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Interview Tips

Interview Tips & Guidance

Get organised…it sounds obvious, but all too often getting organised and prepared in advance for that all important interview is left to the last minute.

1.      Plan your travel arrangements in advance. Leave early to ensure you arrive in good time, allowing for any unforeseen delays and to avoid any panic.

2.      Always dress smartly. Unless specified otherwise, i.e. the company has a relaxed dress code, your dress code will help demonstrate your level of interest and professionalism.              

3.      Organise all relevant documentation to bring along to the interview for the interviewer’s reference. It’s advisable to have your passport, National Identity card or Birth Certificate to present at the interview. The interviewer will wish to verify your entitlement to work in the UK.

Industry training certificates, qualifications, written references, commendations and all other related material presented at the interview can offer further insight into you and your professional experience & achievements to date.

UK Chefs are reputed for offering some of the most exciting, innovative and influential cuisine in the world. Take along a selection of sample menus which best reflect your culinary knowledge, creative levels and technical ability. If possible, ensure your menus reflect a similar food style to the style of cuisine of the operation applied to. Dish images are also a great tool to demonstrate the quality and diversity of your work.

 4.      Research the company and business sector. Your research should cover the company structure, finances, products and services and key staff. Also research    customers and competitors alongside market trends and challenges. Company websites offer good information as do established, reputed review platforms such as Top Table, Square Meal, Trip Advisor, Time Out, Hardens, etc. Quality local & national press are also another good source of information i.e. National broadsheets & regional / local papers, industry related publications.

 5.      Check if you are expected to prepare anything in advance for the interview e.g. sample menus, SWOT analyses. Also, who and how many people will be conducting the interview and do they plan to utilise any personality or skill based testing techniques?

 6.      Interview style – be positive, friendly and professional. It’s important to listen carefully and respond appropriately to questions posed at the interview. Be sure not to speak negatively of current and past employers. Obviously, there will be good reason why you have decided to change your job, so ensure these factors are  discussed in a positive manner. Difficulties experienced within your role and workplace can demonstrate your levels of commitment, resilience and tenacity.

Interview Questions

Interview questions vary, but all look to ascertain you skills and experience to do the job, your enthusiasm and interest in the company and role applied for and whether you will fit in.

Anticipating and preparing good responses for the most frequently asked questions is advised. Relevant responses supported by proven experience and achievements can only benefit your application and your chances of being considered further. Here is a selection of standard and most often asked questions at interview:

Tell me about yourself?

This is a standard opening question to put you at ease and for the interviewer(s) to gain some initial background on yourself. Your response should be well prepared, confidently delivered and last up to five minutes. Keep your response professional, emphasising your most relevant experience and skills to the position applied for. Include achievements to support this and wherever possible, demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the role and company in question. Avoid introducing any personal or irrelevant information e.g. your family, holidays, hobbies, etc

What are your key skills and strengths?

Focus on your most relevant skills and achievements to demonstrate why you best match the specific role requirements.

What are your weaknesses?

An uncomfortable question to answer at the best of times. Use this question as an opportunity to demonstrate how you have improved on areas of weakness. Identifying weaknesses and addressing them with good, practical examples will show how you have developed in your career.

Why do you want this job?

Your answer should convey your serious interest and enthusiasm for the applied for position, but also why you in particular would prove to be the best match for the job requirements. Again, emphasis your relevant skills and career achievements, your interest in the product / concept, the company, market and sector.

You should not say your motivation to apply is related to: money, working hours, job location i.e. ‘more local to home’ or because you ‘need a job’

Why did you leave your last job?

Your answer should always be positive and truthful, even if the circumstances were difficult. Keep your response upbeat and concise and no matter how tempting, never criticise a previous employer. If made redundant, ensure you depersonalise your answer by discussing company restructure rather than focusing on your own individual circumstances.

In the unlikely event you are in a formal dispute with your previous employer, refer to your legal advisor on what information you are required to give to prospective employers, if at all.

Ultimately, employers may have reasonable concerns if you are unable to establish / substantiate logical and practical reasons why you have left your previous employer without having a new job secured. It’s also worthwhile remembering that as per standard employment reference procedure, the prospective employer will ask for details pertaining to your departure, so ensure your response stands up to verification.

Questions relating to difficult conditions at work and your response…..

This is a standard question to evaluate how you respond under pressure and will also assess your communication and problem solving skills. Ideally, your answer should illustrate your resolve and resilience alongside your maturity and ability to work well under adverse conditions. Give examples of how you have helped or been instrumental in resolving issues effectively and avoid introducing any highly emotional instances which may still feel too sensitive to discuss.

What achievements are you most proud of?

Ensure your examples are work related and demonstrate a tangible benefit to the business in question. Ensure your examples are as recent as possible and for more experienced candidates looking at specific roles e.g. Group Operations Manager, that your examples focus on key related areas e.g. building sales, concept & team development, developing / generating new revenue streams, reducing operating costs. Personal achievements should not be discussed unless they are particularly impressive or prestigious.

What are your career goals / ambitions?

Your answer should reassure the interviewer of your genuine enthusiasm, interest and serious intention to offer a long term commitment to this role. Reassure the prospective employer that the role you are applying for fits in with your career plan. Good responses may focus on your own professional training and development, an increase of responsibility / duties in your role and involvement in new business initiatives such as product / concept development and new openings.

What are your salary expectations?

Salary negotiations are best handled at job offer stage, however, if at any point during the recruitment process your salary expectations / requirements are requested, try to give a broad salary range, reassuring the prospective employer that the salary is not of primary importance.

As a guide, refer to the vacancy ad or contact your consultant for information on salary and related benefits e.g. paid overtime, private pension provision, private health / medical care packages, life insurance, clothing allowance, interest free travel loans & season tickets, etc.

For further advice and guidance - please contact us on: 0203 397 9021. We look forward to hearing from you!

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