What do you look for when recruiting – experience or education?

Monica Or, columnist and Hospitality Consultant at Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy discusses the expectations of hoteliers and graduates when looking for that first hospitality role that will shape an individuals career..

It is around this time of year that students that are studying hospitality are completing their final exams and will be graduating soon. They will be looking for their first steps on the hospitality career ladder, and hospitality employers will be welcoming them with open arms.

Having worked in both education and as an employer there are often differing expectations from students and employers at this stage though.

Hospitality students that are graduating have big ambitions which is wonderful, although sometimes these ambitions will take longer to be fulfilled. Having graduated with a hospitality qualification is not a passport to be given a Hotel Manager position straight away and our students need to realise that gaining some front line experience will make them an even better manager in the future.

In a similar vein our hoteliers should not dismiss graduates that have little hands on experience as they should also be considering the transferable skills that they have developed during their hospitality programs.

I am often asked which is better experience or education? At the end of the day hoteliers will be recruiting the best person for the job, ideally an all rounded candidate that can demonstrate both. Graduates will often say to me but I have very little experience of working in a hotel. This is where the all important transferable skills need to be demonstrated.

For the hospitality industry my top three key transferable skills to be considered are:

Customer Service – This may seem obvious but we need to remember when looking at customers we are dealing with both internal and external customers. So if our student has had limited experience of serving front line guests consider how they have got along with their peers working in groups during their course.

Communication – your new employee must be able to demonstrate good listening, speaking and writing skills. The majority of written communication is done via the computer these day with emails and phone apps so how good are their IT skills. Can they demonstrate the correct netiquette?

Attention to Detail – having a keen eye and being observant are crucial for your employees to deliver memorable guest experiences.

All of these skills can be demonstrated quite easily through using behavioural interviewing techniques and setting a short skills test. For example ask them to answer a ‘TripAdvisor review’ based on a real review that your hotel has received. Get them to email their response to you. From this you should be able to see how the above skills are demonstrated.

How will you ensure you recruit the best candidate for your vacancies?

About Monica Or: As the founder of Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy, Monica specialises in working operationally with the owner/managers of independent hotels and restaurants focusing on their business structure and service delivery. She is the Amazon Best Selling author of ‘Star Quality Hospitality – The Key to a Successful Hospitality Business’ and ‘Star Quality Experience – The Hotelier’s Guide to Creating Memorable Guest Journeys’.
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