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It might seem like an easy thing, but interviewing is a crucial skill that can help you identify what you want from your future employees and set a standard from the beginning.

You see, I believe that we all inherently want to be good at what we do.  Many people may eventually not like what they do or get bored with it, but I don’t believe that we all start out doing a job with the intent to eventually hate it or not do well at it.

If we take a step back and look at it from that larger perspective, we can approach interviewing differently and set up our potential employees to succeed from the first impression.

Here are some lessons I have learned over the years of interviewing people that could prove useful for you:

Entry level and hourly staff

  1. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. What do I mean by this? Well, what I mean is that first impressions count, but are not always everything.  I have interviewed and hired people that I thought at first glance didn’t have a chance.  Some of these people have been some of the best employees I have ever had.  So don’t always judge a book by its cover, especially for entry level and hourly positions.  Those who are vying for these positions are learning and growing in their careers and would probably benefit from some mentor-ship.  Which leads me to the next one…
  2. Set everyone up for success after the first phone introduction. Almost always there is an introductory phone call-and if you’re not doing this initially you should. On this call, even if you are just calling to set up an in person interview, make sure to establish expectations for the candidate.  For example, let them know what you expect them to wear to the interview (smart applicants ask most of the time anyway), what time you expect them to arrive and if you expect them to bring anything with them such as their knives, etc.  By doing this you can assess how well they listen and follow directions.
  3. When they arrive for the interview have them wait for a few minutes, observe and get feedback about how they interact with people. While they wait, you can even have staff members introduce themselves and ask questions like where they are from, what job they are applying for etc.  Many times you can learn a lot about a person by how they treat others who may not have any decision making power over them or are seen as not being able to directly benefit them. Applicants may act very different with coworkers than they do with managers.  This will give you a sense of what they are like when they are left on their own with no one watching so-to-speak.
  4. Make sure they fit the culture as well as assessing their skills. It took me a long time to figure out that if I didn’t fit the culture where I worked, I wasn’t going to do a good job and I was going to end up resenting my employment. This could be things like keeping a dirty kitchen, belittling or humiliating employees or giving preferential treatment to employees that are lazy and suck at their job.  These are just a few of the things that if it’s occurring on a consistent and regular basis I can’t work there.  On the other hand, I like to sing random segments of songs and laugh lots while at work and believe it or not, there are some people don’t actually like that. So it’s important to get an idea of what the culture is an if someone is going to thrive in that environment.


Here are some example questions with some explanations to help you assess the candidate(s).

BC Hourly Employee Questions

Management staff

In addition to the above mentioned items, when interviewing managers and leaders, it’s important to keep the following in mind.

  1. Promote from within whenever possible. There is no better way to get staff buy-in or earn trust that promoting those who deserve it. So how do you know you deserves it? The short answer is that you just know.  The longer version is that they earn the ability to lead other by doing the following these 3 basics:
    1. Lead by example
    2. Always jump in a help when/where they identify they are needed, no questions asked.
    3. Don’t ask anyone to do something that they themselves are unwilling to do.
  2. If you have questions about someone or are not sure they are up to the task(s), promote them on a trial basis. This is a great way for people to prove themselves and for you to have an easier way out if they don’t perform.

Here is a few manager interview questions and explanations as well.

BC Manager Questions

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About the author, Shawn

Chef Shawn has worked in almost every segment of the foodservice industry. He holds business degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Accounting and Professional Sales. He is Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and a Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) through The American Culinary Federation. A Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) through the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is the author of The First Timer’s Cookbook and The First Timer’s Bakebook. His work has been recognized nationwide as well as being a regular contributor to numerous food service publications and outlets and is the recipient of numerous awards-most recently the 2015 Culinary Educator of the Year through the local American Culinary Federation’s chapter-Beehive State Chef’s Association.

He the owner of multiple food service businesses and currently the host of the Business Chef Podcast.

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