Your Mission: Selling your strengths and getting to the next step in the process.
Think of the interview as a dating process: No offer is generally made on first date. Getting to the next step is the goal. It might be getting another phone interview, completing a testing process, or coming in for a face-to-face interview.
Remember that interviewing is a two-way street, so engage and ask questions regarding the property’s goals, the status of their financials YTD vs. budget vs. last year, guest and associate scores, weaknesses and strengths of the team/department/hotel, and the hotel vs. its comp set. It is fair to inquire why the position is open, how long the last person was in the job and the objectives to be achieved.
If the chemistry is flowing, interview the interviewer about his/her background, how long they’ve been with the company, their family, favorite sports, etc. Do not wait to the end of the interview to ask questions – engage right out of the gate. Don’t answer a question with a question. Be careful not to interrupt, don’t ramble on, and be concise with your answers. There is a limited time to state your case that you are best suited candidate for the job – so sell yourself wisely.
Turn the interview on the interviewer. Once you comprehend the needs/weaknesses of the organization, you can use this as a valuable tool to sell your benefits. Armed with this information, simply respond by selling your strengths as the best match for their needs. Now that you understand what the employer is seeking, state that you have the technical and leadership skills to solve their problems.
Smile! Enjoy the moment! If the interviewer is doing most of the talking and not drilling down on hard questions, go with the flow and relax. Your recruiter surely did a good job of sourcing you for this position and has presold your qualifications. The employer can tell you are perfectly qualified. This is now an exercise in finding a team match – aka chemistry. Interviews are an exercise in bonding. Do you have the right chemistry for this team? Leave room to laugh, make small talk and be a real person.
Bring an extra resume, folded and in a white envelope.
When interviewing, learn to use the terms US and WE vs. I and YOU and THEM. It will make a BIG difference in the message you send. When asked about your accomplishments, there is no ‘I’ in team. Say: “My team achieved…..Our hotel achieved…” When discussing prior employers, don’t say THEY, as it infers you were not a part of the team.
No one wants to hire a whiner. Learning to put a positive spin on your life and your ability to get along with others in the workplace is a necessity for projecting your leadership skills, attitude and approach. Learn to articulate a positive spin even under the most stressful working conditions.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Be gentle on your negatives and approach them positively. If you state you have no weaknesses, the interviewer will surely cut the conversation short. Be able to list strengths & weaknesses and management style in rapid fire secession. Practice them and get them down to a science.
Turn your cell phone off in the interview – completely off.
If you are a smoker, use a smoking patch to relax so you can stay focused. Don’t smoke one hour before the interview (your clothes will carry the odor). Use a breath freshener, but not gum or anything chewable in the interview.
If you are asked about salary expectation, be careful. If you are working with an experienced recruiter, this issue has already been successfully addressed for you. The general rule in any negotiation is that the first to name a number, loses. You are working with limited information and probably don’t know the budgeted salary or the salary range. So it is best to defer to the interviewer with an answer that is ambiguous and safe, such as: “My base salary is this and my bonus is this amount. I don’t know what the position is paying, but I am sure if I’m selected that you will make me a fair offer given my skills, work history and my ability to solve problems and achieve success.”
Ask the same questions of each person you interview with in the organization, so you will know if everyone is on the same page. Qualify each interviewer. Ask: “What are the challenges of the current/prior person, challenges of the department, the biggest challenges of the property, and where do we stand against the comp set, etc.?”
Being asked to do a sandwich interview, board style, panel, or multi-person interview – is always more challenging, as you have questions coming at you from all directions. Sit back and think of it as a personal press conference designed to sell you. You are the commodity.
Express your interest in continuing to the next level and ask what the next step will be.
After the interview, send a brief thank you note. Keep it short and concise.