Martyrs need only apply. Whatís
the quickest way to get an interview with a hotel? Highlight ďlove working
graveyard shiftsĒ on your cover letter. The quickest way to end an interview?
Say youíre looking for something nine-to-five. Hotels are a 24-hour operation,
and most entry-level positions involve shift work. Your best chance to
get a foot in the door is to apply for a high-turnover position like room
service attendant, busser, dishwasher, line cook or any graveyard position.
Be specific, and be keen. Not like the young lady I interviewed who explained
that graveyard shifts would give her time to work on her personal art projects.
Beware of the super-friendly people in suits.
Your interviewer will smile and use your name frequently and will maintain
eye contact for freakishly long periods of time. No, youíre not being recruited
into a cult. These basic service standards are programmed into our being.
Some of us really are that happy, others are gifted actors, others are
heavily medicated. Donít be lulled by that pleasant exterior; underneath
is a hard-nosed interviewer who will assess your appearance, communication
skills and attitude in three minutes flat. Thatís as much time as youíll
have to impress our guests.
Perfection is something we strive for but never
achieve. If your interviewer asks you to identify areas youíd like
to improve, itís a euphemism for weaknesses. This question strikes fear
into the heart of candidates and can result in awkward silences and moronic
replies. Relax, itís okay not to be perfect. Provide an honest, thoughtful
answer -- unless you suffer from kleptomania or multiple personality disorder,
which you might want to keep to yourself. A woman I interviewed confessed
that her only weakness was perfectionism. I drew my own conclusion -- lack
of humility and self-delusion -- and quickly wrapped up the interview.
Is something burning? Hotels are notoriously
short on office space, so donít be surprised if your interview is held
in a bar, kitchen, ballroom or suite (though hopefully not in a bedroom).
The activity around you -- sound checks, shattering dishes, grease fires
-- will be distracting, but stay focused on your interviewer. If youíre
in the restaurant and are offered a beverage, ask for water or coffee,
not a margarita and the filet mignon. During a dinner interview for a high-ranking
position, I watched a candidate knock back two martinis and a half-liter
of wine. Now that was distracting.
Hotels are glamorous for guests, not employees.
Some hotel managers prance around like wealthy aristocrats, but in reality
most employees live shockingly modest lifestyles when not on an expense
account. The only exception is doormen, whom own apartment complexes and
small tropical islands. Should your interview take you into the back-of-house,
the area not meant for the eyes of guests, brace yourself for a sharp contrast:
general disarray, strange odors and employees who look like theyíve never
seen the light of day. A career in hotels wonít make you wealthy, but it
will make you rich in life experience.
Do you speak hotelese? Hotel employees
are notorious for using jargon and acronyms to save time, sound smart and
confuse guests into paying higher rates. If you donít understand a word
your interviewer is saying, donít ask for an explanation -- youíll only
be further confused. If youíre interviewing with the revenue manager, hire
an interpreter. Do some advance research to understand the language of
hotels and to determine whether youíre a good fit for the business. That
way youíll avoid the fate of the employee I hired who went for a break
on his first day and never came back.
Interviewing with the general manager.
If the GM is late, donít fret. Given todayís tight labour budgets, he or
she is probably making beds or baking breakfast muffins. He will wax poetic
about how the hotel is a home-away-from-home for guests and employees are
like a family, and will seem distracted and vaguely irritated. If you donít
get more than a few words in, donít be disheartened. This guy has been
dealing with people so long heís got you figured out even before you open
Managing post-interview anxiety disorder.
You survived the interview, now what? More interviews. From two to five
depending on the position and up to seventy-three for large chain hotels.
Then silence. No, hoteliers donít take glee in tormenting you. Every position
is critical to our success, and the hiring process takes time. Donít badger
your interviewer with hourly calls or issue Twitter updates like ďJust
interviewed with uptight chick at ABC Hotel. Hope I got the job!Ē Send
a handwritten thank-you note or email -- no butterfly decals or smileys
please -- and continue with your search. Itís out of your hands now.