The job interview part of employment can be stressful for any new applicant. Whether this is a phone, email, or formal interview that is done face-to-face, both prospective employers and new hires alike see this phase as a chance to make an excellent first impression that can set things up for a successful relationship down the line. Because it is so important, it is understandable that any applicant being considered for a position will want to do the best job possible, and that is why we are here to help.
While many interviews have some basic questions or expectations that you might be able to discern as part of the process, we will put some of the focus on the hospitality industry. Our post here will help new joiners know about what they might expect when going for any interview that is related to this industry. We will cover some of the topics you should know, things you may wish to avoid, and secondary considerations to take into account.
What Are the Most Asked Questions and Answers in Hospitality?
A big part of preparing for any interview within the hospitality industry is knowing some of the most common interview questions that you are likely to face during the process. There may be no precise way to plan for every single possible question you will get in such an interview, and it is a good idea not to stress too much about covering every single aspect like this. However, some research can point you in the right direction when it comes to probable topics you’ll need to cover in order to get that handshake. Keep in mind that what topics are typical for your interview can vary depending on the position you intend to get.
Why did you apply for this job? A variation of this question might ask you why you applied for a particular position at the company you are interested in. It’s a straightforward question that applies to more than just the hospitality industry. However, it will probably come up in your interview as a way to gauge why you are there and if you could move the company’s vision forward.
Do you have experience in hospitality? This will be noted on your CV, but you can pull out details from your past experience to craft an answer to this question. The important part is, you can still answer this question effectively even without experience. Refer your employer back to previous jobs you’ve held that had aspects of the hospitality industry within them, and speak about how you exemplified these things with your work ethic.
How did you deal with an unhappy customer? The hospitality industry is all about good services to guests or patrons, and your potential employer will want to know what kind of experiences you’ve had in dealing with customers who were unsatisfied with services rendered to them. You can pick one of the best examples from your past to show how you’re able to work under pressure and get the client’s needs met in a way that makes the company look good.
How would you define good service to our clients? This question is a bit more nebulous, but your employer may ask it to see what your values are regarding hospitality, how it should be handled, and your responsibilities toward guests and their overall satisfaction levels. If you wish, you can talk about how important it is to you to perform your duties in a friendly atmosphere and go to extra lengths to ensure that customers are happy.
There could be other common job interview questions your interviewer will ask, and it is a safe bet that they will also want you to tell them about yourself in general. This is different from recounting your prior work history or reasons for applying to the job in question. They want to get a sense of who you are as a person, so think about this question in advance.
There are countless suggestions on how one might dress to impress for any interview. Further, there are business formal standard suits or other outfits that most people with any professional experience interviewing on either side of the desk will recommend. Corporate business attire for both men and women should be suitable for many job roles, but it will depend on the company atmosphere and image. In hospitality, this usually means formal or semi-formal dress codes that project an air that clients from all sorts of backgrounds will see as professional. If you are a chef, do not hesitate to put on your (clean) chef jacket.
Proper colour schemes are also essential to note here. Suppose the business you are applying for has a company website you can visit. In that case, you should go there to get a sense of how that company looks, the image it likes to project, and whether you might already be able to see what colours and outfits the staff are expected to wear. Different colours can have different psychological effects, and many interviewers have shared their picks for which shades to go with to get the perception you might want.
Everyone is different, but in general, here are a few things you can keep in mind regarding how colours relate to a person’s perception of you:
Black is traditional for many businesses, and it suggests leadership skills.
Blue or dark blue can be equally professional, and these related shades suggest that one is a good team player who will work with others to help the business succeed.
Grey tends to speak to a person’s logical or analytical thinking capabilities.
White can suggest someone who is very organised.
Brown can give off an air of reliability and dependability under stress.
Red tends to indicate power, but it may be best to have red accents, such as on a tie, rather than any full outfit piece that is red.
Finally, many interviewers recommend avoiding the colour orange, given that it can be seen as a rather unprofessional look.
Research Possible Concerns for the Company
In order to help make yourself stand out or rise to the top, you can try to anticipate what the company or hiring manager might be concerned about with regard to welcoming new joiners. Because the interviewer might have a full day of applicants to see, he or she may look for ways to screen people who don’t fit the mould early.
