Chef Job Interview Questions

Editor’s note: Chef Job Interview Questions was originally published in September 2016 and most recently updated in May 2022.

If you’re interviewing for a chef job, it will come in two parts – the tasting interview and the sit down chat.

Read: Chef Tasting Interview Tips

While you’re likely to have the chef skills part sorted, we regularly get feedback from chefs that it’s the chat part where it can all fall apart.

We get it. You’re busy being a creator of great food, so it stands to reason that you’ve got way less time to polish the ‘How I Deliver Great Food’ chat.

Investing time in preparing answers up front to common chef job interview questions will bolster your confidence and improve your chance of success. So to help we’ve put together a list of likely-to-be-asked-at-interview questions and some pointers on how best to reply.

Chef job interview questions: Tell me about yourself?

Answer this question with a bit about your history as a chef, where you’ve worked and what you think your strengths are in the kitchen.

Read: Get Yourself an Elevator Pitch Chef

What’s your biggest weakness, chef?

The main reason for someone asking you this question is to see if you are self-aware. To check you know your weaknesses and that you’re smart enough to account for them. When you answer this question ideally you want to be able to show that your biggest weakness also has an upside. Like impatience – for example – which would signal that you’re a chef in the kitchen that wants to get things done.

Chef job interview questions: Tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it?

Interviewers ask this question to see how you to deal with roadblocks. Things don’t always go smoothly in a commercial kitchen, so having people on the team who are able to quickly and calmly solve problems is a real benefit. Answer this question with a clear example about how something didn’t go as planned causing a challenge, and how you were involved in solving the problem.

When are you happiest at work, chef?

Answer this question honestly and with an answer that sets a positive, upbeat tone about you being at work and delivering in the job. ‘When the kitchen staff are working well and the plates are looking spot-on and orders are going out punctually’, is an example of that. ‘At the end of my shift’ isn’t.

Chef job interview questions: Tell me about a time you messed up at work?

Answer this question with an example showing that you take accountability for your actions and how you react to things going wrong. Your example should show how good you are at adapting and thinking on your feet to make things right. People that always find a way to blame their missteps on other people or circumstances typically don’t make good team players.

What’s your greatest achievement to date, chef?

Employers tend to ask this question to gain an understanding of what achievement looks like to you. In answering this question you want to be conscious of how you tell the story about your biggest achievement, and give context as to why it’s the greatest.

Chef job interview questions: Why are you looking to leave your current job?

This might seem like your cue to launch into all the things you don’t like about your current job. Or to talk about what a terrible person your boss is.

Take a breath. DON’T DO THAT. That is exactly what this question is designed to draw out of applicants.

Make sure you are framing your answer in a way that doesn’t shed bad light on your current or most recent employer. You want to talk about what you’re looking to achieve by moving on and pursuing progression in a new role.

Why do you want to work here, chef?

Interestingly enough, a lot of people don’t have an answer to this question. It’s designed to find out if you’ve actually researched the company and if you are excited about the position. So show you’ve done your research on the company and highlight what about the job has got you fired up.

Chef job interview questions: What’s your five year plan?

An interviewer isn’t expecting a week-by-week, year-by-year detailed breakdown of what you have planned, but more of a general overall plan. It shows you are goal oriented and are working towards something. Companies like to hire self-motivated people.

What have you done to improve your skills in the last year, chef?

Taking courses, studying books or simply watching cookery TV, good chefs are always looking to improve on what they know. Talk the interviewer through what you’ve learnt recently.

Be sure to ask them questions

At some point, usually towards the end of an interview, it’s likely you’ll be asked if you have questions that you’d like to ask them. And you may think to yourself that nothing springs to mind as many of your questions were covered in the course of the interview.

That’s great, but we’d STRONGLY advise you against saying just that. ‘No, I think you’ve covered everything very well’ isn’t ever going to be a winning reply.

You need to ask at least a couple of questions to signal that you’re still interested in the chef role having learnt more about the job.

If during the interview you’ve not found yourself gathering questions to ask later, plan ahead and prepare at least 4 or 5 more general questions to ask any interviewer at the end of a meeting.

10 top tips to support chef job interview success

1. Research the company
2. Review the job description
3. Practice your responses to common interview questions
4. Dress appropriately
5. Be on time
6. Bring a paper copy of your CV, a notepad and pen
7. Don’t interrupt the interviewer when they are talking
8. Don’t talk money or benefits at a first meeting
9. Be careful when talking about your current/previous employer
10. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

Be positive!

When describing any situation in your career history to date it’s much better to talk about a glass being half full, than to talk about it being half empty. When preparing for an interview and anticipating likely questions, plan to answer all questions positively.

Being positive really pays dividends whatever questions are asked at your interview.

Go get ‘em Chef we’re rooting for your interview success!

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