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interview questions

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

What questions would you ask a sous chef candidate during a telephone interview?

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #2 of 20

I'm curious as to why it's a phone interview. Is the candidate from out of town? How much do you already know about them? 

I think I'd ask general questions like why they want to work in this particular place and have them tell me a little about their background. 

I have only done one phone interview and i hated it. Over the phone I just want to know when I can come down and talk to you. 

post #3 of 20

I remember the words of one of my friends.
Calm down a bit & Be loyal!!! Make yourself familiar with the average food cost percentages.

post #4 of 20

Chefwriter, I often do phone interviews as an initial step in the hiring process.  I'm not going to waste my time in an in-person interview (I can do 5-6 phone interviews in the time it takes to do a single in-person interview) if the candidate has no chance of being hired by me.  It's a great way to screen out people that don't have what you are looking for.

 

Also, in my current position, I often deal with people who don't live in town so it saves time for both of us to do an initial phone screen.  I am also always on the lookout for people for other units.  I might get a resume that is for someone way overqualified for the position I have open.  I will often do a phone screening to see what they are looking for, where their interests lie, the ability to relocate.  If I have a positive screening I will forward the information over to my boss

post #5 of 20

Keep the questions short, hoping the answers and long. 

 

1: What is your definition of a Sous Chef ?........Make sure their definition meets yours.

 

2: What kind of experience do you have in Leadership and managing people ?

 

3: What is more important, Food cost or Quality of food% ?.......Trick question! 

 

4: Whats more important your child's birthday party or an emergency call that you have to go to work ASAP ?

 

5: What is the most important aspect to you being happy in your job ? 

 

6: How would you motivate your employees to preform at a high level everyday ?

 

7: As the Chef I am responsible for all aspects of how the kitchen preforms. In the end the quality of the food and how our employees preform are a direct reflection of me. ........?, can you take my vision and manage my kitchen at a high level at all times.

post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post

... 4: Whats more important your child's birthday party or an emergency call that you have to go to work ASAP ? ...

How would you respond if the candidate answers that the birthday party is more important? I suspect most candidates would lean toward the latter response in an interview.

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeabeeCook View Post
 

How would you respond if the candidate answers that the birthday party is more important? I suspect most candidates would lean toward the latter response in an interview.


Birthday parties can wait. An Emergency can't wait. His or her answer will let you know what their priorities are. If the Chef is out of town and a sewer back up into the kitchen do you want to hear your Sous can't come in because it's their kids birthday party ??? This makes the Sous think if he or she is ready for this kind of Commitment.

post #8 of 20
That's an incredibly unfair question to ask a candidate during an interview. Something to keep in mind is that an interview runs both ways, and if that question had ever been asked to me long ago when I looked at places to be employed, it would have told me that I didn't want to work there.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagom View Post

That's an incredibly unfair question to ask a candidate during an interview. Something to keep in mind is that an interview runs both ways, and if that question had ever been asked to me long ago when I looked at places to be employed, it would have told me that I didn't want to work there.

IMHO...

Remember too that people can be anything they want in a telephone interview. They can answer all the right questions and say whatever you are looking for them to say.

Only seeing them in front of you while to speak with them is the only way to ascertain who and what they are.

post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

IMHO...

Remember too that people can be anything they want in a telephone interview. They can answer all the right questions and say whatever you are looking for them to say.

Only seeing them in front of you while to speak with them is the only way to ascertain who and what they are.

 

Chefross I totally agree, but it can be an effective tool as a first step in the interview process, helping to narrow down the list of candidates before you invest the time in face to face interviews.  And yes, I admit that a phone interview can miss things, but then again so can an in person interview.  I would never consider hiring someone on a phone interview alone.

post #11 of 20

Pete, What questions do you ask in a phone interview? I'm curious because as I posted, I've only done one but that was in house and done for corporate purposes. 

 

I'll relate this story as I think it illustrates both sides.

     I was looking to hire a waitress. The first caller wanted to know when a good time would be for her to come down and talk. 

