Know Your Strengths and Ace the Job Interview
When you can recognize your personal assets, which set you aside from all the rest, you automatically place yourself at an advantage in the job selection process. The most common question asked during an interview is, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" Hcareers presents you with winning tips that will put you over the top at your next hospitality/food service interview.
There are three categories of qualities foodservice and hospitality employers are seeking: Background Experience, Personal Attributes, and Marketable Skills. Before your next interview sit down and identify which ones you have, and determine which make you the best candidate for the position.
- Background Experience: Includes education, training, and previous work experiences.
- Personal Attributes: Determine what makes a person easy to get along with. How you behave in different situations is determined by your personality, since often your attitude about life is reflected in your work. Therefore, employers are interested in items such as your sense of humor, charisma, passion, patience, and creativity.
- Marketable Skills: Includes team work/interpersonal skills, communication skills, work ethics (motivation, ambition, effort, stamina, enthusiasm, etc.), problem solving, logic, and organizational/planning skills.
In her experience as Director of Recruitment of Select Hotels Group in Chicago, Carrie Novak has had her fair share of candidate screenings. Novak suggests, "Good strengths are honesty, integrity, loyalty, self-motivation, and strong organizational skills. However, a candidate should not state organizational skills as a strength, if it is not. It will soon be discovered if you truly do not possess that skill, so the best advice is to be honest about what your strengths are, so you can be placed into a position that allows you to use your real strengths."
In the fast-paced foodservice & hospitality business, being able to adapt to change and think fast is essential whether you are applying for a hotel job or a cruise ship job. If this is one of your strengths, be sure to highlight it during your interview. As a customer service representative, show how you are able to turn potentially bad situations into positive ones where the customer feels satisfied.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
To validate your strengths, give examples of specific situations where you demonstrated these skills. Your prospective employer will be interested in knowing how you maximize and apply your strengths on the job.
Remember, you aren't the first candidate this employer has interviewed and you probably won't be the last. That's why it's important to avoid sounding redundant. Say something unique about yourself that will stand out positively among all of the other hospitality interviews. Truthfully style your answers to sound original, while maintaining your professionalism. An example might be - "My strong technical skills allow me to build solid customer relationships by using my knowledge to break down information to be more user-friendly."
Tweak the Weak
Demonstrate growth in your interview, by showing how you have transformed weaknesses into strengths in the past. This will reflect that you can be honest about shortcomings and are always looking for ways to improve. Novak recommends, "Share one weakness, and then tell the interviewer what you are doing to work on that weakness to show that you are aware of the problem and are working towards a solution."
Steer clear of sounding dishonest by making comments such as, "My weakness is that I work too hard" or "I am just too friendly." These types of 'weaknesses' will cause the employer to be more skeptical of your character overall. According to Carrie Novak, a common weakness shared during interviews is 'I am a perfectionist'. She says, "This may or may not be a weakness, but it is often given as an answer to avoid sharing their true weaknesses."
Proceed with Caution
Hold off on naming weaknesses that will disqualify you from the job all together. Focus on qualities that will not hinder your performance in this particular position. For instance, if you are on a hotel interview instead of saying, "I tend to get impatient easily," name a modest weakness that won't impact customer service directly such as, "I don't speak Spanish, but I would like to enroll in a mini-course." Being able to admit shortcomings can actually be a positive attribute in the eyes of your prospective employer.
Whether your next interview is for a nursing home job or a waitress job, keeping these simple tips in mind will instill confidence and certainty in you that will leave a lasting impression.
So, the next time you walk into an interview and are asked, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" look your prospective employer confidently in the eyes and outline the strengths that make you shine and the weaknesses that have made you stronger.