Executive Chef Interview Questions
Much of what you’re looking for in your new Executive Chef won’t be on his or her resume. These interview questions are written to help you evaluate important attributes, such as leadership skills, resourcefulness, and business savvy. A seasoned chef should be able to build, train and supervise a team of cooks, establish relationships with food vendors, and design a menu that factors in the cost and availability of ingredients. Chefs are responsible for hiring their own team and purchasing ingredients, so they should keep a close eye on the budget and make adjustments if necessary.
Above all, a restaurant is a hospitality environment, and the chef you hire should be highly involved in creating a positive experience for your customers. Questions such as “how would you handle special diets?” or “how would you deal with a disappointed customer?” will tell you a lot about a candidate’s willingness to provide a high level of customer service.
Depending on the type of establishment you have, there may be other things you’re looking for, such as expertise in a specific cuisine or experience with a specific type of customer. You can tailor these questions accordingly. Ideally, your candidates will have already taken these factors into account and will be prepared with questions that show that they have a strong understanding of who you’re looking to hire. They will also be able to speak at length about any relevant or notable achievements at previous establishments.
Operational and Situational questions
- Describe the training that you have and how it relates to this position.
- In your experience, how does food cost factor into menu creation?
- What is your involvement with Purchasing and Receiving?
- List some of your favorite food vendors and why you like to with them.
- What foods do you like to pair together and why?
- How does your winter menu differ from your spring menu?
- How do you control the quality of the food that goes out to customers?
- How do you take ownership over customers’ experience of your restaurant?
- What do you do when customers request ingredient substitutions?
- How do you handle special diets (such as gluten free diets)?
- Recall a time you handled a situation with a disappointed customer.
- How do you keep labor costs under control?
- Describe your approach to hiring staff. What do you look for?
- Recall a time that you fired someone. Why did you do it?
- How involved are you in managing your cooks?
- Describe your experience with multicultural and multilingual teams.
- Recall a time you resolved a conflict with a difficult employee.
- Recall someone who you have trained or mentored. Where did they start? Where are they now?
- How would you improve our establishment?