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Food Safety Manager: Interview Questions and Answers

Food Safety Manager: Interview Questions and Answers
An interview for a food safety position can mean knowing and understanding policies, regulations, procedures and more. Being prepared for the interview by expecting a variety of questions may help you feel more confident in your answers. Knowing how you will answer both common and specific food safety questions can help you achieve your career goals. In this article, we list common food safety interview questions, including sample answers, to help prepare you.

Q. How do you believe you would benefit our organization?

This is a great question that provides you the opportunity to put your best foot forward, to tell the interviewer why he or she should consider hiring you for the job. Make sure you're well prepared for this question as you won't likely get a second chance to really shine.

Q. What has been your biggest professional disappointment?

When discussing a professional disappointment, make sure to discuss a scenario you could not control. Be positive about the experience and accept personal responsibility where applicable.

Q. How long do you want to work for us if we hire you?

Here being specific is probably not the best approach. You may consider responding, “I hope a very long time.” Or “As long as we're both happy with my performance.”

Q. What has disappointed you about a previous job?

Again, this question could get you in trouble so tread carefully. Some good answers might be that your previous job didn't provide any room for growth, that you were laid off due to a mandatory reduction in staff, that they closed their office in your state and required you to relocate, etc. Make sure not to mention anything negative about the people you worked with, the company in general or the job itself.

Q. What does food safety mean to you?

Food safety means everything to me. When you’re working as a food safety manager, it is imperative to make sure that all food items and correlating elements are handled in a safe and clean manner.

Q. As a food safety manager, what have been some of the main highlights of your work?

While working as a food safety manager, I have been responsible for a huge array of duties, including developing and overseeing all food safety regulations, policies and procedures, developing and maintaining standard operational procedures for food safety, monitoring and verifying that food items are properly stored and used before their expiry dates kick in, and ensuring that quality assurance directives are respected at every level.

Q. As far as quality assurance is concerned, how do you manage things?

I have a set of metrics that I refer to primarily when handling food quality assurance tasks. These give me a good gauge to determine if the quality of a food item is at par or not.

Q. What type of skills do you think one needs while working as a food safety manager?

A thorough mind, exceptional analytical skills, deep insight about the food and beverage industry, expertise in enforcing rules and regulations, and great leadership skills are all prerequisites of working as a food safety manager.

Q. I Want To Open A New Food Business. What Do I Need?

Answer :
This will depend on the type of food business and its location. You will have to register the premises used for the food business whether it is a building, market stalls or a moveable structure (delivery vehicle). This is required by law.
Registration will allow local authorities to keep an up-to-date record of all those businesses in their area so they can visit them when required. The frequency of the visits will depend on the type of business.

Q. I Would Like To Make A Complaint With Food I Bought Locally. What Can I Do About It?

Answer :
If you have a complaint about food you bought local seek advice from your local council.
Details they will most likely require are the following;
o Full name of the product including the brand
o Proof of purchase if possible
o Manufacturer's name and address
o Where and when (date) the food was bought
o Batch number and durability date if possible
o Details of the defect

Q. Describe your process for storing and rotating milk and other dairy products to ensure they’re used before they expire.

Why this matters
Ensuring the food your business prepares and serves is fresh is key to keeping your customers safe. An ideal food specialist is vigilant about monitoring expiration dates, spotting spoiled ingredients, and disposing of them properly. But they also take measures to minimize food waste by proactively managing inventory.
What to mention
• Mentions of “first in, first out” or other relevant methods for managing inventory
• Knowledge of the temperatures at which perishable foods should be stored
• Knowledge of how long different perishable food items can be stored before they should be thrown out

Q. Describe a time when a customer complained about how their meal was prepared. How did you resolve the situation?

Why this matters
Customer service is an important component of most food specialist jobs. A strong candidate will prioritize customer satisfaction and remain courteous and accommodating (within reason) when addressing a patron’s dissatisfaction, even if the person in question is acting rudely.
What mention
• Mentions of specific techniques and tactics used to de-escalate a tense or uncomfortable situation, such as offering a refund or free item
• Ideally, the candidate will show they were able to resolve the situation in a way that left the customer satisfied

Q. Tell me about a time when you trained a new team member.

Why this matters
Food specialists are often involved in recommending, developing, and leading training programs to ensure all team members have a thorough understanding of correct food handling procedures. As such, the best food specialists often exhibit strong leadership skills and are eager to impart their knowledge to their colleagues.
What to mention
• Examples of specific skills or procedures the candidate taught another team member
• Demonstrated leadership ability, backed by an understanding of the importance of teamwork in a food service setting

Q. How do you stay up to date on the latest food safety guidelines?

Why this matters
To help their establishments achieve successful health department inspection ratings, food specialists need to continuously monitor evolving guidelines and regulations. This makes a constant learning attitude essential. Failing to follow guidelines could not only result in fines and reputational damage for the establishment, but could put customers at risk.
What to mention
• References to specific resources the candidate uses to monitor evolving regulations, such as health department memos
• A commitment to keeping their skills and knowledge up to date

