Interviews for a job of a cook are typically straightforward. The restaurant owner (or the restaurant manager) will ask you a few basic personal questions, and, in some cases, you will deal with a few behavioral questions. We will look at them in this article.

Third part of the hiring process consists in a test day, or in a practical test of your cooking skills, which can be done right in an interview. They will give you the ingredients and ask you to prepare a certain dish, either of your own choice (from the given ingredients), or they will give you a recipe and ask you to follow it.

Such a test helps them to evaluate your readiness for the job, to see how fast you can chop and cut, and how easy you move around the kitchen. Needless to say, they will try the food afterwards, to evaluate your cooking skills. If it tastes bad, you can forget about the job. In some cases (luxury restaurants and hotel restaurants) they may ask the job applicants to prepare an entire menu as a part of the interview, consisting from starter, soup, main course and a simple desert. Let’s have a look at the questions you will deal with.


Tell me something about your experience

Talk about your cooking experience with enthusiasm, and love. They should feel that you enjoy your job, and do not apply just because you can’t get any better position. List all cuisines and dishes you have experience with, and if you have any references from your former employers, show them to the restaurant manager.

You can also say that you believe that your cooking experience (and it doesn’t matter if you cooked in ten restaurants, or just for your own family and friends) prepared you for the job with them. Show some confidence.


Why do you apply for a job with our restaurant? Many places around look for a cook.

In truth, many restaurants will look for a cook at any given time. For a good cook. I suggest you to be honest in this case–perhaps the place is near, or you like the atmosphere, or their salary offer is slightly better than the one of their competitors.

In an ideal case though, you should refer to something that distinguishes them from their competition. For example, if it is a vegetarian restaurant, you can say that you believe in the healthy benefits of vegetarian cuisine, and that’s the reason why you prefer to work for them.

Are there any dishes you struggle to prepare?

Do not try to pretend perfection, since it may easily backfire. If you struggle with preparing some dishes, or following certain recipes, tell them the truth.

At the same time, however, you should ensure them that you are eager to learn, and will do you best to learn how to prepare any dishes of their choice.

* May also interest you: Chef interview questions.


What are your salary expectations?

In my experience, many cooks have unrealistic salary expectations. What is more, most restaurants will not advertise the salary on their job offer, so it hard to guess what they are ready to offer you.

Considering the place, the price of food, and the capacity of the restaurant, you should be able to estimate the amount of money you can earn. In average, cooks earn about $27,000 annually, in the United States.

The bigger and more prestigious the place, however, the more you can ask for. Have a look at our salary negotiation tips to learn how to get what you deserve.


When can you start working?

When a restaurant looks for a cook, typically they want to hire them immediately. These places are not good in planning manpower, and they typically start looking for a new cook when they already urgently need one.

Bearing this is mind, you should show some flexibility. If possible, tell them that you can come the very next morning to start your training, or even to perform the job.


Special Tip: Download a full list of questions in .PDF format, and practice with it later, before the start of your interview:


Why did you leave your last job?

Try to avoid negative remarks about your former colleagues and employers. Of course, if something serious happened, for example if they did not pay you for your labor, you should claim this as a reason for leaving your former employer.

But you can also say that you weren’t happy in the place anymore, that you needed a change, or basically that you look to try working for another type of dining facility (bistro, restaurant, hotel restaurant, fast food, etc).


Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.

Job of a cook can be stressful, especially when the workload is heavy. We all experienced the following situation, either from the position of a cook, or from the position of a restaurant guest: The assistant cook didn’t come to work, and all the guests come to eat their lunch at exactly the same hour. Not an easy situation for the main cook.

Nevertheless, you should say that even in then most difficult situation you try to stay calm, and do your best to manage the work, and prepare the dishes as quickly as possible. Ensure them that you won’t crack under pressure.

* Special Tip: Questions that examine your conduct in difficult situations in the past ace called behavioral questions. You may face some of them in your cook interview. Learn how to answer each one checking the following post: Behavioral interview questions.


What would you do if someone complained about the quality of food?

Guests will typically complain to the waitresses, or they will ask the staff to call the restaurant manager. But they may still complain about the quality of food–that’s typically the main complaint, and that’s your responsibility.

Ensure the manager that you plan to take feedback of guests very seriously, and would not mind walking out of the kitchen and personally apologizing to the guest.

Nobody is perfect, and even the best cook can have an off day. Restaurant managers do not expect you to cook the best food in the world every day. But they want to hire people who have the right attitude to their job, and who care for the reputation of the restaurant.

Ready to ace your interview? Not yet? Continue your preparation with – Your best job interview coach since 2011:

Matthew Chulaw
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