Interview

15 Sous Chef Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a sous chef, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

A sous chef is an important member of any kitchen staff. They work under the head chef to ensure that all the food that leaves the kitchen is of the same high quality. They also manage the kitchen staff, creating a smooth workflow and making sure everyone has the tools they need to do their job.

If you’re a sous chef looking for a new job, you’ll likely need to go through a job interview. To help you prepare, we’ve put together a list of common sous chef interview questions and answers.

What experience do you have in the kitchen?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your background and experience. They want someone who is familiar with the kitchen environment, so they can focus on teaching you new things rather than basic skills. When answering this question, it’s important to be honest about your experience level. If you have no professional experience, explain what other types of cooking you’ve done in the past.

Example: “I worked as a line cook at a small restaurant for three years before coming here. I also cooked meals for my family every night when I was growing up, so I’m very comfortable in the kitchen. My favorite part of working in the kitchen is creating new dishes and experimenting with different ingredients.”

How would you describe your cooking style?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your personality and how you approach the kitchen. They want to know if you are a team player or someone who prefers to work alone. Your answer should show that you enjoy working with others, but also have some independence.

Example: “I would describe my cooking style as modern American cuisine. I like to use fresh ingredients and unique flavors to create dishes that surprise customers. I am always looking for new ways to prepare food, which is why I love learning from other chefs. I find inspiration in many different places, including restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets.”

What methods do you use to ensure that food is cooked properly and safely?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of food safety and quality control. Use examples from past experiences that show you have a strong understanding of how to keep the kitchen safe and clean, as well as how to ensure that food is prepared properly.

Example: “I use several methods to make sure that food is cooked safely and consistently. First, I always follow the recipe exactly when cooking in order to prevent any mistakes or errors. Second, I check all ingredients before using them to make sure they are fresh and free of defects. Finally, I use timers and temperature gauges to monitor the progress of each dish so I can adjust it if needed.”

What techniques do you use to make sure that food is presentation-ready?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your organizational skills and attention to detail. Use examples from past experiences where you used specific techniques or methods to make sure that food was ready for service.

Example: “I use a color-coded system to keep track of which foods are ready to be served, which need to be cooked and which ones I have already prepared. This helps me avoid serving the same dish twice and keeps my kitchen organized. Another method I use is labeling each plate with the corresponding food item so that I can quickly put together meals as they’re ordered.”

What would you do if there was a discrepancy between what was ordered and what was available in the kitchen?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you handle challenges and make decisions. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills, ability to communicate effectively and commitment to customer service.

Example: “If there was a discrepancy between what was ordered and what was available in the kitchen, I would first try to find out why this happened. If it was due to an error on my part or another chef’s part, I would apologize to the customers and offer them something else from our menu at no charge. If it was due to a change in the order that wasn’t communicated properly, I would ensure that the issue didn’t happen again by reinforcing proper communication protocols with all staff.”

Tell me about a time when you had to manage multiple tasks simultaneously in the kitchen.

This question can help the interviewer understand how you handle stress and pressure in a kitchen environment. Use examples from your previous experience to highlight your ability to multitask, prioritize tasks and manage time effectively.

Example: “In my last position as sous chef, I had to prepare multiple dishes at once while also managing the staff’s workflow. One day, we were short-staffed and I had to oversee all of the prep work for lunch service while also helping with dinner prep. It was challenging but I managed by delegating tasks to other members of the team and prioritizing which orders needed to be completed first.”

Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or challenging personality in the kitchen.

Employers ask this question to see how you handle conflict and challenging situations. They want to know that you can work well with others, even if they are difficult to get along with. In your answer, try to focus on the positive aspects of working with a challenging personality. Try to highlight any ways in which you helped them improve their behavior or attitude.

Example: “I once worked with a chef who was very demanding and critical. He would often yell at his staff members for small mistakes or oversights. I tried my best to ignore him when he yelled at me, but sometimes it was hard not to take what he said personally. Instead of getting upset, I focused on doing everything I could to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake again. Eventually, he started to notice that I wasn’t making as many mistakes and began treating me more kindly.”

How do you handle stress while working in the kitchen?

The kitchen is a high-pressure environment, and the sous chef needs to be able to handle stress well. Employers ask this question to make sure you have strategies for managing your emotions in stressful situations. In your answer, explain how you stay calm under pressure. Share one or two techniques that help you manage stress effectively.

