What do employers expect if they’re going to hand a tasty hospitality and catering career to you on a plate? Learn how to ace that interview – and get a job that’s right for you.
Maybe your dream job is to be a hotel manager in sunny Florida, soaking up the lifestyle. Maybe you want to become a manager then take the next step and open a hotel. Or perhaps you want to become head chef, or an events and catering manager to the stars?
Any job starts with an interview, and hospitality and catering jobs are all about customer service, creativity, and keeping a cool head. So how can you make the most of any job interview in this sector – from waiting staff to team leader?
Show your personality, passion and determination.
Show you’re up to the challenge of potentially working shifts and weekends. Not all hospitality and catering jobs are 9 to 5. Show you understand that good time management means you don’t leave your team colleagues in the lurch, with more demands for food and drink and entertainment than there are hands on deck to deal with them.
Can you prove you love the industry? What excites you about the world of food, drink and holiday fun – can you communicate that?
Cooking or hospitality projects you’ve worked on, volunteering relating to catering (like meals on wheels or Christmas feasts for the homeless), proof that you’ve handled busy customer periods or customer complaints or led a team… it all serves to demonstrate your passion for going above and beyond to give great service.
Show your understanding of what great customer service looks like.
If you’ve read our article about developing customer service skills, you’ll know that a wide range of skills go towards putting customer service first. And, in the hospitality and catering industry, that’s your top job, whatever you do – putting customers first.
Customer service skills include:
- Problem solving
- Positive language
- Positive performance
- Self-management (time-keeping and organisation)
- Self-control (keep calm and carry on)
Look smart, stay sharp
It’s important to look smart when you come to an interview for a hospitality and catering interview. Smell fresh, have clean and tidy hair, and wear clean, unripped clothes. Your role is likely to involve serving guests and customers who expect you to be a visual representation – an ambassador, if you like – of the restaurant, hotel or venue.
In any place where food and drink is prepared and served, health and safety is also of paramount importance. An awareness of health and safety in the kitchen and front of office will help your potential employer feel like you’ve already got your health and safety training covered.
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Walk into that interview knowing you’ve already researched what the establishment is, what their brand mission is, what kind of food or service they provide, and what their typical customers might expect.
In addition, prepare examples of times when you’ve demonstrated your passion for the industry.
When they ask if you have any questions…
You will tick employers’ boxes if you ask questions about their menus, their products or the way that they work.
You can also ask what the main objectives of the company are, and what would be expected of you in that position.
Questions like these show you care about the service the establishment provides, and you are proactive in finding out how you could be your best self to be a good fit for the role.
More CV and interview advice:
- Are you ready for that interview? Check out this handy skills list
- Top interview questions and how to answer them
- How to write a great CV
Discover more tasty job ideas and career advice in the Hospitality and Catering careers hub.