If you’re having an interview or going to visit “cold” in the hope of getting a role you’re probably wondering what to say. It can sound quite daunting, especially when you don’t know anything about making bread!
I’ve hired many bakers and the most important thing is motivation. It takes a lot of effort to train a baker from scratch and the most important thing is that they want to do the job.
What happens in a baker’s interview
It’s important to realise that an interview is not a fair way to find a new team member in a bakery. It is simply not possible for an interviewer to tell know how good you will be at baking by a conversation.
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I’ve been desperate to hire when only one person applies and despite thinking I would not normally consider them a good fit they’re hired and in the end become a great baker. Just like I’ve interviewed people who I was excited for, to find them fail arse-down. There is no way of guaranteeing anything.
Expect a conversation that’s going to be fairly casual. The interviewee will want to try and understand you, whether you’ll listen and why you are applying.
All that can be learned from an interview is:
- If the applicant is motivated to do the role
- How they will fit in with the team
- If they know what the job involves
That’s it. What I’ve learned from the many hires I’ve done is what interviewee say outside of these points can be generally ignored. I am just looking to know those three things. If you, the applicant can give relevant answers and ask challenging questions you are certain to be considered.
What to say at an interview
As with every interview you want to give the interviewer the confidence that you understand what the job is about and that you’re excited to do it. Baking professionally is all about technique, pace, accuracy and being a team player.
Here are a few phrases that sit well in bakers interviews. Please reword them to suit your style:
- “I like to be creative and be proud of what I do”
- “I love working with my hands”
- “I enjoy being part of a team”
- “I like to be active and always try to keep busy”
- “I want to achieve perfection when time allows”
- “Health and safety comes first”
- “I’m passionate about making good food, it’s exciting to think I’ll be making products that people will eat”
As mentioned in the how to get a job as a professional baker post you should have scenarios prepared. These are to show the interviewer you have the skills listed in the job specification. There’s also an element of problem-solving that comes into bread baking. Especially if working solo for periods of time or without a manager.
The worst things to say in a baker job interview
I’d avoid saying things things at a bakers interview. Not necessarily because they are all bad but because they are a waste of an answer. The interviewer will likely ignore what you said as it’s irrelevant where you could have responded with something that could be enhancing your prospects.
I watch bake off so I think I’ll be a good baker
Don’t say that you watch Bake off and that’s why you’re interested in bread. Adding food colouring and shaping bread into a castle is not what we do here. Watching the Bake off is not relevant at all so don’t say it!
I bake bread at home -when you don’t!
If you tell the interviewer that you bake bread at home expect to be asked what processes you follow. If you’ve never done it before and all you can through is keywords like “kneading”… “proofing”… “In the oven” it’s going to be a waste of a question and tells the interviewer that you lie.
You don’t need to have baked at home to be a baker and I doubt many professional bakers make homemade bread either!
I like being “crafty” and making things look pretty
This may be true yet in a real bakery, things happen quickly and you won’t want to sound like a person who’ll spend ages perfecting one loaf whilst the rest overproof. Instead, focus on “getting things to look as good as I can in the time I have”. This says to the interviewer that you care about things looking good but are aware you’ll be under pressure to keep up the pace.
What questions to ask at a bakers interview
These questions will give you a feel for how the bakery operates. They will also allow the manager to get a feel for what it’s like to coach you (some kind of psychology going on here!). If they find it easy to explain things to you and you seem to understand then your feet are getting closer to the door!
They will also help you to understand how good the manager will be for you.
Asking questions like these will show a keen interest in the role. They will show that you have researched it and are what I would hope to hear from an applicant.
- Do you make all the bread with the same methods?
- How long does each loaf of bread take to make?
- How long do you bulk ferment your bread?
- How long does your bread rise?
- What temperature are your proofers set at?
- How is the daily production scheduled? What order do you make your products?
- What products are popular?
- What’s the most challenging bread?
- What sort of person fits in with the team?
- Do you use bread improvers or concentrates?
- How long will my training last?
- What shifts will I work?
- What future progression is available?
- What equipment do you use? (if you can get yourself a tour you are doing well!)
Of course, use these questions as you wish. You won’t be able to ask them all so select a couple that interest you the most. The whole point is to ask relevant questions that your curious about and the interviewer to see you are serious about the role.
Going for an interview is a daunting experience for many people. The pressure of being relaxed and calm whilst also not letting yourself down grabs a hold of many, including me! But that is what you must do.
Relax, focus on the three points that an interviewer can look for and move on from there. And remember it is not possible to tell if someone can bake from an interview so if you are not successful it doesn’t mean it’s not for you. Maybe they just got it wrong.
Let me know if I can help further in the comments.