and Your Training 

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

Questions About Your Management Experience & Work Style

  1. What is your management style? What management style do you prefer for your supervisor to have?
  2. How many employees report to you? What levels are the employees who are your direct reports?
  3. Are you a team player? Describe your usual role in a team-centered work environment. Do you easily assume a leadership role?
  4. Tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it.
  5. Describe the relationship between back-of-house and front-of-house operations.
  6. Tell me about your experience with employee and workforce management. Describe the last time you had to discipline a subordinate.
  7. What would you do if a customer sent back a meal? 
  8. Are you able to work flexible hours?

Questions About Food and Cooking 

  1. Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
  2. What is your favorite cuisine? How many different types of cuisine are you capable of producing?
  3. What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
  4. What is your favorite wine?
  5. Tell me about your wine knowledge.
  6. Tell me about pairing wine and food.
  7. What trends are you noticing regarding wine and food pairings?
  8. What is an example of a springtime menu you would prepare for me?
  9. If you were asked to reduce fat and sodium in a menu, what would you do to maintain flavor in the quality of the dish?
  10. What do you do to stay current on new trends? Describe two or three of the most interesting industry trends.
  11. How do you test the quality of your ingredients?
  12. Describe your knowledge of food safety.
  13. How involved are you in the beverage component of your establishment?
  14. How involved are you with menu development and overall design?
  15. When are you happiest at work?

Questions About the Business Aspects of Restaurants

  1. If you were told that your food cost was high, what five things would you look at first?
  2. What is the average annual revenue of the restaurants you have worked in?
  3. How involved are you in the financial aspects of the business?
  4. Tell me about your budgeting, purchasing, and inventory control experience.

More Job Interview Questions

In addition to job-specific interview questions, you will also be asked more general questions about your employment history, education, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans.

If you are seeking a chef position that includes management or executive-level duties, you may be asked to describe your leadership capabilities, supervisory experience, and expertise in financial and restaurant costing matters.