I don't need to tell you how important the back-of-the-house staff is in a restaurant. While servers sell your business, cooks create your business. The culinary team has the highest priority. They need to be able to create tasty, presentable "products" that your waitstaff can then upsell. Good work comes from good workers, so hiring the best cooks will make your menu the best. However, the best cooks are obviously not all the same.
Your best prep cook will do things differently than your best sous chef and vice versa. That fact can hinder the ability to institute an interview process that's robust enough to simultaneously highlight your various candidates' strengths and weaknesses. Asking the following open-ended interview questions can help resolve that issue.
- What made you interested in working in the kitchen?
- Why do you want to cook here specifically?
- Tell us your favorite cuisine and why
- How do you manage stress under high-pressure situations?
- Can you explain what the "Danger Zone" is and speak more about your safe food-handling knowledge?
- How do you handle following directions? Do you have patience for demanding coworkers?
- Conversely, can you explain a time that you've been proactive and completed something without being asked?
- How would you handle you or a coworker getting cut or burned while working in the kitchen?
- What are your long-term career goals and how would this position be relevant in accomplishing those goals?
- How would you handle working collaboratively with a difficult coworker?
- What aspect of the job do you prioritize most and why(e.g. Safety, cleanliness, quality/taste of food)?
- What are the five mother sauces?
- How would your past manager describe you in one word?
- What was one of the hardest decisions you had to make at your past job and what was hard about it?
- Why should we put you in our kitchen?