Mastering Recruitment: 5 Things Your Boss Wants You to Know

August 5, 2015

For the hotel manager (or other hospitality professional at any level), taking charge of a recruitment effort can feel like taking the helm of a complicated machine. You’re not exactly sure how it works, but you know that success is important because the results you produce are a reflection on your ability to assemble and manage a team. What’s more, your own job can get significantly easier (or more difficult!) based on the decisions you make.


Luckily, when you find yourself in the captain’s chair, there are a few buttons and levers that will always take you in the right direction. Whether it’s hiring kitchen staff, housekeeping, reception, bellhops or other managers, the following five principles can help you master the recruitment machine.


1. Be thorough in your interviews


Of course this means having effective questions on hand. It means knowing the role inside and out, and having a good idea of what you seek in a candidate. But being thorough means:


  • Allowing the conversation to develop naturally, rather than escalating tension with a rigid, formal attitude. Allow the candidate to relax first then guide the conversation, but don’t make if forceful or awkward. This allows the candidate to open up. It gives you a clearer view of who they are and what kind of employee they would be.


  • Having a structured, condensed interview schedule, and using the same interview format for all candidates. Face-to-face interviews are always best, especially in a service industry like this. If you want to conduct video interviews for initial screening, conduct them equally for all candidates; then select the people you want to meet in person. Keep the playing field level.


  • Being prepared to answer questions as well as ask them. A common mistake interviewers make is believing it’s all about them and become uncomfortable when the candidate asks a tricky question. An interview is a two-way conversation, and the questions your candidate asks can be as telling as the ones they answer.


2. Verify references & resumes carefully


The high turnover rates in hospitality are well-documented. A detailed study by Griffith University found that hospitality companies in Australia are losing over half of their employees each year—and it’s costing them a pretty penny.


From a recruitment standpoint, high turnover accentuates the importance of verifying work histories and refereences because there are a surprisingly large number of people who simply don’t take hospitality jobs seriously, and often leave a trail of negativity in their wake. (There are also a few who seriously embellish or outright lie.) As a result, they either cannot provide quality references or simply hope you will not check. It’s important to know these people when they come knocking, and say “no thanks.”


A positive and legitimate reference, on the other hand, is a huge advantage. It gives direct insight into the candidate’s work ethic and overall success with people. The hospitality industry is a small one and invariably you may also know someone who knows the candidate so it is always good to cross check.


3. Look for a strong cultural fit


Hospitality recruiters tend to focus on things that can be taught (knowledge and technical skills) as opposed to things that cannot (cultural fit and congeniality). So ask yourself: What really makes a person fit into my organisation? Is it a bright, natural demeanor? A tendency to smile often? A genuine ability to listen? Everything else can be developed so it may be worthwhile preparing a checklist of what an ideal candidate looks and sounds like.


4. Keep your boss in mind


It’s good to consult the C-level team at the beginning of the recruitment process. Your boss has a vision of company culture and how it should be shaped—don’t lose sight of this or you’ll experience friction down the line. Keeping the higher-ups at the forefront of your mind may add an extra layer of complexity to recruitment, but there is no point in hiring someone who just doesn’t match the corporate profile.


5. Keep on recruiting


No matter how effectively you assemble and manage your team, turnover rates in hospitality will probably always be higher than those of other industries. How can you mitigate this? By always recruiting!


This doesn’t mean you’re constantly posting jobs and conducting formal interviews; it just means recruitment is a part of your managerial mindset, whether or not you have an immediate opening. Good companies will always want to refresh the corporate DNA, so keep your eyes peeled. Develop a natural awareness of people in the service industry who love their jobs. When given the chance, it doesn’t hurt to put a business card in someone’s hand.


Mastering the recruitment machine


Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to manage your recruitment efforts with grace and poise. You’ll see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll notice that methods of requirement may change—especially as technology evolves—but that certain principles never change.


You might even come to enjoy the recruiting aspect of your job. Recruiting is one of the cornerstones of a successful company, and no matter how daunting it may seem, it’s a challenge truly worth mastering.



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