Professional attire is run-o-the-mill advice for any interview, whether it's an office setting or a production line. But when you're interviewing for a job in a food service establishment, be mindful of several tips and hints so you project a clean-cut, meticulous appearance in keeping with the potential employer's expectations and industry standards concerning health and sanitation.
Pastry Chefs and Cooks
Whatever you do -- if you're currently employed in the food preparation or food service industry and you wear a uniform to work -- don't wear your work clothes to the interview. It sends so many wrong messages. The interviewer might not believe you're serious about your job search if you don't take the time to dress appropriately to make a favorable impression. If you're already working for another bakery, you'll probably smell like baked goods, which might not appeal to people outside the kitchen, such as an interviewer in the human resources department. It also suggests that you don't adhere to health regulations if you wear your bakery coat outside the work environment.
Management, Office and Counter Positions
Selecting your attire for an interview as a bakery manager, counter assistant or front-of-house, or FOH, position that's outside the kitchen or what most food service establishments call the back-of-house is simple. Follow the same protocol as if you're interviewing for any other customer-oriented or business role -- a nicely tailored suit in a neutral hue, such as navy, brown or gray. Wear a coordinating blouse, preferably in a solid color. Based on your research, determine whether it's a traditional Mom-and-Pop-type business or if the place has an upscale feel to it that could let you be a little more creative with your attire, such as adding a pop of color.
Flexibility and Style
Bakery employees -- regardless of whether they are FOH or BOH employees -- inevitably have to carry baked goods, reach high shelves, maybe get a dusting of flour or simply be active while they're handling customers' orders, wiping tables and display cases. For these reasons, wear a plain suit or coordinated ensemble that shows you're not prone to wearing flowing sleeves, ruffles or anything other details that would be cumbersome to deal with during the course of a workday.
Keep your accessories to a minimum and take out any extra piercings if you have more than one piercing in each earlobe. Remove pierced jewelry from your nose, tongue, eyebrow and cheeks. Multiple piercings, rings, bracelets and dangling earrings and necklaces can be unsafe in a food service environment. Accessories are distracting, which means the interviewer will probably be more perplexed about your appearance than she is impressed by your work history, skills and qualifications.
Your appearance should reflect strict adherence to good personal hygiene and state and local health regulations. Food service establishments get routine visits from health department officials. In addition to observing safety and health standards on the premises, inspectors look at employees' practices. Demonstrate that you know what's proper for a food service environment, so save the long fingernails painted and charms affixed to them for girls' weekend at the spa. Cut your nails short; have them buffed instead of polished. Wear your hair in a neat style that shows you know what's appropriate for the work environment. For example, if you have waist-length hair, wrap it in a chignon -- one of those trendy high buns or pulled together at your nape -- so that the interviewer doesn't get the impression that you have uncontrollably long hair that might interfere with food service or preparation.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.