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Sous Chef Interview Questions

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  1. Where did you receive your culinary training, and what kind of experience do you have? See answer
  2. Tell me about some of the stations that are present in an upscale restaurant. See answer
  3. In your experience, what role does the sous chef play in a kitchen? See answer
  4. Tell me about some of the restaurants you’ve worked at and why you moved on from them. See answer
  5. Why are you interested in this position, and what do you think are your best qualifications to be a sous chef? See answer
  6. Explain the hierarchy of the kitchen in your experience. See answer
  7. What types of cuisine are you most comfortable cooking?
  8. Would you prefer a brunch shift or a dinner shift?
  9. Do you have any problems working on your feet for a full shift?
  10. We do most of our business in the evenings and on weekends. Are you available during those hours as needed?
  11. Do you speak any other languages?
  12. What are a few of the most important hallmarks of food safety in the kitchen?
  13. How would you adjust our signature pasta dish to reflect the dietary restrictions of a vegetarian?
  14. Are you comfortable using restaurant computer software? Which specific programs have you used in the past?
  15. Are you willing to help train line cooks or other kitchen staff members?
  16. How would you respond if a customer sent their plate back to the kitchen?
  17. Are you comfortable disciplining coworkers if needed?
  18. Have you ever gone out of your way to cook an exceptional dish for a customer? Describe that experience.
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6 Sous Chef Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Where did you receive your culinary training, and what kind of experience do you have?

A:

Many sous chefs start their careers with culinary degrees from programs that take two or four years to complete. Others learn on the job in an apprenticeship situation. Either career path is valid so long as your candidate possesses the basic knowledge and skills for the job. Look for an applicant who’s confident about their training and gives a complete answer.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Length of education and type of training
  • Varied culinary expertise
  • Possession of mentors in the culinary field

Example:

“I completed a two-year degree at Trident Technical College in Charleston, and then I worked with Chef Tom Smith and Chef Mary Jones for three years.”

Q:

Tell me about some of the stations that are present in an upscale restaurant.

A:

Your candidate should be able to easily talk about all of the jobs that need to be done in the kitchen of a quality restaurant. Look for a person who can describe various kitchen stations and their purposes. The applicant should also mention their own experience in each area and be familiar with prep, pastry and plate presentation.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Details about meal plating and delivery on the line
  • Knowledge of types of cold items to serve on the salad station
  • Familiarity with dishes prepared at the sauté station

Example:

“The line is the area where all dishes are plated and passed on to servers. The salad station or garde manger is the place where salads and cold desserts are prepared. Vegetables are cut in the prep area, and the pastry chef works at the pastry station. Hot food is prepared at the sauté, grill and fryer stations. I’m experienced working at each station.”

Q:

In your experience, what role does the sous chef play in a kitchen?

A:

A sous chef should have the experience needed to fill in at any station during a shift as determined by the executive chef. This is an important element to look for in an answer. Your candidate may also discuss supervisory and other duties of a sous chef. Details might include preparation of sauces and stocks and cutting portions of fish and meat.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Acceptance of responsibility for all kitchen functions
  • Confidence to take over any station
  • Ability to work with executive chef to create and test recipes

Example:

“Essentially, the sous chef is the right arm of the executive chef. I have to be able to fill every job in the kitchen.”

Q:

Tell me about some of the restaurants you’ve worked at and why you moved on from them.

A:

In the restaurant industry, movement between jobs is common. It’s a way to gain more experience and move up in pay and responsibility. Look for a lack of defensiveness about changing jobs and a clear reason for leaving them. A candidate should also speak well of previous employers. Expect to hear about the types of food served and what the applicant learned at each restaurant.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Names of previous restaurants and executive chefs
  • Position and duties at start and finish of job
  • Detailed reason for leaving

Example:

“My first job was at a local deli, and I became experienced at preparing salads, cheeses and different cuts of meat. Once I got my degree, I accepted a job working for Chef Smith at Restaurant 1 because it paid more, and I was able to use some of the skills I had learned. Later, I moved to Restaurant 2 because Chef Jones put me in charge of the salad station and prep area. When the chef moved on to Restaurant 3, she asked me to go with her and continue my training, so I did.”

Q:

Why are you interested in this position, and what do you think are your best qualifications to be a sous chef?

A:

A person applying for a sous chef position may answer that they’re interested in gaining more experience or moving forward in their career. Your candidate should be able to readily list qualifications for the job, such as knife skills, proficiency with making sauces and stocks, and supervisory skills, along with dependability and a willingness to work hard.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience with ordering and inventory
  • A record of supervising a well-run kitchen
  • Skilled at creating and marketing new recipes

Example:

“I’d like to expand my skills under your executive chef and work in a more challenging environment. I’m conscientious about maintaining inventory and controlling costs in the kitchen, and I’m also known for working long hours and showing up on time. “

Q:

Explain the hierarchy of the kitchen in your experience.

A:

Executive, commercial or other high-end kitchens often follow a distinct hierarchy. It's important for those who want to work in such kitchens to understand how each role relates to the others and where they fall in the overall order. Since sous chefs usually command a leadership role in the kitchen, it's important they understand the managerial structure and their role within it.

Good candidate answers to this interview question should include:

  • An explanation of the hierarchy
  • The sous chef's role within the hierarchy
  • Additional duties (besides cooking) that accompany the work of a sous chef

An excellent candidate response might mirror this example answer:

Example:

"In my experience, the most common roles, from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom, are the chef de cuisine, sous chef, chefs de partie, demi chefs, commis and apprentices. As a sous chef, it's my responsibility to oversee the chefs de partie, demi chefs and commis while cooking to the specifications of the chef de cuisine. Besides cooking and oversight responsibilities, I've also been called upon to speak with customers and handle some ordering and menu tweaks at the request of the chef de cuisine."

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