14 min read

30 Hotel Interview Questions to Prep for Your Next Hospitality Role


Jordan Hollander in HR & Staffing

Last updated August 02, 2023

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Are you applying for a new job in the hospitality industry? Are you ready for the job interview? Interview prep can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Many hotel industry interviews ask the same questions, and you can get a head start by thinking through your answers to common hotel interview questions. 

In this article, we’ll run through 30 hotel interview questions that hiring managers are likely to ask, and we’ll give some into what they’re looking for. Whether you're applying to be a bellman, concierge or hotel manager, thinking through questions and answers ahead of time for common interview questions will give you a leg up on the competition.

By reading the job description thoroughly, doing some research about the hotel or restaurant where you want to work, and preparing answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to nail your interview and get the job.


  1. Tell me about yourself

Why they’re asking: This question is often the first question of the interview, and your answer can often set the tone for the rest of the interview. Your interviewer is asking this question for a few reasons: to learn about your education and work experience, to assess your communication skills, and to get to know you better.

How to answer: It can be tempting to rattle off your entire life’s history in chronological order, but the best way to answer this question is to pick the events in your life that are most relevant to the specific role you’re applying for. If you’ve worked a few different jobs in the past, you might want to focus on one or two that are most closely related to the job you’re applying for and skip the rest.

But career experience isn’t the only component of your answer; make sure to add a few talking points that allow your interviewer to get to know you as a person. Where are you from? What do you like to do outside of work? Maybe you are a leader of your child’s scout group or a volunteer organization, or maybe you’re known for baking incredible cakes for holidays. If you can show that you are a service-oriented, hospitable person in all aspects of your life, you’ll be a more attractive candidate.


  1. Why do you want to work in the hospitality industry?

Why they’re asking: Your interviewer wants to see that you’re passionate about hospitality, and this question helps them understand what aspects of the industry are interesting to you. Your interviewer is likely looking for someone who enjoys providing excellent service, working in a fast-paced environment, and being around people.

How to answer: Even if this job in the hospitality industry is just a stepping stone to your dream career, it’s important to call out a few reasons why the industry appeals to you in an authentic way. Perhaps you want the opportunity to work with people from different walks of life, or maybe you are excited about learning some new skills, or maybe you just like making people happy.


  1. What are your strengths?

Why they’re asking: This question has two purposes: to learn what you’re good at and to gauge your self-awareness. Your interviewer wants to see that you’re able to define your specific strengths, and she may be looking for certain strengths to complement the skill sets of the existing staff members.  For example, you might mention that you have strong sales skills because you confirmed the most upgrades out of all the front desk agents at your hotel.

How to answer: Before your interview, make sure to read the job description carefully, because many job descriptions list characteristics that would make you successful in the role. Based on these characteristics, you can mention the strengths you possess that are most relevant for the role. Remember to stay humble (you don’t want to say you’re good at everything), and it’s helpful to provide examples. For example, if you’re good at thinking on your feet, you could tell a story about how you quickly lit candles at your restaurant when the power went out.


  1. What are your weaknesses?

Why they’re asking: Like the strengths question, your interviewer wants to see you demonstrate self-awareness and to ensure your weaknesses don’t conflict with skills required to do the job. For example, if you say that you feel shy when talking to people you don’t know, then that is a big red flag if you’re interviewing for a front desk agent role, which requires you to talk to people all day long.

How to answer: As much as you can, try to put a positive spin on any weaknesses you mention. For instance, if you don’t have much experience using computers, but the job requires computer use, maybe mention that you’re working on improving your skills by taking an online computer course. 


  1. What inspires you?

Why they’re asking: Your interviewer wants you to be inspired when you come to work every day, so they’re looking for an answer that shows how you find motivation.

How to answer: Answer honestly; are you inspired by your colleagues? By a great general manager? By a leader in the hospitality industry? This is a great chance to talk about your own values or sources of inspiration.


  1. What did you like most about your last job?

Why they’re asking: This question helps your interviewer understand what drives you and what you enjoy. They’re looking for some elements of your last job that you enjoyed that align with responsibilities or tasks you would perform in this job.

How to answer: Be specific about what you liked and why you liked it, and ideally these activities or responsibilities would be part of the job you’re applying for too. For example, maybe you enjoyed interacting with international guests when you worked at a resort because you like learning about different cultures.


