20 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Hcareers / MAY 17 2021

We can never know for sure what questions to expect during a job interview but preparing answers ahead for commonly asked questions is a great way to calm your nerves and get your brain in interview mode which will help you answer any question you may be asked. 

Keep in mind, however, you don’t want to sound too rehearsed or robotic during an interview, so it’s best to have a general answer prepared that you can then expand on during the interview. 

Here are 20 common interview questions and how to answer them: 

1. Why do you want to work at this hotel/restaurant?

This is your chance to show that you did your homework. You can mention that you are excited to join a team that is passionate about social causes, or that their company culture matches what you are looking for. Maybe you recently read about an initiative they created or saw posts from their employees on social media, mentioning those will demonstrate your excitement and motivation to work there.

2. Are you a team player?

To successfully answer this, you want to not only say you’re a team player but give an example of how you were a successful team player. Talk about a time you help a team member complete their job responsibilities to accomplish a greater department goal or a time you suggested a process change that made your team more productive or successful. You can even talk about how you made sure to kick every shift off with a joke to help make the work environment better.

3. How do you prioritize work responsibilities?

Depending on if you are applying for a guest-facing role or not, they are looking to see how you prioritize guests and how well you can organize your job responsibilities. Talk about creating to-do lists for your work week/day and your system for assigning priority levels. If you are in a guest-facing role, make sure to note that guests are always the priority. 

4. What did you enjoy in your last position? What did you dislike?

Take this as a way to focus on the opportunity the role you are interviewing for offers that your current role does or does not. Keep the conversation positive and emphasize why you are excited about the job. If your previous position didn’t let you manage other team members but this one does, mention that you are excited to mentor other team members. If the role you are applying for has similar job responsibilities as your previous role, mention that you are looking forward to improving those skills to advance in the company in the future.

5. Describe a time you went above and beyond for someone else

This is a chance for you to talk about a time you made a guest’s experience extra special through your attention to detail and passion for hospitality. Did a guest note that they were celebrating a special occasion, so you worked with the kitchen team to deliver a cake to their room or table? Maybe they mentioned that they enjoyed learning about history, so you mocked an itinerary for them to see local historical sites. 

6. Describe a moment when you interacted with a difficult team member or guest. How did you successfully turn the situation around?

Make sure to also keep your answer as positive as possible. Do not speak poorly of the guest or team member, instead talk about how you knew It was important to listen to them carefully, show empathy, and how you concluded which solution would be best.

7. Why should we hire you?

Highlight the skills and experiences you possess that overlap with the needs of the hotel or restaurant and what you can bring to their team. Mention again that you are excited about the opportunity and more importantly that you would love the opportunity to grow in the organization in the future. 

8. What are your strengths?

Focus on something that would make you a great fit for the role and give an example when you demonstrated that strength. Try to stick to only talking about one or two instead of listing off adjectives without examples. 

9. What are your weaknesses?

This question is used to gauge your self-awareness and honesty. Don’t answer this in a self-deprecating way, but don’t ever say “nothing” or “I can’t think of one” either. Pick something you are working to improve and mention how you are taking steps to improve that. For example: “Public speaking is not my strongest skill, however, I recently signed up for classes with Toastmasters to become more comfortable.”

10. Where do you hope to be in five years?

Interviewers ask this question to see if you have given your career path a thought before the interview and if you have ambition. They are also making sure the. position aligns with your goals and growth. Try to align your goals with the position, like saying this position will allow you the opportunity to. take on some leadership responsibilities which will help prepare you for a manager position in the future. 

11. Tell me about yourself

This question seems so simple, but it is a crucial question. When answering this question, give a concise and compelling “pitch” that shows how you’re a great fit. Talk a bit about your current role, or most recent, give some background about the experience that is relevant and finally mention why you want and are perfect for this role. 

12. Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills

If you are applying for a manager position, you may get this question or a version of it. Remember, you don’t have to have a manager or leadership title to have demonstrated leadership. Think about a time you headed a project, suggested a new process, or motivated your team members. Use the STAR method to tell the story. 

13. Tell me about a time you made a mistake

Talking about a time you didn’t do something to the best of your ability may seem counterintuitive, but everyone makes mistakes. The important part is how you recovered or moved on after the mistake. Don’t place blame on anyone else and explain what you learned and how you ensured it didn’t happen again. Show that you can take feedback and are self-aware.

14. What are you looking for in a new position?

Make sure to answer this with the job responsibilities that were listed in the job description. Hiring managers want to make sure you read through the description and are a great fit for the position.

15. What do you like to do outside of work?

This is a way to get a glimpse of your personality beyond work. It’s a chance to see what you are passionate about and see if you are a great fit for the culture and through your personality. Keep your answer professional but be honest. These don’t have to be work-related, you can say you like hiking or going to museums, painting or reading, etc.

16. What motivates you?

When answering this, pick something that is relevant to the role and company you’re interviewing for. If the company has a strong program for sustainability and you are applying for a guest-facing role you could say, “I am motivated by knowing I am making a positive impact not only in a guest’s life through their experience at the hotel but also for the environment through sustainability initiatives.”

17. How do you like to be managed?

Think back to previous experiences and what worked well, or what you would want a manager to do. Always keep it positive, even if your previous manager was the complete opposite. If you are an independent worker, you can say something like, “I thrive under a manager who allows me to work at my pace with my process but helps me make sure I meet all of my goals.”

18. Do you have experience in hospitality?

If you don’t have experience in hospitality yet, don’t worry! You can frame any other professional experiences you’ve had to relate to hospitality. Highlight any guest or client interactions you’ve had, how you worked in a team and any other big accomplishments you’ve had. Mention the aspects of hospitality you are most excited about as well. 

19. How would your former boss or coworker describe you?

Keep in mind that they may reach out to your former bosses if you make it far enough in the interview process so answer this as honestly as possible. Think back to how your time was working with these people and pull out the strengths and traits you showed during that time. Did you have a strong work ethic? Were you extremely organized? Did you receive multiple positive guest ratings? 

If your previous job didn’t end on good terms, or you and your former manager didn’t work well together try to frame that as a learning experience. Mention how it taught you skills like patience or empathy, or conflict negotiation. Maybe mention that it taught you that you work better under a management style opposite your previous manager’s style. 

20. What are your salary expectations?

Make sure to research your salary requirements ahead of the interview. You’ll want to get an idea of the average salary for this position in your city is, what other companies are paying for this position, and what the company is paying other positions. You may not be able to find the answer to all of those, but you’ll have a general idea. 

Take your experiences, education, skills, and personal needs into account as well. There are three strategies you can take when answering this question. You can give a range that you would be comfortable in, you can flip the question on them by asking them to share their range for the position, or you can say that you would like to learn more about the role before answering. 

Always make sure to come prepared to the interview with a few questions to ask the interviewer at the end as well to further show your interest. You can read how to prepare for your interview the day before here or how to prepare for a virtual interview here.

Find your next opportunity here!