The ChefsProfessional site holds an extensive interviewing guide, which will be transferred to this blog at some future date. For an in depth discussion of interviewing you might visit it. For those with a shorter attention span, here are a few thoughts that should guide you through your interview.
1) An interview is not an oral test, although you may be asked to show some knowledge. It is a meeting of two professionals to determine whether they will both benefit from their respective resources – knowledge and work for compensation and work environment.
2) Regardless of the results of the interview, you will have the opportunity to meet another professional in the business and learn more. This pertains to both sides. The person sitting across you may be a future employer, or, if you do not work for her, a friend or colleague at a later time.
3) The interviewer wants to assess your knowledge and level of professional conduct more than he wants to hear about your personal opinions and feelings– unless these pertain to the business. Avoid the temptation to share too much.
4) Be yourself. If you can’t do something, say so. You are free to respond more than yes or no to questions. A smart interviewer is watching for you to “break out” – to expound on the question. A good interview is actually a discussion.
5) The interviewer wants to like you. Really. It’s not an ambush. If it is, you don’t want to work there.
6) Tell the truth. Own to your shortcomings and mistakes (we all have them). Never profess confidence in something you are not confident about. Nobody expects perfection, or, if they do, you probably won’t be happy working for them. (See nr. 5)
7) Don’t smack talk anyone. Nobody! Let go of your anger before you enter the interview room. Whatever happened at the last job, no matter how miserable, has ended or is about to end. If you worked for evil people, they are no longer your problem. Period.
9) When I get nervous I tend to prattle on. It’s not a winning strategy. If you hear yourself nattering stop for a moment, take a breath and ask the interviewer a question. It will pull you out of the cycle.
10) As mentioned before, an interview is an exchange. If you have a question or find something the interviewer says interesting, ask. Nobody will hold it against you. Don’t apologize for asking. It is expected.
11) Leave money talk until last. Salary budgeting can change during the hiring process. The first thing you have to decide is whether you and the employer (or you and the employee) can make beautiful music together. If you both think so, then you determine if you can afford each other. If you can’t, you can’t.
12) Spend more time talking about what you do or have done than about who you are. Do not try to sell yourself as if you were a used car. It is a turnoff.
13) Do not hesitate to laugh and smile. Remember, you are two people spending an hour in a professional exchange. Humor is allowed. It’s OK to enjoy yourself.
14) If you feel that something incorrect or uncomfortable is being said or requested, you can stand up and politely end the interview with a thank you.
15) Always say “Thank you”. A note are short email never hurts.
16) The interviewer should always ask, “Is there something else you want me to know?” If s/he does not and you believe there is, just say so at the end of the session.
17) Inform yourself about the employer before the interview. It’s easier than it ever was to get menus, user reviews, magazine articles on line. If the restaurant is local, eating there is a good investment (and fully tax deductible as a job search expense, if you accept the position).
17) Taking notes is always smart.
The following are “DUH” instructions, things that should be a given. You would be surprised how often they are not:
18) When interviewing one should always show courtesy and consideration – this means not cancelling an interview at the last minute, arriving about a quarter of an hour early, dressing appropriately. Not showing up for an interview is not only unthinkable rude, it is stupid. We all talk to each other, and that gets around. Keep a good calendar (Outlook, Gmail, or a notepad) to make sure you don’t forget .
19) Wear appropriate, clean and pressed clothing for the job you are interviewing for (that could be anything from jeans to a suit, depending on the position) be clean and don’t smell bad. If you smoke, wash your hands. Perfume and aftershave are inappropriate for the food industry. Take your hat off and do not chew gum. (The scent of kitchen prep is, on the other hand, absolutely acceptable)
20) Be dressed so that you could slip into a white coat and step straight into the job for which you are applying . That means no dangling jewelry for the kitchen (men and women), flat shoes and trimmed nails. For FoH wear what you would expect to wear at work, as long as it’s not got a bunny tail.
21) Brush. Floss. Rinse. Do not eat garlic before an interview.
22) Sit upright, look the interviewer in the eye and try not to fidget. (This should also be more obvious than it is.) Turn your cell phone off before you enter the interview.
Prepare for your interview. Jotting down a few questions, the things you really want to say and ask beforehand, will make it easier for you not to forget them in the heat of the moment. It is allowed to bring and to take notes. You should also bring a resume. They will probably have one, but take one anyway. You can bring a limited amount of show and tell with you – it can make an interview more interesting – pictures of your food, menus, documents. Consider putting them and your resume on a thumb drive or making them available on an Ipad if you have one.