I told her the first thing was to come down and fill out an application. Without a completed application there was nothing to talk about. After inquiring about our location, she related that her brother had once worked nearby but then couldn't seem to grasp the directions I was giving her and also repeated her desire to talk to me at an appropriate time. I had to mention the application process three times before she agreed to come down the following day any time after 7am.. 

     About an hour later I received a second call. 

Caller-"I was calling to ask if you are hiring".

Me-Yes, you just need to fill out an application."

Caller-"Would 9am tomorrow be alright?" 

Me-"That would be fine." 

Caller-"Thank you. See you tomorrow". 

     Promptly at 9am, the second caller showed up, filled out the application while I was cooking and prepared to leave. I called her into the kitchen, looked the application over and told her she had the job. 

With a surprised look, she said "But don't you want to talk to interview me first?". 

"There's no need", I replied. "This entire job consists of you following my simple instructions. My first instruction was to fill out the application. You showed up when you said you would, dressed like you are looking for work and did what I asked. From the completed application I know you can follow simple instructions and read and write. That's all I need to know."

    About half an hour before closing, caller number one showed up, dressed more for an art gallery opening than a job interview with her voluminous hair unrestrained. After introducing herself, she waved an empty application around while stating, 

"I haven't filled out the application yet because I was wondering when a good time was for us to sit down and talk". 

After being told the job had been filled she mentioned that she lived 45 minutes away, did not have a reliable car and would only have been able to work weekends. 

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagom View Post

That's an incredibly unfair question to ask a candidate during an interview. Something to keep in mind is that an interview runs both ways, and if that question had ever been asked to me long ago when I looked at places to be employed, it would have told me that I didn't want to work there.


When I was younger I thought it was a stupid question. Then I thought about it in later years and realized that the person wanted to know if I was management material. You see a real manage knows that business is unyielding. The question is meant to make people think if they really want the responsibilities of always being on call and available. The way you reacted is more of how a line cook would react. All they want is to work their shift and be done. A owner/manager or chefs job doesn't end by a tick of the clock. Your answer to this question would tell me I wouldn't want you to take the position.......No one said business is fair!

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post
 


Birthday parties can wait. An Emergency can't wait. His or her answer will let you know what their priorities are. If the Chef is out of town and a sewer back up into the kitchen do you want to hear your Sous can't come in because it's their kids birthday party ??? This makes the Sous think if he or she is ready for this kind of Commitment.


I agree in a real emergency. In that case, the sous most likely should go in, if nothing else to direct the cleanup and ensure the kitchen is ready to safely serve food. Why, in your scenario, would the sous chef have a day off when the chef is on vacation? I'd think the sous would be working anyway, birthday or not.

 

This is a tough business to find balance between family and work. I'm no stranger to being ordered into work as a retired sailor and former correctional food manager. The Navy and state prisons have ways of convincing you that it's in your best interest to come in regardless of what's going on in your personal life. I missed my daughter's eight birthday because we were getting ready to deploy for Operation Dessert Storm, along with any number of other Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays, etc. However, I once called in sick at my prison job after being denied the day off for our anniversary. My wife went into false labor that morning (our second child was born two weeks later). I would've done the same thing in a restaurant.

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeabeeCook View Post
 


I agree in a real emergency. In that case, the sous most likely should go in, if nothing else to direct the cleanup and ensure the kitchen is ready to safely serve food. Why, in your scenario, would the sous chef have a day off when the chef is on vacation? I'd think the sous would be working anyway, birthday or not.

 

This is a tough business to find balance between family and work. I'm no stranger to being ordered into work as a retired sailor and former correctional food manager. The Navy and state prisons have ways of convincing you that it's in your best interest to come in regardless of what's going on in your personal life. I missed my daughter's eight birthday because we were getting ready to deploy for Operation Dessert Storm, along with any number of other Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays, etc. However, I once called in sick at my prison job after being denied the day off for our anniversary. My wife went into false labor that morning (our second child was born two weeks later). I would've done the same thing in a restaurant.


Seabee, When I was 18 to 26 years old I just wanted to work, and play. When I started in the restaurant business I realized I had to give up somethings to get what I want. As I moved up in management I had to be the one who gave up some family life in order to give my family a chance to have a better life. Then I thought it's really up to me to find balance. I need to find a way so I can have both work and family. 

