Not sure what to expect from your very first hospitality interview? You’re not alone. Hospitality is a unique industry with its own set of rules and employee expectations. Most hospitality employers also have a very specific and carefully cultivated approach to customer service, and the employees who understand this approach are the ones most likely to thrive in a given workplace.
By Barbara Mason As you step into your interview, be prepared for the following events to take place. This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start.
1. You will be asked plenty of questions that are open-ended.
Some industries rely on a cut-and-dried interview process built on a series of yes-or-no questions. But hospitality isn’t one of these industries. You may not know how to change a burned out light bulb in a guest’s room, or operate a point-of-sale software utility, but these are things you can easily learn. It’s harder to learn
- How to hold up one end of a conversation
- How to speak freely with humour and grace
- How to maintain poise under pressure
Open-ended questions offer candidates an opportunity to showcase their speaking and listening skills. In this business, interviewers like to encourage applican’ts to talk and then sit back and see what happens.
2. You will be asked to describe your last position (probably in an open-ended way
When you’re asked about your most recent position, you’ll need to show some initiative and decide which details are the ones you should share. Talk about the size of the establishment, describe the culture, and explain some of the difficulties you faced on the job and how you overcame them.
3. Your interviewer will want to know how you handle a variety of negative situations.
Hospitality management can be fast-paced and demanding. Frustrated customers can be difficult to soothe, and expectations from clients, supervisors, and shareholders can be very high. In some cases, simply meeting these expectations won’t be enough. And sometimes you may need to influence other people (team members or business partners) without having any official authority. Can you handle these challenges? Have you handled them in the past? Your interviewer will want to know how much she can trust you when things get difficult.
4. There will be plenty of smiling.
Hospitality is a business based on personal warmth and social skill, so the manager interviewing you will probably be a warm and sociable person. But don’t be fooled. She may be smiling, but under her friendly exterior, she’s all business. And she’ll be reading between the lines of everything you say, even the things you say nonverbally. Pay attention to your body language, sit up straight, and don’t let a relaxed vibe cause you to let your guard down.
5. At a certain point, you’ll need to take the lead.
When she’s reached the end of her list of questions, your interviewer will probably turn the tables and ask you if there’s anything else you’d like to discuss. Whatever you do, don’t just say no and walk out the door. If you do, you’ll be giving up a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the position and your willingness to control your own career path. Ask at least three or four intelligent, insightful and necessary questions about the job before you say goodbye. For example: Ask your interviewer to describe the culture of this workplace, and ask her if this position will provide opportunity for advancement. Let her know more about what you’re looking for and ask how this position aligns with your expectations and goals.
Don’t Be Caught off Guard
Know what to expect from your hospitality interview and you’ll be better able to respond with polish and poise. Visit LiveCareer for sample interviews and practise sessions that can help prepare you for the real thing.