The world is saturated with advice for job seekers in the hospitality industry about how to come out of interviews ahead when seeking new employment, and as any manager who has held more than one round of interviews can confess, that shows. However, smooth talk and instant likability during the interview don’t always translate to the workplace. So how can management see past the shine to choose the best possible person for a position? We’ve got the answer…

Here are five tips for smart hiring in the hospitality business:


Determine whether or not the candidate has done his or her research

Hiring managers often begin an interview by telling the candidate about the business, both its history and current positioning in the industry. Instead of going traditional, break the mold and ask the candidate to explain what he or she knows about the company.

Candidates who have put in the extra work to learn as much as possible about the company prior to the interview are more likely to go above and beyond when it comes to time to work. Not to mention, it’s a good sign that the candidate is interested in actually working for you and not just finding a job.

Ask interview questions about job-specific tasks

Hospitality is sometimes unpredictable, so it’s essential for employees to show overall good judgement, quick decision-making, and flexibility. However, a large portion of any hospitality job is predictable, which allows you to get a glimpse at how candidates would approach their daily tasks.

Start by asking general questions that touch on part of the position for which the candidate is interviewing. After a few of these, move on to more specific questions having to do with the same topic.

You’re not only testing their ability to handle the job, but also their sincerity by opening up the opportunity for inconsistent answers.

For example, part of a general manager position is firing employees, so start by asking questions about handling conflict in the workplace. Then transition to specific questions about firing responsibilities and handling confrontation.

If a candidate is either unable to answer your questions or inconsistent in their responses, it’s unlikely they’ll thrive in the position.

Test the candidate’s industry knowledge

Even the most experienced interviewers can’t weed out all unqualified candidates solely based on resumes, so count on some slipping through the cracks. Most often, these are enterprising problem solvers desperate for any job at all who have no prior experience in hospitality.

Thankfully eliminating these candidates can be as simple as quickly quizzing each person who sits in the interviewee chair on basic industry knowledge.

For example, nearly anyone will be able to explain what a server does during service, so skip to what’s behind-the-scenes. Ask about the post-service tasks to gain decidedly more insight about the candidate’s true level of industry know-how.Discuss industry trends


Discuss industry trends

Another type of candidate to look out for is the person who does have industry experience and is qualified, but who does not want a career therein for the long-term. While it may be more difficult to ascertain this than other factors, it’s an important piece of information. So how to tell?

A candidate who is serious about a successful future in the hospitality industry should be able to speak about current trends and latest news.

Ask which of latest industry innovations he or she is most excited about. But don’t stop there. Also inquire about what trade publications or events the candidate has found to be the most and least helpful in his or her career and which connections have been the most fruitful.

Someone who is unable even to name a trade magazine, for example, probably does not view hospitality as his or her permanent field. Finding this out now will save the company time and money on repeating the hiring and training processes in the future.

Ask Other Staff For Impressions

It is natural that every job candidate do his or her best to make an excellent impression during the actual interview. However, good behavior doesn’t always extend to the waiting room or with other employees not conducting the interview.

Asking other staff members who had a chance to interact with candidates before or after the interview can therefore provide valuable insight. This alternate perspective can reveal what would otherwise remain unknown and lead to more informed hiring decisions.


It is never possible to completely eliminate the risk of hiring someone who turns out to be ill-suited in the long-run. But, by following the tips above, every hiring manager can make the most of his or her time with each candidate and increase the likelihood of choosing the best possible person for the job.


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