Please Help!!! Pastry Chef Interview Questions/suggestions

Decorating By krazykat_14 Updated 3 Nov 2011 , 2:05pm by topconlacj

krazykat_14 Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 7:03pm
post #1 of 33

ok, I'm going to loose my job at the end of June....

Ok, so God is watching out for me and I find an opening for a Pastry Chef position at a local casino. I'm so excited about this possibility I can barely sit still!!! I've never baked professionally but the ad says 1-2 yrs experience prefered (-not required) So I've got an interview set up (on my birthday for luck) and I need to know any and all suggestions/tips to land this job.

If I take in a portfolio of my work, do you think it would help? I've made up a small one and can post pics of it tomorrow if anyone wants to see it...

32 replies
SugarplumStudio Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 9:29pm
post #2 of 33

Sounds like a great opportunity!

Definitely bring a portfolio, along with your resume with complete job history. One of the things people don't realize about having a job as a pastry chef is how many other things we have to be able to do besides bake great desserts!

Some things to think about. Chances are, these things will be discussed during your interview:

Multi-tasking is the core of our job. Look at your time management skills. Look at your ability to share a space and getting along with other employees. Chances are, you won't have your own work area. Can you work without being territorial?
Are you willing to learn 'their way"?
How easily can you refocus and reorganize if a wrench is thrown in the works, i.e. last minute orders, missing ingredients?
How organized are you?
Can you take constructive ( and not-so-constructive) criticism?
Do you have strong math and reading skills?
Are you a self starter who can work autonomously or do you need to follow someone else's structure? The job may require either.
Are you ok with the hours and work load that will be expected of you? Will you be agreeable to working holidays, early mornings, late evenings, weekends?

Make a list for yourself of any questions or issues you may have with these questions if they are asked. If you know ahead of time that you may need, say... help scheduling your production, you can ask what support you'll have rather than just saying OK to everything without knowing exactly what is expected.( we've allllll done it, getting excited in the moment!)
Most of all be honest about what you can and can't do and what you will and won't do. No experience necessary usually means that they prefer to train someone their way, but having a base knowledge is always an advantage.

Good luck to you!

hallow3 Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 9:40pm
post #3 of 33

I am sorry to hear that you will be losing your job. I am just taking a new job there in South Bend, IN. I am from TN and we too are losing a bunch of employees, so don't feel bad it is happening everywhere.
I hope your interview goes well and you like the atmoshere there. Take in considerations who you boss will be and the type of management style he has in a manager. Ask if they are only doing certain types of desserts/ pastries, how many are done on a average night/day.
Good luck and let us know how it goes.

krazykat_14 Posted 11 Jun 2008 , 2:00pm
post #4 of 33

Wow! Thanks for the great advice SugarplumStudio! I didn't even think about everything else going into this kind of job- I'm even more excited than before!!!

Hey, hallow3, we'll be almost neighbors!!! Actually, if the pastry chef job doesn't work out, I've got a few apps in in South Bend, too! One of the best things about this area: not that far from Fort Wayne, IN- home of Country Kitchen SweetArt... I LOVE that store!!! If it wouldn't be a two hour commute for me, I'd work there!!!

Ok, so I'm going to post the portfolio I made- please tell me if it's all wrong, since I haven't done one before...
LL

SugarplumStudio Posted 11 Jun 2008 , 11:11pm
post #5 of 33

You're very welcome. I'm glad it was helpful!
Portfolio layout looks great. Show your confidence and be enthusiastic!
Good luck!

hallow3 Posted 11 Jun 2008 , 11:58pm
post #6 of 33

Great job on the portfolio. When I get up there we will have to hook up and talk cake and maybe take a trip to the great store of cake oasis. I can't wait. Let us know about the job.

joshalow Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:43pm
post #7 of 33

They may ask you about specific techniques- i.e. if you know how to make sugar displays, chocolate displays, etc. If they have large events, they may ask what dishes would you make. Plating might be another question.

They may ask that you make a sample right there. Some places are willing to let their interviewees bring in samples. I had a 3 day interview where I had to make up 3 different cakes, and present it to the owner on the last day. I had to answer questions from the Head Pastry chef, the Head chef, the owner of the company, and 1-2 other people that worked for the company.

krazykat_14 Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:57pm
post #8 of 33

Holy Canoli! I suppose they'd probably take points off if I piddled down my leg and fainted, huh? And I was worried about what I was going to wear!

Ok, I don't think it's going to be quite that intense- the only educational requirement is a HS Diploma or GED- I've got a bachelor's in a TOTALLY unrelated field, but it's still a bachelor's... I can't imagine asking someone to "throw together" a molten sugar sculpture without any training- that could become a VERY painful experience...

I could do an impromptu cake/desert... I haven't heard anything from them about brining in a sample and there wasn't anything in the description about it, either, so I don't think I will do that. If I were interviewing and some stranger brought in something for me to eat, I would be weary until I knew what they could/couldn't do...

