Have you ever interviewed a chef or kitchen staff who claimed to be a team player, only to find out later that they aren’t?


Some people can pretend their way through an interview and can come up with convincing answers. 

In hospitality kitchens, you need a team who can work efficiently and harmoniously to deliver quality service to guests. 

How do you screen for team players? 

Use interview questions designed to reveal evidence of an applicant’s abilities to work in a team. 

Your goal is to flesh out more hints and insights into their character and mindset based on their prior team experience (or lack thereof).

Check out the following questions and what you should observe for when the applicant provides the answers:


Definition of a great team player


“What is your definition of a “great team player”? “

When an applicant can mention the desired qualities of a team player, it demonstrates awareness of what is expected of them when hired. 

What to note: 

  • Hints on being able to communicate effectively with others
  • Appreciation of other’s contributions
  • Handling and solving a problem as a team 
  • Understanding another person’s viewpoint and opinion 


A team experience that left them with a memorable impact 


“What’s your most memorable experience of working in a team?” 

What to note:

  • Observe behaviour when describing the experience – do they describe it with fondness or disdain?
  • What made the experience memorable – is it a positive or negative experience? (Negative experiences can affect a person’s interest to work again in a team. Be mindful of this, since an applicant can say otherwise to secure the job, but the truth may manifest later on. 
  • Is there a tone of satisfaction and pride in being able to contribute to the success? 
  • Is there a tone of frustration or regret?
  • Did they play an active or passive role in that experience?


RELATED READ: 5 Cross-Training Tips To Resolve Your Staffing Problems


Passing or accepting blame


“What’s your worst experience of working in a team “

“What do you do if things in a team don’t turn out the way that was planned?”

What to note:

  • Ability to identify the lessons learnt from the experience
  • Blames others for failing the task
  • Downplays role in the failing of the task
  • Openness to still work with a team or opt to avoid it in the future
  • Willingness to improve
  • Frequency of “I” vs “we” to determine role and accountability. 


Giving credit to others for successes


“In your past successes, what was your role and what were your teammates’ roles?”

What to note:

  • Ability to identify the input of other people and acknowledging them
  • Hogs credit for himself
  • The use of “I” vs “we” to determine his accountability for what happened


Sharing lessons with workmates


“Are you happy to share a lesson you learnt with other team members?”

“What have you learnt from working with other people and have you shared them with your workmates? 

What to note:

  • Ability to identify lessons learnt from others
  • Willingness to share information in the interest to improve team performance




In reality, many chefs, cooks, and kitchen staff are hired in a rush to fill in a position quickly. 

A great solution for rapid staff hiring is to reach out to reputable chef staffing agencies. If you are based here in Perth or anywhere in WA,  Anytime Chefs can provide you with professional talents who are highly experienced with various venues ( even in remote locations),  working alongside with various kitchen teams. Anytime Chefs can support you not only for temporary chef hire but for permanent staffing as well. 

However, if time is pressed and you are considering the present applicants, there is still a way to determine their team playing ability. You can assess this when you have them for a run through in the kitchen. 

What to note:

  • How do they cope with the situation?
  • Do they communicate effectively with senior staff to help him learn the ropes in the kitchen?
  • How do they interact with other staff? With courtesy or arrogance? 
  • Are they able to identify any lessons from experience?

Keep in mind that most people get anxious during job interviews. This anxiety can lead to people flubbing interviews even if they naturally excel in actual work. 

As the hiring party, you need to prepare several backup questions to flesh out more information from an anxious applicant.  Specific questions together with an eye for the body language can help improve the odds of you hiring a suitable candidate. 


In Summary:

A team player is an asset to every industry. It is typical to look for a star player who can deliver exceptional skills, but that alone cannot guarantee consistent quality output, particularly in the kitchens where you need each working member to contribute their weight in performance. A fast-paced environment such as hospitality kitchens needs staff members who push forward with similar goals of delivering quality service to their customers. 

Ensuring that your kitchen team functions harmoniously with a common goal is a continous task. It doesn’t end with you hiring a suitable candidate with team playing strengths.  It is just the beginning. 


That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!

Ciao for now,

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