Awhile back I wrote a blog post with tips on getting hired (or not), of which this is a continuation on this series for those in the process of job hunting. The next post in this series will be: Is Your Resume getting to First Base in the Hospitality Business?
Many interviews have historically been conducted by phone for the first stages of multiple step interviews, or for interviews where both parties are separated by state, and sometimes international lines.
With the onset of modern technology, another layer has been added to it, with Skype and Google+ being used for audio and visual interviews.
These are a few steps one can take to make sure their phone and/or virtual interview goes off without a hitch.
- Confirm the details, time and time zone, date and day, AM or PM.
- Iron out, who will be calling whom, and in the event that you get disconnected, who will call who back.
- Have a back-up date and time blocked off in advance, if the interviewer needs to reschedule at the last minute.
- Make sure you can pronounce your interviewers name correctly in advance. There is no shame in asking initially when you first talk to them. If it’s a name with a difficult or out of the ordinary pronunciation, make sure you write it down phonetically, so when you go to address Mr. Kupczyk or Mrs. Leicester, you don't sound like a twit.
- For Skype and G+, have a backup plan. Both platforms are not 100% reliable and be prepared for glitchy and dropped connections, so make sure you have signed up for both and you are available on both. (and give your interviewer, in advance, both your Skype name and your Google+ URL so they can connect with you.)
- For Skype and G+, make sure your webcam works properly and the sound is clear.
- For Skype and G+, check the visuals behind you on your webcam, having a playboy bunny poster behind you, may not give the image you want to project, or a wallboard pinned with dozens of sticky notes may look messy.
- Have a land line as your number for the interview if possible. Cell phones are notorious for having a bad connection or dropping a call.
Preparation in advance of the interview:
- Have a list of questions that you thought out in advance that you think the interviewer might ask and have some answers prepared for them.
- Research the business as much as possible before hand, and make detailed notes about it. You should know that the restaurant you are applying for the Sous Chef's position at has two dining rooms, seats 126 people with 12 at the bar and has 2 menus, one upscale and one casual bistro, and they are only open for brunch on Sundays. The more information you have in advance, the more you will be prepared for questions from the interviewer.
- Familiarize yourself with any menus and other information about the food the establishment is serving as well. Knowing that that the Executive Chef's passion is experimenting with a hard to find wild mushroom is terrific, but that is information is better to know and not bring up, unless it’s asked or relevant. What you don't want to do is come across as a suck-up (or a foodie stalker).
- Have a list of questions prepared about the job you are applying for. Try to think of business related questions, not just questions related to the job you are applying for. If you are applying for a Sous Chef's job for example, you may eventually be in line for the Chef's job (if they are not the owner of course). What type of POS systems do they use? Who are their main broadline vendors. Who do they consider their primary competition. Who do they source their heirloom tomatoes from, that are on the menu all year around, when the local farm doesn't have them. These are all the things a good Sous will have to know anyway if they get the job.
- Do some practice interviews with friends and relatives and take is seriously. Give them a list of prepared questions and then tape if possible your answers. Not everyone has time to brush up on their speaking skills so use the resources that are out there to help. There is a great service out there that is free for job seekers who want to practice their interview skills beforehand. Applicants can check it out at http://www.sayhired.com/bettertalking/. If you have time, seek out a local Toastmasters group, there are groups all over the world that you can visit without obligation and you may decide to join anyway.
Preparation the day of the interview:
- Have your resume in front of you.
- Have a large or several large, glasses of water with you.
- Sit in an area where you won't be distracted by anything. Sitting where you can catch the TV, or hear the radio, can distract you at a critical moment when you might be asked something important that you need to concentrate on.
- Be ready to talk about specifics in your resume. You may have stated in your last job as Sous Chef that you managed the kitchen when the Chef was off, but what precisely did you do? How many employees did you manage. Be prepared and be prepared to say no you "didn't" do things as well. Lies, even little white ones, always come back to haunt you.
- Be prepared for off the wall questions. On one of my very first interviews right out of culinary school, the interviewer threw me for a loop (fortunately I had been on a tour of the facility already). "What would you do if there was a fire in the back storage area and no one was around to help?" Apparently I said the right things because I did get hired. But be prepared for out of the box questions. A couple of my favorites when interviewing line cooks was, "What's the first thing you would do in the event of a gas leak in the kitchen?" and what would you do if you had a wedding party coming in two hours and they had cod on the set menu, and you just discovered the reach-in condenser quit and all the fish went bad."
- Also be prepared to not answer questions that are infringing on your rights. Legally they may not ask you some things, http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/index.cfm is a good point of reference for what you don't legally have to answer. Of course you don't want to blow the potential interview by refusing to answer a question. This page, http://www.uwec.edu/career/online_library/illegal_ques.htm has some good tips and strategies on what do in the case of being asked something you don't know, can't or shouldn't answer.
- Take some deep breathes before the call, focus, and SMILE! A smile comes through in your voice.
- Dress in business attire. While this might seem strange to do, how you feel when you talk on the phone comes through in your phone voice. If you are dressed professionally, you will feel professional. (in the case of doing a virtual visual interview, you should be doing this anyway,)
- Thank the interviewer for their time.
- Don't forget to follow up after the phone interview by email and/or in writing.