   The scenario doesn't doesn't matter. The point is, business is unyielding, almost everything else is. I'm not asking someone to leave the death bed of their mother. I'm saying It's up to me to make sure the situation is taken care of so the business doesn't get hurt. I have run my business and managed other peoples business with the attitude that the job will get down. Excuses are fine, but, excuses are something that happens after the damage is done......If looks like you have been put in this situation many times. I commend you for how you reacted. I would want a person with your character in my Fox hole.

post #15 of 20

  My answer to question 4: "I have a kid?! Hold on, lemme call you back!" *Starts calling ex-girlfriends*

 

  Honestly though, I can't have a good time at a social event if I know I'm needed at work, I particularly hate going to a party before work. I did this once at a crawfish boil and didn't have fun because it was for my best friend's return from Iraq, and felt like I had to be so reserved around friends from childhood because I couldn't drink or even get dirty eating crawfish. Work that night was a buzz kill until we got busy. I wish I hadn't gone and just went out after work.

 

  If its your child I guess it's more along the lines of a responsibility, I mean what if your a single parent and can't trust anyone to watch your child and other children after the event has started. Canceling an event is one thing, getting a call where you're asked to ditch responsibility for other people's kids is another. 

 

  Defining an emergency is this case is also relevant. Its one thing if the sous isn't in to expo tickets on the pass on a slow night even though there usually is an expo that night, versus (This happened at a place I worked) The lighting rigs fell off the ceiling 16 feet up onto our middle prep tables, shattering the florescent bulbs in an explosion that put glass into every nook in the kitchen (Some poor waiter's face too).  All our lines were open and uncovered, fryer exposed, prep was being done on every inch of SS table available. 45 minutes till service. That's an emergency! The chef was out of town and all hands were already on deck as it was a friday night. We had to throw away all exposed food being preped, every plastic deep pan on the lines away, restock and remake what we could, throw all the fryer oil away and clean and reset it, wash all the plates, etc etc etc. Opened 30 minutes late with a line around the block. Even if we had a Sous who wasn't in, it could take 30 minutes or more from the moment called in. At that point whats the difference when one person is called in for the last 15 minutes of such a crisis, nil.

 

  This is too loaded of a question to answer with anything other than "As long as I don't have to break the law to get to work, I'll be there" not literally that way, but you catch my drift.


Edited by NewOrleansCookJ - 2/11/16 at 4:24am
post #16 of 20

I'll have to agree that defining an "emergency" is important for me to give an answer.  Restaurants seem to be ripe for daily challenges. The dishwasher not showing up is not an emergency. Unable to find anymore of a product or getting an unexpectedly large table is not an emergency. A broken door lock, leaking roof, backed up sewer pipe or other situation that threatens to cause great harm to the restaurant is an emergency. 

     Some places are run in constant crisis mode, so any event is a potential disaster. I think if asked the question, my response might be something like "Do you have frequent emergencies?" 

A well run operation should have daily activities well in hand and plans in place for most unexpected issues. Posting a list of phone numbers for approved repair people I found to be very helpful in mitigating emergencies like refrigeration problems and plumbing issues. Providing temporary authority to another employee in my absence to make the necessary decisions is another solution. 

So as a manager I would work to make sure that there are systems in place and the staff have been trained to handle most challenging situations without the need for me to come in unexpectedly. 

Naturally I will come in for an emergency. Then I'll work to lessen the chance it ever happens again. 

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post
 

Keep the questions short, hoping the answers and long. 

 

1: What is your definition of a Sous Chef ?........Make sure their definition meets yours.

 

2: What kind of experience do you have in Leadership and managing people ?

 

3: What is more important, Food cost or Quality of food% ?.......Trick question! 

 

4: Whats more important your child's birthday party or an emergency call that you have to go to work ASAP ?

 

5: What is the most important aspect to you being happy in your job ? 

 

6: How would you motivate your employees to preform at a high level everyday ?

 

7: As the Chef I am responsible for all aspects of how the kitchen preforms. In the end the quality of the food and how our employees preform are a direct reflection of me. ........?, can you take my vision and manage my kitchen at a high level at all times.

