The Most Common Hospitality Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Sarah Brodsky / DECEMBER 22 2020

Every job interview requires you to think on your feet, at least a little. You never know exactly what the interviewer is going to ask you or what topics will come up during your conversation. But while your interview may include a few surprises, chances are you’ll be also be asked some standard questions that are common to many hospitality interviews. Preparing for these questions can build your confidence and reassure you that you’re ready to answer whatever queries your interviewer poses.

What are your strengths?

This is a typical interview question employers use to get to know you. It’s especially important in hospitality because the interviewer needs to assess your ability to fit in on a team and to work with the public if you’re applying for a front-of-house role. Listing strengths like communicating, collaborating, relating to people from diverse backgrounds, and problem-solving can give you an advantage. For each strength that you mention, be prepared to give an example of how you’ve applied it at work or in life in general.

“I consider myself a natural leader. With more than 10 years of experience in guest services, I’ve motivated my team members by checking in with them weekly to make sure I have given them a proper workload and am helping them maintain good mental health. I’ve been able to successfully meet every business goal set and helped 2 previous team members get promoted. I look forward to being able to continue building my leadership skills in my next role as well.”

What are your weaknesses?

This question usually follows a question about your strengths. Employers want to see that you can be introspective and admit when you need to improve, so answer honestly. Steer clear of cheesy answers like, “My weakness is that I work too hard,” which are sure to make your interviewer roll their eyes. Instead, talk about the weaknesses that you genuinely struggle with. Just make sure you choose examples that wouldn’t have a big impact on the role you’re applying for. Saying you’re bad at art is fine if you’re applying to be a server, for example, but not a great idea if you’re interested in a brand design or interior decorating position. 

“I tend to be too critical of myself. I often find myself asking how I could have done better, even if I’ve done well and met my goal. I found myself burning out too quickly, but one solution I created for myself was to pause and celebrate my achievements, no matter how small. This has helped my own self-esteem and helped me appreciate my team members and give recognition to others.

What are your hobbies?

This is another question that’s trying to get a sense of your personality. Plan to share what you’ve learned from your hobbies. Maybe you’ve developed a sense of teamwork from playing soccer, or you’ve learned patience and attention to detail from knitting. Avoid bringing up hobbies that are far outside of the mainstream. For example, if you’ve volunteered for a controversial political campaign that your interviewer might have strong disagreements with, it’s probably better to leave that out.

Do you have experience in hospitality?

It’s okay if your answer to this question is no. However, it may be helpful to point out if your previous jobs had a customer service component or if they required you to communicate with or empathize with other people because those skills are very useful in hospitality.

“I gained extensive customer service experience during my time at [company name]. My daily responsibilities included greeting our customers and asking questions to help figure out the exact product that would fit their needs, similar to helping a guest figure what type of experience at a resort would give them the best vacation.”

How do you handle conflict?

Your interviewer may pose a hypothetical situation about an irate guest or a problem with a coworker, and you should be ready to walk them through the steps you’d take to resolve the issue. You’ll likely want to talk about active listening, empathizing with the other person, offering a compromise, and getting help from a supervisor if the situation escalates.

Your tone of voice and demeanor are just as important as the words you say when discussing a hypothetical like this. Try to show that you feel calm and confident that you can succeed in the scenario.

How would you respond to an ethical dilemma?

Hospitality employees may have access to very sensitive information about guests, and in the case of housekeeping and room service roles, they can come directly in contact with guests’ personal belongings. Thus, it’s very important to employers that each person they hire will adhere to high ethical standards. 

You may be asked about a case where you catch a coworker stealing from a guest, for example, or where someone asks you to overlook harassment. In your answer, you should make it clear that you have zero tolerance for misconduct and that you would immediately report any ethical violations you encounter.

How long do you plan to stay in this position?

High turnover is common for some hospitality jobs, especially entry-level positions. Employers want to know if you expect to build a long-term career with them or if you plan to move on soon. Answer truthfully, but understand that if you answer “a few months” you’ll probably have better luck landing a seasonal or temporary position rather than a full-time, permanent position.

You can also answer by showing you would like to work hard in the position to work into a supervisory or management position within the company once your manager would feel it appropriate.

Describe this position’s responsibilities in your own words.

You can impress an employer if you understand the job you’re applying for very well. Read the job description carefully before your interview so you’ll be prepared to explain what the role entails.

How did you hear about this job?

If you heard about a job from a current employee, it may help to mention that you have a connection at the company. An employer might also like to know if you read about a job on their website or social media accounts because that shows that you’re interested in the company and keeping up with its announcements. 

If you mention you found the position through the website or social media accounts, try to say specifically what you saw that drew you to the company or the position. you can mention a specific post on social media that made you look at the website and you felt like you would fit in with the company.

Why do you want to work for this company?

You’ll want to do some research before your interview to answer this one. Try to find three things that you like about the employer. Ideally, they should be characteristics that make it stand out from its competitors. Make sure you can state why you want to work with this company specifically, not just at a generic hotel or restaurant. 

Again, try to use a very specific answer here, talking about their diversity and inclusion efforts, or a program they created to train and advance their employees, or that they have leadership that you look to as a mentor.