What Questions Can You Expect When Interviewing For An Executive Chef Job?
For those of you whose goal it is to become an Executive Chef, we thought it would be interesting to post some interview questions you might be asked when interviewing for the job.
Being prepared for any question a restaurant owner or club manager may throw at you should help your chances of getting hired. Not having good answers to any of these questions may hurt your changes of qualifying.
Do Your Homework
It’s important you do your homework before interviewing for any executive chef job. How big is the establishment? What type of cuisine do they serve? What is the price range of the menu? Who are their clientele?
And if you can, who are you replacing and why are you replacing them? How big is the staff? Who will you be reporting to?
You have to assume either through your resume, a headhunting firm, social media, reputation or all of the above, the people hiring you know a lot about you already; if and where you went to culinary school, where you have been working and what chefs you’ve been working under, how long you have been working as a cook and the different hats you’ve worn over those years.
At this level, you should expect questions that are going to show much more of your management style, creativeness and business sense acumen.
List of Questions
This is a rather large list of questions you may want to work with but in no way is inclusive of all the potential question you may possibly be asked. On the other hand, I can’t imagine anyone asking you all of these questions or the interview would go on forever. The idea here is to know what you might be asked so that you will be prepared for all of them.
- Why do you want to be an executive chef?
- What are your qualifications for this position qualifies you to be one?
- Describe your management style. Give examples.
- Describe your leadership style. Give examples.
- How did you choose the culinary school you attended?
- What set of skills or characteristics do you have that you think set you apart from the other executive chef applicants?
- When not working or after work, where do you like to go out to eat?
- What do you cook for yourself/your family at home?
- What is your favorite type of cuisine to eat?
- What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
- What ingredients do you like to work with?
- How often do you like to change your lunch and dinner menu?
- How do you hire your staff? What do you look for?
- Do you only hire culinary school graduates? Why or why not?
- Are you planning to bring in your own team or work with the ones currently at the establishment?
- How would you go about earning the trust of your staff? Give examples of how you’ve done this in the past.
- How involved do you get in teaching your staff new ideas and cooking methods?
- What software have you used to manage staff and develop control systems for budgeting?
- What accomplishments have you enjoyed in previous jobs that will make you a better executive chef at this establishment?
- With food trends changing so rapidly these days, how do you keep up with what’s going on in the food world?
- Some restaurant owners may ask you for your recipe on specific dishes to see how well you know the techniques and ingredients associate with it especially if it is a classic dish.
- What food vendors do you work with and how well do you get along with them? How do you measure the quality of vendor relationships?
- How do you go about developing a menu? What do you consider when creating a new menu?
- How much different does your winter menu look from your fall menu?
- How do you handle requests for substitutions?
- What about lactose or gluten free menu requests?
- If your labor costs are running high, what measures do you take to control it?
- Same question but for food costs?
- Are you a hands on chef where you work the line or more of a managerial executive chef and stay in the background?
- Describe a difficult situation you may of have had with an individual cook and how did you handle it?
- What do you consider to be your top three strengths as an executive chef?
- Where do you think you can improve on?
- How much do you get involved with the front of the house?
- What’s your knowledge of wine and do you pair your meals up with the wines available on the wine list?
- Based on your knowledge of this establishment, what changes would you suggest to make it better?
- How do you handle customer criticism from the people you serve? Give specific examples.
End of Interview
And they are always going to finish the interview with one of the following questions so be prepared for it –
- What questions do you have for us?
- Is there anything else you think we should know about you that we have not covered yet?
- What question haven’t we asked that you wish we had? And what’s the answer?
- And be prepared to have a couple of good questions for them so they understand you have done your homework and prepared for the interview.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.