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Hotel interview questions and answers

  Posted in Resources  Last updated 23/05/2024

What are hotel interview questions?

Hotel interview questions are a set of questions used to interview potential candidates applying for work in hotels. When diving into hotel interviews, it’s essential to remember that the hospitality industry thrives on interpersonal skills, adaptability, and a genuine passion for service.

The questions you pose should not only gauge the candidate’s technical knowledge and experience but also uncover their ability to handle unexpected challenges, communicate effectively, and resonate with the brand’s ethos.

The best hotel interview questions will provide an opportunity for both parties to get what they need, but how do you as a recruiter know what to ask? Are there specific hotel manager interview questions and answers? Are hotel supervisor interview questions different to hotel front office manager interview questions? And what about best practice interview questions and answers for hotel receptionist roles?

This article will give you an overview of the best hotel industry interview questions while also exploring the different questions you should be asking for different roles.

Table of contents

10 common hotel interview questions

Hotel job interview questions and answers will vary depending on the type of hotel as well as the position you are interviewing for. For example, a large 5-star hotel interview in a major city will be different to a boutique hotel in a rural area.

However, there are some common questions that can be used to get the conversation started for any type of hotel role. Note: You certainly don’t have to ask all of these questions, but they are a good selection for getting to know your candidate and their aspirations.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is an easy open question that will give the candidate some time to shake off the nerves. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to this question, but if they go into a 10 minute tangent about their pet cats… it might be a sign that their interpersonal skills need a bit of work.

2. Tell me about your career so far.

This is another gentle opener to get the conversation going. A good candidate will give you all the relevant highlights without going through their whole CV point by point.

3. Why do you want to work at this hotel?

This is a good opportunity to see whether they have researched your brand. They don’t need to recite its entire history, but they should display some basic knowledge that shows they prepared for the interview.

4. Why are you interested in this role?

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer but a good candidate will demonstrate enthusiasm for the role in question.

5. What skills and experience will you bring to the role?

This question works for both entry level and senior positions. Even if they have no experience, a good candidate will be able to identify some transferable skills.

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6. Why did you leave your last position?

People leave their jobs for a number of reasons so, again, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer. However, if the candidate launches into a tirade about their previous employer, it’s not a good sign.

7. What are your 3 main strengths?

This is a question that good candidates will probably be prepared for. However, it can still give you an insight into what they think are good qualities for the role.

8. What are your 3 main weaknesses?

A good candidate will be honest while also finding a way to put a positive spin on things.

9. What are your long term career aspirations?

This answer will vary depending on the type of role you are interviewing for. A good candidate will give you an honest answer about where they want to be in future while also displaying enthusiasm for the current role.

10. Tell me one interesting fact about yourself

Don’t put too much pressure on this question — just consider it a great ice breaker!

Image representing hotel interview questions

Hotel interview questions about background and experience

Once you’ve broken the ice with some general questions, it’s time to start honing in on the specifics. Depending on the role, the right candidate might need experience in certain systems, programs or situations. This is your chance to ask about those specific qualifications or experiences.

Do you have any experience working in a hotel?

This broad question is relevant for most hotel jobs. It’s also an example of a closed question — one which can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

While we’d generally recommend asking open questions, this is a very subtle opportunity to test the candidate’s communication skills. If they reply with just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and don’t elaborate, it’s probably a sign that they lack interpersonal skills or the EQ for customer-facing roles.

What is your experience with using point-of-sale/reservation systems?

This will be high on the list of hotel receptionist interview questions, or any interview for a hotel front desk position. A similar question with the relevant software or program can be used for roles such as night duty manager, restaurant manager, maintenance supervisor or really any role that requires using a certain computer system.

This question is a specific and essential one to ask, but don’t expect a long answer.

In-depth hotel interview questions

Once you’ve built a rapport and asked about specific experiences or qualifications, it’s time to dive into more behavioural and performance based questions. These are designed to tell you more about the way the person operates, which should give you an indication of their suitability for the role. 

These questions are also harder to prepare for which will help you to distinguish between candidates who have memorised answers and those who have the genuine attributes you want.

Examples of behavioural or performance based questions to ask in a hotel interview

1) Describe a situation where you had to deal with an unhappy customer

2) Can you give me an example of when you had to handle conflict or a negative situation with a coworker? What steps did you take to resolve it?

