Running a hotel takes social skills, business sense, and an artist's eye for detail -- three traits that are rare enough individually, let alone coming together in one package. For entrepreneurs with these skills, there really won't be much competition for dream jobs, as the hotel industry really needs these traits now more than ever. The hard part is proving these skills to an interviewer.
The hotel manager interview process can be long and grueling because so much is on the line -- not just the money but also the hotel's reputation. Turnover at this level is rather low because the pay is respectable and job satisfaction levels are high. But before sitting in the cat-bird seat, each hotel manager must make it through the hot seat. Here are ten tips for acing the hotel management interview questions:
1. Don't play the game, play the player: This advice for poker really applies to interviews as well. The people (often there will be more than one) conducting the interviews don't want to be there any more than the interviewees do. They may even be dreading it. It doesn't make sense, but that's how performance anxiety works. So put them at ease and try to relax. They won't remember who had the great resume but they will remember who made them smile.
2. Load up on the short-term memory: Read all there is about the owners, their expansion plans, and their complementary investments (like golf courses or local wineries). Knowing what matters to them helps teach a possible hotel manager what to do with the hotel. Will this be a conference center for business travelers or a happy home for family vacations?
3. Be the hotel’s manager: It is easier to win over an interviewer if they think one person is a better fit to a hotel. Think about how to handle a boatload (or busload) of check-ins at once. Think of some improvements to the front desk scheduling, based on past experiences. Sketch out a promotional event. It isn’t important if they actually use any of this. It's the thought that counts.
4. Choose a crew: Many of the interview questions for hotel general manager positions will center around how to handle the staff. Administration, promotions, motivation, hiring and firing. Come up with concrete examples or detailed plans on how to handle these common situations.
5. Define key terms: Doorman, concierge, front desk clerk, housekeeping, night auditor. This is just a sampling of the positions at most large hotels. Prepare by defining what these functions should be doing, compared to how they are actually performing at this hotel. Which tasks could be improved or combined?
6. Eyes on the prize: It’s likely the following question will arise at some point: "Why did you leave your last job?" Keep in mind, they aren’t concerned with the “why”, and really just want to see how each candidate answers this question. This is not the time to look for sympathy by telling horror stories of terrible bosses. Look forward, no matter what happened in the past. Describe the attraction of the new job, not the repellent of the old one.
7. Design a costume: Looking the part is 75 percent of the job. There are really only a few seconds to make an impression, and the rest of the interview is staying on track. A manager will be dealing with guests who are high-pressure salesmen and CEOs, so it’s important to wear what they are often wearing around the hotel. This goes back to tip number three -- make it real for them. This research may take more time than any other piece of this puzzle, but it will be time well spent.
8. Get a crystal ball: Look into the future of the hotel industry via trade magazines, the internet or the library. Some hot trends right now are concierge by tweet, sponsored online communities for travelers, and e-learning for staff training. There are many more so it should be a snap to find the ones relevant to any hotel.
9. Run through the tape: Advice for runners comes in handy here as well. Don't stop running when the finish line is in sight, or someone will surge past to capture the winner's tape. Keep the charm going after the interview, through the hotel lobby, and past the valet. Hotel staff can be a notoriously tight-knit bunch and there’s no way to know who has influence. Also, if everything goes right, it will be a start on the right foot with the staff.
10. Thanks for the memories: Oh yeah, the “thank you” note. Hotel owners tend to be a more traditional bunch, and they still appreciate the ancient art of thanking. It's always a good idea to send a note quickly, even if the chances of acquiring the job are slim. Hotels can be very closely connected, so it could be the extra boost needed for a management position at another hotel or even at the corporate level.
There are million more things to consider, but it’s time to stop reading and start doing. Go out there and bring home the trophy job!
Read more hospitality career tips. Find more hotel jobs by visiting the career center.