- “Bake Off” contestants shared what applying for the popular competition series is really like.
- The process includes several steps, like a phone interview and an on-camera test.
- You don’t actually need a ton of baking experience to make the cut.
“The Great British Baking Show” is one of the most popular food-competition series in the world, and many home bakers test their skills by applying to be on it.
But before contestants can make a name for themselves in the tent, they must beat the odds to get on the series, known as “The Great British Bake Off” in the UK.
Insider spoke with former “GBBO” bakers to get the details on what it’s like to apply to and get chosen for the show.
Before anything else, hopefuls need to fill out a detailed form
Season-four contestant Ali Imdad told Insider that the first step of applying to “The Great British Baking Show” is a lengthy online questionnaire, which assesses your personality and skills.
“‘How is your bread baking ability?’ ‘What’s your signature bake?’ ‘What’s your weakness?’ Stuff like that,” Imdad said. “From that, they’re not just trying to see your actual baking ability, they’re also wanting to see your charisma and personality.”
Season-seven baker Rav Bansal said the questionnaire is extensive and called it “the longest application form in the history of forms.”
Antony Amourdoux, a season-nine contestant, added that applicants must also submit photos of their bakes at this stage of the process.
The next step involves a phone interview about baking techniques and knowledge
Amourdoux told Insider that hopeful bakers who make it to the next round must complete a phone interview to further assess their kitchen skills.
“They go through some real technical stuff: What is the difference between a normal sponge and a genoise sponge, different kinds of meringues and the temperatures you use for them,” Amourdoux said. “It’s quite hard.”
The applicants who make it past the phone interview bake for the show’s staff
Following the phone interview, showrunners decide who they wish to see more from and call those potential contestants in for an off-camera skills test, which Amourdoux said includes both sweet and savory bakes.
But Imdad told Insider that the process is far more involved than whipping up a couple of dishes.
“… A food technician there will try your bakes, critique them, and if they like what they’ve seen, they’ll put you in the next round, where they’ll get you to bake some scones and bread,” Imdad said. “Sometimes there will be judges there to critique you. Sometimes it will just be food technicians.”
Then potential contestants move on to a screen test, which replicates the experience of being on the show
Kitchen skills alone will not secure you a spot on “The Great British Baking Show” — you must be able to handle the stress of the competition’s iconic technical challenges while being on camera.
Amourdoux told Insider that prospective contestants must prove their ability to do that during the screen test, which consists of baking and answering questions while being filmed to mimic the experience of being on the series.
The remaining contestants must meet with a psychologist before the final group is chosen
According to Imdad and Amourdoux, to confirm that they can handle the stress of competing and the possibility of the show catapulting them to fame, the remaining 30 to 40 bakers in consideration must meet with a psychologist.
From there, the group is whittled down to the 12 or 13 accepted applicants.
“I think there are easily eight rounds of interviews in this entire process,” Amourdoux said. “It isn’t easy to get on that show.”
Once contestants have been notified that they’ve made it on the show, they have to keep it a secret
Those who make the cut are contacted by the show to let them know they’re joining the cast. Contestants aren’t allowed to share the news, Bansal said, and it’s difficult to keep it hush-hush.
“I still remember receiving that phone call, trying to remain calm around my work colleagues, who were not allowed to know about this secret,” Bansal said.
Season-eight baker Stacey Hart told Insider that to fulfill her nondisclosure agreement, or NDA, she had to come up with an excuse to tell her children about why she was away.
“I told them I was doing a cooking course,” Hart said. “They would tell the world, my kids, they couldn’t keep that secret.”
For those who don’t make the show, it helps to practice and hone your skills before applying again
Hart told Insider that she didn’t get on the show the first time she applied, but that rejection didn’t stop her from improving her bakes and trying again.
“The next year, I decided I was going to get good at every single area of baking, and I did a month of each thing to make sure I was good at bread and pastry and whatever,” Hart said.
“I applied again and got on it the second time,” she added. “It focused me and gave me some kind of reason to bake, which is quite important for me.”
Bakers who are somewhat inexperienced can still make the show
“GBBO” hopefuls who want to be on the show but are not masters in the kitchen still have a chance — Amourdoux told Insider he never imagined he’d actually make the cut.
“I had never baked bread before I went on the show,” Amourdoux said. “… I had done a lot of cooking but never baking. My experience, unfortunately, wasn’t much. The first week I was like, ‘Woah! I just got through week one!'”
The best way to get on the show is to genuinely be yourself
Season-eight contestant Tom Hetherington told Insider that when hopeful bakers ask him for application tips, he tells them to be upfront about who they are.
“I always just was very honest with them, because it’s quite a long-winded application process with lots of stages, and I think if you’re pretending to be something you’re not, then everyone’s going to find out quite quickly,” he said.
Hetherington added that it’s important to be open and yourself during the process since “GBBO” isn’t “a reality show which is looking for caricatures of people,” it’s for “nice folks who like to bake.”
Follow along with our series of interviews to see what else the former bakers revealed to Insider.