What NOT to say in a hotel job interview
Interviewing for a position in the hotel industry isn’t just a matter of elaborating on your resume’s credentials. Once you’ve secured a meeting with a potential employer, you want to leverage the face time to demonstrate your interpersonal skills. After all, the hotel business is a service industry built entirely upon guests’ positive experiences.
So even if you’re interviewing for a back-of-house position, an optimistic and enthusiastic attitude is still imperative because a successful hotel’s staff functions as a one unified, cohesive team. While you’ll want to go into your next interview armed with confidence and a smile, you should also bear in mind that what you say is just as important as how you say it.
These five negatives should be avoided at all costs and ideally, rephrased in a positive way:
“In five years, I see myself working at a five-star hotel in Europe.” Unless this describes all or part of the property portfolio of the company or brand with which you’re interviewing, you might want to rethink this response. Longevity is a prized attribute among employers in the hospitality industry; do you want to grow with the company where you’re interviewing, gain in-depth knowledge of their product and learn over the long-term how a hotel organization profitably navigates ever-changing market conditions? If not and you see the job merely as a stepping stone to something "bigger" or "better," the position may not be a good fit for either of you.
“It’s important to patiently explain to a guest why their request cannot be fulfilled.” You will inevitably be asked in any hotel job interview how you would handle an irate or dissatisfied guest, an absurd guest demand or another stressful situation, particularly if you’re interviewing for a front-of-house position. Although there can be instances when a hotel will not comply with a guest request, the property or company will likely have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place for employees to reference in such circumstances. So note that you’ll do everything within your power to make sure all guests are satisfied with their stay, but how exactly that’s done will depend on the hotel’s best practices. In other words, find the neutral ground between offering to comp any aspect of a guest’s stay while also avoiding replies that include “no,” “not,” “cannot” or any other word that would negate the reply.
“I’m not familiar with that system.” Most hotels work with at least one if not a combination of industry-centric technologies like cloud-based PMS (Property Management Software) and RMS (Revenue Management Software) with predictive analytics to third party channel managers and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. Depending on your most recent position and the job for which you’re interviewing, you may be asked if you have experience with a specific platform. Be truthful, but also take the opportunity to talk about how you’re eager to learn. If you’ve worked with a similar platform, make a point of discussing how long it took you to master, and mention specifically how that system enabled you to achieve better results.
“The past year has been a difficult one for me.” Even if the interviewer conveys any personal information about themselves, resist the temptation to develop a new confidante. There are only two aspects of your personal life that should be referenced in an interview: positive moments and those that are relevant to the position. So if you were a champion athlete in college, note how that drive has carried over to your professional endeavors. If you grew up with family members who worked in hospitality and that positively influenced your decision to join the industry, tell that story.
“Who is the hotel’s typical guest?” Certainly, you want too want to prepare questions to ask during the course of the interview, and, of course, those questions should illustrate your interest in the job and the company or hotel. With that in mind, you must research the hotel or the company in advance of the interview so you can speak intelligently about their business and ask pertinent questions. For example, if the hotel recently underwent a renovation and you’re interviewing for an operational position, ask if the revamp changed the way in which operations are now carried out. If the company has expanded to a new location or region and you might one day be willing to relocate, ask what a typical career path might be for a team member willing to grow with the property roster.