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How to recruit efficient, competent hotel staff?

In our previous article we have listed some ideas on retaining your staff. This is however only 1 out of the 3 main stages of the hiring process. Although retention is probably the most important, and currently most actual, there are 2 other steps (recruitment and hiring) to master as well.

In this week’s piece, we would like to give you some effective tips on how to find the best possible staff for your company, how to stand out from the crowd when hiring, because finding talent, especially nowadays, could be a long and expensive process. There are costs, which are virtually invisible, and you might not even consider them, and there are costs, which although are very visible, with some smart hiring techniques could be considerably less.

Tips for recruitment

1. Make your company attractive!

The HORECA industry is extremely competitive, and it can easily happen that other establishments in the neighborhood are looking for similar positions to the ones you are looking to fill. Because of this you need to give some consideration to how to stand out from the crowd, and make your hotel more attractive, both for the candidate who is looking for a new position, and for employees already working at competitors.

When your hotel is indeed a great place to work there is simply no better recruitment tool than your employees who are currently working for you. This is the best way to do employer branding. 

Encourage your staff to become ambassadors for your organization. You can ask them to post positive stories from their work experience and describe why they like working for your company. 

Beyond upping your reputation however, people are often interested in career opportunities, rather than applying for a single job. Think about what you can offer to the candidates for their future career prospects? It can be a good idea to show a success story within the organization and make it available for everyone to see. 


2. Reward your current staff for recruiting rather than the recruiters!

You can motivate your employees to use their network for recruiting. You can try offering a referral bonus that kicks in after the new hire has signed the contract and completes the training period, and then once again when this person has stayed on for an additional set of time. There are several examples of the positive effect of this practice. I personally have used this during my tenure as a general manager and can confirm that many of our good hires came from referrals. And these employees would have not come without someone from inside the company telling the story of our internal culture.


3. Your job description must stand out!

Firstly, when drafting job descriptions make sure to have conversations with the department managers or supervisors about what they need and what they would like in an ideal candidate, as they should have a clearer picture than yourself.

A “one size fits all” approach for the job descriptions will not do the trick. You should try to be detailed, use an inclusive language to make sure you are not discouraging the candidates from the get-go. Make sure you never leave important information out, while trying to be brief and to the point. Don’t over promise or underdeliver. You should show personality, candidates today do not want to work for a boring company. Try to be relatable, avoid corporate jargon and remember that your responsibility is to sell the job!

4. Make sure your ads are posted in the right places!

Although this is very basic, it must be mentioned. Do your research and select the websites/channels which are worth your money. Make sure the place(s) you select are in fact relevant in the industry and will yield an acceptable result. 

However it can also be beneficial to think outside the box. You can attract young talent by being present on favored social media sites (Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest). Don’t only use these channels to recruit, use them to bring awareness to your organization. Use warmth and humor to create followers who may someday become employees.


5. Do not overcomplicate the application process!

Most candidates today expect an easy, mobile friendly process when applying. Forcing everyone to fill out the same boring form manually is not inviting anymore, and you should try to avoid it. Instead try a more straightforward process, like an application with their LinkedIn profile. This is especially important nowadays when you must get the attention of a new “digital native” generation. They are used to instant feedback, and generally have a lower attention span therefore with an overcomplicated process you can lose out on many potential candidates.

6. Early connections can make it or break it: interact with local schools and colleges!

Bring awareness to your company by being present on job fairs, making presentations or webinars for the students. You can also create specific programs for these students, so they can get a better industry knowledge, and ultimately end up at your establishments during their internship or after graduation.


Tips for hiring

1. Standardize your interview process

Interviews should be consistent to help better compare candidates to one another. To be efficient, your first round should be a video interview, so you have a chance to get a feel for the candidate’s personality, which is especially important for a hotel job, where personality traits like friendliness and empathy are critical.

  • Try asking them questions, which are focused on customer service and teamwork such as:
    • How would you describe an excellent guest service? / What does guest service mean to you? / Tell me an example where you have provided excellent guest service?
    • Give me an example of a situation, where you have disagreed with a teammate? How did you resolve the situation?

  • Try learning about how they would handle some common situation at their position. For example, on reception:
    • Ask them to plan a short sightseeing in the city where they will work or recommend a restaurant for a family/businessman/young couple.
    • Ask them to describe a time where they had to say no/disappoint a guest? How did they handle the situation?

Assessing the candidates in advance, will help you speed up the in-person interview process, and help wasting the time for both sides by filtering out the wrong people for the given position. Finally, always try to provide feedback to all the interviewed candidates – even the ones who didn’t fit your criteria. If possible, try to give a reason as well, besides this it is the correct way to respond, it helps them improve, and possibly keep your door open for them to apply to other positions at your company in the future.

2. Two-way communication during interviews

Employers, especially in the hospitality industry, most often do not ask the candidates what they want or expect from their workplace. And like this, interviews often become a “one-way street”.  Make sure you ask them about their career goals and their long-term aspirations. It is very probable that at their previous job, their manager has never bothered to ask them these questions. Identifying and addressing these aspirations early on, can tip the balance in your favor and can help with retention later.

Be clear on what they can expect, as you wish them to stay with your company a long time, and they should be informed how the day-to-day experience is going to be like. If you want to make sure that employee retainment is high at your company, the best policy is to be transparent from the beginning.


3. Assess the candidates right

When evaluating someone, always try keeping in mind, that technical skills (proficiency in a certain PMS or other software) can be learned, especially with an easy cloud-based system, but WETCO (warmth-empathy-teamwork-conscientiousness-optimism) is the base of what you should be looking for in your staff members. So, make sure that you assess the applicants accordingly and select the candidate(s) who are the best fit for the people's business.

Once you are done with the interview process, before making the final decision, cross checking references, doing some background checks can help you in building a clearer picture, and making the right decision, as your focus should be on choosing the candidate with the right skills who is most likely to succeed, and be a valuable team member on a long term. Ask their former employer if they would recommend the person in question for the position, and why/why not they would do so.

4. Onboarding is key, make sure you nail it!

Last but not least, it is critical that you get this step right. You must ensure that you provide the new hires with the necessary training, uniform, and inside knowledge, so they are confident in doing their job well. An onboarding process well done, helps familiarize the new employee with your colleagues, with the internal processes and with the company culture, which directly will correlate to an overall happier worker, who feels more like part of the team and one who is more likely to stay with you on a long term. This cannot be bypassed even if the new person has previous experience in a similar role. Every workplace is different, and they are going to need to learn how things are done at yours.

Make sure that you cultivate a 2-way feedback during this process already, which will ensure the satisfaction of the new recruit, and help you improve your process as well. 

Do not think however that training, and feedback is something which can be done, and then forgotten about. For most positions in a hotel, there is an on-going need for training, especially since technologies evolve, processes improve and strategies change.

Final words

Hopefully you have found some useful ideas, and you have managed to learn something from our previous experiences. We do understand that finding staff – especially nowadays – is really hard and takes a lot of time. Sometimes it may seem impossible even. Although tourism is, and always will be primarily a people business, technology can help a lot in areas you might have not even expected. 

Technology, and smart solutions are one of the fastest growing and evolving sectors in the world, and hospitality has tremendous opportunities thanks to these advancements. Up next we will explore how automatization can help with operations, which we feel right now is more actual than ever before, as in some parts of the hotel business, manpower simply cannot keep up anymore with the challenges facing the industry.

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