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Career Tips from Late White House Chef Walter Scheib

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by , 08-20-2019 at 06:09 AM (60 Views)
Walter Scheib, former White House chef during the Clinton and Bush administrations, recently passed away. Here are several key ingredients that helped contribute to his personal career success.


Be a Good Sport
Walter Scheib and his wife learned of the job opening for the Executive Chef from the newspaper. At the time, Scheib was the Executive Chef for a major resort in West Virginia. His wife joked that he should apply - and he didn't because he didn't think he would be competitive. So his wife secretly sent in his resume and told him after the fact. He didn't get mad, instead he followed up with a phone call to the White House to verify that his application had been received. When he called, he was told that there were several thousand applications. He kept doing his regular job and then was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to interview - and cook for - the top spot in the White House kitchen.



Do Your Homework
As part of the interviewing process, Scheib was invited to cook for Hillary Clinton (then the incoming First Lady) and her staff. In preparing the meal and deciding what to serve, Scheib not only thought about taste - he also chose dishes that reflected American history, culture and the range of foods and fresh ingredients available across the country. As he discussed the ingredients that he had chosen in the meal, he shared that history. By doing his example of research proposal this way, he demonstrated his willingness to do research and partner with other people in preparing meals that also aligned with the mission and purpose of events.


Show You Understand the Job
As Scheib shared information on the food that he had chosen for his test meal, he also included information on his ability to cook for a crowd. While he was only asked to cook for a small group of people, he intentionally chose menu items that could be served for a table of 8 or a dinner of hundreds. While presumably all of the chefs who were chosen to audition for the role had experience cooking for large and small groups, Scheib was the only candidate to mention the need to consider audience size in determining what to make. He was later told that this comment was a key factor in the hiring process as he helped the staff see that he understood what the job would entail.


Don't Be Pushy About Job Offers
There were multiple rounds of interviewing and testing for the Executive Chef position at the White House, but Scheib was patient and responsive throughout the process. Scheib refrained when a decision would be made until after he was invited down to the White House and included in planning discussions. In showing patience, Scheib demonstrated a key etiquette practice for many professions: don't ask about salary or hiring decisions in the interview.


Takeaways
While there are a limited number of openings for executive chefs in well known venues, Walter Scheib's story of how he got the job as Executive Chef for the White House demonstrates best practices that apply to a range of fields and positions. If you show that you are informed, interested and flexible as a candidate for a job you may also find yourself on the receiving end of a job offer.
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