You can basically face two scenarios in this interview. First one is when you apply in a hotel that is run according to strict manuals. There are rules for everything, for every employee and process they have in place.
This is the case with most successful places, and it doesn’t matter if we talk about big or small hotels. If you apply in such a hotel, you can get this job without any previous experience in hotel management. Little creativity or planning will be demanded from your side. And the interview won’t be particularly difficult.
They will just try to understand whether you can follow the rules, work according to the manuals, and motivate the employees to follow their rules in work. And you will get an excellent training before starting, and learn everything. But you can face also another scenario in your interview…
Hotels run by people, instead of rules and working manuals
Second scenario is a real managerial job. There are no manuals in place, or just very basic ones, and hotel employees often do not know what to do–how to address this or that situation in work.
In such a place they expect you to take care of a variety of tasks, ranging from building a brand of the hotel and preparing annual business plans, to training new staff members and managing daily operations of the hotel. And they expect you to have a proven record of managerial experience.
As you can imagine, questions you will typically face in an interview differ for the first and second scenario (as well as the right answers to the questions). On the following lines I will try to outline some of the questions, and provide a good answer for both the first and second scenario. Enjoy!
Why do you apply for a job of a Hotel General Manager with us?
First scenario: Because you have an utmost respect for the flawless operation of their hotel, and how everyone adheres to the code of conduct. You’d love to become a part of the system, and believe that you have all necessary interpersonal and communication skills to ensure that the hotel employees (and the processes) run smoothly, and according to the rules.
Second scenario: Because they have a great location/reputation/potential, and you want to maximize the potential of their hotel, with an excellent managerial work, improving the existing processes, and devising new strategical changes and plans that can take them to the next level. And of course you have the experience (or at least the guts) to make it happen.
How do you imagine a typical day (or a week) in work in this hotel?
First scenario: Following the exact list of duties from your manual, from morning to evening. Mostly checking whether everyone works according to the plan, and solving any problems that may arise on any given day (shift planing, replacing sick employee, handling a complaint of a customer, etc). And you expect to be busy from morning to evening.
Second scenario: Typical day doesn’t exist. You will work on everything from strategical to operational management, and deal with challenges that the day presents. You may train new hires, devise new plans and marketing campaigns, talk with guests, or even replace a missing employee on a reception–if there’s no other option available. And you know you’ll work much more than 40 hours a week.
If we hire you for this job, what will you try to accomplish/improve in our hotel?
A good research about the particular hotel is essential to find the right answer to this question. Check customer reviews on Booking and other platforms, and see what do guests complain about. If they struggle with occupancy during a certain period of a year (many hotels face this problem), you can say that you want to attract more guests during the low season.
And if you apply in a hotel that is doing really great (can be the case in first scenario), you can say that you simply plan to maintain the current level of operation and customer satisfaction.
Tell us about a time when you demonstrated your leadership
First scenario: Focus on any situation when you motivated someone, helped them to become their best self. Or when you helped them to understand their working duties and to follow the manuals. You can even talk about a situation from school (leading a sports team, etc).
Second scenario: You should talk about something more profound. A drastic change you proposed to a way a hotel/an office/a company/a team is ran or managed, and how you managed to convince the others to move ahead with the changes.
Or how you went by example, worked really hard (60-80 hours a week) and managed to lift up the moral on a workplace, and helped the entire team to overcome a difficult period in work.
Special Tip: You can check also other leadership interview questions.
If we hire you for this job, what will be the first thing you’ll do as our new general manager?
First scenario: You’ll attend the training and learn from the existing manager/CEO (who knows the processes and manuals). You will humbly listen for hours and days, trying to understand your place in their excellent system. And then you will start to work according to the system, enjoying your prestigious job title…
Second scenario: You’ll talk to each employee (or at least the leading figures). Then you will observe closely the existing processes in the hotel, and look for things that can be improved. You’ll talk with the people who hold the budget to understand how much you can spend. You’ll read all financial statements from the last three years.
And then, according to the things you saw and found, you’ll devise a new plan, changes you want to implement, goals you want to achieve.
Special Tip: Download all questions in one page long .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later (even when offline):
How would you motivate the workers of this hotel to try their very best, each day in work?
A good answer doesn’t differ for the first and second scenario. But it changes from one hotel to another, depending on employee wages, job availability in other hotels nearby, etc.
Strict punishment for any disobedience won’t work in most cases. Maids, receptionists, or waitresses earn small wages, and you can’t cut them any further. You have to come up with a better motivational program.
You can say that you plan to show respect and recognition to each single employee. Or that you will try your best to make them feel as an important part of a team. They should see a connection of their personal goals and the goals you follow in the hotel–and you’ll help them see the connection.
Regular one on one talks, bonuses for a good work, and a great atmosphere in the workplace–all of it can help with motivation.
Other questions you may face in your interview for a job of a Hotel General Manager
- What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?
- How do you feel about living full time in this hotel, and working also on weekends?
- Talk about your best and worst managerial experience.
- How would you describe your management style?
- Describe a conflict you had with one of your colleagues in the past, and how you solved the conflict.
- Do you have any experience with hiring employees? Have you ever led a job interview before? What about employee training?
- Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership at work.
- Can you read financial statements? (Here is our balance sheet for the last year. What can you tell about this hotel while looking at it?)
- Imagine that a big group of people (thirty or more) is planned to check-in at the same time. What will you do to speed up the process?
- How would you define top-notch customer service?
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the dozens other people who also apply for this position?
* Special Tip: If you are not sure how to answer the questions from my list, or experience interview anxiety, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to basically all tricky questions you may face in your Hotel GM job interview will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and eventually get this great job. Thank you for checking it out!
Conclusion and next steps
It is tough to tell exactly what will happen in your interview for a hotel general manager job, because this depends on many things:
- The management style of the hotel (first scenario versus second scenario, as I described it at the start of the article).
- The size of the hotel and their organizational structure (whether there are other managers, or you’ll be the only one, responding for everything).
- How the hotel is doing at the moment (whether they are looking for someone who’ll simply hold the reins of a prospering business, or someone who’ll save them from eventual bankruptcy).
- Your level of previous experience with similar jobs.
Considering everything, this interview can be both easy and difficult. Try to do a good research about the hotel. Check reviews, occupancy, anything else. Think about the main challenges they face in the hotel. And, of course, prepare some answers for the questions from our article, to make sure that you won’t remain silent when facing their tricky scenario-based questions…
I hope you will manage to succeed, and wish you best of luck!
May also interest you:
- Hotel interview questions – general questions you can get while applying for any job in a hotel.
- How to deal with interview nerves – chill out and deliver your best in an interview.
- Body language in the interview – do you say the right things with your gestures and movements?