How to answer behavioral interview questions for hospitality jobs
What is a Behavioral Interview?
Behavioral interviews are becoming more common for many jobs and are being employed in the hospitality industry more and more. They differ from a “regular” job interview in the types of questions you’ll be asked. The main difference between the traditional and behavioral interview is that in a regular interview, the hiring manager will ask a series of questions that ask how you would behave and the behavioral interviewer asked how you did behave.
For example, in a traditional interview, you’ll be asked “what are your strengths and weaknesses;” or “how would you describe your ability to handle stress?” In a behavioral interview, you’ll be asked “give an example of when you made a mistake and how you handled it;” or “tell me about an instance when you worked effectively under pressure.”
The point of the behavioral interview is to understand how you’ve performed in the past as an indicator of how you’ll perform in the future. In order to prepare for this type of interview, you’ll need to think specifically about your experience and prepare some stories that illustrate your performance in multiple situations. It needn’t all be examples of work. Feel free to draw from other areas in your life that resulted in a positive outcome.
How to Prepare and Answer Behavioral Questions
Most career coaches suggest you use the STAR technique to answer these questions concisely. STAR stands for:
- Situation – a description of the scenario
- Tasks – what needed to be done at that time
- Action – what you did to resolve the issue
- Results – the outcome
The interviewer is basically trying to determine if your skills are a fit for this job. Be honest with your account of the situation and how you handled it so they can evaluate if you are suitable for this particular position.
Sample Questions and Answers
Think about questions that are likely to be asked and what skills will be needed based on the job description. By understanding these types of questions, you can be prepared and answer with confidence.
- Tell me about a time when you experienced conflict with your team and how you resolved it.
- When you work with your team, what role do you usually fill and why?
- Describe an accomplishment you’re proud of and why it’s meaningful to you.
- Tell about a time when you went the “extra mile” for a difficult customer.
- When have you been asked to perform duties outside your job description and how did you react?
A good way to prepare your answers is to brainstorm with a colleague or friend about your past work experiences, interactions with your co-workers, supervisors and customers. Write down specific situations you remember and how you handled them. Take the time to understand what the interviewer is looking for and choose from your prepared “stories” to provide the example that fits best. Then use the STAR technique to concisely convey the experience, ending with a positive result.
For example: responding to the question about working with your team and “what role do you usually fill…” you might answer like this:
Situation: On a busy Friday night, we were short-handed and working without an expeditor.
Task: Someone needed to fill that role for the night so orders would go out correctly and efficiently.
Action: I stepped into that role and made sure the food orders were correct and plated beautifully on the dish as they went out.
Result: We got through a busy shift with little disruption to the front or back of the house.
I find that I’m able to shift gears quickly and understand what’s needed in the moment. So, I’m often able to fill a variety of roles and am comfortable taking the initiative in new responsibilities.
Final note: Be aware that follow-up questions may also be pretty detailed. You might be asked how you felt or what you said, so refresh your memory with these specific situations. Once you’ve prepared yourself to share examples and experiences, you’ll be able to convey your skills confidently and not be rattled by trying to think of something on the spot.