Each interview, client and candidate is unique and there is no right and wrong way to interview or be interviewed, but there are certain questions that will inevitably arise in almost every interview so be prepared.
Your answers should demonstrate your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as explaining how your knowledge, experience and key skills make you the ideal person for this particular role.
- Look your interviewer in the eye.
- Demonstrate how your abilities and skills match the client’s requirements.
- Keep your answers relevant and don’t babble!
- If you answer a question but feel the interviewer is not completely satisfied with the answer ask them if they would like you to go into further detail.
Questions that you may be asked during your interview.
- Tell me about yourself. Usually the first question and the most important – first impressions last. Follow the structure of your CV, giving examples of your achievements and skills. Don’t worry about short/direct answers – you will be asked to expand on any areas where more information is required.
- What do you know about our company? This is where your pre-interview research will benefit you. Make sure that you understand the company ethos.
- What do you enjoy about your current job? Focus on points that are relevant to the job that you are applying for and which demonstrate a diverse range of key skills.
- Explain your current role and duties. Discuss your role and areas of responsibility. Focus on time management, briefing and developing the skills of your team, ensuring consistency and guest satisfaction.
- What has been your main achievement in your current role? This can range from exceeding financial targets, developing and managing a colleague’s career, personal promotion, and awards and accolades, to successful projects in which you have been involved.
- What are your main strengths? Choose three and give examples of how you have applied them in a work environment. Look at the job specification and focus on matching your skills with the client’s requirements.
- What are your weaknesses? We all have them, a strength is admitting them. Turn this into a positive. Demonstrate how you have previously identified a weakness and worked on it.
- Where do you see yourself in five years time? Discuss the short term and how you will achieve your long term targets. Demonstrate your ambition and determination.
- What interests you about this role and our business? You should have a reasonable knowledge of the company from pre-interview research. Focus on the service and food, the quality of the operation, sales figures, and guests. Show that you have thought about this. Demonstrate how your career to date and ambition matches their company ethos.
- What can you bring to the role and how do you see the role developing? Consider the job description and competencies. Use practical examples from your current role and previous employment to illustrate your strengths and skills.
- Why are you leaving your current role? Don’t be negative. Focus on moving your career to the next level and how a move now follows your career plan to achieve your long term goals.
- What are you looking for in your next position? Again, remember the job specification and what the client is looking for, remember your career goals and your plan to achieve them and match the two together.
- What support and/or training will you require for this role? Refer back to the job specification; think about the client’s requirements. If there are areas that you are not comfortable with explain that this is where you will need support. If there are courses that you need/wish to attend or to which you would like to send a member of your team to develop their own skills, highlight this – developing staff in-house saves money in the long term!
- What motivates you and how do you manage and motivate in the work place? Think of your career so far and where you ultimately want to be. Success breeds success and you enjoy being constantly challenged. You enjoy working with a team and passing on your knowledge to aid the development of others.
- How do you hit your goals, targets and objectives? Discuss your motivation to achieve, your planning skills and keeping targets realistic, your drive and determination. Show that you have a stage-by-stage thought process rather than a pipe dream and that by working back from the final aim you put realistic stage targets in place.
- How do you set goals and targets for your team? Your targets should all be SMART
S: Specific: use definitive goals and focus on one part of the business per target.
M: Measurable: use real measures to assess performance and know when a target has been hit.
A: Achievable: over-ambitious goals can be damaging. Make sure targets are realistic.
R: Realistic: only create goals that you can achieve with the resources available.
T: Time: set deadlines for each objective.
- In your opinion what do you see as the potential problems/issues in this particular sector? Focus on topics that you can influence, perhaps staffing issues – you enjoy training and developing a team so hopefully you can promote from within in the future.
- How did you get on with your other colleagues? Don’t be negative; emphasise the need to work with other departments to make the business tick and ensure guest satisfaction, which is key, as the guest pays your wages.
- How do you manage challenging situations? Highlight your leadership skills and how you have learned from previous situations. Your man-management skills are crucial in leading a successful and efficient team.
- How do you respond to working under pressure? Focus on your calmness, time management and organisational and planning skills.
- Why should I offer you the job? This is the time to reflect on your meeting and show that you understand the brief for the role. Focus on how you can apply your skills and experience to the role along with your desire to succeed and be the best that you can.
Questions that you may consider asking during your interview.
Towards the end of the interview you may be invited to ask questions yourself. Always have three or four questions in your mind ready to ask. If you feel nervous about this, break the ice by asking the interviewer how long they have been employed by the company.
- How has the business grown in the past?
- What are the short, medium and long term plans for the business?
- How do these targets impact the role and what are the timescales?
- Who do I report directly to?
- What is the structure of the Food and Beverage department?
- How is my department viewed within the business as a whole?
- Why has the position become available? How long was the previous post-holder in position?
- Is it possible to view the kitchen?
- Can I see this year’s budget for my department – costs, wages, sales etc?
- How is the budget controlled? How is the food cost managed?
- What is the average spend per head on food?
- What is the turnover on food and beverage per annum?
- How does this break down for each area?
- Is there a kitchen maintenance budget?
Personnel and Training
- Does the company have a new employee induction scheme?
- Does the company offer training to assist me with the role if required?
- Is there training available to develop my team?
- What is the level of staff turnover over the past year?
- Are there incentive-based schemes within the business to drive employee motivation?
- Is the company keen on promoting individual career development?
Avoid asking about the salary package at this stage, but if your interviewer mentions it be prepared to discuss. You will already have an indication of the package either from the job specification or your iChef Recruitment consultant.
However, one important question to ask at this stage is:
- What is the next step and when can I expect to hear from you?
An interview isn’t just about the right answer – often there isn’t just a right answer. Demonstrate your ability to think on your feet; after all, kitchens are high pressure, impulsive environments.
Remember: you need to show your communication skills, leadership qualities, ambition and understanding of the company and role.