  1. What software or systems have you worked with in the past?

Why they’re asking: Learning how to use a point-of-sale system, hotel management software, or property management system can take time, and your interviewer wants to know if you have previous experience using the same system they use (or a similar one). If you’ve used the same system in the past, your interviewer can be confident that you can move through training quickly, and you might even be able to share some tips about it!

How to answer: Be honest; if you’ve never used their system, say so. If you have used their system (or a similar one), then you can mention some specific tasks you performed with it so your interviewer understands your level of expertise. If you have experience using other software in a different industry, you have some transferable skills, so you could say you will learn their system quickly. 


  1. What career or personal achievement are you most proud of?

Why they’re asking: With this question, your interviewer isn’t trying to find an Olympic gold medalist or bestselling author. They’re simply trying to learn a bit more about you, your work ethic, and what your values are.

How to answer: When you’re preparing to answer this question, think about an achievement that aligns with your values and can show that you can work hard to reach a goal. Rather than simply highlighting the achievement (like running a half-marathon), you’ll want to mention all the hard work it took to get there (like sticking to a training regimen even on rainy days!).


  1. What skills are you trying to improve?

Why they’re asking: Most new jobs will demand some kind of skill development, so your interviewer wants to see that you’re curious and eager to learn. They’re also likely looking for someone who isn’t afraid to put in the work to get better at something.

How to answer: An answer that mentions a skill you’ll use at work is great, but not totally necessary. Honesty is most important here. If you’re working on learning how to play the piano or how to speak a new language, those are good anecdotes too, as long as you can show that you’re dedicated to personal growth.


  1. What are your long-term career goals?

Why they’re asking: Your interviewer is likely trying to get a sense for how long you want to stay in the role. Some candidates are looking for temporary roles in the hospitality industry, while others are in it for the long haul and want to work up to a general manager role. Your interviewer just needs to be able to plan based on your timeline.

How to answer: Any answer is fine here! If anything, your interviewer wants to see that you have goals and are working toward something. If you want to build a long career in the hospitality industry, then you might also want to ask your interviewer about opportunities for career development at their hotel or restaurant to reaffirm your interest. 


  1. Do you work best independently or as part of a team?

Why they’re asking: This question helps your interview assess whether you’re a good fit for the role based on your work style. Many hospitality jobs require teamwork, so if you work best independently, the role might not be a great fit for you, and you might not enjoy the work environment.

How to answer: Since your interviewer is looking for someone who enjoys working on a team, your answer should show your enthusiasm. But even if you’re indifferent to team and independent work or you are still working on your people skills, you’ll want your answer to show some passion for teamwork.


  1. Tell me about a past work experience that is relevant to this role

Why they’re asking: Although your interviewer expects that you will have to do some training to get up to speed in your new role, if you’ve had relevant prior work experience, they will be more confident that you will succeed in the new role. Your interviewer is looking for some anecdotes that show you’ve read the job description and can identify parts of your prior experience that are similar to responsibilities of the job you’re applying for.

How to answer: Keep it relevant; if you have past experience that relates somewhat to the new role, try to keep your answer focused on the experiences that tie most closely to the new role. For instance, if you’ve worked in retail in the past, you can talk about the interactions you had with customers and how the skills you built will serve you well when interacting with hotel guests.


  1. Why do you want to work here?

Why they’re asking: Your interviewer wants to see that you have some level of familiarity with their hotel or restaurant. Since there’s a lot of competition, they want to know why you chose to apply to their job rather than the place down the street.

How to answer: Be as specific as you can: what about their establishment is interesting to you? Maybe you admire how they give back to the community, or maybe you want the opportunity to work alongside a well-known chef. Perhaps you align with their values or are a big fan of their brand. 


  1. Why are you interested in this role?

Why they’re asking: This question checks that you’ve read the job description. The interviewer is trying to assess whether you have a solid understanding of what the role entails.

How to answer: Call out specific points in the job description that are most interesting to you. Are you interested in a certain responsibility because it would give you the chance to improve a skill? Or because the role involves something that you’re good at? This answer can be a great way to connect your skills or experience to the job description.


  1. What do you think are the most important responsibilities of this role?

Why they’re asking: Have you done your homework? This question also verifies that you’ve read the job description, but it takes it a bit further by asking you to name the most important parts of the role. Your interviewer might be testing how well you think about this role in the context of the entire hotel operations or guest experience, like how your own performance fits into the hotel’s revenue or guest satisfaction goals.

