The hospitality industry is extremely dynamic and starting your career in this field can set you up for success in a variety of coveted jobs in the future. Your hospitality career could put you on a cruise ship or it could put you in charge of activities at a posh resort.
If you want to nail the interview and get the hospitality job you have always wanted, then you will need to be prepared with answers for a few common interview questions. Put yourself in the interviewer’s place. What would you want to know that goes beyond the basics. Here are a few hospitality interview questions that you should consider carefully and be prepared to answer.
Table of Contents
1. What questions will I be asked during my hospitality interview?
It is extremely difficult to be an introverted hospitality professional, so the questions the interviewer is going to ask will revolve around your personality, how you’ve handled situations in the past and how you would best serve the customer.
The customer is the prime focus in the hospitality industry and you must be able to turn a frustrated customer into a repeat guest so being able to answer questions about your level of hospitality and interest in customer service in a truthful and chipper manner is a must.
This article will provide samples of hospitality questions you may encounter, explain why these questions are used and provide you with tips on how to answer these questions for your next interview.
2. Skills to focus on when answering questions regarding the hospitality industry
When hiring managers ask you questions regarding your own hospitality experiences they are trying to evaluate how much experience you have working with or observing other hospitality professionals. You should be familiar with, able to recognize and explain these top hospitality skills using your experiences as a customer and an employee.
- Stress management
- Decision-making skills
- Interpersonal and communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Problem-solving skills
When hiring managers ask questions about your past behavior in specific situations, they are looking for examples of times when you used skills like these to deal with a stressful or challenging situation.
Practice answering the questions below and consider our sample answers to get an idea of the kinds of experiences and achievements that will make your next interview go smoothly.Common hospitality interview questions
If you watch a hospitality expert deal with a difficult situation in a manner that makes the situation look easy, then you need to learn from that experience. Hiring managers in the hospitality industry like to hear that their employees are not only enhancing their careers through education, but also that they observe other hospitality professionals and learn from them as well.
Themes like team work, leadership, conflict resolution and problem solving will often come up during your hospitality interview, with practice being the best way to prepare. Below we’ve outlined the four most common themes and questions for each theme that you could be asked during your interview. The exact wording of the question you receive may differ, but the general themes being assessed will stay the same.
Communication and teamwork
Questions like the ones below will be used to analyze how you communicate and work through challenges with others. During the interview hiring managers will also be looking for cues as to what type of role you would take on in a team environment and compare that to the staff they already have.
- Can you describe a situation in which you had to step up and demonstrate leadership?
- Can you give me an example of a major contribution you made to the culture of one of your teams or groups?
- Give an example of how you were able to resolve an issue with a client or guest.
- Give me an example of a project in which you had to persuade other team members to follow your lead. How did you do it?
- Can you give me an example of a project in which you collaborated successfully with others?
Conflicts happen in the workplace and can be especially difficult to resolve in a public setting. It is important for hospitality work to make sure that that customer is satisfied, so hiring managers are interested in how you handle difficult situations.
While negatives can be hard to discuss, keeping your statements positive and focusing on how the particular situation was resolved showcases your ability for self-reflection and how you can manage disagreements and stressful situations in a professional manner.
- Can you give me an example of a time you had a conflict with a coworker and how you handled it?
- Talk about a time in which you had to handle a dissatisfied or angry client or customer. How did you handle it?
- Give me an example of a time in which you disagreed with a manager’s approach or a major decision. How did you address the issue?
- Do you use your personal experience at restaurants and hotels to mold your performance in your career?
- Can you tell me about a time when a colleague didn’t give you what you needed or was too slow to respond to a request? How did you handle the situation?
- What do you think makes a good hospitality professional?
Individual motivation and challenges
Do you have what it takes to get the job done, regardless of potential obstacles? Hiring managers want to know how resourceful you can be and that you are the kind of person that can find solutions to obstacles despite the circumstances. Use these questions to think of situations where you’ve practiced problem-solving skills and followed through even when things went wrong.
- How would you describe this position?
- Tell us about a time when you made a mistake. What did you do to correct it?
- Can you tell us about a time in which your team or company went through a change and how you adapted?
- Have you been to one of our locations? What did you think of the environment?
- Has there been a time in which you received critical feedback from a manager or teammate? How did you respond to it?
Time management and organization
Hiring managers want to know how you prioritize work and manage tight deadlines so for these questions, think about how you handled big projects in the past. Or if you struggled with time management, how did you overcome that and achieve positive results? Don’t forget to describe the tools you use like calendars, list making or project management software so that you can illustrate how you stay on track.
- Can you give an example of how you work under pressure, such as working under a tight deadline?
- Tell us about a time when you had to get outside your “comfort zone” with a new task or project outside your usual duties. How did you approach the challenge?
- What’s your approach to handling stress at work?
- Do you have basic first aid skills?
- How flexible is your schedule?
3. How to answer hospitality interview questions
When answering a hospitality interview question, it is important that you do so completely and efficiently. One of the ways you can do this is by utilizing the STAR method to answer them. This acronym stands for:
- Situation: An event, project or challenge faced.
