Interview Skills

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by chef1x, Dec 31, 2002.

  1. chef1x

    chef1x

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    With the brilliant aid of you CTers out there who helped me build a breathtaking resume (thanks guys!), I have secured an interview with a big international corporate caterer in the next few days. I finally decided that this could actually work for me and I have a close friend who works for the company in the same position that my prospective boss is. He says it's a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to head one of their highest profile/biggest volume clients....................blah, blah, blah....

    I'm not so worried about my qualifications or my ability to perform the job (but beleive me, I'm not OVERconfident):eek: ,

    BUT it occurred to me that #1. I haven't interviewed in a LOOOOnggg time (usually, I do the interviews), #2. I've NEVER interviewed with a company this large and so "corporate" - Needless to say, I'm mildly terrified:eek: :eek: :eek:

    I have researched some basic "job interview skills" sites, but would like to hear from anyone who knows of any sites that address this, and
    would ANYONE care to share their experience or advice in this area????

    ...cause I know yer out there.....:chef: :chef:
    Thanks
     
  2. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Hey, congratulations! :D Break a leg.

    A couple of sites of the sort you're looking for are:

    StarChefs, which has a "Job Seekers' Newsletter" and
    Hospitality Careers Online

    Both are possible sources of tips.

    HOWEVER: the best thing, IMO, is to be well-prepared, be honest, and try to relax (but not too much). Research the catering company, research the client you'd be servicing, know everything you can about the job (your friend will be a great asset here) -- so that you can ask intelligent questions. I mean, when you were doing the interviewing, didn't you always hate it when you asked the prospects, "Do you have any questions?" and they just sat there with their mouths hanging open? If you can show that you already care about the company and the work, that should give you a leg up.

    My perspective is that of someone who applied for many, many jobs as a line cook over the past few years, and was asked to trail more than half the times I interviewed. To me, that seemed a pretty good ratio.
     
  3. chef1x

    chef1x

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    Thanks Suzanne! That's a big help, I did check out those sites, and they are very helpful, but what REALLY helps me is to hear from a chef's perspective, and the points you made are right on.

    I would probably normally be a little too laid back about interviews like this and not really do the research, and I especially like what you said about having questions. Yes, it would drive me crazy when a prospective employee has absolutely NOTHING to say about anything.........

    and I didn't even think to research the client, but I do have some experience with them from my last job. I know their basic profile, but I guess I don't really know what goes on at this specific location. My friend just told me they have a very large budget, enough so that they have a sizeable PASTRY staff. Yikes, I didn't even THINK about that!!??

    Guess now I'll have to stoop to asking ?'s of all you pastry chefs out there. OMG. Am I a sell out or what?

    Anyway, thanks a bunch!



    And BTW,

    Happy New Years to [email protected]!:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:
     
  4. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Glad I could help (at least, I hope it all helps you get the job!).

    As for being a sellout: only if you tell them you'll use Campbell's Bechamel Base. :eek: (The supposed "chef" demoing it at the Intl Hotel/Motel & Resto Show told me: "Nobody makes their own anymore!")

    Seriously, the pastry people here are THE BEST!!!!! They can't spell very well, but not many on either side of the kitchen can, so who cares. ;)
     
  5. panini

    panini

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    HeY! I recemble that comment!!!!
    Hey Brooklyn,
    Been there, done that ,on the pastry side. I make myself available to you to PM with any questions.
    pan
     
  6. chef1x

    chef1x

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    OMG! this is the 3rd time I've tried to post this.....I think I must be getting a contact buzz from the moderators or something:)

    :rolleyes: Dang! I KNEW you'd catch me on that one bread boy!;)

    Have you started drinking already, or was Suzanne right about the way you people spel?

    I will be SURE and take you up on that offer of advice, I sure will need it when I face all those high-strung show-off pastry arts people who I'm SURE will require lots of attention and equipment:)

    Actually, you know I used to incorporate lots of pastry into my menus, but, (tell me if I'm wrong) ALWAYS the first thing to be 86'd, dumped on, cut, fired, scaled back, down-sized. I gave up on anything ambitious about four years ago, so I'm a bit (well, A LOT) rusty. I do some basics at home for my hardworking pastryloving GF, and I get all my inspiration from Art Culinaire. But that's about it.

    One of the greatest chefs I ever worked for was NEVER too proud to constanly trudge down to the dungeon and ask the pastry troll her (very accomplished) opinion, advice, technical info, demos, whatever; and he was very accomplished in bread and pastry himself. I promise to NEVER forget that example!

    Have a GREAT New Year!
     