How to answer: The hotel or restaurant where you’re applying to work is, above all, a business, so if you can articulate how your work makes guests want to come back time and time again you can show that you will help the hotel reach its goals. The most important parts of your job are probably those that involve contact with guests or critical operational tasks.


  1. Have you visited our establishment? If so, what stood out to you?

Why they’re asking: Most interviewers want to hire employees who want to help make the business even better and are passionate about whatever makes it great. This question probes for an outsider’s impression of the hotel or restaurant; what were the good and less good parts of the experience? This question also looks for a positive attitude; if you visited the restaurant and your food came out cold, for instance, your interviewer is looking for someone who can not only notice the issue but think about potential solutions.

How to answer: If you’ve visited the hotel or restaurant, you can be honest with your comments. Mention the highlights with enthusiasm, like if the service was impeccable (and your desire to uphold the same standard of service) or if the food was delicious. You can share constructive feedback too, and you’ll get extra points for offering suggestions about how you would improve the current operations. If you haven’t visited the hotel or restaurant, mention that you plan to (if possible) before you start the job so you can understand your role from a guest’s point of view.


  1. What makes our establishment different from our competitors?

Why they’re asking: This question digs for some knowledge of not only the hotel or restaurant you’re applying for, but also their competitors. Your interviewer will be impressed if you’ve done some research on the local area and can pinpoint not only what makes it better, but if there are any areas of improvement too.

How to answer: Before crafting an answer, do a little research about the competitive landscape. Who are your hotel’s competitors? How does your hotel compare in terms of amenities, price, location, and decor? A great way to learn is by reading guest reviews on Google or Tripadvisor. For instance, you might mention that your hotel is one of the most historic hotels in the city or that the restaurant is the only one in the neighborhood with a daily happy hour.


  1. Why should we hire you?

Why they’re asking: The interviewer wants to hear from you why you think you’re a good fit for the role. You know yourself best, so your interviewer is looking for you to identify skills or experience that you’ve had that align most closely to the background needed to be successful in the role.

How to answer: Think for a minute and find a characteristic, skill, or experience that makes you stand out from the pack and gives you a unique advantage to succeed in this position. You can even put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes and think about why your interviewer should choose you. 


  1. Is your schedule flexible? What hours are you available to work?

Why they’re asking: This is a practical question; your interviewer needs to know when you’re available to work so they can fit you into the schedule. 

How to answer: Answer honestly here, because the availability you give might turn into regularly scheduled shifts. If you aren’t available during the shifts that are open, then the role is not a good fit for you. But if you’re flexible, then you have a better chance of aligning with the shifts the interviewer needs.


  1. What are your wage or salary expectations?

Why they’re asking: Interviewers don’t want to waste your time, and if your salary expectations aren’t in line with what they can offer, it’s better to let you know ahead of time, rather than wait until the offer to find out details about pay.

How to answer: Be straightforward with your answer, but also be realistic. You can do some research on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed to learn what the average salary or wage is for this role, and you can also use your previous pay rate as a benchmark if you worked a similar job before. If your expectation is significantly higher than the average salary for that job in your area, then it shows your interviewer the role isn’t a good fit.


  1. Tell me about a time when you dealt with an unhappy customer or guest

Why they’re asking: In any hospitality role, you’ll be expected to turn an angry guest into a happy one on occasion (perhaps quite frequently, if you’re applying for a manager role). Your interviewer is curious about your experience with such a situation, and he wants to see how you de-escalate a situation to determine whether you would be a good fit for the role.

How to answer: Think about a real situation in which you interacted with an unhappy guest. Set the scene and tell your interviewer what happened to upset the guest, and walk your interview through your thought process for the service recovery. What tone of voice did you use when talking to the guest? What solutions did you present (like re-firing their entree or moving them to an upgraded room)? What was the outcome (was the guest happy by the end)?


  1. Describe the last time you delighted a customer or guest

Why they’re asking: Your interviewer needs to be certain that you can provide a high level of service to the hotel or restaurant guests, and delivering a great experience is something you’ll need to do on a daily basis in your new role.

How to answer: This answer is an excellent time to demonstrate just how hospitable and service-oriented you are. Share a story about one of your favorite interactions with a guest - maybe one that the guest wrote about on Tripadvisor and called you out by name! Like in the previous answer, make sure to give your interviewer plenty of detail here, so they can understand exactly what you did to give that guest five-star service.


