You’re a talented chef. You have learned different styles of prep throughout the world. Today, you have an interview to fill a private chef position in a household you’re excited to work for. Is your experience enough? More likely than not, you may still face a few simple questions that will undo all your experience and education if not handled correctly.
Here are a few questions that will make all the difference getting where you want to be.
“You have an impressive resume, but will you walk me through it?”
The interviewer has just acknowledged reading your expertly-crafted resume and now they want you to talk about it. Maybe they didn’t actually read it? Maybe you were unclear in your descriptions?
Neither of those are likely to be true. More likely, the interviewer is reading you. What they’re paying attention to is how you are speaking, the comfort and confidence with which you portray yourself. No matter how much time you spent writing your resume, you should practice describing it aloud. Don’t let your thoughts scatter, correct yourself or pause. It speaks to uncertainty.
The position you are interviewing for requires a great deal of trust. If you are not speaking with total confidence, the employer will make a fast decision that there is a more qualified applicant.
“Tell me a little more about your experience.”
This seems like a slight variation of the first question. However, while the first question is designed to get you talking, this one is a bit more specific.
You can list places you have worked ad nauseam and miss the greatest opportunity. After all, a great many insufferable chefs have worked at a long list of places, in part because no one wants to work with them. While listing where you’ve worked and what you’ve learned, talk about how you’ve grown as a team member, as a leader, as a communicator. If you are being interviewed for a private chef position, you are being invited into someone’s home. Never undervalue “works well with others” and “improves morale” as selling points for any employee.
“Tell me your greatest weakness.”
Many people think this is a loaded question. However, it is a golden opportunity to show one of the greatest skills anyone can have… the ability to improve. No, you don’t want to say “I’m really bad at…” or “I’m weak when it comes to…” Nor do you want to say “I’m a perfectionist” or “I need people to perform to my standards.”
This is when you start talking in the past tense. “Well, when I first started out, I was bad at prepping…” or “I didn’t always handle pressure as well as I do now…” You speak briefly about mistakes you made in the past and how you worked to overcome them. No one expects someone to be perfect. No one believes anyone is perfect. But what every employer wants is an employee who is striving for perfection.
“How do you handle conflict in the work place?”
“I’ve never really had a conflict in the work place” will make you sound like a liar or someone who is oblivious. No one wants to hire someone who is either of these. At the same time, you don’t want to sit there and deprecate a former coworker or, worse yet, a former employer.
Take time to think about this question before walking into an interview because this is where careful wording is most important. Think of an instance and be prepared to tell both sides of the story and then explain how you talked through the problem, how you came to an understanding or how you learned to work around the problem.
Conflict will occur in life, so no one will fault you for that. What a prospective employer needs to hear is that you maturely and productively dealt with the problem. So leave out as much of the drama as possible and bite your tongue if you still have a few angry words left over.
“What makes you stand out from other candidates?”
You can talk a lot about your background here. However, keep in mind that every single applicant has extensive cooking experience, maybe some have more than you. One way or the other, your experience should already be evident on your resume. What they want to know is what makes you stand out as an individual.
How will you contribute to the household? Will you get along with the staff? Will the family enjoy your presence? So much can be said for personality and, sadly, a resume often does not highlight it. Take this time now to talk about your passions and what people like about you, what you like about yourself. Don’t let modesty stand in the way of being confident about what makes you special.
“Do you have any questions for me?”
Yes, you do. Sometimes it can be hard to think of what to ask. After all, interviewing for a private chef position is different than interviewing for a position in any other setting. The nature of the position is very intimate. While you may not immediately know how to speak to the expectations of the employer or their family, this is your opportunity to learn.
Use personal language. Ask what their favorite dining experience was, ask them about what dishes excite them the most. As a professional chef, you know where your own passion for food stems from. Find out about theirs. The goal is not waiting until they have finished and say, “I can do that.” It’s to make them feel heard, for them to know their passions are interesting to you.
In a follow-up, suggest a meal or dining experience you think they would like based on what they shared with you. It will show them that you are not just interested in being employed, you’re interested in making their dining experience better.
If you are looking to line up your next interview, take a gander at the career opportunities offered by J. Danielle & Co. For ten years, this has been the leading domestic staffing agency in Southern California. Click here to get started now.