Hotels have been struggling hard during the recent pandemic, and many people actually lost their jobs. But the tourism hasn’t died completely, things are slowly picking up, and many hotels are hiring new staff members, including front desk agents. Couple of years ago, this was an incredibly easy interview, because front desk employees at most hotels earned minimum wage, or slightly better, and there was almost no competition. If you are the only candidate, and they need someone to sit at the front desk, they will almost always hire you. Unless you remain silent in the interviews, of course. But situation has changed quite drastically recently…

Jobs became sparse, economies are struggling and so do people, and it is not unheard of nowadays to compete with ten, twenty, or even fifty people for any job in a hotel. Hence the interviews have become more sophisticated, and the questions more difficult. If you want to succeed, you have to prepare in advance, and do whatever you can to stand out with both your interview answers, and your presence. Let’s have a look at the questions you will face.

 

Why do you want to work as a front desk agent?

Try to point out your strengths, talking more about things you want to bring onboard than about things you want to take from them. You can say that you have excellent communication skills, find it easy to recognize the needs and wishes of other people, connect with them, and basically make them feel good in your presence.

What’s more, you are skilled with MS Office and good around computers in general. After reading the job description, and envisioning the typical day at a front desk of their hotel, you find the job a perfect match to your personality, preferences, and strengths. Of course, you can talk also about former experience with similar jobs, and your desire to stay in the field.

It is also important to show some enthusiasm for the position, for this type of work. Try to avoid sounding desperate, saying something of the sort that you need any job to pay the bills and keep your head above the water. Though it may be the case, and you certainly aren’t the only one, it is not good saying such things in an interview…

 

Why do you want to work for our hotel?

This one is easy. Praise them as much as you can. Praise the location of the hotel, amazing staff members and level of customer service. Tell them that you were lucky enough to dine in their restaurant and that it was an unforgettable experience. If they have a pool, a sauna, or even an entire wellness complex in the hotel, tell them that it really stands out it your eyes.

You can use their online reviews to learn about things guests like and praise, and then talk about the same things in the interviews. Obviously you want to work for a great hotel, and you consider their place a great one. Of course, you can praise also things that relate more directly to your employment, such as great employee benefits, fitting shift patterns, and other reasons for your choice. The key is to convince them that they are your first choice.

Can you please tell us more about your previous working experience?

In normal circumstances, you would not need any previous experience to succeed in a in interview for a front desk agent job. But many things have changed with the pandemic and now, with the competition and overall situation on the employment market, you may find it hard to get a job without at least 2 years of relevant experience. Not that you will really need it in the job. But when many people apply for one position, candidates with relevant experience will always have a slight competitive advantage.

Any job you had in retail or customer service or sales is a relevant experience. Tell them that you focused on delivering an outstanding service each and every day, and, in an ideal case, you should also present a reference from your former employer. It can really move the needle, and you should show them all trumps.

And if you have no relevant experience, you can bet on your amazing personality and intelligence. Tell them that though you lack experience in the field, you do not lack experience in communication, problem solving, and other areas relevant for the job. What’s more, you are a quick learner, and will in no doubt learn how to handle your duties in a short time. Some other candidates may have more experience, but you have what it takes to become an excellent front desk agent, and are ready to prove it from day one in work.

 

Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult guest.

The key is to demonstrate that you try your best to provide an outstanding service, and keep your composure regardless of the emotions the hotel guests display. Difficult customer can mean a lot of things--an angry one, unsatisfied one, one who didn’t understand your language and you didn’t understand their, or even one who was interested in more than just checking into the room, if you know what I mean.

Any situation you describe, be it a real or fictive one, ensure the hiring managers that you remained patient, calmly tried to get your message over, didn’t go into any arguments with the guest, and basically did all you could to make them satisfied with your service. It might still not end up well, but as long as you’ve tried your best, you are showing the attitude the interviewers are looking for.

 

We have a 24/7 front desk in our hotel. How do you feel about doing night shifts, working on weekends, holidays?

Any bigger hotel will have a 24/7 front desk in place. You can start by saying that you read the job description carefully, and count with working in the night and on some weekends. If you were not fine with night shifts or weekend shifts, you’d not apply.

Then you can refer to your experience with similar shifts from your past jobs–be it from a bar, restaurant, or from any other place. Say that you always did well, managed to stay focused, or perhaps have your remedies, such a cup of coffee at midnight, or a quick cold shower at 2am, that keep you from falling asleep.

You can also show your team spirit at this point. Nobody likes to work on Sunday, or during holidays. But you understand that once you take the shift, your colleagues can spend time with their families and loved ones. Without a doubt, they will pay you back the favor the next time around…

 

Other questions you may face in your hotel front desk interview

  • Do you have any experience with booking systems and hotel reservation systems?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to take care of multiple tasks at the same time. How did you prioritize?
  • Have you ever gone above and beyond for the customer? Can you describe the experience?
  • Job at a front desk can be quite repetitive. What will you do to stay motivated and provide an excellent service to each guest, day in day out?
  • Describe your definition of an outstanding customer service.
  • We have ten other applicants interviewing for this position. Can you tell us one reason why we should choose you, and not one of the others?

 

Final thoughts

Few years back, interview for a job of a hotel front desk agent belonged to easy interviews. These jobs were not paid very well (which is still the case), and, bearing in mind all drawbacks (weekends, night shifts, low pay), you easily found yourself the only person interviewing for the job. With the pandemic and recession, and many hotels closing down, that isn’t the case anymore.

Now you will compete with other people for the job, sometimes with many. What is more, they will ask you more tricky questions, such as scenario-based questions, trying to find the differences between you and other candidates. It makes your situation more difficult, and you should spend more time preparing for the meeting with the managers.

Having said that, it is still an interview, and someone will get the job at the end. It can be you, if you prepare for the questions, learn as much as you can about their hotel in advance, and maybe have a bit of luck on your side as well… I hope you will succeed, and wish you good luck!

Matthew

May also interest you:

  • How to overcome interview nerves – Do not let your anxiety to get the better of you when it matters the most. Overcome your nerves and show your very best to the hiring managers.
  • Salary negotiation tips – Front desk isn’t a well paid job. But when you understand the art of salary negotiation, you can get at least a slightly better offer. Learn how to do so.
Matthew Chulaw
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