  7. panini

    panini

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    Actually your description ( high-strung show-off) usually is found on the hot side. Most hotties take all the credit for everything we do.
    Most pastry chefs I know follow the same theory. Do everything in your power to keep the exec's and suits out of your domaine, unless to brainstorm or hand out checks.
    I can tell from your posts that you'll do just fine. You might need to polish up on your politics. Set the playing field first thing. Make everyone around you knows that you were hired for your experience, so let me do my job. When your with these big feeders, make acquaintances not friends. I'm assuming it's one of the two biggies. Fall in love with Sysco fast.
    The very best of luck to you in the coming year.
    panini
     
  8. chef1x

    chef1x

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    Pan, first off, I hope you realize I mean no offense/harm and this is all in good fun. I absolutely respect your line of work and hold it in high regard, and can only aspire to do what you do.

    Having said that, I think you are correct on all counts, though as I pointed out, I did work for a man who did not take credit for the pastry chef's work, and that is an example I admire in any field.

    Thank you for pointing out my political brashness, obviously, I'm a bit green, I'm not married, no kids, I'm still a little hot, but I do want to learn and listen. I've ALWAYS gotten into trouble because of my "politics," I fear I may do so again, thus, my questions about resumes, interviews, ACF, etc... I'm trying to learn what only experience can teach. I guess I'm trying to grow up a little so that I can have what someone like you has; family, wife, kids, house, business....

    One thing that sparked my interest in this job is that the client picks the vendors, and they make a point of NOT using SYSCO. Not that I have any problem with anyone that would. Just more my style.

    Feliz Ano from Brooklyn!
     
  9. panini

    panini

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    offense/harm? I have fun everyday! I do sometimes miss the camaraderie of the large kitchen enviornment. I guess that's why I come here. Our business is quite small and I seldom get out to visit chefs recreationally. I could not stand the lot of them when there,but somewhat miss that all now.
     
  10. chef1x

    chef1x

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    Pan, I know what you mean, (well, not quite), I would love to get together more often with other chefs, but they're such egomaniacs:D That's why this IS a great forum.

    Suzanne, if someone asks me to use Campbell's cr**p, I promise to quit (dang, there I go again, I HOPE no one from Campbell's, Sysco or my prospective employer/benefactors are here)!

    I am in Brooklyn, right?

    Seriously, I'm sure they do use a canned base, and that would be one of the first things I would want to change. From a nutritional/labor/cost effective point of view, I'm sure I could convice ANYONE to MAKE YOUR OWN. I'm not talking about veal/beef bones etc., I'm talking about veg broths/stocks, ala JJVong, one of my heroes, who I think has proven that we don't necessarily need costly, labor intensive, or MSG/Sodium laden Sysco bases!!

    (My sincere and humble apologies to the crumb/bumb Sysco rep who cancelled my order without informing me because my lazy boss didn't pay the bill on time, AND my fellow ACF members who are beholden to them. Ohh, I like this! HAHAHA!)

    Sigh....

    I would rather bust out a mop and broom, wait for a prince in shining armor to save me, or is it too late???

    Feliz Ano from Park Slope!!!
     
  11. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Upon request by the interviewer, be able to state in rapid-fire fashion your 5 best attributes. Usually interviewers aren't ready for such a quick reply. And they're quite impressed when you pull it off neatly.
     
  12. leethequeen

    leethequeen

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    While never having worked as a professional chef but being either interviewer or interviewee (in my field of Human Resources), I found the best interviews were ones where both parties were interviewing each other.
    Going into an interview thinking only "I want this job" puts you at a disadvantage. If you go in with the "This COULD be the right job" attitude and listen to the way the interviewer/s act and react you may decide that they aren't the kind of people you want to work with, or you may decide it's your dream job with people you know you can work with. The best job in the world can turn into a nightmare if the interpersonal relations aren't right.
    My goal in an interview was always to find out if the people interviewing me to work directly for them had a sense of humor - if they couldn't laugh spontaneously about something during an interview I knew it would be the wrong fit for me.
    I think everyone has in their mind a little yardstick they use to measure compatibility - mine is humor - try to find yours and use it.
    The other advantage of making a situation a two way interview, is that it should make you less nervous and probably more spontaneous.
    I hope these ramblings help a little.
    Good luck!
     
  13. chef1x

    chef1x

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    koko,

    Thanks for the tip!


    Do you mean saying things like: "team player, loyal, dedicated,experienced, hands on, educated, etc...?"

    or is that too simplistic?
     
  14. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    That's fine. Perhaps give an example of each attribute that you've "executed".