3) Tell me about a time when you had to collaborate with someone very different to you

4) Describe your first job in the hotel industry. What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

5) Tell me about a career or personal achievement that you are proud of and why

Job-specific interview questions and answers for the hotel industry

Now let’s look at interview questions for specific roles in the hotel industry. The purpose of these questions is to drill down into the specifics of the role and find out if the candidate has the experience and personal attributes you need.

The questions below are specific to certain jobs or departments within the hotel industry, but they can be adapted for different roles.

Hotel assistant manager interview questions and answers

A hotel assistant manager needs to have strong leadership skills as well as good organisational and communication skills. They must also have thorough working knowledge of all daily operations within a hotel.

Some useful hotel assistant manager interview questions and answers include:

Why do you want to be a hotel assistant manager?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question but a good answer will probably include things like being challenged, working with people and thriving under pressure. A great candidate will also use this as an opportunity to explain their overall career journey and their aspirations for the future.

Why do you want to be a manager for this hotel chain?

A good answer will demonstrate that the candidate has researched the hotel or company.

What is your management/leadership style?

This is your opportunity to see if the candidate’s personality and management style is a good fit for your current team. If you don’t feel like you’ve gotten enough information out of their answer, you can follow it up with a behavioural question.

Tell me about a time when an employee failed to complete a task properly. How did you resolve the situation?

This is a great behavioural question for a hotel management interview. It cannot be answered with one word and it requires a real-life example. It will therefore give you good insight into the candidate’s management style and whether or not they can effectively lead a team.

Hotel receptionist interview questions and answers

Depending on the size and structure of your hotel, you may have a receptionist, concierge, reservation agent or all of the above. Although the roles vary, what you ask at a hotel receptionist interview will be similar to concierge job interview questions. These will also be similar to hotel reservation agent interview questions and answers.

So, with that in mind, here are some common interview questions for hotel front desk roles in general:

Describe a situation where you’ve delivered exceptional customer service

Most hotel front desk interview questions should be based around customer service as this is a huge part of the role. The answer should demonstrate that the candidate understands what good customer service is as well as give you a better idea of their previous experience.

How have you managed stressful situations at work?

A good answer will demonstrate that they can multitask in a fast paced environment. A great candidate might even use this as an opportunity to talk about their conflict resolution skills.

How would you ensure that hotel guests feel welcome?

This is probably one of the most popular hotel receptionist job interview questions, and for good reason. A good answer will demonstrate that the candidate has good interpersonal skills as well as the ability to use initiative.

Hotel front desk interview questions and answers

As hotel managers, you know the front desk is the heartbeat of hotel operations. It’s where first impressions are made and lasting relationships with guests begin. When interviewing potential front desk agents, it’s crucial to identify candidates who not only have the technical skills but also the interpersonal finesse to represent your brand. 

The right questions can help you gauge their ability to handle the unpredictable nature of the role while ensuring every guest feels valued. 

Here are commonly asked interview questions for hotel front desk agents.

Can you describe your previous experience working at the front desk of a hotel?

This question is pivotal for understanding a candidate’s familiarity and competence with front desk operations. A good answer should focus on the depth of the candidate’s experience: have they merely performed routine check-ins and check-outs, or have they managed challenging situations, such as handling guest complaints or coordinating with other departments? 

A well-rounded answer will encompass not just the tasks they’ve undertaken, but also the soft skills they’ve honed, like communication, multitasking, and problem-solving. 

Beware of candidates who provide vague or generic responses. Those who truly have experience will be able to provide specific examples, perhaps even recounting memorable incidents or challenges they’ve faced and how they overcame them.

How do you handle check-in and check-out procedures efficiently?

This question gets to the heart of how well a candidate can manage the ebb and flow at the front desk. You’re looking for someone who’s organised and has a solid routine. Do they prepare by checking the day’s arrivals and departures? How tight is their coordination with housekeeping? 

It’s also key to see how they handle the busier moments, like during holiday seasons or events. But beyond just getting guests in and out quickly, it’s about ensuring each guest feels taken care of. If they can blend efficiency with a touch of personal care and maybe share a real-life example, it sounds like they’ve got the right mix for the job.

What software or property management systems are you familiar with for front desk operations?

