Preparing for an interview in hospitality

You have responded to an advertised hospitality job that really interests you, and now you have been offered an interview. Make sure you are the stand-out candidate for the job by investing time in good preparation and immaculate presentation.

In preparing for your interview be clear on what the main requirements of the role are. Whether you are in the kitchen or front of house, the interviewer will want to know about you and how your experience and approach will suit the role.

Take the time to note down some bullet points to jolt your memory during the meeting. The interview is your opportunity to ‘sell’ your skills and highlight your related work experience.

Here are some interview preparation tips that will boost your confidence and help to give you the edge.

Do your research

  • Review the job description and position details in detail so you are clear on the responsibilities and function of the role.
  • Make sure that you know the name of the interviewer and the business.
  • Working out your salary range that can support the lifestyle you want to live and how much income you need to live on. It’s good to have this clear in your mind when you and the employer talk about salary.

Prepare

A professional approach is an essential quality for people working in hospitality, so being well prepared for your interview will help you show your best. Preparation is your insurance against that sinking feeling of leaving an interview having drawn a blank to questions that you actually have great experience in.

  • Get a clean (ideally new) pad and pen.
  • Think about how you would answer common hospitality interview questions
  • Make your own brief notes to take into the meeting (neatly written of course). Organise your bullet points under sub headings relating to the main points in the position requirements.
  • Focus on your skills which are appropriate for the job. E.g. If you are interviewing for a role as Head Chef in a new venue, there may be a requirement to assist with developing the menus and putting systems into place. Give examples of how you have done these in your previous roles.
  • List questions you have about the position or the establishment.
  • Take a few extra copies of your resume along with copies of your certificate/s, qualifications and reference/s.

Making a good impression

‘You never get a second chance at making a good first impression’, so look and be professional.

  • Arrive ten minutes early as interviewers are unimpressed by lateness, and equally if you are too early.
  • No matter what job you are going for it is important to present yourself neatly and appropriately.  If you present poorly you will be giving the impression that you will perform in the same way, so make sure your clothes are clean and ironed, your fingernails are clean and trimmed and your hair is washed and brushed.
  • If you are going for an office-based corporate role, a suit and tie for men and pants or skirt suit for women is appropriate.
  • For Chefs a crisp, clean shirt/top with pants. Closed toe, clean shoes are a must.
  • Don’t smoke just before your interview as the smell is very strong and that will be off-putting.

Interview techniques and tips

  • Be confident in your abilities. Remember it is only a meeting of people and after all you were selected and invited to attend.
  • Good communication skills are an essential part of many hospitality jobs, so go into the interview with a smile, and shake the hands of the people who will be meeting with you.
  • Remember the name/s and position/s of the people you are meeting with. If they offer their business card/s, place in them front of you to refer to the name/s.
  • Relate your skills specifically to those required in the role E.g. “As a Chef I have…”
  • Stick to the point and do not waffle.
  • ‘Blow your own trumpet’ and be enthusiastic about how you can add-value to their establishment.
  • Make it a two-way discussion by listening and then answering questions directly and to the point.
  • Listen without interruption and answer the question, if the question needs repeating, then ask politely.
  • Demonstrate that you are listening by referring back to what was said previously. E.g. “You mentioned that you are considering expanding. I have experience in….”
  • At the end of your interview, smile and thank the people involved for their time.
  • If at the interview you are told that you are not suitable for the position, accept it gracefully and avoid arguing. It is best to chalk it up to experience and move on to the next opportunity.