While people earning a culinary arts certificate online can go on to careers like catering or institutional cooking, many hope to land a job at a restaurant. Of course, to achieve that goal, first you have to make it through the job interview. When you find a position you’re interested in, take some time to consider the best way to make a great first impression.
The hiring process at restaurants is a little different from other workplaces, so applying and interviewing may take some adjustment, especially if you’ve never worked as a culinary professional before. However, with the right strategy, you can take the next step in your career. Here are some tips to guide you as you apply for the job and get ready for the interview.
1. Update your resume
The first step in landing the job you want is getting your resume to a hiring manager. Review your resume to make sure it shows why you’re an excellent candidate for the job, including all your relevant skills and experience with specific details and a couple professional references. At the same time, avoid going too long: The resume should be under a page.
“Check what hours of day the restaurant is busiest.”
2. Be considerate
Do your homework and find out whether the restaurant is accepting applications in person or online. If it’s necessary to visit the restaurant, first check what hours of day it’s usually busiest. Choose a slower time to stop in, when the manager may have a free moment to glance at your resume and briefly discuss a job opening.
3. Focus on professional appearance
Just like when trying for any other job, you should show up to an interview at a restaurant looking professional. Careful grooming is especially important when you’re trying to demonstrate you’ll be a good fit in the kitchen. Choose clothing that sends the message you’re taking this opportunity seriously while still allowing you to move comfortably.
4. Arrive on time – or earlier
A good restaurant employee is prompt and reliable, and you should demonstrate those qualities at the interview. It’s wise to show up a few minutes early. Displaying your professionalism from the start will get the meeting off on the right foot.
5. Practice your answers
Through your conversation, the interviewer will try to get a sense for whether you’d be a good fit for the restaurant. Every kitchen has its own culture and demands, so the particular questions will differ accordingly. Plan ahead for how you’ll use your responses to show off what makes you an excellent candidate for that establishment’s style and atmosphere.
The characteristics employers are looking for generally include the following:
- You should exhibit a genuine desire to work at that specific restaurant and be able to explain why you think it would be a positive environment for you.
- Skilled kitchen employees balance multiple tasks while operating under stressful conditions.
- A restaurant worker should be a responsible individual who takes initiative to get the work done.
- Chefs need to be able to solve problems on the fly, like when a certain ingredient is running low.
- You must be able to handle the physical demands of the work, which often include operating in cramped conditions and staying on your feet for long periods.
In addition to job-specific issues, the manager may ask more general questions about your strengths, weaknesses, past training and ambitions for your career. Explain clearly and honestly how your background has prepared you to take on the responsibilities of the job. Avoid coming off as overconfident or exaggerating your qualifications as they will soon be put to the test.
6. Be ready to demonstrate your abilities
Often, interviewers at restaurants want to see proof that candidates can actually cook. There’s a good chance you will be asked to prepare food and showcase your technique and ability to work efficiently under pressure. Take into account the types of dishes served at the restaurant and come ready to work.
If you’re ready to use your culinary academy skills on the job, there’s a position out there for you. Before you get hired, though, you’ll have to plan your strategy for making it through the application and interview processes. With cooking skills, thoughtful preparation and professionalism, you’ll give yourself the best chance of building a career in a restaurant kitchen.