Regardless of what happens in the world, in terms of economy, pandemic, and politics, people will always have to eat. And someone will have to prepare the food, doesn’t matter if we are allowed to eat in a restaurant, or can only order the food delivery from home. What I try to say here is that jobs in a kitchen are here to stay. Maybe it isn’t your dream career, but at least you can be sure you’ll get your wage, month after month, and won’t end up unable to pay your bills or meet a similar fate. Let’s have a look at an interview for this job.

Kitchen helper is an entry level position, and they won’t torture you with any difficult behavioral questions. On the contrary, you can expect basic questions about your motivation, availability, skills, and perhaps about your attitude to some situations that may happen in a busy kitchen on any day. As a rule of a thumb, as long as you demonstrate some motivation and willingness to work hard, they will hire you. Let’s have a look at the questions now, one by one.

 

Why do you want to work as a kitchen helper?

Try to be honest, but at the same time find something positive about the job. Sure, kitchen helper isn’t a job you dreamed of having as a kid. But you generally enjoy working in a kitchen, can clean dishes quickly, and considering your lack of working experience, it is perhaps one of the better jobs you can realistically get.

What’s more, considering the uncertain times we live in, when many people lose jobs and factories are closing down, job of a kitchen helper offers good level of job security. People will always order food and eat–even if they cannot go outside. You have bills to pay every month, and are looking for a job which offers some degree of job security.

 

Tell us more about your experience working in a kitchen.

Anything is better than nothing, Maybe you haven’t had a job in a restaurant before. But you are from a big family, and had to help a lot at home. Washing dishes, peeling potatoes, cleaning the kitchen–it all belonged to your daily chores. You are aware the demands of the job will be even much higher, and you’ll have to work fast, and cooperate with cooks and other staff members in the process. But you feel ready to do it.

If you had a real job in a kitchen before, try to avoid negative remarks about your former colleagues. Simply explain what you did, how many hours you worked each day, principal duties, the way the kitchen was organized (how many cooks, assistants, helpers shared the workplace with you). You should also explain why you left the job, because if you don’t they will ask. Narrating your experience, make sure to show some enthusiasm for this type of work. They shouldn’t get an impression that you hate working in a kitchen, and apply for the position only because you cannot get anything better.

Tell us about your experience working in a fast-paced environment.

This one is a bit harder. Most kitchens (at least places which hire assistants) are fast-paced. Speed and precision are equally important, and the cooks prefer to get from you a semi-clean frying pan NOW, than a super clean one in two minutes. I’m not saying it is right or wrong, just observe how it works in 90% of busy kitchens…

Think about any other jobs you had, even part time. Fast food places, assembly line, big retail store. Most of such places are fast-paced, and saying that you handled the workload, and meet your goals at work, demonstrates that you are ready to work in such a place. When applying for your first-ever job (of first-ever in a fast-paced environment), ensure them that you know you’ll have to work quickly, there won’t be many breaks, and you feel confident to handle the workload.

 

What is your availability?

Two things to consider here: First one, people have to eat also on holidays, and many places serving food are open 7 days a week. Second one, many jobs for kitchen helpers are part time jobs. So, if you apply for a part time role in a kitchen, make sure to prepare a schedule for your normal week. You should be able to clearly explain when you are at school or have other obligations, and when you can work for them. Do not forget to include at least certain hours during weekends.

If you apply for a full time kitchen helper job, make sure to show some flexibility. You’d prefer working during the week only–like everyone else. But you also understand their place is open 7 days of the week (if that’s the case), and someone has to help the cooks on Sunday as well. Hence you do not mind taking some weekend shifts. The key is to show that you are ready to sacrifice something for the job.

 

One of the cooks screams at you, accusing you of working slowly. How will you react?

Things can easily escalate in a kitchen, especially during peak hours. Emotions run high, and people say nasty things. It does happen anywhere, including five star hotels and Michelin restaurants. Ensure the hiring managers that you won’t take such words personally. And you won’t start arguing with the cook. You may explain (briefly, in order to not waste time) why you cannot work more quickly, but then you will simply continue trying your best.

When the workload eases and heads cool down, you may have a conversation with a cook, or even with the manager. Because you try to foster good relationships with your colleagues, and outbursts of anger do not belong to a modern workplace. So it is important to talk about the situation, explain what happens, and make sure it won’t repeat again…

 

Five other questions you may face while interviewing for a job of a kitchen helper

  • How long do you want to work as a kitchen helper? Where do you see yourself in three years from now?
  • How do you feel about doing a 12 hour long shift?
  • One of your colleagues does not come to work, and you are the only one helper in the kitchen on a busy day. How will you react?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Why should we hire you for this job?

 

Final thoughts

A typical interview for a job of a kitchen helper belongs to interviews with an easy difficulty. As long as you show some enthusiasm for the job, and readiness for the demands of working in a busy fast-paced kitchen, they will give you a chance to prove your words in work. I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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