Line cooks prepare and plate food according to the specifications of their chef's or restaurant's menu. As the name describes, they work at one of the "line" stations. These can include the grill, the fryer, the garde-manger, or some combination of these or other stations.
Any food service environment—from Michelin-star restaurants to your local diner—relies on its line cooks for successful service. Because of a line cook's importance, it’s good to know which line cook interview questions you should ask candidates.
8 questions to ask a line cook in an interview
There is a wide range of requirements regarding line cook duties. You'll want to make sure that the knowledge a candidate has is applicable to the restaurant environment you're hiring them for. You'll also want to know which questions to ask a line cook in an interview to assess this knowledge.
1. What kind of formal training do you have when it comes to preparing food?
Formal training is important, but not necessarily as important as practical experience or skill. Just because someone knows what a batonnet cut is doesn't mean they'll be able to execute it quickly and consistently.
This question provides the candidate with an opportunity to talk about their experience and training. If they don't have formal training from a culinary school, they should still have informal on-the-job training at previous positions.
2. How would you prepare your station for the next shift?
Keeping the kitchen organized is important for ensuring a smooth and accurate flow during a busy shift.
It's OK if the candidate doesn't naturally conform to your institution's standards. You're mostly looking to see that they are organized, respectful of coworkers' time, and efficient in their work.
3. How do you ensure your station is well-stocked, even when it’s busy?
Service shifts in the kitchen can be long and hectic. Running out of a key ingredient in the middle of a busy shift can have rippling effects throughout the restaurant.
The key thing to look for in the answer to this question is the ability to think ahead.
4. How do you handle running behind when more tickets keep coming in?
Everyone gets caught in the weeds from time to time. With all the moving parts of a restaurant, it is unreasonable to expect it to never happen. What is important, however, is how someone responds under pressure.
You'll want to look for an answer that shows your candidate can stay calm when things get a little out of control. Asking for help and thinking outside of the box in these situations is a good thing.
5. Can you describe a time when you went above and beyond to accommodate a customer’s request?
You'll want to look for a line cook willing to be creative and resourceful in order to make something special happen.
This question is also a chance to see how seriously a potential candidate will take their role.
6. Describe a time when you disagreed with your manager. How did you handle it?
Tension in any relationship is inevitable, much like falling behind; the key is in how an individual responds.
You'll want to look at how the candidate approaches conflict resolution. Can they de-escalate a situation? Are they capable of putting something aside in order to get through a busy shift?
7. How would you describe the difference between broiling and braising?
This is another technical question that tests whether the candidate knows what they're talking about.
It’s OK if your candidate isn't certain, but in this case, they should be forthcoming, and there shouldn't be too many other gaps in their technical knowledge.
8. How have you seen teamwork play a role in the kitchen environment at previous jobs?
Teamwork is an important part of any successful kitchen. You're looking for an answer that shows your candidate is a team player who will get along with your current team members.
Traits to Look for in Line Cooks
Every restaurant is going to look for something a little bit different, but here are some general traits every line cook should have:
- Attention to detail
- Technical culinary skills
- Team-player attitude
- Calmness under pressure
Fill line cook shifts with Qwick
Let’s be honest; hiring takes a lot of time. But chances are, you need a great line cook today. You can fill that spot in your line easily with the help of Qwick—the leading staffing platform designed specifically for the hospitality industry. Qwick freelancers are vetted for experience and qualifications, so you can fill shifts with confidence.
Ready to get out of the weeds? Create an account and post a line cook shift today.