Top Career Tips for the Travel and Tourism Industry
By Suvarna Sheth, Hcareers.com
If it’s one business that understands recruiting the best talent is a top priority, it’s the luxury cruise line business. But how do recruiters find the right fit for the right jobs in such a highly competitive job market? Read on to find out how one global cruise vacation company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (JOBS), separates the best talent from the rest.
The travel and tourism business is dependent on the economy. Since the company had a good first quarter, Martine Pasquet, director of corporate human resources at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. says Royal Caribbean is anticipating more jobs are going to open up.
“We’re hoping that with a re-invigorated economy, we will be able to reasonably and with caution build our workforce to at least proportional numbers,” Pasquet says, “I think the overall job outlook looks good,” she says.
In July 2008, the company downsized about 7% of its total workforce, right before the economy tanked and the Swine Flu fear spread. The reduction, Pasquet explains, was because of the high cost of fuel, which was past $100 a barrel at the time.
In spite of the down-sizing, Royal Caribbean continued to expand, delivering new ships including Oasis, Solstice, and Equinox. From a corporate prospective, Pasquet says the reduction in force only affected the headquarters—not the ships. “We never down-sized our ships because of our product and philosophy,” she says, “that we have to deliver the best vacation experience.”
The Swine Flu, according to Pasquet didn’t have as big as an impact as the company thought it would have. “We had some cancelation of cruises and we had to re-route a couple of our ships, but it did not affect our hiring,” she says.
Pasquet overseas the corporate recruiting team, which is responsible for overlooking all the recruitment that is based in the U.S. Her counterpart, Eric Stewart is in charge of ship-board recruitment and takes care of the recruiting needs for all the ships across all brands. Jackie Wybrow, based in the U.K. is in charge of recruiting in the other international offices.
Pasquet says the process of recruiting in all parts of the organization is similar whether you’re hiring on the corporate side or ship-board. “We have to get the right talent, at the right time, for the right job,” she says. “We believe every hire that we make is an essential, and we really have a rigorous screening process.”
Pasquet says all candidates go through a very extensive, diligent screening process to make sure everyone onboard is the right fit, has the right skills, and the right personality. Pasquet says it is important candidates not only adapt to living on a ship, but also to the company’s brand culture. “On that end, there’s a lot of work that goes into assuring we have the right fit--the right candidate,” she says.
What kind of interview questions?
So with such a rigorous recruiting process, what kind of interview questions does Royal Caribbean ask when recruiting a candidate? Jacqueline Carvalho-Silva Scheggia, corporate recruiter for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. says the following are in her bag of questions:
1.) Why are you looking for something new at this time?
2.) What interests you about the company?
3.) What drew you to pursue a career in (the specific job)?
4.) What are your minimum salary requirements for this position (current compensation package)?
5.) What skills and asset can you contribute to the company?
Scheggia says questions are, of course, designed according to the position the candidate is interviewing for. There are a set of modeled behavioral questions recruiters use as a guide and alter as needed to meet the specific requirements of the interview.
These questions, she says, highlight different skills that must be present in the interviewee, for example, coping, decisiveness, assertiveness, energizing, consistency, attentiveness, analytic perceptiveness, etc.
A question which can be asked to understand if a candidate has the coping skill would be: "what situation has given you the most amount of pressure in recent years, and how did you deal with it?" “This question helps in understanding if a candidate can maintain a professional problem-solving attitude when dealing with interpersonal issues, stressful environment, time demands, or personal hostility,” Scheggia says.
While asking these behavioral questions, Scheggia says the recruiting team also asks the candidate to give us real-life examples of situations they have been in, while at their former employer, that pertain to skills needed for the specific position.
Before a candidate comes in for an interview, Pasquet says they need to spend some time researching the company. “Understanding what we do, understanding our product, even calling a few people they know to get an understanding of the organizational culture is the key,” she says, “a person coming into the organization has got to understand what we’re about, to make sure this is not just a job--but in fact--a career.”
Pasquet says candidates need to really engage during the interviewing process, and not hesitate to show recruiters the total package that they bring to the table.
“They need to be very confident, highlight their accomplishments, and show the value they are going to bring to us including their skills, their competencies, their approach to problem solving, and strategic thinking,” she says.
Pasquet says the interviewing process takes a holistic approach: how a candidate looks, how they speak, how informed they are, how engaged they are, and how they follow-through all help to form a total picture of the candidate and are key to making the right decision in a couple of hours.
“The hiring decision is probably the most important decision we make as an organization,” Pasquet says. “It’s a decision that really requires a lot of thought.”
Pasquet says hiring at her company is not just about filling the job; it’s about hiring those that will add value to the organization.
What it boils down to is that employees enjoy what they are being hired to do. “If they enjoy want they’re doing, they’re going to be engaged at what they do, and being engaged is going to contribute to our bottom line,” Pasquet says.
Pasquet hiring is not just about recruitment, but also about retention. “We want our employees to stay with us, we want them to blossom with us, to have a career with us, and so we do have high standards in the beginning in trying to determine whether a candidate is not only going to contribute but is going to stay for the long term.
Lastly, Pasquet says there are not a lot of “clock watchers” at Royal Caribbean. “If you’re watching the clock this is probably not the place for you,” Pasquet says. “It’s a place for people who love what they do, and who want to make a difference.”