How many Chef Job Interviews do you need to conduct to know you’ve found the right, or wrong, chef? One? Two? Three? Is it necessary to throw in a days kitchen trial too? And if you do all the above, have three job interviews, have the chef do a days trial, spread all this out over, say, a month how much longer should it take to decide whether you’ve found the right chef for the job, or not? Another day, another two more days, three more days……? Can anyone say?
While the above scenario is deliberately generic, you can talk to us in confidence, we’ve had experiences with employers very much along those lines. In one particular scenario
we were forced to wait the equivalent of a full working week, a working week after our chef had his final interview, of three interviews plus a one day trial, before resorting to the nuclear option i.e. giving notice of our intention to withdraw the chef from the process. I should interject here that by this point the chef in question had given us serious notice that they were ready to move on anyway.
Closing Out On Chef Job Interviews
The peculiar thing here is that once we gave notice of our intention to withdraw the chef from the, job interview/evaluation, process something happened which we’d been trying to make happen all week, the client phoned us up. Phoned us up to tell us that they were unhappy with our move to withdraw the candidate. It was progress of a sort, albeit a bit late in the day, but not so late that they couldn’t yet make an offer, or failing that, simply give us the feedback we’d been chasing on behalf of the chef all week. In the end we had to settle for the latter (because after all that they still didn’t know) but it was better than nothing. What did genuinely surprise us though was the chasm that existed between what they, the client, thought our job was and what we think our job is. But first a smidgen of background.
I mentioned that we were forced to wait the equivalent of a working week for feedback. That means that we didn’t hear anything back from the client on the day of the interview. As is our habit we waited till the afternoon of the next day before trying to follow up (we don’t want to be too pushy but we don’t want our chefs left dangling either). This we did by phone but had to settle for leaving a voicemail and, belt & braces, an email. The day after we did the same, and so on until the final day, day five, when we announced our intention to withdraw the candidate. So after five days we finally get to speak to the client who, very politely, lets us know that we’ve been a bit pushy and that they can’t understand why we’re putting the pressure on. If the individual in question had at any previous point struck us as unreasonable, or in anyway unethical, this would be easy to dismiss but quite the opposite is true which left us wondering whether maybe “it was us, not them” that was the problem.
Really, it’s you, not us!
It’s hard to think critically, and fairly, about such events when you’re an actor in them yourself but such caveats aside that’s exactly what we’ve done and here it is, our position: chef’s are entitled to feedback on how they’ve performed in interview within 24 hours of the interview, period! To test the validity of that simply invoke the old truism “do unto others as you’d have them do to you.” Would you like to wait two, three, four, five or more days without any feedback, on how you did in a job interview? We’re talking feedback, nothing more. If you’re dealing with an agency would you be happy if they waited indefinitely to give you a steer on how you did in a job interview and what the likely next step is? These are more than rhetorical questions because, as became apparent in our final conversation, with our client, this is exactly what they expected of us, i.e. their expectations were the polar opposite of the chef we had in interview with them. The Chef was desperate to know where he stood and what, if any, the next move would be and they, the client, were desperate to kick that can as far down the road as they could, ideally under a veil of silence. Is it any wonder that employment agencies are about as popular as rabies when so many of them seem happy to go down this route with clients? I say “so many” because this client is no novice when it comes to agencies and, obviously, found our way of handling things to be alarmingly proactive.
Job Interview Morals, Lessons and Learnings Learned
So what lessons have we learned and which side will we come down on in future? Well firstly we’ll be doing everything we can to avoid such a conflict of interests but when/if such a conflict does arise we’ve resolved to come down on the side of the chef? That answer may seem counterintuitive, it’s the client who pays after all, but bear with me. Clients come to agencies for a whole variety of reasons but never because they love using agencies, we get that and we’re on board with it too but there’s one job we’re not happy to accept, and won’t accept at any price, and that’s catching an employers flak when their hiring processes, by design, make life miserable for our chefs. That’s one thing we refuse to have outsourced to us because it doesn’t take long for the taint of such bad experiences to attach itself to the agency instead of the employer. Chefs are our currency and if you want to work with us be prepared to show maximum respect to every one of our chefs you bring to interview. If you can’t do that, then don’t use us, it really is as simple as that!
So, how many chef job interview does it take, counting phone interviews, to know whether you’ve found the right chef, or not? I don’t know but I do know that there’s a certain point reached in some hiring assignments when it becomes clear that the client doesn’t know either. If, as an agency, the slogans on your website about “candidate care” etc are to have any meaning, beyond being empty advertising copy, this is the time to stand up for your candidate. If that means potentially losing the job, or worse, losing the client so what? If you’re any good as an agency you’ll replace that client very quickly and you’ll at least earn a name for not messing your candidates around. That’s a good name to get if you want the best candidates and when it comes to chefs, we very much want to be working with good chefs.
Note on terminology: the use of the term “our chefs” isn’t meant to imply ownership; apologies if this has caused offense or irritation.
Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com