This question focuses on the candidate’s tech-savviness and their experience with the tools of the trade. You’re on the lookout for names of popular hotel management systems they’ve used (such as SiteMinder). 

But it’s not just about name-dropping software. It’s also about how they’ve used these tools to make their job smoother. Can they quickly pull up reservations, coordinate with other departments, or handle billing issues? If they can chat about the pros and cons of different systems or even share a story about troubleshooting a tech hiccup, it’s a good sign they’re comfortable in the digital side of front desk work.

What information do you typically provide to guests during check-in to enhance their stay?

This question will help you gauge how proactive a candidate is in making a guest’s stay memorable from the get-go. Listen out for the basics: Wi-Fi details, breakfast times, and facility locations. But the real gems are when they go above and beyond. 

Do they give tips on the best local restaurants or events happening nearby? Maybe they highlight special amenities the hotel offers, like a spa discount or a rooftop lounge. If they mention tailoring their suggestions based on the guest’s purpose of visit (business, leisure, family trip) or asking open-ended questions to gauge a guest’s interests, it shows they’re really thinking about personalising the experience. 

A candidate who understands that check-in is not just about handing over keys but setting the tone for the entire stay is someone who truly gets hospitality.

Hotel waiter interview questions and answers

Much like most interview questions for hotel food and beverage roles, hotel waiter interview questions and answers will be centred around customer service and restaurant experience.

Why do you want to work at a hotel restaurant?

This is probably one of the most common hotel interview questions for food and beverage staff.

Some candidates will be looking for a job they can fit around things like their studies. For others, it might be the first step towards their long term career plans of becoming a restaurant manager. There’s no right or wrong here — but you should be able to spot the candidates who are just saying what they think you want to hear.

What is your favourite part about being a hotel server/waitress?

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer but the candidate’s response should give you an insight into whether or not they’ll be able to provide good customer service.

Hotel housekeeping interview questions

Hotel housekeeping interview questions need to ascertain three things: whether or not they have experience, what their standard of work is like and whether or not they have sufficient communication skills.

While housekeeping is not a customer service role, it does often involve interacting with guests so it’s important that the candidates are polite and have reasonable communication skills.

Do you have any previous housekeeping experience?

This question doesn’t warrant a lengthy answer, but the candidate’s ability to respond and perhaps even elaborate with specific examples should demonstrate their communication skills.

How do you ensure high standards and quality are met when cleaning guest rooms?

This is your opportunity to understand how they clean. You can also follow up with specific questions, particularly if you like things done a certain way.

How do you manage time and finish cleaning rooms efficiently?

Again, this should give you an insight into how they go about their job as well as help you to evaluate their communication skills.

Hotel sales manager interview questions

Interview questions for a hotel revenue manager will range from broad behavioural questions to specific examples of results they’ve achieved. A sales manager’s job is to actively boost room bookings and increase revenue, so it’s reasonable to assume that the conversation will be more direct and specific than other hotel interview questions and answers.

Are you familiar with the area in which our hotel is located?

The candidate’s answer should demonstrate that they have at least researched your company. If they’ve done their homework, they may even be able to give you examples of successful strategies that have worked for your or your competitors in the area. If they have experience working with other hotels in the region, that’s a huge bonus.

What are some of the most effective strategies you have used to close a sale?

This is the candidate’s opportunity to impress you with what they can do. Whether it’s guest rewards strategies or cross-promotional sales strategies, they should be able to talk you through some examples of how they actively increased hotel room sales in the past.

Do you have any experience with using technology to generate sales?

A great sales manager for a hotel will be forward-thinking and tech-savvy. This question gives the candidate a chance to talk about any innovative solutions they’ve used in the past. For example, they might have found great ways to utilise social media platforms to engage guests. Or, they might have exciting insight into how you can use online guest reviews to increase bookings.

A good hotel sales manager should have plenty of examples but even if they come from a position where they didn’t utilise technology in this way, they should at least have plenty of ideas about how to do so in a new role.

Preparation is key

As you rightfully expect candidates to thoroughly prepare for the interview, so should you. After all, this is as much your opportunity to impress the candidate as it is their opportunity to impress you.

Ultimately, crafting a tailored list of interview questions will help make sure that you find the best possible candidate for the job.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.

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