5 common interview questions for hotel management jobs
Securing an interview for a first-time hotel management position is half the battle won. But to land the job, you'll need to provide good answers to open-ended and situational interview questions intended to prompt in-depth responses about the experiences that aren’t listed on your resume. In other words, arrive to the interview prepared to talk about moments in your professional—and perhaps even your personal life—emblematic of your abilities as not only a team player, but as individual who can be trusted to exercise sound judgment in challenging situations and who understands that successful guest service can only be achieved by contented and fulfilled hotel staff.
As you prepare for the interview, give some thought to the following questions that you'll likely be asked to address:
1. How would you delegate tasks to specific team members effectively?
Without previous management experience, this can be a tough question to respond to. But if your resume includes any relevant supervisory or leadership roles that you’ve played while on a committee or as part of a project or even in a volunteer capacity, leverage that and talk about a specific instance when you were in charge of the division of labor and why you put certain team members in charge of specific tasks. But even without the experience behind you, keep in mind that delegating effectively is a matter of knowing your team and their individual strengths and limitations and assigning tasks not only based on that information, but also how each members' attributes compliment the others’.
2. How would your team benefit from working with you?
Clichéd responses such as “my hard work and experience” aren’t going to cut it. This is an opportunity to show emotional intelligence and talk about specific examples in past jobs where you’ve helped motivate coworkers during a particularly stressful time or where you and a coworker had an issue that you worked to resolve positively and perhaps, without the involvement of a supervisor.
3. How would you respond if you saw one of your team members or a fellow staff member stealing?
Theft occurs in hotels just as it can happen in any public setting and place of employment. But the trick to this question is to avoid using it as a forum to elaborate; this is one question where citing a past experience is not likely to be helpful. Instead of providing a detailed response about taking charge of the situation and confronting the employee, this is a chance to respond concisely and confidently that you would follow the hotel’s protocol and go through the proper channels, whether that’s contacting HR, your supervisor or hotel security. The hotel should have a standard operating procedure (SOP) in place to respond to incidents of employee theft and they will want everyone to follow it, including management.
4. How would you handle negative feedback from one of your team members?
The objective is to exhibit diplomacy and teamwork as well as the ability to take responsibility for your own limitations and use your problem solving skills to improve the situation and further develop your skill set as a manager. This is an ideal moment to bring up a time when you received constructive criticism during an annual review and responded in a way that was not defensive, but furthered your professional growth and development. You’ll also want to note that you would thank the person for their feedback and perhaps take some time to consider it, as well as the ways in which you could change the behavior or process pointed out by the individual.
5. Why are you the best candidate for the job?
This question can be posed in a variety of ways, “why are you the right fit for the position?” or “What would you bring to the position?” (Or it may not be asked at all, in which case you’ll at least want to weave a reply to the unasked question into your closing.) Remember, you’ll likely be competing with other candidates who already have management experience under their belt, so it’s important to communicate that you would be an asset to the hotel, for your interpersonal skills and also how you can add to the hotel’s profitability. The latter is a key point to stress, especially if you're lacking in past management experience.
Also, depending on the area where you’ve accumulated your past hotel experience (marketing, operations, housekeeping, etc.), you should give examples of how your work contributed either directly or indirectly to those hotels’ revenues. Did you build any efficiencies into the housekeeping process that reduced time spent cleaning rooms and thus labor expenditures? Did your social media efforts for the hotel attribute to additional direct bookings? Were you part of a team that brought on a third party manager of distribution channels so that hotel revenue managers could spend more time developing strategies to build ancillary revenue? Whether the interviewer directly asks this question or not, at some point during the interview you will want to artfully interject your knowledge of hotel finances and your ability to contribute to a profitable hotel because that is ultimately the measure of a successful team and a successful hotel.