You can improve your chances by putting yourself in the same position as the interviewer. Ask yourself why the company might not want to hire you. Think critically about any shortcomings you might have when it comes to working in this industry. Most importantly, consider ways you might answer popular interview questions about those areas where you might improve, and let the interviewer know you are goal-oriented and focused on making such improvements. There is no reason to be untruthful about any of these areas, but there are ways you might spin things so that there is no cause for undue concern on the company's part. In this way, you can maximise your appeal and minimise any problematic things.
Win a Small Success Early
As we mentioned, interviewers may have a full schedule on the day you arrive, and they might look for ways to get to the heart of your viability quite early in the process. Some interviewers might make a pretty solid decision in just the first few minutes of the process. Any time spent on the interview after this will be on the part of the interviewer looking for ways to confirm how they feel about the first impression you have made.
To maximise your chances of positive confirmation, you can try a few things to score a small win early in the interview. Bring a lot of positive but not overbearing energy. Express your willingness to be there, desire to do what it takes to move this hospitality business forward, and a thankfulness for the interviewer’s valuable time. Your energy could help them have the energy they might need to make the process less formulaic, especially if they have to think about all the other interviews they have that day. You want them to be as focused on you and your skills as they possibly can be.
If possible, show some appreciation for the specific company you are interviewing for. One way to do this is by researching what the company has been doing recently, finding things that stand out to you, and mentioning one of these positive aspects. Mentioning something like this shows that you have done your own research into the company already, which in turn will paint you as someone who is passionate about the industry and interested in moving it forward. Further, many companies like to hear that their positive impacts are both known and recognised throughout the industry.
Things You Should Avoid
No article on how to ace the perfect interview would be complete without some time spent on broad things you should not do. Just as important as how you present yourself is how you don’t come across to the interviewer.
Don’t dominate the conversation. The interviewer does want someone who is confident and knows their stuff, but they have a set outline prepared. If you are too overbearing, it will make a bad impression, and you could come across as someone who might not be a good fit for a team.
Don’t disparage any former workplace. Your interviewer may ask for reasons as to why you left a previous position. However, they aren’t interested in any of the office politics at your former place of employment, interpersonal grudges, lack of team spirit, or any other negatives that might have caused you to cut ties with other places. In fact, much of this could make you look bad as a new hire for another company. Keep any answers related to your previous employment professional and polite.
Don’t overshare. There might be a time during which the interviewer will want to ask you about yourself. In this case, it is okay to go a little bit off-topic while keeping things professional in order to flesh out your personality. However, don’t share too much information that strays too far from the topic of hospitality and how the business relates to you.
Practice Mock Interviews Repeatedly
Many interviews will have a similar structure, but there is no substitute for getting a little experience on your own. If you research the company beforehand, you’ll be able to craft your own likely informed questions that should come up in the actual interview. Getting comfortable answering these tricky questions can help the interview flow better, put both you and the interviewer at ease, and make it seem like you are the logical choice for a role that might work under pressure when it comes to satisfying client concerns.
Although you can practice your interviewing skills alone, this sort of thing might work best if you have one or two acquaintances who can act as interviewers or help you brainstorm common topics that you’ll need to talk about. Additionally, it may help you to switch between roles, thus giving you a feel for how you might do in an interview, and how the person interviewing you might come across. Putting yourself in their shoes early can give you a sense of what kinds of things they might be concerned about, and why they want to see how well you might be able to solve any issues.
Finally, identify some common questions that you know are tough for you to answer succinctly and clearly. Getting these out of the way now allows you ample opportunity to practice having solid, well-spoken answers that do not ramble, even if these might be your weakest subject areas. It is also a good idea to think about what typical interview questions in the hospitality industry might stump you, which allows you to do some research to find better ways to answer the questions.
Any job interview is stressful, but there are ways to make it a little more manageable. The hospitality industry places a particular focus on customer service, bright personalities, and social graces. Fortunately, these are all things you would want to cultivate for the interview process itself, and some of our tips may help you get there. Additionally, don’t forget to follow up on the interview after a day or so in order to make your interest and dedication clear. Send a nicely worded message or card to the company to thank them for their time while expressing your eagerness to be a part of the team.
For more information on culinary opportunities in the US, check out our article on Culinary Internships In The US: All You Need To Know.