You interview like sh*t. 5 things you need to know to nail that hospitality job interview.

When a hospitality job hits the posting board, there are often tens, sometimes hundreds of applicants. Hospitality jobs in Melbourne and Sydney, in particular, often have a big applicant turnout.

If you’ve made it through to interview stage, you’ve come a long
way already. Unfortunately, you’ve still got a highly competitive process to get through. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of not getting the call back, then here’s a few hacks to cover the basics of turning your interview technique around.

  1. Turn up on time– Sounds basic right? It is. If you’ve not covered this basic ground rule, you better have some charm on you, as it’s likely over already.
  2. Show an interest in their business– Even if you’re going for a glassy or potato peeling job, show an interest in their business. A few questions about the kind of culture they are trying to nurture and what’s most important to them about their venue, will go a long way. This could even be as simple as questions about busy periods, type of patrons, general turn around time on food orders and their approach to wait listing etc.
  3. It’s not what you say, but how you say it – As famously published Dr Albert Mehrabian, 55% of what we communicate is communicated through body language, followed by our tone of voice (38%) followed by actual words (7%). So how do you put your best foot forward?
    • Maintain consistent eye contact – Maintaining eye contact is a major factor in establishing rapport and trust when making a first impression. Looking over someone’s shoulder as they talk you through how their business works, is the best way to show you’re not really interested.
    • Avoid slouching, leaning and crossing of arms – Slouching and leaning can often be taken as disinterest and sometimes even laziness. There is such a thing as being too comfortable in an interview. The last thing a venue or cafe owner wants is a lazy team member. Crossing of arms during a meeting is a sign of defensiveness and can also be mistaken as a lack of confidence.
    • Ditch the chewy – Chewy is great for the breath, just get rid of it before you get to the job interview. Show basic respect for a formal meeting.
    • Dress job and venue appropriate – Whilst you might not want to be turning up in a suit and tie, generally speaking you should always dress up rather than down for the interview. Neat, simple clothing provides a good canvass and shows respect for the interview process. If you’re really unsure, scope the venue out to get a feel for staff attire, ahead of the interview.
  1. In hospitality, it’s all about the customer– You don’t have to be front of house to be customer focused. Everything a venue or cafe does is in some way, shape or form, linked to their customers and the customer experience. Keep this in mind from the moment you front up, until the moment you leave. Attention to detail (front, or back of house) can change a customers experience, acknowledging someone’s presence will affect a customer’s experience, your choice of language (if in earshot of a customer) can affect what a customer writes about the venue on Google, Yelp, Zomato etc…. If you go into the interview with a customer service focus, you are already way ahead.
  2. Don’t offer up the wet fish handshake – Pretty simple. You don’t have to arm-wrestle the owner to the ground like a Texan cowboy, but a firm handshake goes a long way to project confidence and energy. If you don’t know how your handshake matches up, ask a friend. Go for the one that tells you what they really think. Whist this one alone might not be the deal breaker, it could be the 1% difference between you and the next applicant through the door, that nails it.

Finally, if you’re keen on the job, tell them so. A closing remark like “I look forward to working with you” will show confidence, eagerness and general initiative.

by Marcus Vaughan