The Ultimate Guide to Conducting Chef Interviews: Key Questions and Tips

Whether you’re interviewing or conducting an interview, check out some common questions for hiring chef positions.

If you’re interviewing for a chef position soon, you may feel good about demonstrating your cooking and managing skills, but it’s also vital to be prepared for the interview questions that may come your way.

Professional Chef Man On Job Interview

The culinary industry is highly competitive, and the hiring manager will seek someone with the skills and experience necessary to succeed as a chef.

We’ll discuss the top chef interview questions asked by hiring managers and provide tips for answering them effectively.

Icebreaker Questions for Chefs

At the beginning of a chef interview, hiring managers may ask some icebreaker questions to create a relaxed and comfortable environment for both the interviewer and interviewee.

Portrait of Black Female Chef Talks, Teaches How to Cook Food

These questions may be personal or unrelated to the chef position, but they can be an opportunity to show your personality and interests outside of the kitchen.

These questions may not relate directly to the position’s necessary skill sets, but they can help break the ice and make you feel more comfortable during the interview.

Remember to keep your responses professional but authentic to showcase your passion for food and cooking.

Your responses to icebreaker questions can also help build a rapport with the hiring manager and create a positive first impression.

So, it’s essential to approach these questions with enthusiasm and professionalism to set the tone for the rest of the interview.

Some potential icebreaker questions for chefs include:

  • How did you learn about this position?
  • What was the impetus behind becoming a chef? What, or who inspired you?
  • What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever created?
  • What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and why?
  • What’s your favorite restaurant in this town?
  • What’s the most exciting culinary experience you’ve had?
  • What unique experiences have you had in the culinary world?
  • Have you ever created a signature dish for a special occasion or event?
  • Do you prefer savory or sweet dishes, and why?

Chef Skill Assessment Questions

After the “softball” questions, the hiring manager will likely ask you more specific questions about your experience and skills to appropriately assess your abilities.

Interview by restaurant manager

These types of questions can vary depending on the specific chef position, but the hiring manager tends to inquire about the experience of working with certain ingredients, techniques, or restaurant environments.

They may also ask about the candidate’s ability to manage a kitchen staff, their knowledge of restaurant safety and sanitation regulations, and their understanding of food costing and menu development.

Finally, they could ask about your training and education to gauge your knowledge of culinary techniques and ingredients.

Here are some potential chef skill assessment questions:

  • Can you describe your experience working in a fast-paced kitchen environment?
  • What culinary training or education have you received?
  • Can you walk us through your approach to menu planning for a restaurant?
  • How do you ensure your recipes are creative, balanced, and cater to customers’ tastes?
  • How do you ensure food is prepared to the highest quality and safety standards?
  • What experience do you have working with various cooking techniques, such as grilling or sous vide?
  • How do you prioritize your tasks and manage your time in a hectic, busy kitchen?
  • Can you share an example of a time when you had to manage multiple orders simultaneously and how you dealt with it?
  • How do you stay current with food trends and techniques? Can you describe a recent dish you created that incorporated a new technique or ingredient you learned?

Problem-Solving Questions for Chefs

As a chef, knowing how to make a tasty dish isn’t enough.

a chef and apprentices

Problem-solving skills are essential as you may encounter various issues in the kitchen requiring quick thinking and efficient decision-making.

For this reason, the hiring manager may ask you specific problem-solving questions during the chef job interview to evaluate your ability to handle challenges and find practical solutions in high-pressure situations.

The hiring manager may present you with hypothetical scenarios and ask how you would respond to a particular problem.

To answer these questions effectively, you must provide a clear and concise explanation of your problem-solving approach, outlining your thought process and the steps you would take to resolve the issue.

Here are some chef interview questions related to problem-solving:

  • What would you do if an ingredient you needed was out of stock?
  • How would you respond if a dish is not coming out correctly?
  • How would you handle it if customers complained about the food?
  • How would you coordinate with the kitchen staff and your sous chef during busy hours at the restaurant?
  • How do you manage labor costs while maintaining the quality of the food? Can you share an example of a time when you had to make budget cuts in the kitchen, and how did you do it?
  • What would you do if one of the kitchen staff members was not performing up to expectations?
  • How would you keep the energy alive during a slow day in the kitchen?
  • What would you do if a dish was not cooked correctly and you had to serve it anyway?
  • How would you ensure the kitchen staff is following safety protocols?
  • How would you handle it if kitchen equipment malfunctioned during service?

What Should I Say in a Chef Interview?

In today’s competitive culinary industry, having a degree from a reputable culinary school can make a difference in securing a chef job interview.

young beautiful smiling woman chef

However, hiring managers also look for practical experience and skills, especially when filling executive chef positions.

When answering interview questions, it’s important to be confident and enthusiastic about your experience and skills, whether you learned them in school or through work experience. 

Additionally, highlighting your leadership skills and problem-solving abilities can demonstrate your potential as an executive chef.

When responding to questions during a chef job interview, it’s also important to use specific examples to showcase your abilities and accomplishments.

Also, be honest about your limitations and areas where you are looking to improve, but also emphasize your passion for food and the industry.

Remember that effective communication is essential in the kitchen, so demonstrating good communication skills during the interview can also make a positive impression on hiring managers.

In summary, here are the crucial tips for interviewing for a chef position:

  • Be honest: Don’t exaggerate your experience or skills. Be honest about what you know and what you’re capable of.
  • Be specific: Provide specific examples of your experience and skills when answering questions, and remember that you’re seeing whether you’d be a good fit for the role as well.
  • Be enthusiastic: Show enthusiasm for the culinary industry and the specific restaurant or service you’re applying for.
  • Be confident: Speak confidently and clearly when answering questions.
  • Ask questions: Be prepared to ask questions of your own, such as about the kitchen’s culture or the types of dishes you’ll be expected to prepare.
  • Be on time: The hiring manager needs to know that you are reliable, as you’ll need to show up well ahead of time for busy shifts.
  • Highlight your leadership qualities: Emphasize how your leadership qualities can help you manage kitchen staff, plan menus and ensure customer satisfaction.
  • Emphasize your creativity: Many people can make a tasty dish. Showcase any creative dishes or initiatives you’ve implemented that set your work apart from others in the industry.


As you prepare for your head chef interview, you may have some lingering questions about what to expect during the hiring process.

Chef Interview In the Office

To help set your mind at ease and ensure you’re fully prepared, here are our answers to two commonly asked questions.

What are the three skills needed to be a chef?

Three essential skills for chefs include:
1) Culinary expertise
2) Time management and organization
3) Teamwork and leadership

What kind of questions are asked in chef interviews?

Chef interviews may cover various topics related to a candidate’s experience and skills. Some common chef interview questions revolve around the candidate’s background, specific style and techniques, planning and management skills, and problem-solving skills.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.