5 strategies for nailing your first hospitality job interview
Whether you’re new to hospitality or have yet to hold a job in any industry, the internet is full of advice to help you prepare to succeed when interviewing for a position. Many of these tips are really just common sense, such as “be punctual,” “turn off your phone” and “dress professionally.” Others require a bit more effort, such as “be aware of your body language” and “practice your answers to common interview questions.” Almost all apply to any job interview, regardless of industry. Not these, however. Below you’ll find a list of five targeted strategies designed specifically to help you nail your first hotel position.
1. Smile big, and often.
While working in a hotel is certainly serious business, almost all the positions within it require at least occasional, if not constant, guest interaction. The ability to smile genuinely and naturally, even when in a stressful situation such as a job interview, is an essential skill hospitality employers are looking for in the customer service professionals they hire. Start out by smiling warmly when you’re introduced to the hiring manager and continue to smile just as broadly throughout the conversation that follows.
2. Emulate the hotel’s style.
No two hotels are alike. Before you interview for a position, make time to visit and explore the lobby and other public areas. Take note of the décor, uniforms and overall feel of the location. You can then use what you’ve learned to guide your choice of interview attire. For example, if you’re applying for a job in an eclectic, quirky hotel, you may benefit from putting some creativity into your outfit. If you’re seeking a role at a conventional chain, you may want to stick to strict basics. Of course, you’ll want to keep your ensemble professional regardless.
3. Prepare stories that highlight hospitality skills.
Maybe your last job was working in a retail store or at a daycare. Perhaps you’re leaving a career in insurance or dog grooming to take the first step towards a dream of hotel management. Whatever industry or position you were previously employed within, identify transferable skills—those that are also needed and valued within a hotel position—and craft a few stories you can tell the hiring manager around them.
For example, let’s say she asks you about a time you turned a bad customer experience around. You’ll want to have a story prepared that shows you’re self-reliant, committed, creative or possess another highly-valued skill you can use when working in her hotel.
4. Study trends and numbers.
Whether you’re applying for a concierge position or a front desk job, demonstrating more than a cursory knowledge of the hospitality industry as a whole can only improve your chances of success. In addition to researching the hotel’s history, mission and culture, take time to read up on general industry trends and the latest critical metrics for the area including average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPar). You can then find a way to work what you’ve learned into some of your interview question responses.
5. Prepare to demonstrate practical skills.
When you’re interviewing for a hotel position, it’s likely you’ll be asked to prove you have the practical skills required for the job at hand in addition to answering typical interview questions such as “Why do you want to work with us?” and “Why should we consider you for this position?” If you’re applying for a front desk or concierge job, for example, you may be asked to list your top five restaurant recommendations in the area or for a selection of suggested family-friendly attractions in town. If you’re seeking a job in the hotel’s restaurant, you might be asked to describe your all-time favorite dish in detail. Alternatively, a housekeeping applicant might be asked to demonstrate bed-making.