Interview Questions for the Hospitality Industry

A guide to the most effective Interview Questions – Deceptively simple yet tricky!

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Being a specialist recruiter in the Hospitality and Leisure Industry we can provide valuable insight into the Interview process for Hospitality and Leisure Jobs. We have put together a list of questions with recommendations on how to best answer them. These questions might sound simple but can provide a valuable insight into your personality to the person sitting across the table in an interview.

Question- 1- Tell me about yourself?

A deceptively simple and straightforward ‘Ice Breaker’ question, it’s actually a clever one because the broad nature of this question makes it difficult to answer in a quick and relevant manner! Whether your answer is comprehensive, concise, and engaging like an ‘Elevator Pitch’ or it’s your cue to divulge your life story, makes all the difference and sets the tone of the interview. Keep your responses short, sharp and above all; professional including your key qualifications, strengths and skills. Tailoring your responses and demonstrating qualities that make you the ‘right fit for the role’ is always an impressive addition.

Question-2- Why did you apply for this particular position? Or what can you bring to it?

This is a great question to indirectly assess a candidate’s level of enthusiasm, professionalism and actual interest in the role and whether they have done any research on the company in preparation for the interview. Give specific examples of things that attracted you to the company, its future plans, its values or mission and objectives and elaborate on your strengths, achievements and skills and how they match the position description, making you the right fit.

Question-3- What are you weaknesses?

A cliche question but one that lends deep insights into a candidate’s level of self-awareness and willingness to self-improve as we all have weakness, so to boast otherwise is not a good personality trait. It’s important to address this question delicately as there needs to be a fine balance between positive and negative traits, so best to use words like ‘areas for improvement’ as opposed to weaknesses and address with examples how in the pats you have successfully overcome these thus demonstrating self-awareness and ability to self-improve.

Question-4- What motivates you?

Another great question especially for a behavioural/personality based interview that can help the Interviewer asses a candidate’s personality for for a role. An effective way to answer this would be to include examples from your professional or personal life and linking this to the role you are interviewing for with the objective of demonstrating those highly sought after qualities for success in the role.

Question-5- Describe what has been your best previous job and why?

The objective of this question is twofold; to gauge a candidate’s achievements in the past and what value add they can potentially bring to your company and assess compatibility in the role and with stakeholders both internal and external. Describe what you liked about the best job you ever had by way of providing one or two recent accomplishments that are directly related to the job on offer. Elaborate on the actions taken, lateral thinking demonstrated, skills employed, and positive outcomes attained.

Question-6- Give an example of your lateral thinking ability.

This refers to a candidate’s ability to devise novel and unique solutions to address issue. Where a candidate can demonstrate their ability to ‘think outside the box; in an effective and efficient manner generating some sort of savings for a company, that’s a highly sought after trait that allows companies to innovate in today’s competitive world. Where possible demonstrate this with examples of a creative fresh approach in action and results attained.

Question-7- What are the top 3 values you live by?

This is a crucial question especially for those companies that place a great degree of emphasis in operating within the realms of their values. This will help an interviewer assess whether the values a candidate believes in are well aligned to the company’s values and thus if there exists a potential fit.

Question-8- What can you teach us?

An illuminating question for both the interviewer and interviewee that stresses the need to place importance on company culture and a potential fit between the interviewer and interviewee, demonstrating to the interviewer what a potential employee may value professionally and personally and whether their goals are aligned with what the company wishes to attain from a cultural fit perspective.

Question 9 – Do you like to work independently or as part of a team?

A tricky question that demands to be handled tactfully! Try answering this with a diplomatic approach focussing highlighting your ‘adaptable’, ‘collaborative’ and ‘flexible’ nature as required to help attain the overall goals of the organisation. Create a specific, yet non-committal, answer that makes you sound genuine but still allows for some flexibility. No man is an Island; therefore to pigeonhole yourself and choose one choice over the other isn’t going to be ideal given every job requires a combination of the two in varying degrees.

Question 10- What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made at work?

The aim of this question is twofold; to determine your level of self-awareness and ability to take responsibility and action the same accordingly and to assess how well you may deal with criticism. The key to successfully answering this is to focus on the lessons you have learnt from those mistakes and where possible demonstrate a learning experience that was beneficial to both you and the company on the back of negative feedback or criticism you may have been provided with by a superior.

Question 11- Have you ever considered being an entrepreneur?

A question with which the interviewer is trying to ascertain your future plans; that is, whether you will stay with the company and enjoy a long stable tenure with them or will you jump ship and they would have nothing but wasted resources spent in training and development. It may be more convincing to a hiring manager to learn that you once considered entrepreneurship or have worked as an independent contractor and turn this into a positive by stating why you much prefer working in a corporate environment and being a part of a team is most fulfilling to you.

Question 12- Tell me about a time you disagreed with a company policy.

This is a question with which the interviewer is trying to assess your decision-making ability, ease of working with others; integrity and most importantly, boldness to speak up if you see an area in need of improvement. To state that you have never disagreed can create the perception that you are of an accepting personality and comfortable following rules. Whilst that is a good thing, companies hire with the view of honing their future leaders who can demonstrate traits of commitment, boldness and integrity to stand by their principles to maintain a current, competitive edge and productive workplace.

Question 13- Do you feel that your professional skills are up-to-date?

A smart question designed toassess a candidate’s level of interest in constantly learning and developing themselves as opposed to becoming too comfortable and complacent in their role. It helps an interviewer determine how self-motivated, competitive and self-aware a candidate would perceive themselves as.

Question 14- What salary do you think you deserve?

Refrain from providing your potential employer with a specific set figure highlighting your expectations. Too much could make them feel as if you are trying to take advantage whereas too little could make them feel you undervalue yourself. Instead express your flexibility and openness to negotiations and the role itself being the highlight of your discussions coupled with the opportunity presented for personal and professional development. Do invest time in researching similar positions with the same industry and the same skill set as yours which can form the basis of your negotiations should the need arise.

Question 15- Do you have any questions for us?

Answering ‘No’ isn’t a good sign and can demonstrate your dis interest in the role or lack of passion for the company. Always do your research about the company and have a few questions prepared around the direction of the business, how they plan to grow, how your role might look in the future with the growth of the business etc. This can demonstrate genuine interest a candidate may have for the company and the role in question along with revealing crucial personality traits of a candidate; being well prepared, inquisitive, curious and motivated etc. Avoid asking questions that may focus on what you can achieve from the company e.g.: – asking about benefits, annual leave, and sabbatical entitlements in the first instance.

Best of luck with your interview! If you happen to work in the Hospitality, Leisure or Catering Industry and need some career advice, please get in touch with the Talent Kitchen, a leading Hospitality and Leisure Recruitment Agency based in Sydney and Melbourne.