With 11 years of operation as a successful hospitality business and over 60 years of collective experience in hospitality as a team, we’ve seen it all when it comes to interviews. As a business, BENCHMARQUE has assessed over 20,000 candidates through tailored interview and assessment programs that engage and evaluate basic skills.


Beyond being ill-prepared to answer questions in your interview and forgetting to bring your resume with you, we’ve collected the most common mistakes that we’ve seen. Here they are and how you can avoid them and ultimately how to carry out a successful hospitality interview. Hospitality job seeker: This blog is for you.


1. Being Late

Now we know what you’re thinking, this is an obvious one. But you would be surprised at the number of candidates that have arrived late for one of our interviews and have been turned away as a result. Don’t waste your time or your potential employers’ by being late.


Here’s how to ensure that you are never late for your interview:

  • Read your confirmation email. If you haven't received a confirmation e-mail, call the day before your interview to confirm.
  • Pop that address into Google Maps and give yourself at least 30 minutes of extra time to allow for traffic, public transport issues, or anything else.
  • If you have any confusion on how to find the location or are unsure about anything regarding your interview, simply call the interviewer and ask. This will show that you’re organised and that you show initiative rather than waiting until the last minute.

Now, we understand that things can happen. Emergencies and other unforeseeable circumstances are bound to occur every now and then. So what to do? Again, just call ahead to explain your circumstances and be apologetic. Your potential employer will likely understand and will probably be willing to reschedule for another suitable date.


2. Negative Attitudes and Lack of Preparation

This is your potential employer’s first impression of yourself so it's your chance to make it a great one. Take the time to remind yourself that you should be the best version of you when arriving at your hospitality interview. Regardless of what happened in your day leading up to your interview, aim to leave it all at the door.

Having a positive attitude is probably the most imperative thing you can do to ensure your interview is a successful one. Being positive includes greeting and smiling at whoever greets you at your interview and anyone at the interview space. We’ve mentioned it before but your attitude is much more important to employers over skills. So keeping this in mind, you could be the most skilled person in the room with all the experience in the world, but if you have an arrogant or negative attitude that will trump all.


Another big mistake is lack of preparation. Being prepared means researching your potential new place of employment. Google what kind of venue it is so you know what to expect and you’re familiar with them. You should know the menu, the type of cuisine, and who you’re meeting with and what their background is. This will also give you an idea on how you should present yourself and it will impress your potential employer that you’re passionate.


3. Not Being Attentive

Along with being punctual and presenting yourself in a positive manner, being attentive and listening to direction is another tip we suggest taking to your interview to ensure success. Appearing disinterested and not taking direction is a huge mistake that we see too often.


Depending on the type of hospitality interview you’re attending, you’ll have anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours to make an impression. It’s important to stand out for all the right reasons during this time. A great way to do this is to ensure that you’re attentive and present.


To succeed in your interview, make sure that you listen to your interviewer. With every question they ask, you should be answering in a clear and concise manner. Make sure that you don’t get distracted with a side-story or give a politician’s answer. If there’s a skills test or practical component to your interview, it’s important to listen closely to your instructions and carry them out with a sense of urgency. This is your chance to showcase your ability to take direction and act quickly, two qualities which are immensely important for any position within hospitality.


4. Being Inauthentic

Now we are well aware of how cliche telling someone to be themselves is, but it’s a big one. Employers hire candidates purposefully. Meaning, they take note of your attitude, skills, personality, presentation, and everything in between.


When hiring, employers are carefully looking for someone to join their team and don’t want to hire a group that are exactly the same. Dynamic teams with individuals that complement each others’ personalities are the most functional ones. The best thing you can do is to be genuine. Be genuine in your responses and in your behaviour; employers can tell when you’re faking it and pretending to be someone you’re not doesn’t help anyone in the situation. And remember, although skills are important, your personality is really the most important component that you have to offer in a hospitality interview.


Now that you know which mistakes to avoid, you’re ready to head out there and smash that hospitality interview! Best of luck, you’ve got this. For more interview tips, free templates, and more head to our Candidate Learning Centre below.

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About the author Carlyn Shaw

Drawing on 12 years of hospitality experience and coming from a Communications background, I am passionate about all things hospitality.


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