The worst things you can say or do in a hospitality job interview
So you’re looking for a job in the hospitality industry and you’ve scored the interview. Congratulations! Most of us spend so much time thinking of what to say we don’t realize it’s just as important (or maybe even more so) to know what not to say… especially if you’re new to the job market and haven’t had a lot of interviewing experience.
Hospitality is competitive. You want to be sure you make the best impression you can during your interview: being warm, friendly and enthusiastic is what’s it’s all about.
But how do you avoid the pitfalls? Sometimes all it takes is one poor response to turn your opportunity into a misfortune. Here are some of the “don’ts” you’ll want to keep in mind:
Don’t bad-mouth your past employer: Regardless of how awful you feel about your last position, this is not the place to share your complaints. When asked about it, remain neutral and focus on what you learned from the experience and how you’ll apply it to your next job.
Don’t be desperate: Hiring managers are looking for employees who are passionate about what they do and looking for someone who wants to fill this particular role. Saying something like: “I’ll do whatever” is a red flag that you don’t really care about this position and how it leads you down your career path.
Don’t use slang words or fillers such as “like” and “um:” Using slang (or worse, foul language) or stumbling over yourself with “um” and “like” make you sound as if you lack confidence. Many hospitality jobs involve communicating with guests and staff… it’s important to be able to speak clearly.
Don’t ask about paid vacation time or time off: When you ask about time off in your first interview, it gives the impression you’re focused on “what’s in it for me?” Employers are interviewing you to determine what you can do “for them.” Can you do the job? Will you fit in? and Are you flexible? are all more in line with what they want to learn by meeting with you.
Don’t say “It’s on my resume:” When you’re asked to expand on your experience (even if it’s already stated on your resume), the hiring manager may be evaluating how you express yourself or just may want more information about a particular experience. They’re trying to decide if you are a person who can interact with guests, have good social skills and are able to communicate.
Don’t come to the interview with no questions to ask: When you don’t have any questions for the interviewer, it appears you weren’t willing to spend any time researching the company or thinking about this position. If you prepare a few thoughtful questions ahead of time, you’ll seem more astute and interested in the job.
A parting thought: This isn’t specifically an interview “don’t,” but it is critically important for any future opportunities in education, career development or promotion. Be careful what you post online about your personal life: your opinions, explicit photos, complaints about work, inappropriate comments, etc. You have to assume that anything online is available to future employers and may be considered when choosing a candidate… and it can hurt you.
Your best bet is to focus on what the employer needs and do your best to make sure you’re a good fit. The conversation you have in your interview will go a long way toward convincing the hiring manager you are the right choice for the job.
Find and apply for your next hospitality job!