But thanks for the suggestions of what might/could go on- now I'll be prepared and hopefully won't soil myself if they spring something on me...! icon_lol.gif

ncdessertdiva Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 5:46pm
post #9 of 33

Companies that are hiring "hands-on" positions will sometimes ask you to do a stage - basically decorate a cake, produce a pastry, etc. Many of the local bakeries and catering companies do that here.

Good luck!
Leslie

krazykat_14 Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 4:41pm
post #10 of 33

Well, I survived. I'm pretty disappointed, though.

As I said, it's for a new-ish casino/restaraunt/hotel, so it was this big group interview. There were about 18 of us and they did this little spiel about the casino, the hotel, yadda yadda. Then we did a math test, and interview questions in a big round-robin style. It was weird, but I didn't get stuck with any of the REALLY hard ones- but the girl next to me got the one I practiced (where do you see yourself in 5 years) Doh! I had a really good answer for that one, too! Anyway, I was the only one there for the pastry chef position- there were 3 gift shop cashiers, and a couple for security... so nobody else would have had any idea what I was talking about if I started talking cake!

So now I just sit and wait. I didn't even get to show off my nifty portfolio icon_cry.gif (the HR people just do general stuff I guess there's a hiring manager that's specific to each department)

But thanks again to everyone who looked and helped- if I ever get another shot again, I'll be ready for it! icon_biggrin.gif

emrldsky Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 4:53pm
post #11 of 33

Good luck on the job, even though the first interview is already over. icon_smile.gif

Where in NW Indiana are you? I'm originally from Gary, and my husband is from Warsaw (we're in Lafayette now). icon_biggrin.gif

krazykat_14 Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 6:58pm
post #12 of 33

I'm in LaPorte- but working in the Chesterton/Valpo area right now. We have NO good bakeries around- only a SuperWalMart, a couple of grocery stores and one REALLY high end bakery (they're the only ones who would even consider fondant!)

That's the reason I thought it was an omen from God that I found this opening- I am being outsourced just at the time when I find an ad for a Pastry Chef not too far from home... I guess I'm not used to applying to such a huge place- normally, I would go in for an interview with the owner/office manager and be working directly for them, not going through 2-3 different people before even meeting my future co-workers... I'm just disappointed that I didn't even talk to anyone who would be the one to hire me.

adonisthegreek1 Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 7:55pm
post #13 of 33

I don't have interview advice since I am not a professional pastry chef yet, but...definitely take your portfolio since you've never baked professionally. I have been a professional graphic artist and I think you should rethink the layout of your portfolio. Not to sound mean, but it looks kind of jumbled. You can buy a real portfolio booklet at any art or craft supply store. I would put one large photo on each page with a brief description underneath. You may want to do a smaller inset photo if you want to show a particular area of detail on a cake.

A simple, eyecatching presentation will go much farther. If you are computer savy, you can make a slide show of your work and take it in on a portable DVD player. My clients have loved that.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

krazykat_14 Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 8:36pm
post #14 of 33

adonisthegreek1, thanks for the input! Having a professional graphic artist give tips on a portfolio can really help! thumbs_up.gif

Unfortunately, I went to the interview and didn't get the pastry chef job. icon_cry.gif They e-mailed me that night to say that they found someone more qualified. I'm heartbroken but determined. icon_twisted.gif So, I went back to their website and searched through the open jobs and applied to the "lower" level cook jobs- just to get my foot in the door. (and got offered an interview!) I figure if I get in there then I may be able to prove myself and get in to the pastry positions... AND they have a tuition reimbursement program- I'm going to see if they'll pay for the French Pastry School in Chicago- THAT will qualify me for that pastry chef position! icon_biggrin.gif

emrldsky Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 8:38pm
post #15 of 33

I don't understand how they can determine someone is more qualified when they didn't even talk to you about what you can do! Sounds like they already had someone in mind.

Want me to smack them around? I mean, really. icon_wink.gif

krazykat_14 Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 8:44pm
post #16 of 33

It was weird- it was a group interview! There were 18 of us all applying for different jobs. It was a basic weed-out-the-obvious kind of thing, but how they could not hire me for that job is crazy- I didn't even get a chance to explain why I could do this job... (I've been baking successfully since I was 12!) but I haven't been paid for it yet, so it doesn't look like I'm qualified... oh well, I'll REALLY get even with them- I'll weasle my way in there one way or another! If I have to hit the lottery and buy the place, I WILL BE THEIR PASTRY CHEF!!! Muhahahahahaha!!!!!! icon_evil.gif

deanwithana Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 8:56pm
post #17 of 33

Well, I was in the HR industry for 20 years (non-gaming related though)....we did do group interviews as well and that was to do exactly what you said....weed out the obvious and save time from having to do 18 +/- interviews. From there, we called in people individually to speak with them of the credentials pertaining to the certain job. As long as you were outgoing, friendly and spoke with confidence I am sure that you will be called back!!! Good luck!!!!

krazykat_14 Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 9:02pm
post #18 of 33

deanwithana, thanks for that! It actually made me feel better- something I didn't think would happen for at least another week or two!