Example: “I find deep breathing exercises to be very helpful when I’m stressed out. When things get hectic in the kitchen, it’s easy to forget to take a moment to breathe deeply. However, taking a few moments to focus on my breath can help me regain control of my emotions. Another strategy I use is positive self-talk. If I start to feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that I am capable of handling whatever situation arises.”

What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful sous chef?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your leadership skills and how you view the role of a sous chef. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention two or three qualities that are important to you and explain why they’re important.

Example: “I think one of the most important qualities for a successful sous chef is being organized. I know from experience that an unorganized kitchen can lead to many problems, so I make sure to keep all my notes in order and have everything ready before service starts. Another quality I think is important is communication. As a leader, it’s important to me that everyone knows what their responsibilities are and when they need to be completed by.”

What motivates you to do your best work in the kitchen?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your work ethic and how you stay motivated. They want to know that you’re passionate about the job and enjoy working in a kitchen environment. When preparing your answer, think of what motivates you to do your best at work. Consider mentioning some things that are important to you or that make you feel good about yourself.

Example: “I’m very passionate about cooking, so I always try my best because I love making people happy with delicious food. I also like to be efficient when working in the kitchen, so I take pride in completing tasks quickly while still maintaining quality. Another thing that motivates me is knowing that I can help others by providing them with healthy meals.”

What do you think sets your cooking apart from others?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your unique skills and talents. They want to know what makes you a valuable employee, so it’s important to highlight the qualities that make you stand out from other candidates. When answering this question, think of something specific that sets you apart from others in the kitchen. It can be an ingredient you use often or a cooking technique you’re particularly skilled at.

Example: “I think my ability to create new recipes is one of my best skills. I love experimenting with different ingredients and coming up with creative ways to prepare them. In my last role as sous chef, I created a new menu every month for our restaurant. My creativity helped me come up with some really delicious dishes.”

What are your plans for future development as a sous chef?

Employers want to know that you’re committed to your career and are looking for ways to improve yourself. They may ask this question to see if you have any plans to take on more responsibilities or attend culinary school. In your answer, explain what steps you plan to take in the future to grow as a chef. You can also mention any certifications you hope to earn.

Example: “I’m hoping to get my master’s degree in food science next year. I’ve been taking online courses through the local community college, but it will be challenging to balance work and school while getting my bachelor’s degree. After I finish my bachelor’s degree, I’ll be able to focus solely on my education without having to worry about work. I’d like to complete my master’s degree within two years so that I can start teaching classes at the university.”

What challenges do you think the role of sous chef presents?

This question can help interviewers understand how you approach challenges and the level of commitment you have to your work. When answering this question, it can be helpful to discuss a specific challenge you faced in your previous role as sous chef and how you overcame it.

Example: “The biggest challenge I think the role of sous chef presents is maintaining a balance between delegating tasks and giving clear instructions. As a leader, it’s important to delegate responsibilities so that team members feel empowered to make decisions on their own. However, sometimes delegating too much responsibility can lead to mistakes or incomplete projects. In my last position, I found that providing clear instructions with examples helped my team complete tasks more efficiently.”

What would you say is your greatest strength as a cook?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your personality and how you view yourself as a cook. They want someone who is confident in their abilities, but they also want someone who can be humble when necessary. When answering this question, think of something that you are proud of or that makes you unique.

Example: “My greatest strength as a cook is my ability to work under pressure. I have worked in many kitchens where the rush was intense, and I always managed to keep my cool and get everything out on time. I am able to multitask well and delegate tasks to other cooks so we all stay productive.”

Tell me about a time when you had to troubleshoot a problem in the kitchen.

Troubleshooting is an important skill for a sous chef to have. Employers ask this question to see if you can use your problem-solving skills in the kitchen and how you do it. Use examples from your previous experience that show you are capable of solving problems on your own.

Example: “When I was working as a sous chef at a restaurant, we had a rush of customers come in during our lunch rush. We were running low on some ingredients, so I had to figure out what to do. I asked my team members if they could help me find any more ingredients or if anyone knew where we could get more. One of my line cooks said he had some extra vegetables in his fridge at home. I told him to bring them in, and we used those ingredients to make new dishes.”

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