  1. Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills

Why they’re asking: This question is especially relevant for manager candidates, since leadership skills are essential to success in a manager role. The interviewer is looking for some more substance besides the candidate saying they’re a good leader (anybody can say this). A good interviewer will want some metrics or evidence that shows you have strong leadership skills.

How to answer: Even if you’ve never held a formal leadership role, you’ve probably flexed your leadership skills in your last role. Did you train new employees? Did you lead the rollout of a new initiative? Share a story about a situation in which other employees looked up to you or when you were responsible for the results of a project. You’ll get extra credibility if you can explain what the results were, like if 95% of your trainees passed the new-hire test.


  1. How would you describe your leadership or management style?

Why they’re asking: Your interviewer wants to assess your awareness of your own leadership style and see whether your style aligns with the team you would manage in your new role. This question gets at how you interact with the people you manage.

How to answer: If you’re not familiar with leadership styles like democratic, visionary, or transactional styles, it’s worth reading up on them before answering this question. Naming your own leadership style will help your interviewer understand the way you lead through a commonly accepted framework. Make sure your style aligns with the needs of your team and the business; for example, a hands-off approach might not be the best fit for a restaurant manager role when you would be expected to train new employees and handle service recovery.


  1. Tell me about a time when you worked on a team or with people from different departments

Why they’re asking: Hospitality jobs require teamwork and collaboration with many different people. Your interviewer wants to learn about your past experience working in a team-centric environment.

How to answer: Share a story about working on a team and how you were able to work together to achieve a common goal. Even if you don’t have hospitality work experience, perhaps you played on a sports team or worked in a different type of team environment. Any such anecdote would be relevant, especially if you can pinpoint things you did to make the team successful, like training new team members or covering extra shifts.


  1. How do you motivate the people that you work with?

Why they’re asking: If you’re applying for a leadership role, your interviewer wants to be confident that you can inspire your employees to do good work and achieve goals.

How to answer: Concrete examples are great here. Talk about an initiative or program you used to motivate people in the past. Make sure to include a benchmark for success; how did you know your employees were motivated? Maybe mention the specific goal you achieved.


  1. Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision

Why they’re asking: If the role you’re applying for involves any kind of conflict resolution or people management, your interviewer wants to know that you can make tough decisions. They’re likely looking for someone who can see situations objectively and emain calm under pressure.

How to answer: Use a detailed example, ideally from a past work experience, to illustrate your point here. Describe the situation, how you made the decision, and what the outcome was. 


  1. Tell me about a time when you helped to control costs

Why they’re asking: If the role you’re applying for has a budgetary component, then your interviewer wants to hire someone who can keep costs under control. They’re probably looking for someone with prior experience cutting costs or with the ability to think creatively and be resourceful.

How to answer: Even if you don’t have a lot of experience with cost control, you may have been part of a cost-control initiative, so you can speak about that situation too. To clearly articulate the outcome of the initiative, try to use metrics to show how much money was saved.


  1. What does excellent service mean to you?

Why they’re asking: Service is a crucial part of hospitality industry jobs, so your interviewer is trying to understand your mentality about service. They’re looking for someone who is service-oriented at heart, so a good answer to this question can help you stand out among other candidates.

How to answer: Think about some instances when guests complimented you on your service or when you went above and beyond. How did it feel? How did your guests feel? Excellent service can mean something a little different to everyone, so in your answer you can showcase your unique perspective on providing great service that will keep guests coming back again and again.


  1. What questions do you have for me?

Why they’re asking: Your interviewer can be a wealth of information, and they want to answer any questions you might have. In addition, they want to see that you’re interested in the role, the company, and the industry. Asking questions is a great way to prove that you’re curious and want to know more.

How to answer: This one can be a trick question; it’s easy to say “nope, no questions!” but you actually want to ask a few. Take a minute before your interview to jot down a few questions. They can be related to the role, the company, or even your interviewer’s own experience.


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Jordan Hollander
CEO @ HotelTechReport Linkedin profile
Jordan is the co-founder of HotelTechReport, the hotel industry's app store where millions of professionals discover tech tools to transform their businesses. He was previously on the Global Partnerships team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Prior to his work with SPG, Jordan was Director of Business Development at MWT Hospitality and an equity analyst at Wells Capital Management. Jordan received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he was a Zell Global Entrepreneurship Scholar and a Pritzker Group Venture Fellow.