I think I'll swing by a Kinkos or an office printing store type place and see about making a new portfolio to take to the cook interview- maybe it'll help!

Thanks to everyone- you all really understand... *sniffle* I love you guys! icon_cry.gif

loriemoms Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 9:33pm
post #19 of 33

A lot of times, they have to post a job, even though they have someone in mind (maybe from another casino, or the head chef might have a pastry chef he used to years and they were hired as a "team" just keep plugging away!! I do agree though they probably will ask you to decorate a cake and watch (I have done that and the first time I was kind of scary..I never had anyone WATCH me decorate a cake before!) If you are going for a cook job, you probably will have to demostrate your knife skills and other small tasks that all cooks know how to do. These are those kind of jobs where they can't hire you if they don't know if you can do them or not! And of couse, the only way to know that is to watch you do them!

As far as culinary school, our jr college here has some really good cert programs that only take like a year to complete, and they help you find a first level position in a kitchen. It isn't to expensive (like here, its 600 bucks for the entire pastry chef certificate) That might help you as well!

good luck and sorry to hear about your job. Both me and my DH once lost our jobs within two months of each other and it turned out better in the long run...

BakingGirl Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 9:37pm
post #20 of 33

krazykat_14, just a little tip on the portfolio. I did a great photo book in the Portfolio style (black leather bound cover and portfolio style lay-out) on Shutterfly. You upload your own photos to the site and then you can play around with the lay-out and the text as much as you like. You also can see it page by page as it would appear in real life. I am so pleased with mine, it was a great investment. For a 8.5X11" 25 pages (several photos per page mind you) leather bound book it was around $45 including shipping.

adonisthegreek1 Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 12:23pm
post #21 of 33

krazykat_14, I'm glad my suggestions may help you in the future. I'm sorry that they were not posted in a timely manner. You must have thought, wow, this girl can't read...I already had the interview. I posted before your update, but got an error message so I just walked away from the computer. I had no idea that it posted hours later.

Good luck with your new interview! Keep us posted.

krazykat_14 Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 6:42pm
post #22 of 33

****UPDATE****

I went in for a second interview today for a cook position. I figure if I get a foot in the door, I can move up and over to pastry... SO I GOT THE COOK JOB! icon_biggrin.gif Which isn't even the most exciting part... The best part is that the Sous Chef who interviewed me was impressed by my portfolio and said that I have a lot of talent!!!! icon_biggrin.gif He also said that I can work as a cook for the fine dining restaraunt for 6 months then transfer over to Pastry!!! WOO HOO YEAH ME!!!! party.gif

Mike1394 Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 6:51pm
post #23 of 33

Veryy cool CONGRATS

Mike

ashcake Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 6:56pm
post #24 of 33

Congrats!

CakeWhizz Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 6:57pm
post #25 of 33

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay icon_smile.gif !!! I love a happy ending! Well done to you! You were determined not to let go of your dream and it paid off!! When do you start and please remember to tell us about your first day.

loriemoms Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 7:11pm
post #26 of 33

I double that! CONGRATS!!!!!!!

mkolmar Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 9:12pm
post #27 of 33

WOO-HOO!!!!! That's great.

mrngorickets Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 3:23am
post #28 of 33

Hi,

Thanks very much for this comment. It help me to think about my ideals.

Tks again and pls keep posting.

krazykat_14 Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 4:58am
post #29 of 33

Wow- I can't believe how long it's been since all this happened...

Quick update since I'm thinking of it now: I ended up quitting the casino job- it was terrible- the entire process was one big "bait & switch." There was no pastry opening in the first place. They started off offering me a back of house job at the high-end restaraunt but switched that around a few times until I was just re-filling pans at the buffett. I loved it for a bit, but then they started messing around with scheduled breaks and doing things for the sake of trying to make people crazy... A new chef took over, had to prove that he was the head chef, and I got offered a real job, working days, making more money, and closer to home. It was sad, but now I'm on to my next big opportunity...

Last year, I got married and moved to Georgia! I'm looking for work down here, and if it happens to be in a bakery or something- it all worked out for the best! icon_biggrin.gif

mrngorickets Posted 3 May 2011 , 2:09am
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by krazykat_14

Wow- I can't believe how long it's been since all this happened...

Quick update since I'm thinking of it now: I ended up quitting the casino job- it was terrible- the entire process was one big "bait & switch." There was no pastry opening in the first place. They started off offering me a back of house job at the high-end restaraunt but switched that around a few times until I was just re-filling pans at the buffett. I loved it for a bit, but then they started messing around with scheduled breaks and doing things for the sake of trying to make people crazy... A new chef took over, had to prove that he was the head chef, and I got offered a real job, working days, making more money, and closer to home. It was sad, but now I'm on to my next big opportunity...

Last year, I got married and moved to Georgia! I'm looking for work down here, and if it happens to be in a bakery or something- it all worked out for the best! icon_biggrin.gif



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