What do chefs look for when hiring cooks at their restaurant? While there are a myriad of soft skills and technical skills that are important, these are the top 10 traits that rank high on the list.
When they ask how you got into this profession, does your voice raise with excitement while describing the moment you knew that you wanted to become a cook? When they ask what your favorite dish is, do you describe it in detail and include your own creative spin that you add to it? Chefs want to see that sparkle in your eyes and know that you have the passion to do the job.
2. Cultural Fit / Teamwork
Will you fit in with the team? In other words, do you play well with others? In this industry, the hours are long and the stress can be high. Are you a team player? Do you jump in and help others to ensure that the tasks get done, or are you a lone wolf? The best kitchen teams are not only those who work well together, but those who play well together.
3. Attitude / Character
Are you humble and willing to do what it takes? The saying, “your attitude determines your altitude” could not be truer. Skills can be taught, but having a positive attitude is something that you choose every day. Character is often revealed in stressful situations. Chefs want to know that you can handle the heat.
Can you work in a fast-paced environment? If not, consider another profession. When the tickets come rolling in, chefs want to know that you’ll thrive in that environment and not run and hide. Your team will depend on you to step up and keep up with the orders.
5. Commitment / Punctuality
Are you going to show up every day? Can you work the long hours? One question that chefs may ask during an interview is, “how many times did you call out at your last job?” Chefs want people who are committed. They’re depending on you to bring your “A” game every day. They also want to know that you have the stamina to put in the long hours.
Do you live within a reasonable distance? A long commute can wear anyone out. Chefs don’t want you to come into the restaurant fatigued, or you won’t be able to give your best to the customers. Even if you love your job, a long commute can burn you out quickly.
7. Previous Experience
Did you work in similar environments as the one you’re applying for (i.e. full service versus fast food)? What restaurants did you work at or what chefs did you work for? If you worked at one of their competitors, you may have a better chance against the other candidates. If you worked for a well-known chef, that may also give you a leg up.
Can you communicate clearly and effectively? Do you speak up when you need to? Good communication skills are essential to ensuring that the kitchen runs smoothly. It’s just as important to have good listening skills as well. The chef shouldn’t have to tell you something twice.
9. Skills & Education
Do you have the skills for the job? What training or education have you had? A certificate or degree may open the doors for you, but it won’t necessarily keep them open. You also need to have the skills, creativity and talent to stay on top.
10. Follow-through & Execution
Can you follow through and execute orders verbatim? Do you listen well, think logically and have common sense? These are all traits that are essential when working in a kitchen.
Do You have the Chops?
If you possess these traits and characteristics, you are likely well-suited for this profession and have a good chance of landing your next job.