Interview Tips for the
Besides the obvious - silencing your cell phone, dressing
appropriately, and not chewing gum - these ten points
can help guide you gracefully through the interview
- Timing is Everything: If
you’re cooking a sea bass filet, you know that
the only difference between perfect and overcooked
fish is mere moments. Interview timing is the same
way: show up too early and you’ll appear like
you have nothing better to do. Arrive late and you
face instant rejection. Aim to arrive for an interview
between 5 to 10 minutes early – you’ll
appear prepared and confident.
- Be Polite: You know to treat
a restaurant’s hostess politely if you hope
to get a good table. An interview is no different.
From the moment you walk in the door, the interview
has begun, whether the interviewer is present or not.
Consider each person you come into contact with as
a potential interviewer and treat all staff members
with courtesy and respect – you never know who
may be standing behind the host’s stand: it
could be the owner!
- Mis en Place: Interview “mis
en place” includes more than just showing up
with extra copies of your resume and a pen. If you
arrive knowing the executive chef’s name, the
restaurant’s signature dishes and ingredients,
and a few key resume points that best describe you,
you are reasonably well prepared. Preparation demonstrates
your interest and enthusiasm for a position, and your
awareness will resonate with the interviewer.
- Confidence, not Arrogance:
Don’t plan to rely solely on your resume to
sell your skills and experience; the confidence that
you exhibit with a firm handshake, eye contact, and
a genuine, friendly demeanor forms a complete sales
package that will capture an employer’s attention.
Although self confidence is important, remember that
many employers, especially chefs, are looking for
talented staff members who are eager to learn from
- Check Negativity at the Door:
Focus on the positive. Just as your resume doesn’t
mention that you were once fired for breaking the
robot coupe, in an interview you must not speak negatively
about past employers or coworkers. No matter how justified
you feel your comments may be, demonstrating such
an obvious disrespect for your boss, even if he had
you scrubbing the walk-in with a toothbrush, will
only dissuade a prospective employer from hiring you.
Try to focus the conversation on what you learned
while at your last job, and how you accepted the challenges
of your previous employer.
- Relax Already!: Repeating
words such as “like,” “um,”
and “you know” during an interview reveals
more than just lack of vocabulary. Everyone is nervous
during an interview – often even the interviewer
– but there’s no need to let your anxiety
get the best of you. If you’re well prepared
for the interview, you should be equipped to survive
a barrage of questions about your knife skills without
awkward pauses. Remember to breathe and take a moment
to gather your thoughts before answering the interviewer’s
questions. To help make sure that you respond correctly
to the question that is asked, try to include a few
of the interviewer’s key words from each question
in your reply.
- Sense of Style: How you
communicate in an interview is just as important as
what you say. If a potential employer is all business,
your demeanor should also remain totally professional.
If an interview is candid and conversational, your
responses may be a bit more relaxed. Let an interviewer’s
choice of words and tone of voice serve as verbal
cues for your own behavior, which should always remain
a bit more formal than your potential employer: remember,
you are trying to impress them.
- Money is a Four-Letter Word:
What if a swanky restaurant ran a credit report before
pouring you a glass of champagne? Would you ever eat
there again? Unless the interviewer mentions compensation,
the subject of salary, including benefits, vacation,
and perks, should never be raised by a candidate during
an interview. It is a good idea to be prepared for
a question about your salary requirements, but do
try and delay a compensation discussion until you
have an offer.
- Any Questions?: Towards
the end of most job interviews, the interviewer will
give you the chance to ask questions. It’s critical
to ask at least one question; appearing to have no
curiosity about the position signals to the interviewer
that you have no real intention of taking the job.
One great option is to ask about the typical day for
an employee in the position; another is to inquire
about the advancement opportunities within the company.
Be sure not to ask questions concerning a topic that
has already been thoroughly discussed in the interview.
As you exit the interview, be sure to express your
enthusiasm for the position and ask about the company’s
next step in the hiring process.
- The Art of the Follow-Up:
Make sure to get a business card from each person
that interviews you; often chefs may not have their
own cards, so be sure to write their name on the restaurant’s
card. Once you have left the interview, take a moment
to jot down some quick notes about who you met and
any specific details you can recall. When you return
home from the interview, type a short, sincere thank
you letter to each interviewer and have it in the
mail within 24 hours. Although this may seem a bit
formal for the foodservice industry, it takes minimal
time and effort, and will definitely set you apart
as a candidate.