Hospitality Leaders Tips for Landing your Dream Interview

Submitted by: Jackie McMann-Oliveri, PHR
Director of Human Resources – Bobby Flay Restaurants and ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Lecturer

Selection and hiring in our wonderful world of Hospitality is everything because we are only as good as the people who work for us.  We work long, we work hard, it is hot in the kitchen and crazy on the floor and one of the main ingredients in success is passion.  I am certain that we can train knife skills and we can train steps of service, but passion – we need you all to bring it!

When asked to write this article, of course, I was stoked!  Then I thought, I can easily be the boring ‘HR Lady’…. or how about I get by with a little help from my friends?

So, I reached out to some of our industry greats to ask them their tips on how to land the interview you desire and some of their culinary interviewing go to questions. Along with their help and my own expertise, we are certain to set you up for success.  Identifying and supporting great talent has been my passion for many years, I am amazingly lucky to have access to some of the very best in the industry (and don’t forget the food) and I also get to share my knowledge, stories and passion with the ICC community.


Hospitality Leaders Tips for Landing your Dream Interview
  1. Own and know your Personal brand – Know your mission, values, social presence and goals and integrate them in all you do. Some of our core values at Bobby’s Burger Palace are being fast, friendly, focused and fun.  What are yours and how do you live them? – Me! 
  1. “Do your research! It is important to know the mission and philosophy of the company as well as what restaurants it runs.  This ensures that we understand what you are looking for in a career and that those goals are aligned with the excellence we pursue.” Kim DiPalo, Talent Manager – Union Square Hospitality Group
  1. “ABC, Always Be Communicating!  Whether it’s LinkedIn, via email, over the phone, or in person, building a rapport is increasingly important.  Everyone’s time is valuable, and unfortunately less and less time is being spent on interviewing.  It’s imperative to success that those participating have a good understanding of the expectations, timelines, and an open, honest dialog throughout the process.” Amedeo Agresti, General Manager – Rosa Mexicano, Lincoln Center location
  1. “Confidence is great, cockiness is not. Humble professionals are the best. Listen more than you talk, you are the one being interviewed, don’t interview your interviewer. Smile, Smile, Smile, give a firm handshake and make eye contact. A great way to impress your interviewer and feel more confident is to do some homework beforehand. In an ideal world you would visit the establishment to see what the environment is like before the interview. If making it in is not possible, do some research online, learn about the menu, read the about page on the website, look at their social media channels etc, so that it seems as though you care and want to immerse yourself into the culture. When candidates walk in knowing about me and the restaurants, I am always impressed. “ – Michael Chernow, Owner – Seamore’s, Founding Partner – Well Well, Co-Founder – The Meatball Shop and ICC Alum and Lecturer

Chefs Go-To Culinary Interview Questions:

“What do you cook at home?” I ask this because I want to know that food is part of their life, not just a job. If they do cook at home, it shows me they carry food over into their personal life and I can see what they cook with and who they fed. It is important to me to have people that think about food and the culture of food so they always bring a fresh perspective to the job of cooking for people. Bradford Thompson – Owner, Bellyfull Consulting, Inc., Chef, Mentor and ICC Lecturer

“Please walk me through your experience job by job and explain to me how you got the job, how you like the job, what you learned from the job, what you disliked and the circumstances surrounding you’re leaving” – Daniel Holzman, Chef and Co-Founder – The Meatball Shop, Founding Partner – Project Foodie and ICC Guest Lecturer

“What is your secret ingredient?” “Fill in the blank – there’s never enough_____!” Christina Tosi, Chef, Founder, Owner – Milk Bar and ICC alum­­

“When I’m hiring a cook for one of my restaurants, and I want to see what they can do, I usually ask them to make me an omelette.” – Bobby Flay, Food Network Personality, Chef and owner – Gato, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, Bobby’s Burger Palace and Alum of the First Class of the French Culinary Institute, now our beloved ICC

What our advice all has in common is the basics, the passion and the accountability that is needed to make it in this business.  My chefs and restaurant managers know and love (and sometimes hate) how many times I tell them…  “The more time we spend hiring, the less time we spend firing”.

Follow our tips and prepare for our questions. Listening to our tips will guide you to land the interview and the restaurant job of your dreams!


LAND YOUR CULINARY DREAM JOB WITH THE HELP OF ICC

Students of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program are in the kitchen cooking from day one under the watchful eyes of accomplished chef-instructors, learning from a curriculum established by world-renowned deans such as Jacques PepinAndré Soltner and Cesare Casella. With help from ICC’s on-going Career Services, students leave with the credentials and connections to pursue careers in the culinary industry. For more information about landing your culinary dream job and enrolling at the International Culinary Center, simply complete the form on this page.