 

 

Chef...this is all great stuff...the questions are to the point.

 

Pete...........I reflect back on your comment about telephone interviews.  I believe this is another example of the dumbing down of America.

 

Telephone interviews as a first meeting I am okay with, but I am not okay with conducting interview questions such as the examples from ChefBillyB.

 

I can see that these question are spot on and asking them is the proper and correct questions to ask; however, I do not support the idea that they should be asked over the phone.

I need to see the face, the body language, the expressions, the hesitation, etc.....

 

Furthermore, I reflect on my past experiences and recall how the term Sous Chef is so misunderstood, that a likely candidate would be blown away by the complexity of these questions.

If you are a Sous, you should by definition have the ability to take control of the kitchen just as the Chef would if he were there.

 

Sure slap the name Sous on the guy, but chances are, unless, they have the experience would fail miserably.

I still maintain that a simple introductory phone interview is okay, but I still need to talk face to face with the applicant. 

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

 

 

Chef...this is all great stuff...the questions are to the point.

 

Pete...........I reflect back on your comment about telephone interviews.  I believe this is another example of the dumbing down of America.

 

Telephone interviews as a first meeting I am okay with, but I am not okay with conducting interview questions such as the examples from ChefBillyB.

 

I can see that these question are spot on and asking them is the proper and correct questions to ask; however, I do not support the idea that they should be asked over the phone.

I need to see the face, the body language, the expressions, the hesitation, etc.....

 

Furthermore, I reflect on my past experiences and recall how the term Sous Chef is so misunderstood, that a likely candidate would be blown away by the complexity of these questions.

If you are a Sous, you should by definition have the ability to take control of the kitchen just as the Chef would if he were there.

 

Sure slap the name Sous on the guy, but chances are, unless, they have the experience would fail miserably.

I still maintain that a simple introductory phone interview is okay, but I still need to talk face to face with the applicant. 


Chef, your spot on! You can't ask any questions unless you know the Quality and requirements of the kitchen that he/she is being hire for. As we all know a Chef in one restaurant wouldn't even be qualified to shine the shoes of another Chef. In order to ask the questions I posted here it would be a high level Sous position. I'm talking about a house that the Chef is making 120 to150K a year. The Sous position would come in at from 65 to 75K. If I was hiring for this caliber of Sous I would expect them to answer those question. The Sous in a lot of restaurants is that person that thinks their moving up in the world but in reality is one step higher than a front line cook. They are also being paid a few dollars more for being on salary while working a 60hr week. If I were to look at the Sous position now, I would cringe at the thought of being worked to hell and doing all the work and paid less than a line cook. I remember moving up in this business, it took a lot of walking through the manure field before I got to the rose garden........


Edited by ChefBillyB - 2/11/16 at 1:31pm
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

 

 

Pete...........I reflect back on your comment about telephone interviews.  I believe this is another example of the dumbing down of America.

 

 

Please explain.  I don't see how doing an initial phone screen is a dumbing down of anything.  It is just one step in the process.

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post
 

 

Please explain.  I don't see how doing an initial phone screen is a dumbing down of anything.  It is just one step in the process.

And so it goes that we give out awards for just showing up.

There are no losers.

 

Pete...time was that when you were looking for a job, you put on your Sunday best clothes, combed your hair, and walked, drove or took a bus, to go for an interview.

You looked the boss in the eye and sold yourself. You didn't lie or cheat, or BS your way through the interview.

 

Now-a-days we have classes on how to create the perfect resume.

We have ads that proclaim the 10 best things you can do to get "that" job.

 

We have people who actually believe that what they see on television IS the real world...doesn't matter if its Kitchen Nightmares or The Bachelor.

 

People believe this crap. My point is that our culture has changed to accommodate the changing times, and personally, I believe it is a dumbing down in that society moves so fast now that the boss has no time to evaluate an applicant and must do so in steps, (hence the initial phone interview).

Now don't misunderstand me.

We still have people knocking on the kitchen door to ask if the Chef is available for an interview, but it seems like life has become so complicated that certain things have to be made more difficult rather than easy.

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