- Task: Your responsibilities and assignments for the situation.
- Action: Steps or procedures taken to relieve or rectify a situation.
- Result: Results of actions taken.
By thinking through the four factors above you can draw on work experiences or situations from your personal life and break them down to the key points the recruiter is most likely interested in. Make sure you address the question and all its elements. For example:
Question: Can you tell me about a time when you were dealing with an unhappy customer and how you handled that situation.
- Step 1 — Describe a relevant situation: During a busy shift, I had a customer who was very unhappy with the service they received.
- Step 2 — Focus your story on an important task:The customer’s order had been modified but the kitchen wasn’t notified of the change so the customer was served the wrong dish. They were very agitated and threatened to submit a bad review.
- Step 3 — Show how you took action to solve the problem: I was able to talk to the customer and my manager, and after apologizing for the mix up I comped the incorrect item and gave them a discount on their next visit.
- Step 4 — Finally, discuss the results of your actions: The customer was happy with this resolution and has returned multiple times.
Remember, when answering customer focused questions like this your answer should also include your dedication to making each customer happy and your unique approach to each customer situation.
Here are four more tips to help make your answers more concise and interesting to a hiring manager:
- Prepare ahead of time – think of specific experiences and achievements that can apply to the job you want.
- Draw from the job description – look at important skills and requirements from the job posting and note experiences from your past that show you’re capable of fulfilling them.
- Be positive – think of your answer in terms of times you overcame a challenge, with a successful result.
- Be concise – Treat your answer as a small anecdote, 1-2 minutes long or less than 150 words.
If you use the STAR method while answering hospitality interview questions and draw from your past experiences, you will be sure to impress the hiring manager. You can further prepare for your job interview by checking out some of the most common interview questions for each industry.
ResumeHelp’s career blog has articles that detail common interview questions for many industries, including hospitality and accounting. By preparing but not memorizing answers to common questions, you will increase your chances of being able to answer hospitality questions in interviews without hesitation.
4. More interview tips and resources
If you want guidance before preparing for your next interview, ResumeHelp has many resources which could help you to practice the most common interview methods so that your next interview will be a breeze.
Check out these resources if you are looking for just the right way to impress a hiring manager during your next interview:
- Interview Tips
- The best ways to answer:
- Questions to Ask an Interviewer
- Writing a Follow-up Email After an Interview
- How to Use the STAR Method for an Interview
- Common Situational Interview Questions and Answers
5. FAQ: Hospitality interview questionsQuestion: What should I avoid doing in a hospitality interview?
When answering hospitality job interview questions, you should avoid hypotheticals and vague language. Instead give clear, truthful and specific answers to their questions. You should also use the STAR method outlined above to ensure you give complete answers. Furthermore, if the hiring manager asks about your previous work environment, be sure to address any issues but speak about your coworkers and employer in positive terms.
Question: Is it a good idea to memorize my answers to common hospitality interview questions?
While it is a good idea to practice answering hospitality interview questions, you should not memorize specific answers. Good answers to these kinds of questions should be tailored to the specific question that the recruiter asks. If you have a series of memorized answers to fall back on, it won’t fit directly with the question being asked and may come off generic or too calculated.
Question: Can I rehearse for a hospitality interview? It can be helpful to spend time before the interview thinking of an example of a time that you showed good leadership skills, communication skills or otherwise excelled in past roles. If you do this and rehearse answering appropriate hospitality interview questions with someone you trust, you may find it easier to answer questions well in your interview.
Question: What are the 3 types of hospitality industries? Hospitality actually refers to a wide range of customer or client base industries that can be broken down into separate sectors. The top four sectors consist of; ‘Food and Beverage’, ‘Hotels & Accommodation’, ‘Travel and Tourism,’ and ‘Entertainment and Recreation’.
Question: How do you prepare for a hospitality interview?
Preparing for hospitality interview questions involves studying the job description and noting what skills are significant so you can think of experiences that would be a good match. It’s also important to review major projects you’ve worked on and think about not just the outcome but how you prepared for the project and what the process of completing it was like.
Making a list of your professional accomplishments can also be quite helpful because you can see the common skills and patterns that show up. Remember to be open and honest in your answers and with yourself so that you can give the best response and practice your interview responses aloud if possible so you won’t be nervous.
Question: What does a hospitality person do?
Hospitality is the business of welcoming people and helping them have the best time possible. Hospitality covers a broad range of sectors and careers, including accommodation, restaurants, cafes, bars, theme parks, airlines, cruise ships, caravan parks, bed and breakfasts, and tourist attractions.
Question: What is the most important thing in hospitality?
The root of monetized hospitality is customer service, meaning that satisfied clients are the soul of hospitality. Being employed in the service industry puts a high value on making sure that the specific needs and comforts of a patron are met. This is usually seen as the assistance, accommodation, friendly and generous reception, and entertainment of guests, to facilitate continued use of the particular service or amenity.
To prepare for discussing how you performed the key services required for the role during your interview, the interviewee should still think of instances where they excelled in a leadership opportunity or worked well with others, as those can be good starting points to draw from even when dealing with a hypothetical situation.