What qualities to look for when recruiting hospitality staff

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When hiring hospitality staff, it’s one thing to look at their professional experience, but another to understand the personality traits that will make them successful in a hospitality career. After all, working as a hotel manager, concierge or general manager requires an ongoing commitment to providing an exceptional guest experience – even when they may not feel like it!

From communication to thinking on their feet, there are a number of qualities that distinguish a good team from a great one, consistent across both temporary and permanent hospitality staff. Here are just a few things to look out for when interviewing.


Great communication is a vital skill for all hospitality staff, both verbal and written. However, it’s about more than speaking clearly – employees should be able to maintain eye contact, keep a neutral or positive face and listen as effectively as they talk. Being able to read guests’ body language is also essential – are they nervous, lost or distressed? Acknowledging and reacting to non-visual cues can go a long way in ensuring a positive guest experience.

When chatting to a candidate in interview, look beyond how they express themselves to examine their body language, eye contact and listening skills. This will give you an indication of how they interact with others and how they will approach customer service.

Thorough and quality-driven

Hospitality may be fast-paced, but that’s no excuse for a drop in quality. A great bar manager, hostess or waiter will have an exceptional attention to detail, looking out for the small ways in which they can improve the customer experience, even while run off their feet. They should take their time with tasks, ensuring paperwork is accurate, procedures are followed in full and customers feel well-looked-after.

While it may be hard to establish this in the interview process, a great way to check is to look at their CV – is it mistake-free with consistent formatting?


Nowhere is the adage ‘the customer is king’ more relevant than in a hospitality career. Customers are the lifeblood of your business – without them, success will be fleeting. Therefore, it’s essential to find candidates who can leave their ego at the door, putting their focus solely on the customer experience. This means regularly going out of their way to make sure guests are satisfied, finding solutions to issues as they arise and generally exceeding expectations. The best type of hospitality staff will find satisfaction from looking after the needs of others, often putting themselves in second place.

When interviewing, consider including competency or situation-based questions, like ‘Can you tell me about a time you had to make an unpopular decision?’ and ‘Can you give me an example of how you’ve dealt with unhappy clients?’ These type of questions require lateral thinking and can demonstrate a candidate’s knowledge of common hospitality practices, as well as how they may approach real-life scenarios.

Adaptability and flexibility

There’s no room for rigidity in the hospitality business. When thinking about hospitality staff recruitment, it’s vital to consider how your potential employees would respond to situations as they arise. A successful hospitality employee will be able to think quickly and logically and be flexible should the need arise – for example, they should be happy to stay late if your floor is very busy, or take on additional responsibility in the case of understaffing.

This is where your recruiter can provide advice. They will have an idea of how flexible the candidate has been when organising interviews. You can also assess their adaptability in the interview by throwing out a question they may not be expecting and seeing how they respond.

As a specialist hospitality recruitment agency, we understand just what to look for when recruiting on your behalf. Get in touch today to see how we can help with all your hospitality recruitment in London and beyond.

Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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