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Top 7 Sous Chef Interview Questions & How To Answer Them 

The most important skills a Sous Chef needs to develop are cooking, organizational and leadership skills. We have covered them in detail on our Sous Chef Career Overview page. But what is the next step in landing your dream role?

The short answer: Acing the interview.

We want to set culinary professionals up for success. So, our team prepared a list of the seven most common questions. We’ve also collaborated with hiring managers to give further insights that will help you stand out from the crowd. Continue reading to land that Sous Chef role.

An Overview of Our Sous Chef Interview Questions

Interviewing Tips From Executive Chef Mark Dowling

[Source: Escoffier Home Gourmet]

The following questions represent a list of the most asked questions during a Sous Chef interview. These questions will help the hiring manager find the best fit for the position. We’ve compiled a list of interview questions that will help you determine if the skillset and qualifications match your establishment.

We’ve also prepared the best answers for candidates who want to do a mockup interview with a mentor, friend or family member. We will cover those in the next section.

But before everything else — here are the more general questions for Sous Chef interviews that you can expect:

  • What is it that you are looking for in an employer? What didn’t you get from your current/past employer that we should provide you with to keep you in the long run?
  • What are your career goals and how does this role support your goals?
  • Are you willing to work long shifts?
  • Do you have experience working in a multicultural team?
  • Is there anything on our menu that you would like to change?
  • What prepared you for the role of a Sous Chef?
  • What is your leadership style and how do you see it aligns with the values of our establishment?
  • What types of cuisine do you have the most experience with?
  • Which stations in a kitchen are your forte?
  • How do you handle stress?

Technical Questions Asked in a Sous Chef Interview

We know that kitchen inventory and supply management are two important factors for the success of a Sous Chef. The following questions and answers are a great example to test these out.

How do you approach inventory management and cost control?

Sample answer: “I conduct regular inventory and supply checks. Additionally, I make it a point to create an atmosphere where every team member can approach me without hesitation and inform me of any supplies they might need.

When it comes to suppliers, I maintain a professional and friendly relationship with them to ensure good supply flow. I also try to negotiate pricing with suppliers for cost control while monitoring supply quality.”

What types of cuisines are you familiar with? Could you point out one that you excel at?

Sample answer: “During my education in culinary arts, I have experienced various cuisines and cooking styles. I have worked in establishments that were focused on Mexican and Asian cuisine. However, due to my personal background I love fusion cuisine that combines Mediterranean and Arabic cuisines.”

Problem-Solving Questions Asked in a Sous Chef Interview

In the role of Sous Chef, problem-solving is expected on the go. As a candidate, you need to show that ad hoc challenges and problems don’t stress you out. On the other hand, if you’re a recruiter, you should provide real-life examples of things that might happen in your establishment or have happened in the past.

How would you handle criticism from a supervisor or customer?

Sample answer: “I observe every feedback as an opportunity to grow. If the feedback is coming from a customer, my first line of response would be: ‘What can I do to fix this?’ I would then proceed with steps for service recovery. If the feedback is coming from the Executive Chef I would thank them for the feedback and try to improve.”

How would you handle disagreements between team members during peak hours?

Sample answer: “Regardless of the peak hours, we need to resolve the disagreement on the spot. This will result in the continuation of smooth kitchen operations.

I would approach it in a way that gives both sides an opportunity to make their case. I would then give them a couple of minutes to figure out the solution. If they manage, we will continue. If the solution is not provided by the team members I would provide the best solution. In the second case, I would also provide feedback to both team members, so the situation doesn’t recur.”

Sous Chef Interview Questions About Work Habits

In this position, work ethics play a huge role. Employers need someone they can rely on and can trust to run things when the Executive Chef is out. As a candidate, you need to show dedication and the willingness to work hard while learning and improving your current set of skills.

How do you approach menu and recipe development? What strategies do you use?

Sample answer: “When creating new recipes and menus I lead the process with passion and factor in customer needs. I would research the market and the most common customer comments. Then, I would check with the suppliers about any new ingredients we might need. Upon completion, I would introduce the new dish to the Executive Chef and improve it according to their feedback.”

Sous Chef Interview Questions About Leadership

Leadership is one of the key aspects of a Sous Chef role. As a hiring manager, you need to look for strong leaders. As a candidate, you need to display a proper leadership style and knowledge of the entire kitchen operations.

What would you do if you saw that a team member is not following safety regulations?

Sample answer: “I would review the health and safety regulations on the daily meeting to prevent this from happening. However, if this happened, I would take the team members aside and give them feedback immediately. I would offer my help on the spot, but I would also offer coaching later on. Then, I would monitor their progress in the upcoming period.

In case another mistake would happen, I would take further disciplinary actions depending on the establishment’s processes.”

How would you react if your team members experienced low morale after a couple of heavy shifts? What would you do?

Sample answer: “I would try to motivate my team after the heavy shift and give credit to all team members. Depending on the current process I would try to suggest a reward system based on the employee’s performance.

I would lead the team by my example. I wouldn’t show any sign of frustration and I would step in whenever they needed me. If none of the techniques mentioned would help, I would give them additional time off during the less busy days.”

More Interview Tips for Sous Chef Applicants

Regardless of the position you are interviewing for, don’t forget that the first impression is very important. What can you do to stand out?

  • Dress professionally.
  • Ensure your hair and nails are neat.
  • Prepare questions for the hiring manager. You can ask anything relating to your career, how your typical day will look like, what the busiest times are, what the leadership style is and such.
  • Don’t forget that a smile opens many doors.
  • Pay attention to your body language.

Interview Tips for Employers

While creating these Sous Chef interview questions, we didn’t only rely on our expertise; we also asked an actual professional what to look for when hiring for a Sous Chef role.

Hanalei Souza is a Sous Chef who runs the show at Pine Cone Kitchen down in California. She is currently the right hand to the Executive Chef and might need another Sous Chef soon. So, we asked her what to look for in a Sous Chef candidate. Besides obvious skills such as cooking, hard work and dedication she emphasized leadership qualities.

Pro Tip
Hanalei Souza, Sous Chef at Pine Cone Kitchen: “You need your Sous Chef to know all the stations. They need to be able to fill in at any station. A Sous Chef can’t lead the team if they don’t know exactly what is going on at each station. A Sous Chef needs to know everything about the pit station, sauté station, pizza station, and more. The team won’t obey to them, and that is critical for this role.”

So, a pro tip for those interviewing a Sous Chef candidate: Ask more leadership and situational questions than technical. As Chef Hanalei says, every skill is teachable.

FAQs

A Sous Chef earns an average salary of $56,013 per year. If you want to see a detailed breakdown check out our Sous Chef Salary Page.

Outstanding performers in this role can get promoted within as little as three years. We prepared a Sous Chef Career Page with all the details you need to know to become an excellent Sous Chef.