Each Chef at Park City Culinary Institute has hired and trained dozens, if not thousands, of employees during their career. Students get access to several of these experienced employers during school. They can ask their Chef what jobs are worth pursuing, how to get them, to make introductions, and give them advice on interviewing. Director Laurie Moldawer, also spent years not only recruiting for various companies but also placing people in jobs. Laurie gives each student personalized career counseling, editing resumes, coaching on how to prepare for each interview. This advice starts as soon as a student is enrolled, as many of our students want to find work as they begin school.
This think tank is how students at Park City Culinary Institute achieve nearly 100% job placement. Employers know our Chef instructors, respect them, and know our graduates will hit the ground running after spending two months with our Chefs.
While many of you reading this may not be able to attend our program, we wanted to share some of our tips and secrets with you.
How to Prepare for an Interview at your Favorite Establishment
Begin by thinking about the employer. Imagine you are going to hire somebody for your kitchen. What are you going to look for?
Visualize what the employer is going to want. Then make sure you address each characteristic they’ll be looking for. You may have to look for ways to add this information to your conversation, even if you are not directly asked.
Here are the qualities most employers look for:
1) Are you going to be reliable? Arrive on time, ready to work before your shift actually starts, rarely call in sick, etc.
2) Are you eager to learn?
3) Are you fast? This isn’t just knife skills. If you have to assemble a salad, are you going to hustle or make it slowly the way you might at home.
How can you get these points across? Arrive early for your interview, about 15 minutes is good. No matter what questions you are asked, sit or stand in a way that conveys that you are ready to hustle.
After you get past those, the interviewer may be curious about:
1) Humility, will you be willing to do dishes and other chores as they’re needed, or do you only want to do the fun, creative, work in a kitchen?
2) Teamwork and Big Picture, will you help around the kitchen, looking for things that need to be done, picking up items that have fallen on the floor, putting away things out of place, and picking up a mop if something spills?
3) Are you knowledgeable about how a kitchen works, and if not, easy to train
Again, these qualities may be difficult to address if you aren’t questioned directly. So how do you get the information across to your interviewer?
Look for opportunities to answer questions with anecdotes about how you like to help other people in the kitchen. How you’re willing to do any work that’s needed. And how you’ll cover for other people when they need an extra set of hands with a mop or dishes.
This isn’t always easy, which is why we coach our students on how to interview to get a job in their favorite restaurant or bakery. If you’d like to improve your chances, you may want to consider our program. Many of our graduates are working with their #1 choice of employers.
One last tip:
Most job applications ask how much you want to earn. The irony is that the employer already knows how much they are going to pay you, so why are they asking? This is often a trick question to eliminate job applicants. If you are expecting a higher salary than they can pay you, they will know right away not to make you an offer. Why hire somebody who won’t be happy with their salary? This question is to test to see if you have realistic job expectations. If you go in too high, they’ll think you won’t stay long. If you go in too low, they may think you lack confidence, and may even consider giving you a lowball offer. The safest answer is to write “Market” or, even better, to know what the market salary is so you can put that down on your application. Market salary for entry level cooks in Salt Lake City as of 2016 is roughly $11/hour and $12/hour in Park City.