Q. When should sick workers go home?

Keeping your customers safe is the number one priority. Unfortunately, this means that workers who are sick need to be monitored to keep the food from being contaminated. There are several rules, so here are a few of them. If a food worker is vomiting, has diarrhea, or is experiencing jaundice they must be sent home. Similarly, if they are diagnosed with Norovirus, Hepatitis A, Salmonella, E. coli, or Shigella, they must be sent home. You can also restrict workers to tasks that don’t involve food if they have a sore throat with a fever or a cut on their hands. For help with determining when a worker should stay home, you can consult this Food Worker Illness Flowchart. Once a worker has been restricted or excluded, there are even more rules on when they can come back to work. It’s a good idea to contact your local health department about these rules if you are unsure. They will be happy to let you know when a food worker can return to work.

Q. How do you prioritize tasks?

Employers may ask you this question to see how you perform your duties to be efficient and ensure quality. You can give examples of processes and procedures you are familiar with and how you prioritize tasks on a busy day.
Example: "On a busy day, I would start with checking food and equipment at a location to ensure compliance, especially if the location is already open for business. Then I would ask the staff there some general questions without disrupting too much of their day. After which I would go to the next location. I often order locations to visit logically, so I don't waste time traveling up and down the same road. For locations that are further away, I plan extra time to ensure I do a thorough job."

Q. What qualities should a food safety professional have?

Interviewers may ask this question to determine what you think are the best qualities of a food safety professional and to see if you fulfill those same qualities. You can give examples of your best qualities as a food safety professional and some you want to develop. This can help interviewers see you want to grow and are still open to learning while also showing your knowledge of the industry.

Example: "Food safety professionals are detail-oriented, thorough, knowledgeable and consistent in how they enforce laws and regulations. They ensure every person is safe when consuming plant and animal products. Noticing minor details to keep equipment and food safe ensures people remain healthy."

Q. How have you improved your food safety knowledge in the last six months?

Employers may ask this question to see if you are still passionate and open to learning new things in the industry. You might give examples of new ideas or methodologies you have added to your knowledge and skills. If you have earned a new certification, you can highlight that when answering this question.

Example: "In the last six months, I earned my Food Safety Manager Certification. Keeping all of my skills up-to-date means I can more effectively uphold food safety standards and procedures. I recently adopted a slower and more thorough approach when inspecting safety equipment to make sure every detail complied with laws and regulations."

Q. How do you advise production teams on new equipment or techniques?

Interviewers may ask a question like this to determine how you communicate with other people who work in the industry in order to maintain good relationships and safety at all levels of production. You can give examples of different methods you use to contact farmers and growers and how you relate the new techniques or equipment to their needs.

Example: "Because farmers use a variety of methods of contact, I have used phone calls, emails, physical mail and in-person visits to make sure they have information about new techniques and equipment. I often keep an inventory of new products to introduce them to farmers and growers when I see them, particularly if they express needs that are directly addressed with the information I have."

Q. How did you get started in the food safety industry?

Interviewers may ask this question to determine what your passion for the industry was, if you still have it and how you have grown during your career. You can give them an example of what drew you to the industry and why you are passionate about food safety, as well as how you have grown over the course of your professional life.

Example: "I started my food safety journey at my first food service job at a cafe and I realized no one had done any food safety training. When I searched for food safety classes, I found one nearby and I took it upon myself to take a course and earn my first certification. I worked my way up at that cafe and eventually took other jobs where I increased my knowledge and skills. I want to continue growing my skills so I can help keep people safe."

Q. Explain me what do you know about our company?

Bad Answer: They don't know much about the company. If a candidate is serious and enthusiastic, they should have done some basic research.

Good answer: An answer that shows they've really done their homework and know what the company does, any important current events that involve the company, and the work culture.

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest strength?

There isn't any right answer. Just make sure to make your response positive and true. A few good examples include: Your ability to solve complex problems, Your ability to work well on a team, Your ability to shine under pressure, Your ability to focus in chaotic situations, Your ability to prioritize and organize, Your ability to cut through the fluff to identify the real issues, Your ability to influence other positively. If your strength relates to the position in question that will be more beneficial - but again be honest, don't create a strength for yourself just because you think it will sound good.

Q. What have you done to improve your skills over the past year In Food Safety Management?

You'll want to be prepare with some very specific examples of what you've done over the last year and what you're currently doing to improve your professional knowledge and skill set as well as anything else you're doing the shows self improvement.

Q. How do you handle conflicts with people you supervise?

At first place, you try to avoid conflicts if you can. But once it happens and there's no way to avoid it, you try to understand the point of view of the other person and find the solution good for everyone. But you always keep the authority of your position.

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