Graduate Tip: How You Can Impress Your Employer in 5 Minutes or Less

As one might expect, the biggest concern most students have after graduation is finding a job. While we can’t guarantee employment after graduation (because that all depends on you!), we can say that almost 100% of our graduates do secure a job in the culinary field of their choice before our 12-week program ends.

If you’re wondering how, the answer is simple: we introduce our students to the right people.

We’ve had over 85 graduates complete our culinary and catering program and move on to something bigger, and we reached out to several of them to see how they did it. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Know Who You’re Talking To

Whether you’re interviewing for a prestigious internship, specialized program, the job of your dreams, or the entry-level one that will get you there, knowing who your future employer is and what they’re looking for in a professional chef will give you that special advantage when entering the workforce.

Do research and lots of it! Learn about who they are, where they went to school, and their employment history. Find out what they’re passionate about, why they do what they do, and what they like to cook.

2. Know Who You’re Working For

If you’re interviewing for a corporate kitchen position, learn about the founder and mission of the company. Ask questions about the position you’re applying for before the interview.

Not only will you want to know what’s expected of you when you get the job (i.e., if you’re expected to manage kitchen operations, delegate tasks to other team members, come up with new dinner specials, etc.), you’ll want to bring some of your own great ideas to the table. Doing so will show them you’re a valuable addition to the company and are excited about the opportunity to help them succeed.

3. Know How to Handle a Knife

Most restaurants require prospective chefs to perform culinary tasks during the initial interview, which will include demonstrating proper knife techniques. In just a few seconds with an onion and a cutting board, your employer will know whether or not you have what it takes to keep up in the kitchen.

In a previous blog post, our graduates emphasized how mastering knife and other basic kitchen skills before graduation will set you apart from other interviewees and help you qualify for a job you love.

4. Know How to Think Out-of-the-Box

When you’re challenged, do you look to someone for an answer or do you dig down deep and figure out a solution by yourself? Your employer wants to hire someone who is confident in his abilities to overcome whatever obstacles come his way. Be prepared to tell a story about several real-life ways you used your creative powers in the kitchen to solve a problem or improve a solution.

Can’t think of an example? See what our UT Culinary & Catering students did when they ran out of a key ingredient during a live food truck event. Have you done something similar?

5. Know How to Communicate

Taking charge in the kitchen with good communication is a fundamental skill for good chefs. Due to the hustle and bustle of kitchen activity, many times instructions are only able to be given once and need to be carried out quickly. Good communication is essential to building and leading a strong kitchen team and accomplishing restaurant business goals.

Although you may be a little nervous during your interview, be sure to speak clearly and directly. If a question requires a simple yes/no answer, take a minute to elaborate on why your stance is yes or no. If you’re not sure about a question, ask for more clarification.

Calling All Cooks: Impress Your Employers with a Culinary Certificate!

With a UT Culinary & Catering Program certificate, you can be the type of chef restaurant managers want to hire. In just 12 weeks, you’ll learn the fundamentals of cooking and kitchen management through hands-on training and real-life experiences. Learn more about the UT Culinary & Catering Program by registering for a free information session by filling out this form online or contacting Pam Quick at quickp@utk.edu or 865-974-3181.