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Cook Interview Questions

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  1. Why have you chosen a career in the field of culinary arts, particularly as a cook? See answer
  2. How have you or how would you respond to criticism from a customer about their dish? See answer
  3. How would you handle this situation: You run out of the daily special but still have three orders you need to fill? See answer
  4. What is the most stressful situation you have had while cooking professionally, and how did you handle it? See answer
  5. As a cook, how do you stay energized and motivated to produce quality dishes throughout your shift? See answer
  6. As a cook, are you familiar with the health codes in our specific state or country?
  7. What is your favorite dish to cook and why? How about your least favorite dish?
  8. Are you familiar with our menu? If so, what would you keep and what would you want to change?
  9. How would you rate your teamwork skills as a cook? What examples can you provide from your previous experiences?
  10. Can you tell me about your previous place of employment’s cleaning procedures? What specific roles did you have to maintain a clean and safe workspace?
  11. What role does communication play in maintaining a smoothly-run kitchen?
  12. Can you tell me what the difference is between broiling and braising? What examples can you provide from your past experiences?
  13. Have you ever disagreed with the head chef about how a dish should be prepared? How did you handle the situation?
  14. You have a question about how to prepare a daily special, but the head chef is in the dining room speaking with a patron. What do you do?
  15. What do you do during slow service hours to prepare for the next rush?
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6 Cook Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Why have you chosen a career in the field of culinary arts, particularly as a cook?

A:

This question serves at least two purposes. First, it sets the interviewee at ease, allowing you to connect with them so that they can open up. Second, it helps you determine if the applicant is interested in working in the culinary field or if they merely see the position as another job. An employee who loves this type of work will often be a better candidate for the position.

What to look for in an answer:

  • An excitement about the culinary arts field
  • The motivation to excel at their job
  • Future orientation in the food industry

Example:

“Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a keen interest in cooking. I love making food that tastes great and makes people happy.”

Q:

As a cook, are you familiar with the health codes in our specific state or county?

A:

Health inspections are a regular reality in the food industry. You want to make sure your candidate understands that there are rules in your kitchen that are imposed by the state. Don’t expect them to recite the health code. You are just trying to get a feel for their knowledge of safety, cleanliness, and willingness to adhere to proper conduct in this area.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Honesty about their knowledge
  • A willingness to learn and conform
  • The sense that they maintain a healthy and clean kitchen

Example:

“Yes. I am familiar with health codes. Safety affects everyone in this industry, including me. Anything I don’t know, I am willing to learn.”

Q:

How have you or how would you respond to criticism from a customer about their dish?

A:

This question tests the cook’s interpersonal skills, particularly how the applicant may handle criticism from customers in your workplace. It is likely that a chef will face an unhappy customer sometime in their career, and one bad encounter can cost your business many clients thanks to social media and the plethora of review sites available online. They should be able to courteously and cautiously respond to negative feedback from those they serve.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A sense of humility in their answer
  • The willingness to resolve the problem graciously
  • A realistic view of the outcome

Example:

“First, I would follow protocols set in place. From there, I would apologize to the customer and do my best to accommodate their needs.”

Q:

How would you handle this situation: You run out of the daily special but still have three orders you need to fill?

A:

This question will help identify how the applicant will handle pressure, and it helps you get a feel for their creativity in problem solving. If they are fairly new to the industry, they may need some time to think, and their answer may not be as polished as an experienced cook. Someone with experience in the food industry should have worked through a similar situation at least once.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Applicant is concerned with pleasing the customer
  • Creative problem solving ability
  • Desire to maintain the integrity of the business

Example:

“When this happens, I personally tell the customer and offer my apologies. Then, I recommend another dish and offer a complimentary dessert if permitted.”

Q:

What is the most stressful situation you have had while cooking professionally, and how did you handle it?

A:

Cooking can be a stressful job at times, especially in a busy restaurant environment. Filling orders and trying to get them out in a timely fashion can be demanding enough, but what happens when the deep fryer goes out at the same time? A good candidate will be able to demonstrate the ability to work under demanding circumstances.

What to look for in an answer:

  • An acknowledgment that stressful times happen
  • Ability to keep calm under stress
  • Willingness to ask for help when necessary

Example:

“Once, the grill broke during lunch hour. I called the manager. Together, we found a solution and were able to serve all the guests.”

Q:

As a cook, how do you stay energized and motivated to produce quality dishes throughout your shift?

A:

Cooks are responsible for prepping and making a variety of dishes throughout their shift, including stews, soups, entrees, appetizers and other menu items. This means that they have to stand for most of their shift, using their hands to chop vegetables, stir mixtures or plate dishes. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate's strategies to deal with a steady stream of orders during the lunch and dinner services while maintaining the same energy and enthusiasm as they did at the start of their shift.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Knowledge from previous experience
  • Commitment to quality
  • Ability to take breaks during appropriate times

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"I always make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and I take advantage of quiet moments to sit down and regroup. During our peak quiet hours, I might even take a quick walk around the perimeter of the restaurant to fresh air and re-energize for dinner service."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021