Interviews for chef jobs often take the form of a working interview. This type of interview can take many forms including an on the job trial. This can be daunting but is also a great opportunity to see first-hand how well you would fit into your potential new job.
While the procedure might be a little different from a traditional job interview, there are still basics that are crucial to interview success. Don’t be late, look presentable with hair tied back, clean nails and shoes and maintain a polite and professional demeanour at all times.
When you get asked to come for a trial ask for as much information as you can. What should I wear? or Should I bring my own knives? might sound like trivial, even silly, questions but the Head Chef will appreciate that you care enough to ask and knowing the right answer will mean you trial will get off on the right foot and you don’t start the shift stressed out looking for a spare knife!
Research the restaurant/ hotel- the menu, the reviews, their social media platforms. Having as much information as possible and understanding the business, the type of food served, how it’s presented etc. before you even start your trial will help ease your nerves and means you can hit the ground running when you get into the kitchen.
Keep Your Eyes Open
The Head Chef will take you on a tour of the kitchen before you start working and introduce you to fellow Chefs. This is an excellent opportunity to understand the culture of the kitchen and also learn where everything you will need on your trial, like ingredients or utensils are kept. Take in as much as you can, it will save time later and try to call fellow Chefs by their names. It will leave a positive impression that you will fit quickly and it will make asking questions easier.
Be On Your Toes
Wash your hands the minute you enter the kitchen. Although this should be really obvious, kitchen jitters may get the better of you. Don’t forget to do this often. As soon as the Head Chef assigns you a work station, wash it and prepare whatever tools you need. Clean continuously throughout the shift.
Ask questions, it’s easier to ask someone rather than presume something, get it wrong and have to do something again or wander around the kitchen looking for utensils, wasting time. Take note of the answers and don’t ask the same questions repeatedly. Again, the Head Chef will take note of your initiative and your ability to adapt quickly.
Understand how long a particular task should take you and focus on completing it in that timeframe. Work as speedily as you can but remember the quality of your end product is more important than the time you did it in. Taking a bit longer to complete a job is better than trying to show the Chef how fast you can work and end up with a product that cannot be served. Ask the Chef specifically how he/she wants things prepared or served. Immediately after you finish a job, clean down your section and ask what else you can help with.
The number one rule- do not stand around and do nothing. Show initiative and an eagerness to work hard and be helpful.
Remember that this trial is a two way street. The trial is about figuring whether you are a good fit for the kitchen, and whether the kitchen is a good fit for you. Do you like the culture and policies, could you see yourself working here?