How to Answer the Top 10 Chef Interview Questions

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If you’re interviewing for a chef position, prepare to be asked a few standard questions. The questions listed below are the ones most commonly asked, as they will give a restaurant manager an idea of your experience, background, strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. The questions are fairly easy to answer, but investing a bit of time into preparing an answer can help you to give more effective answers:

1. Tell me about yourself?

Answer this question with a bit about your history as a chef, where you’ve worked, and what you think your strengths are in the kitchen. Say something like "I hold myself to the highest standards in every dish I prepare, as I know it makes the dining experience just that extra bit special for the customer."

2. Why did you leave your last job?

When answering this question, never say "I left because of a terrible boss" or anything negative to that effect. The key is to emphasise that you're not trying to "escape" your previous role, but rather that you want to work for your new prospective employer. Say something like, "I needed to find a place where I was properly challenged to reach my full potential."

If you got fired, meanwhile, spin it positively and try to emphasise the lessons you learned.

3. What are your strengths/weaknesses? 

For this question, make sure to play on your strengths, i.e. professional work, punctuality, cleanliness, etc., while downplaying your weaknesses or converting them into a "faux-strength". Say something like, "my standards are high, and I get very frustrated when those around me don’t apply the same commitment and dedication to their work."

4. Why do you want to work here?

Ultimately, your answer here depends on the role itself and your own individual reasons for applying; they could be anything from a good work environment, a desire to achieve certain career goals, or even an opportunity to make a difference in the kitchen. Feel free to lay it on thick with this question.

5. What are your career goals?

Speaking of career goals, expect to be asked about them; even if you don't have any. Keep them realistic, but at the same time let your interviewer know that you have some ambition; for instance, you might want to become an executive chef, or you might be looking for the experience you need to one day open your own restaurant.

You don’t want to give off the impression that you're going to jump ship at the earliest opportunity, but you do need to show that you are driven and that you have plans of achieving something.

6. Are you a team player?

For a job that is almost singularly reliant upon teamwork, the obvious answer to this question is "yes". You might have to give examples to prove it, so it’s best to prepare some, but it’s fine to keep this answer simple.

7. Tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it?

Whether it's a difficult customer or lazy employee, think of a situation that you handled well and use that as your example. It doesn't have to be directly applicable to the kitchen, but the skills you demonstrated in handling the situation should be transferable

8. When are you happiest at work?

Answer this question by saying something to the effect of "when the kitchen staff are working well as a team, the orders are going out on time and the customers are happy with their dining experience."

9. Are you able to handle pressure?

If you're a professional chef, then working effectively under pressure should come pretty naturally to you. Answer this with a simple "yes", or give them an example of when you succeeded at handling your kitchen and staying calm despite an overwhelming number or variety of orders.

10. What have you done to improve your skills in the last year?

From watching TV to studying books and taking courses, the very best chefs are always improving their skills. Let the manager know how you’re becoming a better cook.

The questions are all pretty easy to answer, so you have nothing to worry about as you head into your chef job interview!