Top Job Interview Questions Employers Ask Cooks

Focused female chef plating salad tweezers restaurant kitchen
••• Hero Images / Getty Images

If you're interested in working as a cook, or you're already a cook and seeking new employment, prep for your interview by familiarizing yourself with the top questions employers ask job seekers in your field.

Knowing how to answer these questions ahead of your interview can give you the edge over other candidates. Employers want to know if you can take the initiative, handle conflict, and manage long hours.

They'll also want to know the basics, such as what training (formal or informal) you've had in cooking, how much experience you've had, and what your style as a cook is. They'll want to know what's special about your cooking. Can you innovate new dishes and ideas? Are you great at mastering the classics?

Types of Interview Questions Ask for Cooking Jobs

Here is a closer look at several areas where your prospective employer might focus their questions.


Taking charge is a valuable quality for many professionals, including cooks. Following orders is important as well, but you have to be able to respond creatively and promptly to changing circumstances. So, employers may be likely to ask you about a time at work when you did something without being asked. Alternatively, your interviewer might give you a hypothetical scenario and ask how you would respond.

For example, what you would do if you noticed a product was running low, but you were busy working on a completely different task. Would you ignore the problem? Would you abandon your current project to take care of it? Would you let someone else know about the diminishing product and ask them to take action?

Similarly, how you would proceed if you needed to make a dish but did not have all the necessary ingredients? Improvise and use a substitute ingredient instead? Make another dish entirely or enlist the help of one of your colleagues to help solve the problem?

There's no one right answer (although there may be some wrong ones!). Simply answer honestly. If you have faced a similar situation in real life, feel free to explain what happened and how well your solution worked. These types of questions are called behavioral interview questions and are designed to see how you would react in a certain situation.


Not all problems a cook might face relate directly to cooking. Perhaps someone in your kitchen receives a burn or a bad cut, and you have to coordinate the first aid response while simultaneously attending to food preparation. Perhaps a personal problem develops between two of your co-workers and begins to impact the kitchen’s efficiency. How do you get your team back on track? Or perhaps a co-worker is struggling to complete a task. How might you help? If you’re applying for a leadership position within the kitchen, your prospective employer may ask what you would do if you received serious or multiple, customer complaints about one of your meals. Would you be able to respond with grace and professionalism, or might you get defensive?

Again, if possible, talk about your relevant actual experiences. Have there been times when you faced a real situation similar to the hypothetical scenario your interviewer described? What did you do? How did it work out? If not, go ahead and say what you think you would do. Again, there is no one right answer. Just be honest.

Difficult Working Environment

Kitchens are fast-paced, high-pressure, and sometimes dangerous environments. The stress may be difficult for some people to manage, prompting employers to ask questions about your performance under stressful circumstances. Part of the issue is physical. Your interviewer will want to know how long can you stand on your feet without a break, or how much weight you can lift. But the other part of the issue is psychological. Can you handle the stress and remain focused and calm? Can you keep up?

The final component of the working environment issue is safety and cleanliness. Can you do what it takes to keep your workplace safe and sanitary for the good of yourself, for your co-workers, and your customers?

Wrapping Up

In addition to job-specific interview questions, you will also be asked more general questions about your employment history, education, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans. Be ready to answer them.