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5 Prep Cook Interview Questions and Answers

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Have you had experience with handling food at previous work sites?


This reply will inform you of the candidate's food handling techniques. It is a plus if a potential prep cook mentions passing a food safety course as well. Their answer will also reveal the various types of establishments they have worked in so you can determine whether the skills they have obtained will fit the needs of your business. What to look for in an answer:

  • Prior food handling experience at various restaurants
  • Completion of a culinary course
  • Knowledge of how to implement food safety procedures


"I was able to use my culinary and food safety skills as a prep cook for an Italian restaurant and a hotel pub. I kept things clean and avoided cross-contamination at all costs."


How do you make sure that you don't run out of food and supplies during a peak hour?


This reply may reveal management and critical thinking skills. You will be looking for a candidate who is able to think quickly on their feet. Mentioning proactive planning to help avoid such circumstances increases their credibility. Reviewing the menu and checking the inventory before prep is another practical measure that reveals a forward-thinking nature. What to look for in an answer:

  • Leadership traits
  • Ability to adapt quickly during a dilemma
  • Exceptional communication skills


"I try to foresee the shortage while reviewing the menu and inventory. I prepare extra items and communicate with the team. Sometimes having a substitute item in mind helps."


What are some of the cleaning techniques you use to keep the kitchen sanitary?


Food health and safety training is needed as a prep cook. Knowledge on how to avoid cross-contamination is a requirement for this position. They must convey the importance of having all areas and appliances that are in constant use sanitized at all times. The candidate must understand that keeping everything clean will avoid accidents and the spreading of bacteria. What to look for in an answer:

  • Completion of food health and safety training
  • Experience with using cleaning agents for work areas and tools
  • Good personal hygiene


"I make sure to clean my station and tools before and after prep. I do not reuse tools or equipment without properly sanitizing them. I keep my hair and uniform clean and tidy too."


Is there a particular order you follow to store food and produce inside the refrigerator?


The candidate must be clear on how and why perishable food items need to be kept in designated areas. Their answer should describe how and where they were trained to store items that need to be refrigerated. They should convey the importance of keeping the food fresh and avoiding the spread of bacteria. In addition to food safety, they understand that their personal health could also be in jeopardy if the proper precautions aren’t taken. What to look for in an answer:

  • Organizational and problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of how to safeguard against hazardous conditions
  • Understanding of how to store food items in accordance with use


"On the top shelves, I store dairy products and packaged food items that are ready to serve or cook. On the bottom shelves, I store the meat products and make sure they are sealed properly."


What would you do if you are overloaded with responsibility during food prep and the other team members don't offer assistance?


Listen for evidence of the ability to work independently and signs of reliability. Being organized means that they are able to be flexible if something unanticipated were to arise. They should know when to seek management assistance to avoid a disservice to the clientele. The answer to this question may also reveal a candidate’s character and capacity to work as a team player. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to multitask and execute an effective plan
  • Leadership skills and the ability to work alone
  • Patience and determination to get the job done


"I would try to organize my tasks in a way where more could be accomplished. I would also contact management if the situation were uncontrollable and it was evident that the food service will suffer."

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